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Department of Linguistics
Last updated 11/12/2002

Graduate level assessment

1. Background

The department of Linguistics currently houses 8 faculty and enrolls 65 graduate students. The graduate program is supported by 1.75 staff. The department offers two graduate degrees: the Masters and the PhD. Thirty students are enrolled in the Masters program this semester; the remaining graduate students are in the doctoral program. The MA degree can be taken with a certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and either degree can be taken with the new Human Language Technology certificate. There is also an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of East Asian Languages (TESEAL), offered in conjunction with the department of East Asian Languages. In addition, students often participate in the Institute of Cognitive Science certificate program, or in the joint PhD program.

The department has graduated 20 PhD students since Fall 1994, an average of 2.5 PhD graduates per year. 80% of those graduates are employed either in industry or in an academic appointment: 60% in academia and 20% in industry.

The department offers an average of 7 courses per semester at the graduate level. These courses serve not only Linguistics graduate students; they also serve students in Speech, Language, and Hearing Science, Computer Science, Psychology, and Communication.

The faculty together currently carry approximately $5,000,000 in grant money.

The department went through PRP review 1998-1999.

2. Academic areas of excellence

The department is well known for its scholarship in several areas, including: computational linguistics, description of Native American and Chadic (Central African) languages, sociolinguistics, interactional linguistics, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, first language acquisition, and functionally-oriented syntax. Although small, the department has been selected to host the bi- annual linguistics summer school in 2007, a great honor for the department. One of our faculty, Dan Jurafsky, was recently recognized by the MacArthur Foundation with one of their "genius" awards. Another of the faculty, Zygmunt Frajzyngier, recently received the prestigious Humboldt research award.

3. Innovations in the Graduate Program

Since the last PRP, the department has made several innovations to the graduate program.

First, as recommended by the PRP, we have added a faculty member in the area of sociolinguistics, Kira Hall. Sociolinguistics supports and complements the department's strength in cognitive science, and the depth of focus of the department is now enriched by Prof. Hall's presence. Prof. Hall and Prof. Barbara Fox work together in what is now an area of excellence in the department-social-interactional approaches to language use and structure. Profs. Hall and Fox are creating a sociolinguistics lab, which will allow students and faculty to work together on video- and audiotaped data with the latest technology.

Second, we are well underway with a review of the PhD program. Last year a committee was created and charged with the task of reviewing the existing program and suggesting ways to improve the program. The committee submitted a report in the spring, which the department is still considering. One of the main findings of the committee was that the PhD program is currently working quite well; the modifications their report recommends are not large changes. Nonetheless, we will find ways to improve the already fine doctoral program.

Third, the department has increased its enrollment, both at the MA and the PhD level, by a factor of 50%. The quality of students has also increased: we have our first Chancellor's fellowship awardee since 1984.

Fourth, the department, together with Computer Science and Speech, Hearing, and Language Science, have created the Human Language Technology certificate, a program which allows students in each of the participating departments to gain experience and skills in areas such as natural language processing, speech recognition, and speech synthesis. The HLT certificate just started last year, and we have already admitted several MA students hoping to pursue the certificate (in addition to some PhD students).

Fifth, the department is working towards Dual MA degrees with East Asian Languages, and with SLHS. We expect the Dual MA degree with EALC to be approved this year.

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Last revision 12/19/02

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