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University of Pittsburgh


MA Degree

Student Handbook

Student Handbook for all linguistics department graduate students (MA and PhD):

MA General Requirements

This page outlines the general requirements for the MA degree. To see specific requirements for individual programs, click on one of the concentration links below:


The Department of Linguistics offers a terminal Master's degree with an option of three different concentrations:


Full-status admission to the MA program is granted to well-qualified students who hold a baccalaureate degree or its foreign equivalent. A minimum grade point average of B (3.0 on a 4-point scale) is the academic requirement for admission to full graduate status. You do not have to have an undergraduate degree in linguistics. Applicants with undergraduate majors in anthropology, modern languages, English, psychology and sociology might be interested in a linguistics graduate degree. By the end of the MA program, a very basic reading knowledge in a language other than English must be demonstrated. If your native language is not English, then you automatically fulfill this requirement for the MA degree. For more information on the application process and requirements, please refer to the Apply page.

General Requirements


The MA Program requires a minimum of 10 courses (30 credits) chosen in consultation with the graduate advisor; in order to receive the degree, a student must maintain a grade point average of B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale).

For specific course-related requirements, click on one of the program links under “Concentration” on this page.

Foreign Language Requirement

Basic proficiency in one foreign language is required for the MA degree before graduation. This requirement is satisfied by an informal reading examination for students whose native language is English. International students whose native language is *not* English and who complete their MA work with a grade point average of B (3.0) or better will have fulfilled this requirement automatically.

Comprehensive Examinations

This requirement is met by obtaining a grade of B+ or better in all core courses. Any student who has received a grade below B+ in any of those courses has the choice of either repeating the course(s) or taking a comprehensive examination in the areas corresponding to the course(s) with a low grade. *This examination must take place before the end of the semester following the low grade, preferably as soon as possible by arrangement with the Director of Graduate Studies and the course instructor.

Time Required for Completion of the MA

The absolute minimum for students enrolled full time and entering in the fall term would be four terms, since 30 required credits could be taken in that period. However, only a student with extensive previous course work in linguistics could finish in that short a time, and in recent years students have taken five or six terms (two calendar years) to complete the degree.