For Current Students

The Program Year by Year

Classes and Requirements

Financial Information

General Administration

Graduate Teaching

FIRST YEAR

Main goals.

Your main goals in your first year are to:

  1. Take critical, foundational courses in Linguistics;
  2. Meet with a variety of faculty members to learn about who you would like to be your MA advisors;
  3. Start thinking about a topic for your MA paper (due in Spring of your second year)

Required courses.

The first-year curriculum is as fixed as it gets in our department, but there’s still a lot of flexibility. Please consult the MA Checklist for the full list of requirements you need to satisfy before the end of your second year.

  • Fall quarter: all first-year students take 200A (Phonology 1), 200B (Syntax 1), and 200C (Semantics 1)
  • Winter quarter:
    • students must take two of the following courses: 201A (Phonology 2), 201B (Syntax 2), 201C (Semantics 2)
    • students should take an additional course off the MA checklist
  • Spring quarter:
    • students must take one of the following courses: 219 (Phonology 3), 216 (Syntax 3), 222 (Semantics 3)
    • students who will be TAing in the department must enroll in 495 (College Teaching of Linguistics) in Spring of their first year
    • students should take two additional courses off of the MA checklist
    • students interested in phonetics or phonology should take 104 (Experimental Phonetics) in Winter of their first year; this course might be of interest to students interested in doing experimental work, especially for their MA paper, should take 239 (Research Design and Statistical Methods) in Spring of their first year
    • students interested in doing computational work should take 185A (Computational Linguistics 1) in Spring of their first year

We ask all students to enroll every quarter in the Colloquium (Ling 276) for 0 units. We also ask all students to enroll in at least one Area Seminar (260-266) per quarter for two units if they plan on attending, and four units if they plan on presenting.

Required research.

In addition to writing any term papers their courses require, first-year students should be laying the foundations for an MA paper topic. This could include expanding a term paper or previous research; developing a problem that was identified in an Area Seminar; or spending time reading recent journal articles or conference proceedings.

The general timeline for writing an MA paper is as follows:

  •  Winter quarter, 1st year: apply for a UCLA Graduate Summer Research Mentorship grant (for U.S. citizens or permanent residents only)
  • Spring quarter, 1st year: determine a general subfield for your MA paper and a main advisor for your summer research (your MA committee chair)
  • Summer after 1st year: meet regularly with your main advisor; identify two other MA committee members; identify a specific MA paper topic

Advising.

The default advisor for first-year students is the Director of Graduate Studies. You should meet at least once every quarter with the DGS (in Week 0 or Week 1) to review your courses for that quarter and sign your Study List. If you choose an MA chair during your first year, that advisor can replace the DGS as your main advisor. You should choose an MA chair before the beginning of your second year so that you can meet with that person to discuss your second-year curriculum.

If you have time to conduct your own research in your first year, please enroll in directed study credits with the faculty member supervising that research: either 596 (for research unrelated to your MA paper) or 598 (research related to your MA paper).

SECOND YEAR

Main goals.

  1. Write and successfully complete your MA paper.
  2. Submit your MA research to a conference, if possible.
  3. Finish your MA coursework and other requirements.

Required courses.

Every student must enroll in 444 (MA Paper Preparation Seminar) for 4 units in each quarter of their second year.

Every student who is TAing should enroll in 375 (Teaching Apprentice Practicum) with the faculty member who is instructing the course they are TAing for.

Second-year students should prioritize enrolling in any course they still need to take to satisfy the MA Course Requirements. This includes, but is not limited to, 110G (Graduate Historical Linguistics) and 403 (Introduction to General Phonetics, if needed to pass the Practical Phonetics Exam).

Second-year students are also encouraged to enroll in MA Paper research units (598, Research for MA Thesis) with their MA Committee Chair.

We ask all students to enroll every quarter in the Colloquium (Ling 276) for 0 units. We also ask all students to enroll in at least one Area Seminar (260-266) per quarter for two units if they plan on attending, and four units if they plan on presenting.

Required research.

The main research goal of the second year is to research and write an MA paper. The MA paper is a piece of original research written as if for a conference proceedings or journal. It is between 30-40 double-spaced pages (no longer than 50 pages). You should think of this as a research paper, and organize and format accordingly, i.e. according to the specifications of your favorite journal, or a likely journal for submission.

The general timeline for writing an MA paper is as follows:

  • Summer after 1st year: meet regularly with your main advisor; identify two other MA committee members; identify a specific MA paper topic
  • Fall and Winter of 2nd year: conduct MA paper research; file your MA paperwork with the department
  • Spring of 2nd year: write MA paper

The official deadline for your MA paper is Friday of Week 8 of Spring quarter of your second year. At this point you should have a final or penultimate draft submitted to your committee, so they have time to read and approve it before the faculty meet to discuss your progress and vote on your admission into the PhD program (Friday of Week 10). When your committee approve your MA thesis, they circulate it to the faculty at large. If you don’t have an accepted MA paper by the end of Week 10, the faculty may vote to give you an extension on your MA paper deadline.

The MA paper is required for admittance into the PhD program. It must be submitted as either a Writing Requirement of the MA Capstone Plan, or as the MA Thesis Plan). If you choose the MA Thesis Plan, you must submit your MA paper to the university as an MA thesis for an MA degree, but this option is unfortunately only available to students who do not already have an MA degree in Linguistics.

Advising.

Your main second-year advisor is your MA Committee Chair. You will be expected to meet with them regularly all year (once every one to two weeks). You will also be meeting with the DGS in 444 every other week; please feel free to consult with the DGS whenever you need to, especially for advice on conducting research, coordinating advisors, and realizing career goals.

The summer following your second year is an important one! We recommend that you continue working with your MA committee chair over the summer to revise your MA research for submission to a conference or journal, if appropriate. But we also recommend you start meeting regularly over the summer with at least one faculty member in preparation for your third-year project. This project is ideally on a different topic than your MA paper, and possibly in a different subfield, and thereby potentially involves a different faculty advisor than your MA Committee Chair.

THIRD YEAR

Main goals.

  1. Submit a revised version of your MA paper for publication in a journal or conference proceedings
  2. Develop a Guidance Committee and work with them on a substantive third-year project
  3. Take Field Methods (Ling 210A and 210B)

Required courses.

The next official hurdle in your graduate student career is for you to Advance to Candidacy (“ATC”) in the Fall quarter of your fourth year. (When you ATC, you become “All but dissertation”, or “ABD”. When you ATC, UCLA confers on you an additional degree, a “CPhil” (a Candidate in Philosophy), that is a precursor to your PhD (Doctorate in Philosophy), although it is a relatively unusual degree and not widely recognizable outside of the UC system.

Before you can ATC, you must have taken 36 units above and beyond your MA requirements. These units must include 210A (Field Methods 1) and 210B (Field Methods 2). They may not include 275 (Colloquium) or any 300- or 400-level course. Only up to 12 units can be in a directed study (500-level) course, and a maximum of four 2-unit (pro-)seminars can be included in the total. 8 units must be “in an area distinct from that of the student’s major area of concentration”, as determined by your main advisor.

Required research.

The third year is the most unstructured year of our program. Many other departments require students to write a second qualifying paper in their third year, and that is a good goal for our students too (although you would be doing it informally). But we don’t require a second qualifying paper because we want students to have the option of using their third year to learn a skill (e.g. Bayesian statistics) or subfield as part of the foundations of their dissertation research. You should conceptualize your third year as involving a major research project of one type or another, and set explicit goals with your advisor and Guidance Committee about how to progress on that project. The ideal third-year research project will form the basis for your core dissertation topic.

In addition to this main third-year research project, you should spend your third year writing up other research for publication or conference presentations (especially your MA research) and preparing to write and defend your dissertation prospectus in the Fall of your fourth year. It’s also a good time to travel to other conferences, develop relationships with potential collaborators, and prepare to apply for dissertation fellowships.

Advising.

One major goal in the third year is to form a Guidance Committee to supervise your work on a substantive third-year project and to guide you towards a successful prospectus defense in the Fall of your fourth year. In the typical case, the Guidance Committee becomes a student’s Dissertation Committee (and the Guidance Committee Chair the Dissertation Committee Chair), but it’s quite natural to switch up members as the project progresses and students should feel comfortable adding or removing members in the natural course of things.

When you have chosen a dissertation committee, you need to submit a Nomination of Doctoral Committee Form with the university via the Linguistics Grad SAO. Please submit this form four weeks or more before your planned prospectus defense date (which should be in the Fall quarter of your fourth year).

The third year is the most unstructured year of our program, so it is especially important that you meet regularly (once every week or two weeks) with at least one faculty member to develop and fulfill your research goals. Failure to do so, in our experience, is almost certain to delay your prospectus defense, which could jeopardize your standing in the department.

FOURTH YEAR

Main goals.

  1. Write and defend your dissertation prospectus by the end of Fall quarter
  2. Apply for the UCLA Dissertation Year Fellowship (DYF) in Winter quarter
  3. Work to publish your research in journals and conference proceedings

Required courses.

Before you can advance to candidacy, you must have taken 36 units above and beyond your MA requirements. These units must include 210A (Field Methods 1) and 210B (Field Methods 2). They may not include 275 (Colloquium) or any 300- or 400-level course. Only up to 12 units can be in a directed study (500-level) course, and a maximum of four 2-unit (pro-)seminars can be included in the total.

In the Fall quarter of your fourth year, you should enroll in 597, the dissertation prospectus research course, with your dissertation chair. In other quarters you should enroll in 599, the dissertation research course, in addition to the usual courses (e.g. 276, the Colloquium, or 374, the TA practicum course).

The DGS offers an informal Professional Development course, 445, which meets every other week. It’s not a required course but is a great resource for career advice for everyone, not just those looking for jobs in academia.

Required research.

You need to successfully defend your dissertation prospectus by the end of Fall quarters of your fourth year to stay in good standing in the department. A successful Fall prospectus defense requires that you have a defendable draft circulated to your committee a few weeks before the end of the quarter; this is more complicated than it sounds given the Thanksgiving holiday. Please consult with your dissertation committee and especially your chair about the best timeline for you in your circumstances.

Advisors vary in their desiderata for dissertation prospectuses, but they are generally 30-40 pages (single-spaced), and contain something like the following:

  • background to the research problem, laying out the problem and why it is interesting
  • literature review; what’s been done in this area
  • your research results so far
  • a plan of work, ideally quite specific, with scheduling of when everything will be done

In the prospectus defense itself, you will be asked to present some of this content to your committee, who will then ask you questions about the research. These defenses are typically two hours long, with presentations from students ranging from only 20-30 minutes, but check with your chair for their personal preferences specific to your circumstances.

A note about the DYF deadline: DYF applications, which we require all of our fourth-year students to complete, are generally due in Week 9 of Winter quarter. Only PhD candidates can apply for the DYF, but it doesn’t follow that you merely need to ATC by Week 9 of Winter quarter to be eligible. Grad Division only counts a student as eligible for applying for the DYF if their advancement to candidacy has been processed by the Grad Division by the DYF application deadline. No one knows how long Grad Div will take to process a Winter ATC, so to make sure you don’t miss this second DYF deadline too, we suggest ATCing no later than Week 4 of Winter quarter. However, we can’t guarantee anything on Grad Div’s behalf, so delaying ATC into Winter is the student’s risk.

The Winter and Spring quarters of your fourth year should be devoted to researching your dissertation and publishing your dissertation research in journals and conference proceedings.

Advising.

You should have a dissertation committee formed by the beginning of your fourth year at the latest. You should be meeting with your dissertation committee chair regularly (once every week or two), as well as each committee member occasionally (once every month or two), for the entire year.

When you have chosen a dissertation committee, you need to submit a Nomination of Doctoral Committee Form with the university via the Linguistics Grad SAO. Please submit this form four weeks or more before your planned prospectus defense date.

FIFTH YEAR

Main goals.

  1. Write and defend your dissertation
  2. Publish your dissertation research in journals and conference proceedings
  3. Develop job application materials

Required courses.

For each quarter of your fifth year, you should enroll in 599, the dissertation research course, in addition to the usual courses (e.g. 276, the Colloquium, or 374, the TA practicum course). But note that you should enroll in 275 instead of 276 for the quarter in which you plan on presenting in the Colloquium Series.

The DGS offers an informal Professional Development course, 445, which meets every other week. It’s not a required course but is a great resource for career advice for everyone, not just those looking for jobs in academia.

Required research.

You’re almost there! This is the year in which you finish up your dissertation research, write your dissertation, defend your dissertation, and file it with the university to receive your final degree from us.

Dissertations are generally thought of as a substantial piece work that demonstrates the student’s ability to perform original, independent research and constitutes a distinct contribution to knowledge in the principal field of study. But what exactly suffices for a dissertation to be accepted varies quite a bit from chair to chair, committee to committee, and circumstance to circumstance. This is best addressed by constant communication with chairs and committees about what they think is necessary and what they recommend you do.

At some point in time, some of the results of the student’s research must be presented at a meeting of the Colloquium Series. This presentation is a requirement for the degree.

Your fifth year is also a great time to demonstrate that you’re good at multitasking! Working on a second project while you finish up your dissertation is also a good way to avoid getting too sick of one particular project. It’s a good time to start collaborations on other projects and to start laying the foundations for research work after your dissertation, if you plan on continuing on in a research career. (If you don’t, it’s a good time to start thinking about what sorts of other skills you’d like to develop for your future career.)

Advising.

You should be meeting regularly (once every week or two) with your dissertation committee chair, and the other members of your committee occasionally (every month or two). You might find it beneficial to meet with more than one of them at once, so you can work together to prioritize their advice. You should ask each advisor early on in your fifth year about what they think you need to include in your dissertation, and what their preferred timeline is for reading it (all at once? chapter by chapter as you write it? how long of a turnaround do they need?).

The Linguistics Department Program Requirements no longer requires a formal dissertation defense, but does allow for individual committees to require an informal defense as part of the dissertation process. These tend to last two hours and tend to be open to the public.

BEYOND THE FIFTH YEAR

We are committed to supporting our students past their fifth years if need be.

  • We prioritize our sixth- and seventh-year students for TAships above those in outside departments
  • And when calculating time to degree for department-internal purposes, we take Leaves of Absences into account
  • However, we can no longer supplement the stipends of sixth- and seventh-years. This means that a student’s RA, TA, and summer instructional salaries will likely be less in their sixth or seventh years than in their first five years
  • International students must also be aware that UCLA waives the Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition (NRST) of international students for only nine quarters after their advancement to candidacy. If you ATCed on time (by the end of Fall of your fourth year), this means that your NRST is paid for through the end of your sixth year, but not for your seventh year.
ENROLLING

Each student needs to be enrolled for at least 12 units every quarter in order to be considered a full-time student (and, consequently, to receive benefits like TA employment and healthcare coverage). Students can enroll in up to 19 units per quarter without being charged extra tuition.

Each student must register by each quarter’s registration deadline — usually the Friday of Week 2 — or that student will be personally responsible for paying any late or reenrollment fees. In addition to official registration with the university, students must complete and submit a Study List to the Graduate SAO after reviewing that quarter’s curriculum with their advisor.

Our upper-level grad courses (the 201s and above) can be taken for either 4 or 2 units. Students enrolled for 4 units are generally required to attend, participate, do the reading, give a presentation, and write a term paper. Students enrolled for 2 units are generally subject to the same requirements, minus the term paper. But please consult the instructor and/or syllabus for each course, as there is a fair amount of individual variation here.

The more units a graduate student is enrolled in, the better the efforts of the faculty in teaching and advising that student is reflected officially, on the books, at the university level. In some cases, we can’t get rooms for regular events like the Colloquium Series unless there is a substantial number of students enrolled in it. So in addition to registering for traditional courses, we ask students to enroll in:

  • the Colloquium (Ling 276) for 0 units (or 275, for 4 units, if you plan on presenting in the Colloquium series that quarter), every quarter of their graduate career
  • at least one Area Seminar (260-266, or the Spectrogram Reading Group, 422) per quarter for two units if they plan on attending, and four units if they plan on presenting, every quarter of their graduate career
  • 375, the TA practicum course, every quarter they are TAing (4 units for a 50% or full-time TA appointment; 2 units for a 25% or half-time TA appointment)
  • 444, the MA development course, every quarter of their second year (with the DGS)
  • 495, the TA training course, in the Spring quarter of their first year
  • 596, the general directed study course, for any supervised research not specific to an MA or PhD project (596B is a specialized version for fieldwork-based research)
  • 598, the MA directed study course, every quarter of their second year (with their MA Committee chair)
  • 597, the dissertation prospectus research course, in the Fall quarter of their fourth year (with their dissertation chair), and possibly previous quarters if relevant
  • 599, the dissertation research course