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Doctor of Philosophy in Child Language

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Ph.D. Degree Requirements

For the Ph.D. degree, the student must complete all general requirements. These include residence, research skills, comprehensive oral examination, preparation of a dissertation, and the final oral examination and defense of the dissertation. 3 options for fulfilling the research skills requirement are available:

  1. Competence in the use of computers can be demonstrated by course work or by a successful demonstration of proficiency. Competence in both programming skills and computer applications is required.
  2. Proficiency in a language other than English or reading knowledge of 2 languages other than English can be demonstrated.
  3. A record of professional research experience or publication may be used to demonstrate research skills.

Note: Responsible scholarship requirements were approved after this catalog was finalized. Contact your department or program for more information about this requirement for doctoral students.

For students entering without the master’s degree, the requirements for the M.A. are at least 8 credit hours of core courses in language acquisition; 9 hours of supplemental courses in linguistics, psycholinguistics, developmental psychology, or language intervention; 6 hours of statistics; and 6 hours of thesis. Continuous enrollment in the child language proseminar is required. Within 3 years of entering the program, students normally complete the required 30 graduate credit hours, prepare an M.A. thesis, and pass a final general examination and defense of the thesis.

Ph.D. post-master’s requirements include a minimum of 36 additional graduate credit hours. These should include at least 8 hours of additional core courses, 15 hours of additional supplemental courses, 9 hours of additional statistical and methodological courses, and a minimum of 6 hours of dissertation. Continuous enrollment in the proseminar is required.

After completing the research skills requirement and the major portion of the course work, the doctoral student must pass a written preliminary examination and a comprehensive oral examination. The written examination covers 4 areas:

  1. Language acquisition,
  2. Psycholinguistics,
  3. Developmental psychology,
  4. Disordered language development or language intervention.

The comprehensive oral examination covers the major field, taking one of 5 forms:

  1. A defense of the written preliminary examinations,
  2. A defense of a completed research project,
  3. A prospectus for a future research project,
  4. A discussion of a major review paper, or
  5. A review of a research grant proposal and a simulated site visit defense of the proposal.

All students are expected to be engaged continuously in research on child language. Research involvement is documented with appropriate enrollment in research, thesis, and dissertation credit hours, and in the proseminar in child language.


See course listings for the cooperating departments.

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