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
31 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 30 alumni (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016):
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
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||$1,600.60||$2,811.98|
|Tuition per year||$4,801.80||$8,435.94|
|Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible)||$3,200.00 (-)|
|Other Fees and Costs|
|Student Fees (yearly)||$899.00 (approx.)|
|Costs of living (yearly)||starting at $16,453.00 (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. 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
Affiliated Faculty Members
Babel, Molly (speech, language change, accommodation, voice, language stereotypes, sound change, sociolinguistics, phonetics, speech styles, dialects of English, language variation, speech intelligibility )
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)
Hansson, Gunnar (phonetics (speech sounds), phonology (sound patterns, sound systems), language change, linguistic relationships (language families), reconstruction of proto-languages, language contact, Scandinavian languages (esp. Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish), Athabaskan (Dene) languages, Saami (Lapp) languages, Russian, Phonology)
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 (First Nations languages, Salish languages, linguistics, semantics, syntax, Cross-linguistic variation in the semantics and pragmatics, and what variation (or the lack of it) tells us about Universal Grammar, community language preservation initiatives)
Pulleyblank, Douglas (Phonological theroy, phonetics, morphology, syntax, learnability, featural properties, African languages (Nigeria), Yoruba)
Rochemont, Michael (Syntax and information structure)
Rullmann, Hotze (Dutch and other west germanic languages Semantics and pragmatics )
Stemberger, Joseph (linguistics, phonology, morphology, psycholinguistics, slips of the tongue, first language acquisition, child language )
Vatikiotis-Bateson, Eric (Cognitive Systems, Linguistics, Auditory-Visual Speech Processing, Physical and computational modeling of speech motor control, Talking heads animation, Language and Gesture, Communicating systems, Phonology)
Wiltschko, Martina (Sources and limits of language variation in the realm of grammatical categories)
Recent Doctoral Citations
- Dr. Masaki Noguchi
"Dr. Noguchi studied the mechanisms of human language learning. Through a series of laboratory experiments, he demonstrated how humans learn to categorize speech sounds, and how that affects their perception of the speech sounds." (November 2016)
- Dr. Jennifer Robin Sarah Glougie
"Dr. Glougie examined how English speakers negotiate information in the context of police interviews. She found that speakers used specific words to propose new information in the dialogue and to mark whether that information should be included in the common understanding. Her research gives insight into how English discourse markers contribute to meaning." (November 2016)
- Dr. Blake Hawkins Allen
"Dr. Allen developed a mathematical framework for modeling how humans apply their knowledge of language to new situations. Experimental validations demonstrated that humans exhibit previously unknown capabilities " (November 2016)
- Dr. Kevin James McMullin
"Dr. McMullin constructed a set of artificial languages for people to learn in the laboratory, and showed that the way humans learn linguistic sound patterns influences the range of patterns found across the world's languages. His dissertation argues that current linguistic theory cannot account for this, and proposes a mathematically principled definition of what constitutes a possible language." (May 2016)
- Dr. Patrick William Littell
"Dr. Littell investigated dialogue patterns in Kwak'wala, a critically endangered aboriginal language of British Columbia, based on field interviews with Kwakwaka'wakw elders. This research helps future learners of conversational Kwak'wala know how to ask and answer questions, draw parallels and contrasts, and express agreement and disagreement." (May 2016)