The Doctor of Philosophy program in linguistics requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit, or 73 s.h. for graduates of the M.A. program. A minimum of 18 hours must be advanced coursework. Students must maintain a cumulative g.p.a. of at least 3.00. The highly selective program provides students with a strong foundation in theoretical linguistics and helps them develop the skills they will need to explore the close relationship between linguistics and related disciplines.

Listed below are the general categories of coursework required to earn the degree; for more specific information on courses, curriculum, and requirements of the Doctor of Philosophy in linguistics, visit the UI General Catalog.

Degree Requirements
Title Hours
Core syntax, phonology, and seminar courses 12
Specialty-area courses 18
Elective courses 6
Master's requirements 30
Foreign Language Proficiency (see below) -
Comprehensive Examination (see below) -
Dissertation work and electives (see below) -
Total Hours 72


Important Deadlines

Application Deadline: January 15th


Students applying to the Ph.D. program must have a Master's in linguistics from the University of Iowa or its equivalent in coursework. Admission to the Ph.D. depends, in part, on the availability of a faculty member to serve as the student's advisor. Applicants should submit official transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate work, names and contact information for three individuals competent to judge their potential for graduate work and who have agreed to write letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, written evidence of the ability to do advanced work in linguistics, and answers to a short list of questions from the Linguistics Department. Applicants from non-English speaking countries must also submit TOEFL scores. Entering students in linguistics whose first language is not English are also evaluated for English proficiency by the English as a Second Language staff upon arrival on campus and are required to take any ESL courses recommended as a result of the evaluation.

Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College on the Graduate College website. For more information, see the Graduate Admissions Process page.

Comprehensive Examination

To pass the comprehensive examination for the Ph.D., a student must submit two papers of publishable quality and present each orally at a departmental colloquium. One of the papers must be in phonology or syntax and the other in an area of the student's choosing, which may be the proposed dissertation area but must be distinct from the area of the first paper.


In the semester following the comprehensive examination, but no later than the sixth semester of enrollment in the Ph.D. program, a student presents a dissertation prospectus to the dissertation committee. The dissertation prospectus consists of a formal statement of the dissertation topic and proposed research program which is defended by the student before the dissertation committee; the dissertation committee must approve the prospectus in order for the student to proceed with the dissertation.

The dissertation is a major research work on a topic chosen by the student and approved by the dissertation committee. After the dissertation committee reads and approves the dissertation, it is defended orally by the student in a public defense. A copy of the dissertation must be available to the faculty at least two weeks prior to the defense.