Ph.D. Degrees

Our Ph.D. programs

Ph.D. candidates have been completing their doctorates in our department every year since 1956. We offer a Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics with multiple concentrations.

Ph.D. in Linguistics

Doctoral students in Linguistics establish themselves as experts in specific areas of language investigation, building on coursework comprising the M.A. program. An unusual feature of Linguistics at Indiana University is the requirement of a substantive minor outside of the department, which establishes each student with a research relationship with faculty outside the department. Students commonly are on the ground-floor of creating cross-disciplinary research agenda, opening up new ways of looking at language.

Doctoral students develop research skills to open up investigation into an aspect of language. Since the doctoral program is one of the largest in the nation, our students are developing expertise in many different areas, ranging from acoustics to speech motor control, to logic and discourse representation, from how languages adapt words from other languages to how speakers adopt patterns to move across language groups, from grammatical theory to learning a second language.

Ph.D. in Linguistics with a Concentration in Computational Linguistics

Computational linguistics is an interdisciplinary field which addresses the use of computers to process or produce human language. Linguistics contributes to this field an understanding of the special properties of language data, and also provides theories and descriptions of language structure and use. Computational linguistics is largely an applied discipline concerned with practical problems. Typical applications include: natural language processing, machine translation (translating from one language to another), speech synthesis, speech production, information retrieval (finding relevant documents or parts of documents in large collections of texts), cognitive modeling, and, in general, almost anything dealing with natural language interfaces.

Ph.D. in Linguistics with a Concentration in African Languages and Linguistics

Since our Linguistics department has a long history of research and teaching of languages from all over the continent of Africa, we offer a doctoral concentration specifically to support students who are developing expertise in linguistic inquiry into the languages of Africa. The program, though similar to the general Ph.D. program, requires engagement in offerings specifically targeting African linguistics, and is administered by our faculty who are leaders in the study of the languages of Africa.

Find more information about Ph.D. degrees in our Student Portal


As part of our graduate program, we offer professionalization workshops every 3-4 weeks. To quickly develop a sense of professional opportunities in our field, incoming students are strongly encouraged to attend. These workshops introduce you to a range of extracurricular topics, including:

  • What it means to be a professional linguist
  • Conferences
  • Publications
  • Grants and funding
  • Job-seeking
  • Institutional Review Board (IRB) protocols

Learn more about career preparation

Student spotlight: Jeremy Coburn

Fieldwork with the Hadza: At Home and Abroad

In order to mitigate the difficulties (and expense) of frequently traveling to northern Tanzania to study the language of the Hadza, Jeremy collaborated with the Hadza community to develop a community-based remote fieldwork methodology.

Learn more about Jeremy's fieldwork

Interested in applying to IU's Department of Linguistics?