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Linguistics and English
as a Second Language

Master’s Degree Programs


Graduate opportunities

By majoring in Linguistics or English as a Second Language (ESL) at the University of North Texas, you immerse yourself in studying language structure, theory and application.

The Department of Linguistics and Technical Communication offers course work leading to a Master of Arts degree in Linguistics or English as a Second Language. We also offer course work leading to a Graduate Academic Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

No matter your degree focus, we encourage our students to take a variety of linguistics, ESL and technical communication courses and seek new synergies among these distinct yet interrelated fields.

You’ll work closely with professors who are published scholars and consultants with national and international reputations. They’re uniquely qualified not only across the core areas of linguistics (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics) but also in their various specializations. Their research has investigated the speaking accents of Texans, documentary and descriptive linguistics, and linguistic variation and change, among others.

You’ll receive the kind of personal attention, mentoring and support that has resulted in successful careers in ESL or subsequent placement into high caliber Ph.D. programs.

The Graduate Writing Support Center, which is operated by the department, provides assistance with writing theses, dissertations, professional publications and academic papers. The center is open exclusively to graduate students.

Attending UNT

Admission requirements

Applicants to the M.A. programs complete two steps. You must meet the general admission requirements for the Toulouse Graduate School® and submit the following:

  • Curriculum vitae or résumé
  • 300- to 500-word personal statement describing your interests, career plans and purpose for working toward an M.A.
  • GRE scores

The GRE scores of accepted applicants range from the 50th to the 99th percentile on the verbal reasoning section and from 4.0 to 6.0 on the analytical writing section. If your native language isn’t English, you must also submit a TOEFL exam score.

The admission requirements for the graduate school are outlined in the catalog. An application checklist for our programs is on our website.

Degree requirements

Master of Arts in Linguistics

Option I: 36 credit hours with thesis
  • 6 credit hours of required courses
  • 24 credit hours of linguistics electives
  • 6 credit hours of a master’s thesis course
  • Thesis defense
  • Written comprehensive exam
Option II: 36 credit hours with scholarly papers
  • 6 credit hours of required courses
  • 24 credit hours of linguistics electives
  • Two original scholarly papers on different topics (fulfilled with 6 credit hours of LING 5920 and LING 5930)
  • Defense of each paper
  • Written comprehensive exam
Option III: 36 credit hours with written exam
  • 6 credit hours of required courses
  • 30 credit hours of linguistics electives
  • Written comprehensive exam

Master of Arts in ESL

Option I: 36 credit hours with thesis
  • 18 credit hours of required courses
  • 12 credit hours of linguistics electives
  • Master’s thesis (fulfilled with 6 credit hours of LING 5950)
  • Thesis defense
  • Written comprehensive exam
Option II: 36 credit hours with scholarly papers
  • 18 credit hours of required course
  • 12 credit hours of linguistics electives
  • Two original scholarly papers on different topics (fulfilled with 6 credit hours of LING 5920 and LING 5930)
  • Defense of each paper
  • Written comprehensive exam
Option III: 36 credit hours with written exam
  • 18 credit hours of required courses
  • 18 credit hours of linguistics electives
  • Written comprehensive exam

TESOL Certificate Program

The Graduate Academic Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) provides basic background and skills for teachers of English as a second language or a foreign language. It requires four courses consisting of 160 student-teacher contact hours, including at least 40 contact hours of practicum.

If you earn the certificate and then decide to further your education, all of the 5000-level courses will count toward the M.A. in ESL or Linguistics.

The GRE is not required for admission into the certificate program, but the TOEFL is required for all international students. Please note that this program doesn’t lead to certification for Texas public schools.

Financial assistance

Beginning full-time students who meet all qualifications may apply for an academic assistantship with the department. Those who’ve completed 18 graduate hours in an area offered by the department may apply for a teaching fellowship. Call 940-565- 4458 to request an application for these positions.

For more information about employment opportunities, visit our website. Information about other scholarship and financial aid opportunities is on the Financial Aid website.