Applied Linguistics, Doctor of Philosophy

Department of English

College of Arts and Letters

If, as has been said, "Language is humanity's most useful tool," then applied linguistics, as the study of language, puts that tool to work.  The focus of applied linguistics is on trying to resolve language-based problems that people encounter in the real world" (Grabe 2002). This dissertation-based degree allows students to customize their coursework and research around such areas as second language acquisition; learning; speaking; writing and teaching; corpus linguistics; grammar and discourse; language planning and policy; and language testing and program evaluation. 

  • To receive a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD) at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses, from one or more disciplines, ranging from at least 60 - 109 units of graduate-level courses. Most plans require research, a dissertation, and comprehensive exams. All plans have residency requirements regarding time spent on the Flagstaff campus engaged in full-time study.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 81
Additional Admission Requirements Required
Dissertation Dissertation is required.
Oral Defense Oral Defense is required.
Foreign Language Optional
Research Individualized research is required.
Student Learning Outcomes

Purpose of the Applied Linguistics Ph.D.
Ph.D. students pursue a diverse range of applied linguistic issues in preparation for their careers as researchers, teacher trainers, or leaders in fields related to teaching and learning second languages, including:

  • computer-assisted language learning (CALL)
  • corpus linguistics
  • grammar and discourse
  • language planning and policy
  • language testing and program evaluation
  • language variation
  • literacy       
  • register analysis
  • second language acquisition
  • second language teaching and learning
  • speech perception and production
Our faculty work closely with individual students, helping them to develop as colleagues in applied linguistics. As a result, our Ph.D. students have outstanding records of publication and participation in major conferences such as TESOL and AAAL. Graduates of our program have also been highly successful at obtaining tenure-track faculty positions at major universities.
Applied Linguistics, Ph.D.
Upon completion of the Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics, students will have:
  • Advanced critical and analytical knowledge of the structure and uses of the English language, English language discourse processes and genres, the development of second language learning processes in their diverse cultural contexts, and the assessment of both language program effectiveness and individual language proficiency
  • Ability to address issues of language learning in real world settings
  • Ability to address both language program effectiveness and individual language proficiency
  • Ability to contribute to innovative and effective English language teaching practices in the State of Arizona and elsewhere
  • Ability to integrate use of technology into language instruction and research
  • Ability to synthesize information and approaches across a range of core topics in Applied Linguistics, such as language acquisition, language in society, English grammar, and the development of language curricula and programs
  • Understanding of the many issues relevant to cross-cultural communication
  • Comprehensive preparation and professional orientation for advanced research in Ph.D. programs
  • Ability to design, conduct, analyze, and interpret original and important empirical research
  • Ability to contribute as active professionals in Applied Linguistics and related fields
  • Expertise and qualifications to contribute significantly in professorial positions to the growth and development of Applied Linguistics

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • GRE® revised General Test
    • Three letters of recommendation
    • A writing sample
    • A personal statement or essay
    • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Official TOEFL iBT/IELTS scores taken within the last 2 years are required for international applicants. Please see department website for information regarding minimum score requirements.

Doctoral Requirements
  • Take the following 81 units:

    • Master's-level work relevant to your research interests (36 units)
    • Statistics, such as: ENG 668, EPS 625 and EPS 725 (9 units)
    • Seminars (9 units)
    • Graduate electives, chosen in consultation with your dissertation committee (12 units)
    • ENG 799, for the research, writing, and oral defense of an approved dissertation (15 units)
  • Please note that you may end up taking more units of dissertation credit than the 15 units you can count toward your degree, because you must register for ENG 799 each semester while you work on your dissertation.

    In addition you must:

    • Complete a screening process
    • Complete a qualifying exam
    • Fulfill Northern Arizona University's residency requirements (For more information about residency and other requirements that pertain to this degree, see Doctoral Requirements Policy.)
    • Pass an oral exam on your dissertation (Dissertation Defense)

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.