MA with Specialization in Applied Linguistics

We offer a two-year terminal MA degree in Applied Linguistics with an option for the degree in Applied Linguistics with the TESOL Certificate.

Entering students must take LING 1000 (Introduction to Linguistics) if they have not already taken an equivalent introductory course, but LING 1000 will not count toward the 30 credits required for the MA degree.

Requirements: three classes in addition to the general requirements as follows:

  • LING 2146: Second Language Acquisition
  • one language pedagogy course
  • and one of the following:
    • LING 2945: Psycholinguistics
    • LING 2147: Current Issues in Second Language Acquisition
    • LING 2149: Special Topics in Applied Linguistics
    • a course in first language development​

Suggested Sequence for MA in Applied Linguistics

Semester 1 Semester 2 Semester 3 Semester 4
Phonetics Phonology Pedagogy Course Sociolinguistics
Morphology or Elective Syntactic Theory Elective Structures of English or Elective
Research Methods Second Language Acquisition Seminar in Applied Linguistics Elective outside the Department or seminar

Suggested Sequence for MA in Applied Linguistics with TESOL Certificate

Semester 1 Semester 2 Semester 3 Semester 4
Phonetics or Elective Syntactic Theory or Elective Morphology or Elective Phonology or Elective
Second Language Teaching Structures of English Phonetics or Elective Sociolinguistics or Elective
Research methods Second Language Acquisition Assessment in the School of Edcuation Materials Development
Practicum Practicum Practicum Practicum

(Note that the practicum is offered each term but students are only required to take it once.)

We have listed the general requirements for the Master of Arts (MA) degree. To see specific requirements for individual programs, view one of the concentrations below.

Course Descriptions

For detailed course descriptions, visit the University's Graduate Catalog.


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 to apply to this program. 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, English language proficiency requirement, and other requirements, please refer to the application process.

Questions about whether the two-year MA with TESOL Certificate or the one-year MA/TESOL is right for you? Contact Dr. Scott Kiesling, Chair,

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).

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.


Robert T. Henderson Scholarships

The family of Robert T. Henderson has created a permanent endowed fund to provide annual scholarships of approximately $2,500 each to a qualified graduate student(s) of the Department of Linguistics, School of Arts and Sciences, or Department of Instruction and Learning, School of Education, University of Pittsburgh. Between one and three scholarships are made each year.

Each applicant must have a career commitment to the field of TESOL and be a declared candidate for, or already have received, the certificate in TESOL from the Department. The purpose of the award is to provide financial support for expenditures demonstrated relevant to the degree and certificate program as well as to the applicant’s career plans. Read more . . .