Master’s Degree

The Graduate Group in Linguistics does not provide funding for pursuit of a master's degree, and does not generally accept applications for an M.A. In special circumstances, students who bring a fellowship from another source may be considered for admission to a master's program; such students must show that they have the appropriate academic background as well as interests to match the research pursued at Penn, which can be determined by investigating the past work of the faculty and students. It is sensible to consult with the graduate chair before submitting an MA application, since inappropriate candidates will not be considered by the admissions committee. 

The requirements for the M.A. degree are the following; they cannot be completed in less than three semesters of residence.

  1. Satisfactory completion of eleven approved semester courses, including one year each of phonology (Ling 530-531) and syntax (Ling 550-551). All courses must be at the 400 level or above.
  2. A thesis written under the supervision of a faculty committee. The thesis can be based on previous coursework. The committee consists of at least two faculty members, the adviser and a reader, who both must also be members of the graduate group.
  3. An oral examination based on the thesis. This consists of a private meeting with the committee, during which the student answers questions on the content of the thesis.

The written thesis on which the exam is based should be provided to the committee members in time for them to read it carefully before the exam; normally this will be at least a week, but the committee should be consulted for more specific deadlines.

Students who are already in the Ph.D. program at Penn have the option of receiving an M.A. on the way to the final degree, or if leaving the program without receiving a Ph.D. The requirements for this M.A. are the same as those outlined above.

Submatriculation

Undergraduates who submatriculate are subject to the same requirements for the M.A. as are regular graduate students. A student interested in this program should meet with the undergraduate chair and then the graduate chair to discuss the requirements and the curriculum. Students must submit a on-line application no later than the spring semester of the junior year. Contact Amy Forsyth for specific instructions.

Be aware that, due to University rules, a student cannot earn graduate credit until he or she is actually enrolled in a graduate program. Any graduate-level course taken before that time can be counted toward an undergraduate degree, but not toward a graduate degree. For this reason, students intending to submatriculate should complete an application before the end of the first semester in which they take a graduate course.