MA in Applied Linguistics


Please note: Henceforth, we will no longer be accepting new students into our Applied Linguistics graduate program. Prospective MA students are invited to apply to our new MA program in Linguistics.

The 8 course (32 credit) Master of Arts degree is administered by the Linguistics Program. The program offers a strong grounding in linguistics, and provides opportunities for MA students to pursue a wide range of interests. There are two principal career tracks that graduates of the MA program might follow. One is to continue on to a doctoral program, either in linguistics or in an affiliated area. The other career track involves entering a professional post in government, education, industry or health and human services. With the array of specializations available in the program see below), Master’s candidates can prepare themselves for a wide range of professional roles.

Graduate Student Handbook

This has a large amount of useful information: http://www.bu.edu/linguistics/UG/al/AL_Handbook_2016-17.pdf

Important Policies and Procedures of the Graduate School

Please be sure to familiarize yourself with the very important information available here: http://www.bu.edu/cas/students/graduate/. See especially http://www.bu.edu/cas/students/graduate/grs-forms-policies-procedures/grs-masters-forms-policies-procedures/

Learning Goals

Students graduating with an MA in Applied Linguistics are expected to attain:

  • An understanding of the fundamental questions that drive modern linguistic research concerning formal structure, universals, acquisition, historical change, variation, and social dimensions of use, along with foundational knowledge in the core areas of linguistic theory.
  • The ability to identify and describe with precision the empirical patterns found in sets of language data, and to construct well-reasoned linguistic analyses by formulating, testing, and refining hypotheses about these patterns.
  • Experience in at least one area of “applied” linguistic research (including, e.g., language development, psycholinguistics, historical linguistics, or sociolinguistics). This will come in each case both from coursework, and from participation in the BU Conference on Language Development.
  • Specialization in a selected subfield of linguistics or interface area.
  • The ability to define a research question in that area, to produce substantial original research addressing that question, and to report the outcome of that research in a well-­written, disciplinarily appropriate form.

Course Requirements

Candidates for the MA degree in Applied Linguistics are required to complete a minimum of eight graduate-level semester courses (32 credits) or the equivalent.

Each student must take four core courses that provide an introduction to language structure, linguistic theory, and one major area of linguistics:

  • GRS LX 601 Phonetics & Phonology: Introduction to Sound Systems (previously offered as CAS LX 510)

  • GRS LX 621 Syntax: Introduction to Sentential Structure (previously offered as CAS LX 522)

  • One course in language structure and linguistic theory. For example:
    • GRS LX 611 Morphology: Introduction to the Structures and Shapes of Words (previously offered as CAS LX 521)
    • GRS LX 617 Having and "Being" across Languages (previously offered as CAS LX 517)
    • GRS LX 627 Focus (previously offered as CAS LX 518)
    • GRS LX 628 Questions (previously offered as CAS LX 519)
    • GRS LX 631 Semantics & Pragmatics: Introduction to Linguistic Meaning (previously offered as CAS LX 502)
    • GRS LX 645 Languages in Contact: The High Stakes of Grammatical Border-Crossing (previously offered as CAS LX 515)
    • GRS LX 660 Historical and Comparative Linguistics (previously offered as CAS LX 535)
    • GRS LX 703 Phonological Analysis (previously offered as CAS LX 513)
    • GRS LX 705 Prosody (previously offered as CAS LX 525)
    • GRS LX 722 Intermediate Syntax: Modeling Syntactic Knowledge
    • GRS LX 732 Intermediate Semantics: The Grammatical Construction of Meaning (previously offered as CAS LX 503)
    • GRS LX 733 Intermediate Pragmatics: Meaning in Context (previously offered as CAS LX 504)
  • One course that provides an introduction to a major area of applied linguistics, broadly construed (often taken from among the following courses, but other appropriate courses may be substituted as well, subject to advisor's approval):
    • GRS LX 641 Sociolinguistics (also offered as CAS AN 521)
    • GRS LX 649 Bilingualism (previously offered as CAS LX 545)
    • GRS LX 655 Second Language Acquisition (previously offered as CAS LX 542)
    • GRS LX 659 Interrupted Acquisition and Language Attrition (previously offered as CAS LX 546)
    • GRS LX 753 Acquisition of Phonology (previously offered as CAS LX 541)
    • GRS LX 754 Acquisition of Syntax (previously offered as CAS LX 540)
    • SAR SH 524 Language Acquisition
    • SAR SH 531 Introduction to Communication Disorders
    • SED LS 566 Language Acquisition
    • SED LS 750 Cognitive Development and Language
    • GRS PS 828 Psycholinguistics

Students also take four additional specialized courses. Possible specializations are suggested below, or students may design their own specialization in consultation with their advisor.

Students may receive transfer credit for up to two courses, in accordance with the policies and practices of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. If a student has taken the equivalent of any of the core courses, it may be waived. In this case, the student may substitute another course for the course already taken, but unless the credits are transferred, there will be no reduction in the 32 credits required for the MA.

Specialization Requirements

Each student will construct a specialization sequence of four courses (some possible courses are listed in the Electives section below). The specialization sequence provides students with the opportunity to develop sophisticated knowledge of the theories and methods of one area of linguistics.

The four-course specialization sequence is to be designed in consultation with the faculty advisor. Possible specialization sequences are described below, but students should note that it is not necessary to specialize in one of these. MA students and their advisors often compose unique specialization sequences that meet their needs or interests, as indicated in the ‘Individualized Specialization’ option below.

Language Acquisition and Development

Includes the study of first and/or second language learning within the theoretical frameworks provided by linguistics and psychology; may emphasize linguistic, cognitive, social or educational implications.

Neurolinguistics and Language Disorders

Features the study of neuro-psychological and neurological substrates of language and language disorders; may include adult and child language disorders; may emphasize clinical or theoretical implications.

Language Structure and Linguistic Theory

Students may specialize in the study of a particular language or language family (e.g., African languages, Romance languages or American Sign Language), viewed within current linguistic theory, or students may focus on linguistic theory exclusively.

Bilingualism and Language Teaching

Includes study of linguistic theory and methods of language teaching and learning; may include adult and child language learners in formal educational settings; may emphasize bilingual education, or English and other languages taught as a second language.

Sign Language

Includes the study of the linguistic structure and acquisition of American Sign Language and signed languages in general. Research may also address crosslinguistic comparisons of different signed languages or comparisons between signed and spoken languages.

Individualized specialization

Students may design their own programs of study in consultation with an advisor. Examples include focus on language and literacy teaching in developing countries, language in mass communication, natural language understanding, discourse analysis, pragmatics, and others.

Elective Course Offerings

Students may take courses not on this list for their electives, but advance approval by the major advisor is required.

Linguistic Theory

  • GRS LX 611 Morphology: Introduction to the Structures and Shapes of Words (previously offered as CAS LX 521)
  • GRS LX 617 Having and "Being" across Languages (previously offered as CAS LX 517)
  • GRS LX 627 Focus (previously offered as CAS LX 518)
  • GRS LX 628 Questions (previously offered as CAS LX 519)
  • GRS LX 645 Languages in Contact: The High Stakes of Grammatical Border-Crossing (previously offered as CAS LX 515)
  • GRS LX 660 Historical and Comparative Linguistics (previously offered as CAS LX 535)
  • GRS LX 703 Phonological Analysis (previously offered as CAS LX 513)
  • GRS LX 705 Prosody (previously offered as CAS LX 525)
  • GRS LX 722 Intermediate Syntax: Modeling Syntactic Knowledge
  • GRS LX 732 Intermediate Semantics: The Grammatical Construction of Meaning (previously offered as CAS LX 503)
  • GRS LX 733 Intermediate Pragmatics: Meaning in Context (previously offered as CAS LX 504)

Language Acquisition

  • GRS LX 650 Crosslinguistic Approaches to Language Acquisition (previously offered as GRS LX 700)
  • GRS LX 659 Interrupted Acquisition and Language Attrition (previously offered as CAS LX 546)
  • GRS LX 753 Acquisition of Phonology (previously offered as CAS LX 541)
  • GRS LX 754 Acquisition of Syntax (previously offered as CAS LX 540)
  • GRS PS 848 Developmental Psycholinguistics
  • SED LS 566 Language Acquisition
  • SED LS 750 Cognitive Development and Language

Second Language Acquisition, Bilingualism, and Language Teaching

  • GRS LX 649 Bilingualism (previously offered as CAS LX 545)
  • GRS LX 655 Second Language Acquisition (previously offered as CAS LX 542)
  • SED BI 620 Educational Issues in Bilingualism
  • SED BI 621 Bilingualism and Biliteracy
  • SED LS 658 Second Language Acquisition
  • SED TL 509 Methods of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Linguistic Analysis of Specific Languages

African Languages

  • GRS LX 668 Structure of African Languages (previously offered as CAS LX 505)

English

  • GRS LX 664 The Linguistics of Contemporary English (previously offered as CAS LX 406)
  • GRS LX 665 Variation in Dialects of English (previously offered as CAS LX 530)
  • CAS EN 515 History of the English Language 1
  • CAS EN 516 History of the English Language 2
  • CAS EN 518 Linguistic Problems in TESOL

Japanese

  • CAS LJ 510 Structure of the Japanese Language: Syntax

Romance Languages

  • GRS LX 670 Romance Linguistics (previously offered as CAS LX 532)

French

  • CAS LF 504 History of the French Language
  • GRS LX 673 The Structure of French: Phonology (also offered as CAS LF 503)
  • GRS LX 674 The Structure of French: Syntax (previously offered as CAS LF 502)
  • GRS LX 676 Topics in French Linguistics (previously offered as CAS LX 506; also offered as CAS LF 506)

Spanish

  • CAS LS 504 History of the Spanish Language
  • GRS LX 681 Spanish in the United States (previously offered as CAS LX 420; also offered as CAS LS 420)
  • GRS LX 683 The Sounds of Spanish (previously offered as CAS LX 507; also offered as CAS LS 507)
  • GRS LX 684 The Structure of Spanish (previously offered as CAS LX 508; also offered as CAS LS 508)
  • GRS LX 686 Topics in Spanish Linguistics (also offered as CAS LS 505)

American Sign Language

  • SED DE 672 Structure of American Sign Language

Other languages

  • GRS LX 669 Creole Linguistics (previously offered as CAS LX 533)
  • GRS LX 691 Linguistic Field Methods (previously offered as CAS LX 510)

Neurolinguistics and Language Disorders

  • CAS PS 544 Developmental Neuropsychology
  • SAR SH 505 Introduction to Phonological Disorders
  • SAR SH 708 Models of Language
  • SAR SH 731 Phonological Disorders
  • SAR SH 735 Preschool Language Disorders
  • SAR SH 736 Aphasia
  • SAR SH 756 Cognition and Neural Bases

Philosophy of Language

  • GRS PH 621 Frege, Moore, and Russell
  • GRS PH 622 Analytic Philosophy
  • GRS PH 624 Wittgenstein
  • GRS PH 633 Symbolic Logic
  • GRS PH 663 Philosophy of Language

Computational Linguistics

  • GRS LX 690 Topics in Linguistics: Natural Language Processing and Computational Linguistics

Research Methodology

  • GRS LX 691 Linguistic Field Methods (previously offered as CAS LX 501)
  • GRS LX 795 Quantitative Methods in Linguistics
  • GRS MA 613/614 Statistical Methods I and II
  • GRS PS 711/712 Statistics in Psychology I and II
  • GRS SO 709 Field Research
  • GRS SO 712 Qualitative Research Methods
  • SED RS 652 Qualitative Research Methods

Directed Research

For GRS LX 951/952 Directed Research courses, instructor and hours are arranged and credit is variable. Students do not register themselves for these courses on the Link. Rather, they must fill out an application (including a brief summary and outline of the project, plus a list of readings), which is first approved by the supervising Linguistics faculty member and then submitted to the Program office at the very beginning of the semester. Once this application is approved by the Director of Graduate Studies, the program administrator will then register the student in the appropriate section (corresponding to the supervising faculty member) of the directed study course. Deadline for submission of the application: 2 days before the deadline for adding classes in the given semester.

Language Requirement

All students pursuing an MA in Applied Linguistics are required to demonstrate graduate-level reading proficiency in a foreign language prior to completion of the degree. Language proficiency can be demonstrated either through a language examination, successful completion of a non-credit graduate-level foreign language reading course offered by Boston University, or the equivalent of two years of undergraduate study of the language at Boston University.

Master’s students are required to demonstrate competence in a language other than their native language. This requirement may be fulfilled in one of three ways, listed below.

    1. The student may present a transcript that indicates that he or she successfully completed two years of a foreign language as an undergraduate.

    2. The student may pass a language exam administered by faculty in the appropriate language program, or by a faculty member in the Linguistics Program. (One option is to pass the final exam of a qualifying course.)

    3. The student may count English as the examination language if he or she is a native speaker of a language other than English and has passed the TOEFL at a level adequate for admission to the program. If you are in a position to satisfy the language requirement in one of the above three ways, contact the Program Administrator (PA) to have this requirement officially entered into your records and/or to schedule a language exam. The exam requires you to translate a passage concerning language or linguistics. You are allotted one hour and allowed use of a dictionary. Students are advised to schedule this exam early in their graduate career in case they do not pass the first time. Exams are generally graded and returned to the Linguistics office within two to three weeks after the exam has been taken.

Final MA Project

Students complete a significant research project relevant to their field of specialization. This may be a publishable paper or a project designed to show mastery of some aspect of the specialization area. Planning of the final project is done in consultation with the advisor. The MA project must demonstrate the student’s control over theories and methods pertaining to an appropriate topic in the student’s area of specialization. The project or paper is evaluated by the advisor and at least one other member of the Linguistics faculty.

If your research involves human subjects, please see the important information on this page: http://ling.bu.edu/grad/resources/researchinfo.

Planning of the final project is done in consultation with a project supervisor who will be a member of the Core Faculty in the Linguistics Program; this may or may not be the student's main academic advisor. One or two additional readers, from among the Core and Affiliated Linguistics faculty members, will provide guidance on the project.

Work on the project may begin at any point in the student's program, and may be an extension of a project done for a course. A two-to-four page proposal must be submitted to the Linguistics Program Office along with the Project Proposal form, signed by the project supervisor and at least one additional reader before the project is begun; see deadlines in the table below. The final version of the MA project must be read and approved by at least two readers.

Please note that the MA project requirement in Applied Linguistics is not the same as the Graduate School “Master’s Thesis” option. This means that the information in the GRS bulletin about submission of the MA thesis (including deadlines and formatting) does not apply to our students. Instead, for Applied Linguistics Master’s students, the project must be fully completed and approved by their readers to comply with the following deadlines:

*forms available here: http://ling.bu.edu/grad/resources/forms.

**form to be submitted electronically to GRS: http://www.bu.edu/cas/students/graduate/grs-forms-policies-procedures/grs-masters-forms-policies-procedures/grs-intent-to-graduate-for-a-masters-degree/

Students should verify the deadlines for filing the "intent to graduate form" on the GRS website.

For graduation in 2017-18, the dates will be essentially the same but 1 year later than listed above.


Students should give the readers of their MA project at least one month to read the penultimate draft, and should allow themselves ample time to make revisions as requested by their readers.

Forms

For links to download relevant Linguistics Program forms, go to this page: http://ling.bu.edu/grad/resources/forms.

Graduation

Degree Completion

The Master’s Program should be completed within three years after the first registration for study leading to the Master’s degree. A ‘Petition for Extension of Time to Complete MA Requirements’ is available from the Graduate School if a student finds that he or she cannot complete the Master’s degree in this time frame. Students normally register for no more than four courses per semester, but must register for at least one course each semester until course requirements have been fulfilled (unless a leave of absence has been granted).

Procedures to Apply for Graduation

An intent to graduate form must be filled out online by the stated GRS deadline. See http://www.bu.edu/cas/students/graduate/grs-forms-policies-procedures/grs-masters-forms-policies-procedures/grs-masters-graduation-procedures/

Checking that your requirements have been fulfilled

Several weeks before the end of the semester, the Graduate School will send a form to the Director of Graduate Studies, asking whether you have finished all of your requirements for the MA degree, including the 8 required courses completed with a grade of B- or better, the language requirement, and the MA Project (which must have been submitted to the program office along with the MA Project Approval form; see the Appendix). This means that all the necessary documentation must appear on your online transcript or have been submitted to the Program Office. You are responsible for making sure that all your documents are in order in time for graduation. If you are completing coursework required for the degree during the semester in which you intend to graduate, your graduation will be subject to satisfactory completion of those courses.

Commencement

Master’s candidates are not required to participate in the commencement ceremonies in May, but those whose official graduation dates are in January or May (as well as those who anticipate completion in time for graduation in September) are welcome to do so. There are commencement ceremonies held specifically for BA and MA recipients in Linguistics. If you wish to participate in the graduation ceremonies in May, please inform the Linguistics program administrator by no later than March 31.