Programs of study

Undergraduate program – Linguistics

Linguistics is the discipline that explores the structure of language, its role in human activity, and its relationship to the biological and psychological human organism. It is one of the humanities because it focuses on the relationship between human beings and language, but it is also a science because of its systematic explanation of the facts of language and its use of instrumentation as well as experimental methodology.  

 Since Linguistics addresses the systematic study of language in both its theoretical and empirical aspects, the Department provides students with a solid training in foundational areas of the discipline, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics, in addition to enabling students to explore other cognitive, social and historical aspects of language, including language variation, language acquisition, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics and historical linguistics. 

In addition to acquiring subject-specific skills and knowledge in the various major sub-disciplines of linguistics, students will acquire general intellectual and personal skills. This rigorous and broad training leads not only to graduate study in the language sciences, but to a wide range of related fields, among which language teaching, speech-language pathology, audiology, cognitive science, speech and language technologies and information technology stand out in particular.

For a description of all Linguistics courses, see this page

Note that in accordance with the University of Ottawa’s bilingualism policy, students are free to submit their coursework and papers in either French or English and they may interact with faculty members in the official language of their choice.

The Department offers four BA programs in Linguistics:

This 120-credit program offers students with the most specialized training,comprising a minimum of 60 credits in Linguistics.

The major in Linguistics comprises 42 credits in Linguistics. Majors can be combined with other disciplines; for instance a major and a minor, two majors, or other combination. 

Students majoring in another discipline can obtain a minor in Linguistics by completing these 30 credits in Linguistics.

The Joint Honours in Psychology and Linguistics permits the student to obtain a double honours degree in fields that have important areas of overlap (e.g. psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics). It has been designed particularly for students wishing to pursue a masters degree in Human Communication Disorders (primarily Speech-Language Pathology or Audiology), but it also provides an excellent training for students interested in Psycholinguistics, broadly defined, including those who wish to pursue graduate study in the field. Students who have no particular focus on graduate studies would benefit from the rigour of in-depth training in these two fields.

This program consists of 48 credits of each of two disciplines within a 120-credit degree.

Graduate programs

Master's program

The University of Ottawa Master’s in Linguistics program has been in existence since 1970.   This program provides students not only with a solid foundation in theoretical linguistics and an overview of the sub-disciplines of empirical linguistics but it also allows them to develop research skills.  It is an intensive 12-month program consisting of six courses and a major research paper.

The M.A. in Linguistics prepares students for doctoral studies in Linguistics or related fields (e.g. audiology, speech language pathology, forensic linguistics), or for careers requiring excellent knowledge of language and linguistics (speech-recognition and speech synthesis, database and search engine development, professional writing, language teaching, development of language policies, etc.).

Essential requirements

In order to be able to successfully complete an MA in linguistics, students must be able to:

  • Read, understand and summarize in a critical fashion the scientific literature in linguistics;
  • Evaluate the scope of what is known within a specific subdiscipline in linguistics;
  • Communicate clearly orally and in writing; this includes the ability to structure an argument and target the correct level of specialization for the relevant audience;
  • Understand, assimilate and integrate criticisms and comments from peers and professors;
  • Apply linguistic theories and methodologies to new empirical domains or research questions;
  • Define research questions with a scope that is appropriate to the different types of research activities;
  • Organize their work, negotiate deadlines with team members and professors in a realistic manner and respect deadlines;
  • Understand and manage administrative constraints.

Overview of program requirements

Students are required to take three mandatory classes in syntax, semantics and phonology, and three optional classes from at least two sub-areas such as psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, sociolinguistics, language documentation, phonetics. Generally speaking, students complete their coursework requirements in the two first semesters.  Refer to the student handbook to see the selection offered in a given academic year.

Upon completion of their coursework, students must write a major research paper.  This original contribution of approximately 50 pages in length consists of an informed and critical review of existing literature on a given topic as well as a formal or empirical analysis of linguistic data. Click here for a list of completed M.A. theses and mémoires.

Detailed compulsory program requirements as well as suggested timelines are available in the student handbook

Note that in accordance with the University of Ottawa’s bilingualism policy, students are free to submit their coursework, and Major research paper in either French or English and they may interact with faculty members in the language of their choice.

Students are strongly encouraged to benefit in the departments’ research activities by joining their reading groups, participating in research lab activities and attending presentations by invited speakers .

Admission requirements

A B.A. with honours in Linguistics (or the equivalent) is required for admission into the M.A. program.  Applicants to the M.A. program whose B.A. with honours is in an area other than linguistics may be admitted to a qualifying program, which is personalized for each student to take account of previous preparation. 

Further details:

For the graduate student handbook

To apply to the M.A. in Linguistics program

For information on funding available to graduate students

Doctoral program

The University of Doctoral program in Linguistics program has been in existence since 1980.  This program provides students with an overview of the field while allowing students to specialize in a sub-area of their choosing, whether theoretical or applied.  Ph.D. students also develop the advanced research and professional skills required for academic careers.  This program consists of six courses, two comprehensive examination papers and a doctoral dissertation.

The goal of the Ph.D. in Linguistics is to train highly qualify linguists equipped to pursue academic careers or other careers in the private sector that require strong analytical skills, particularly in areas related to language.

Essential requirements

In order to be able to successfully complete a PhD in linguistics, students must be able to:

  • Read, understand and summarize in a critical fashion the scientific literature in linguistics;
  • Evaluate the scope of what is known within a specific subdiscipline in linguistics;
  • Communicate clearly orally and in writing; this includes the ability to structure an argument and target the correct level of specialization for the relevant audience;
  • Understand, assimilate and integrate criticisms and comments from peers and professors;
  • Apply linguistic theories and methodologies to new empirical domains or research questions;
  • Define research questions with a scope that is appropriate to the different types of research activities;
  • Organize their work, negotiate deadlines with team members and professors in a realistic manner and respect deadlines;
  • Understand and manage administrative constraints.
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of debated and developments in progress in their field of research;
  • Master technical and experimental skills needed for their field of research
  • Demonstrate their ability to disseminate their research results in national and international forums, as is demonstrated by high-quality comprehensive exams

Overview of program requirements.

Students are required to take two mandatory classes in either syntax, semantics or phonology, four additional classes chosen in consultation with their supervisor, and a doctoral seminar, a class in which they learn professional skills (writing abstracts, presenting papers and posters and conferences, submitting and reviewing articles to academic journals, etc.).  Refer to the student handbook to see the selection offered in a given academic year.

All students must satisfy a comprehensive examination requirement consisting of two substantial research papers in different fields. These article-length papers must present original research of publishable quality.

Students must also present a thesis incorporating the results of original research in the sub-field of their choice.  The thesis must demonstrate the student’s research skills, their ability to review extensive literature on a selected topic, their critical analysis skills, application of appropriate research methodology, and their ability to synthesize, analyze and integrate information from their own research and their principal discipline.  Click here for a list of completed Ph.D. dissertations.

Detailed compulsory program requirements as well as suggested timelines are available in the student handbook.

Note that in accordance with the University of Ottawa’s bilingualism policy, students are free to submit their coursework, comprehensive examination papers and dissertation in either French or English and they may interact with faculty members in the language of their choice.

Students are also strongly encouraged to benefit in the departments’ research activities by joining one or more of their reading groups (link), participating in research lab activities (link) and attending presentations invited speakers’ (link).

Admission requirements.

The MA in Linguistics (or the equivalent) is required for admission to the doctoral program.

Since 2011, there is also a fast-track procedure to go directly from the MA to the PhD. 

Further details:

For the graduate student handbook

To apply to the Ph.D. in Linguistics program

To learn how to fast-track from the M.A. to Ph.D.

To apply to the Collaborative Doctoral Program in Canadian Studies

For information on funding available to graduate students

 

Back to top