Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics (PhD)
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguists are interested in questions such as the following:
- What are the structural properties of languages, at the level of sounds, words, sentences, and meaning?
- To what extent are the languages of the world similar or different?
- How is language acquired, by children and in adulthood?
- How is it processed in the mind/brain?
- How do people produce and perceive speech?
- How do languages change over time?
Linguistics is a highly interdisciplinary field which combines research methods from the humanities and the social, natural, and mathematical sciences.
Research in the Department covers a broad range of topics, with substantial coverage of syntax, semantics, morphology, phonetics, phonology, and pragmatics. We approach these topics from several different research traditions and backgrounds, with particular strengths in formal-theoretical linguistics, experimental and field linguistics, acquisition, and computational approaches to the study of communicative behaviour. These research areas intersect and overlap considerably, and faculty and students are often simultaneously involved in more than one area. This is part of the attention paid to interfaces between traditional subfields of linguistics and methodological traditions (e.g., laboratory phonology, gesture and speech and learning), one of the great strengths of the Department.
The Department also has a strong commitment to the study of Languages of the Americas, with particular focus on First Nations Languages of Canada, in the areas of documentation and theoretical research, something for which it is well known. Research is not restricted to Languages of the Americas, however; the department also has a long history of work on African languages and there is ongoing research on languages within the Indo-European, Japonic, Sino-Tibetan, and Uralic families as well as Korean.
What makes the program unique?
Our linguists focus on data in all its forms – not just fieldwork, but also high-quality research in labs with cutting-edge resources and tools, such as those found and developed in the Communication Dynamics Lab, the Interdisciplinary Speech Research Lab, the Language and Learning Lab, the Speech In Context Lab, and the Phonological CorpusTools working group.
Students in the Department of Linguistics are given the opportunity to head out into the field and get their hands dirty. Many of the members of our department, from undergrads and grad students to post-docs and faculty members, work directly with language consultants to describe, analyze and revitalize the languages of the world.
Linguists in the department have active working relationships with scholars from many different disciplines and from across the UBC campus, across the country, and across the world.
Our students are actively engaged in research from the moment they enter the department, and they have an excellent track record of publishing and presenting their work at national and international conferences.
TOEFL (ibT) Overall Score Requirement
IELTS Overall Score Requirement
Deadline to submit online application. No changes can be made to the application after submission.Transcript Deadline
Deadline to upload scans of official transcripts through the applicant portal in support of a submitted application. Information for accessing the applicant portal will be provided after submitting an online application for admission.Referee Deadline
Deadline for the referees identified in the application for admission to submit references. See Letters of Reference for more information.
September 2020 Intake
Application Open Date01 September 2019
All full-time students who begin a UBC-Vancouver PhD program in September 2018 or later will be provided with a funding package of at least $18,000 for each of the first four years of their PhD. The funding package may consist of any combination of internal or external awards, teaching-related work, research assistantships, and graduate academic assistantships. Please note that many graduate programs provide funding packages that are substantially greater than $18,000 per year. Please check with your prospective graduate program for specific details of the funding provided to its PhD students.
31 students graduated between 2005 and 2013: 3 graduates are seeking employment; for 1 we have no data (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016). For the remaining 27 graduates:
RI (Research-Intensive) Faculty: typically tenure-track faculty positions (equivalent of the North American Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor positions) in PhD-granting institutions
TI (Teaching-Intensive) Faculty: typically full-time faculty positions in colleges or in institutions not granting PhDs, and teaching faculty at PhD-granting institutions
Term Faculty: faculty in term appointments (e.g. sessional lecturers, visiting assistant professors, etc.)
Sample Employers in Higher EducationUniversity of British Columbia (3)
University of Victoria (2)
University of Montana
University of Ghana
University of Ottawa
City University of Hong Kong
Sample Employers Outside Higher EducationZAS, Berlin
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher EducationShiatsu Therapist
PhD Career Outcome SurveyYou may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
DisclaimerThese data represent historical employment information and do not guarantee future employment prospects for graduates of this program. They are for informational purposes only. Data were collected through either alumni surveys or internet research.
Tuition / Program Costs
|Fees||Canadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / Diplomat||International|
|Installments per year||3||3|
|Tuition per installment||$1,665.26||$2,925.58|
|Tuition per year|
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
|Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible)||$3,200.00 (-)|
|Other Fees and Costs|
|Student Fees (yearly)||$930.14 (approx.)|
|Costs of living (yearly)||starting at $16,884.10 (check cost calculator)|
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.
Completion Rates & Times
This list shows faculty members with full supervisory privileges who are affiliated with this program. It is not a comprehensive list of all potential supervisors as faculty from other programs or faculty members without full supervisory privileges can request approvals to supervise graduate students in this program.
Abdul-Mageed, Muhammad (Deep Learning, Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning, Computational Linguistics, Social Media Mining, Arabic)
Babel, Molly (speech perception, acoustics of speech production, spoken word recognition, phonetic variation)
Davis, Henry Thomas (First Nations languages)
Dechaine, Rose-Marie (Native American languages; Algonquian language family, Cree, Blackfoot, Ojibwe; French / English bilingualism policy; formal linguistics; generative grammar (Chomsky); West African languages (Niger-Congo, Yoruba, Igbo, Edo); Nigerian languages; literacy vs. oralcy; language planning re: French, Indigenous languages, Speech/gesture coordination, syntactic interface relations)
Gick, Bryan (phonetics, speech science, speech motor control, speech perception, multimodal perception, tactile perception, ultrasound imaging of speech, sounds of the world’s languages, Physical mechanisms of speech production, speech research)
Hall, Kathleen (Laboratory Phonology)
Hansson, Gunnar (theoretical phonology, morphology-phonology interface, phonological typology, historical linguistics (language change), locality relations, Icelandic)
Hudson Kam, Carla (Language development, second language acquisition, critical periods for learning, input and language learning, language learning and language change, Psychology, First and second language acquisition, gesture and language learning, language contact and language change)
Matthewson, Lisa (Salish languages, Tsimshianic languages, Austronesian languages, Cross-linguistic variation and universals, Semantic fieldwork)
Pulleyblank, Douglas (African languages, Yoruba)
Wiltschko, Martina (syntax and its interfaces, , speech acts, interactive language, categories)
Recent Doctoral Citations
- Dr. Wai Man Lam
"Dr. Lam investigated how post-childhood linguistic experience affects the way bilingual adults perceive speech sounds. In a Cantonese word identification experiment, Cantonese speakers who grew up in Canada used different listening strategies from those who grew up in Hong Kong. These results advance our understanding of bilingual competence." (May 2019)
- Dr. Sihwei Chen
"Dr. Chen investigated how natural languages vary in expressing temporal and modal information. Through fieldwork on Atayal, an endangered Austronesian language of Taiwan she uncovered new ways in which meaning components can be combined. Her work contributes to modifying current theories and typology and provides valuable language documentation." (November 2018)
- Dr. Alexis Killian Black
"Dr. Black studied how children and adults detect linguistic patterns in streams of sound. She found that both pre-existing knowledge and factors related to cognitive development, such as executive function, impact this learning process in different ways. This work contributes to our understanding of low-level mechanisms driving language acquisition." (November 2018)
- Dr. James Scott Mackie
"Dr. Mackie's work focused on how the pronunciation of words changes over generations. Using computer simulation, he showed that simple phonetic misperceptions can influence the total number and type of consonant sounds found in a language. This research contributes more generally to our understanding of how and why human languages change over time." (May 2017)
- Dr. Elizabeth Leigh Stelle
"Hearing oneself while speaking is known to have an effect on speech production and perception. Dr. Stelle investigated the more unusual form of real time, visual feedback on speech production, and showed how this feedback affects speakers. Her work expands our understanding of speech motor control." (May 2017)