Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Thesis-based program

Program overview

The School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures offers a rigorous doctoral program in theoretical linguistics, drawing on work in syntax, phonology, phonetics, morphology and more to train authoritative scholars with a comprehensive understanding of the discipline. Our program also has a long tradition of field work-based research and work closely with speakers, collaborators and educators in our local First Nations communities. PhD students take six courses and conduct two small-scale independent research projects as part of their candidacy requirements. Post-candidacy, students complete a doctoral thesis, based on original research, which is expected to make a significant contribution to knowledge in the field of linguistics. Students benefit from a low student-to-faculty ratio that ensures personalized attention to each student's academic needs and research goals. Students are expected to complete the program within four years; we guarantee funding packages of $22,000/year for four years.

Completing this program

  • Core Courses: Introduction to Graduate Studies in Linguistics, Advanced Syntactical Analysis and Advanced Phonological Analysis.
  • Language: Knowledge of a language other than English demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Graduate Studies Committee.
  • Thesis: Students will be required to submit and defend an original thesis.
  • Additional Courses: Topics may include semantics, morphology, language acquisition, historical linguistics, quantitative modelling and others.
  • Candidacy: Students complete a primary and a secondary research paper, which they defend in a Field of Study examination. Students must also complete a written thesis research proposal.


Linguistics PhDs also have the skills to pursue a variety of non-academic career paths. Students interested in the computational side of linguistics may work on speech recognition, speech synthesis, artificial intelligence, natural language processing or computer-mediated language learning. Students interested in language education may teach English as a Second language or develop educational materials, train language teachers, or work on assessment methods for more effectively teaching language. Linguists may also work in translation or interpretation. Field linguists work on the preservation of endangered languages by conducting fieldwork, documenting a language, or establishing literacy programs for endangered language communities. Linguists also work in speech-language pathology, audiology, publishing, law, national security, medicine, editing, market research, and the film industry.

A PhD in linguistics is usually considered a final degree.

Thesis-based program

Students are required to prepare a thesis and successfully defend in an open oral defense.


Three core courses and three electives

Learn more about program requirements in the Academic Calendar

Classroom delivery

Time commitment

Four years full-time; six years maximum


A supervisor is required; potential supervisors must be listed when applying to the program

Fees and funding

See the Graduate Calendar for information on fees and fee regulations, and for information on awards and financial assistance.

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Learn about faculty available to supervise this degree.
Please note: additional supervisors may be available. Contact the program for more information.

  1. Placeholder Profile Image

    Angeliki Athanasopoulou

    Accepting Inquiries
    Child Language Acquisition, Laboratory Phonology
  2. Darin Flynn

    Darin Flynn

    Accepting Inquiries
    Phonology, Canadian Indigenous languages
  3. Mary Grantham O'Brien

    Mary Grantham O'Brien

    second language, speech production, speech production
  4. Placeholder Profile Image

    Amanda Pounder

    morphological theory, historical linguistics
  5. Placeholder Profile Image

    Elizabeth Ritter

    Syntax, Morpho-syntax, Hebrew, Blackfoot
  6. Dennis Ryan Storoshenko

    Dennis Ryan Storoshenko

    Accepting Inquiries
    Syntax, Experimental Syntax/Semantics
  7. Stephen Winters

    Stephen Winters

    Accepting Inquiries
    Phonetics, Speech Perception

Admission requirements


A minimum of 3. GPA on a 4.0 point system, over the past two years of full-time study (a minimum of 10 full-course equivalents or 60 units) of the undergraduate degree.

Minimum education

A master’s degree in linguistics, or a master’s degree in a related field with significant training in linguistics at the graduate level, normally including at least one graduate course in syntax and one graduate course in phonology.

Work samples

A sample of previous work in linguistics or a related field (e.g., a seminar paper or Master of Arts thesis).


A statement of purpose specifying the applicant’s research interests and reasons for wishing to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Calgary

Reference letters


Test scores


English language proficiency (ELP)

An applicant whose primary language is not English may fulfill the English language proficiency requirement in one of the following ways:

*Please contact your program of interest if you have any questions about ELP requirements.


For admission on September 1

January 15 application deadline for applications and supporting materials

If you're not a Canadian or permanent resident, or if you have international credentials, make sure to learn about international requirements

Learn more about this program

School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures

Craigie Hall, Room D 310
University of Calgary (Main Campus)
2940 University Way NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4

Contact the Graduate Program Administrator

Visit the departmental website

Faculty of Arts

University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4

Visit the Faculty of Arts website

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