Graduate opportunities

Our Master of Arts degrees in Linguistics and English as a Second Language offer broad training in all core areas of the discipline and prepare you for challenging careers in a variety of industries, including:

  • Bioinformatics
  • Education
  • Government
  • Law
  • Natural language processing

Our M.A. programs also serve as an excellent foundation for doctoral studies in Linguistics and other language-related fields, such as speech pathology, deaf education, audiology or the teaching of English as a second language.

The M.A. in ESL specifically prepares students for careers in teaching English as a second language and/or foreign language and language arts instruction for K-12 (with additional certification and coursework from the College of Education).

CNN lists linguistics as the second most overlooked job possibility for new graduates. A degree in Linguistics makes students competitive for jobs in:

  • Advertising
  • Codes and code-breaking
  • Language education
  • Law — forensic linguistics
  • Marketing
  • Speech — language pathology and audiology

Because linguistics provides students with the skills to analyze language, companies such as Microsoft, Google and Apple also are eager to hire students with linguistics degrees.

Focus areas

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

For those interested in teaching English as a second language, we offer courses on second language acquisition; pedagogical approaches to English grammar; methods and practicum in teaching English as a second or additional language; and English language variation and change, including varieties of English spoken worldwide.

Our practicum in ESL is often available at an international venue. We also offer a Graduate Academic Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Language documentation, curation and conservation

The world’s languages, numbered at approximately 7,000, are disappearing at an alarming rate. Each language encodes unique knowledge about the ecologies — animals and plants — of the societies in which the languages are spoken. Linguists and interested members of language communities work together to collect and analyze linguistic data and to preserve it in archives for use in the future.

We offer courses on scientifically sound and ethically appropriate data-collection methodologies, gold-standard archiving practices and methods for data mining. All these lead to research projects on non-Indo-European languages and provide students with extraordinary opportunities to learn about new cultures and customs.

Language variation and change

Languages can vary in just about every aspect of their grammar. To understand language as a human system, we ask how languages vary, the limits to the ways in which they may vary and what causes them to vary. We offer courses on theoretical frameworks that address these questions. We also offer courses on the many varieties of English in America, the structure of African American English vernacular, the structure and history of English around the world, and on principles of language change, reconstruction and change through language contact.

Computational linguistics (CL)

Computational linguistics is the scientific study of language from a computational perspective, living at the intersection of language and technology. These technologies are increasingly present in daily life, from voice-enabled smart phone assistants to predictive text input to machine translation technologies. In our courses, students will develop skills in linguistic analysis that can then be applied to the design of computational systems for automating linguistic analysis. We also offer courses on how computational methods can support the work of documenting endangered languages, linking two of our department’s strengths.

Linguistic analysis of literature

UNT is one of a few Linguistics programs in the country to offer regular courses in the linguistic analysis of poetry and prose. The courses focus on the many kinds of repetition that are used by the world’s great writers — repetitions of sound, parallelisms of form —which have the effect of making literary texts a permanent part of the world’s art.

Attending UNT

Admission requirements

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

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

The GRE scores of accepted applicants range from the 50th to the 99th percentile on the verbal reasoning section and from 3.0 to 6.0 on the analytical writing section. If your native language is not English, you must also submit a TOEFL exam score. Scores on the computer-based TOEFL examination have ranged from 231 to 255, and between 88 and 91 on the Internet-based TOEFL.

The admission requirements for the graduate school are outlined at the grad school website.

Degree requirements

Master of Arts in Linguistics

Course requirements include:
  • 12 hours of core courses
  • 12 hours of foundation courses
  • 9 hours of electives
  • 3-hour research seminar (taken during the last 9 hours of coursework)

Master of Arts in ESL

Course requirements include:
  • 21 hours of core courses
  • 6 hours of foundation courses
  • 6 hours of electives
  • 3-hour research seminar (which must be taken during the last 9 hours of coursework)

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 or foreign language. It requires four courses consisting of 160 student-teacher contact hours, including at least 40 contact hours of practicum. These courses can also count toward the M.A. in ESL or Linguistics. The GRE is not required for admission to the certificate program, but the TOEFL is required for all international students. Note — this program does not substitute for ESL certification for Texas public schools.

Financial assistance

Information about other scholarship and financial aid opportunities is at the financial aid website.


Shobhana Chelliah, Professor; Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin. Language documentation; typology; digital resource creation; language and politics; South Asian languages.

Patricia Cukor-Avila, Professor; Ph.D., University of Michigan. Sociolinguistics; language variation and change; African American vernacular English.

Konstantia Kapetangianni, Lecturer; Ph.D., University of Michigan. Syntax; morphology; psycholinguistics.

Taraka Kasicheyanula, Assistant Professor; PhD, University of Gothenburg.Computational Historical Linguistics, Treebanking for South Asian languages, Medical Informatics, and Bayesian modeling.

Sadaf Munshi, Associate Professor; Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin. Language documentation; historical linguistics; language contact.

Kalaivahni Muthiah, Adjunct Faculty; Ph.D., University of North Texas. Literature and linguistics; world Englishes; textual analysis.

Haj (John Robert) Ross, Professor; Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Syntax; semantics; poetics.

Xian Zhang, Assistant Professor; Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University. Language acquisition; corpus linguistics; psycholinguistics.