Current M.A. Students

As a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences requirement, a student must have achieved at least a 'B' (3.0) overall grade point average to be awarded a graduate degree.

1. REQUIRED NUMBER OF CREDITS You need to take the five required courses (Intro, Phonology, Syntax, a language use course, and a seminar) and enough elective credits to add up to 30 at a minimum. The 3 credits of Master’s Essay Direction are additional.

2. THE PLAN OF WORK You must file a Plan of Work with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that lists the courses you have taken and those you plan to take after you have completed 9 credits of work and before you have completed 12 credits of work. If you have completed 12 credits of work without filing the Plan of Work, a “candidacy hold” will be placed on your record, and you won’t be able to register. Once you file the Plan of Work, your official status will change from “Applicant” for the M.A. to “Candidate” for the M.A. You fill out the Plan of Work with the graduate advisor.

3. THE ESSAY Please start by viewing the Power Point presentation given by Profs Geoffrey Nathan and Margaret Winters at the M.A. Essay Writing Workshop on January 10, 2013.  

What have you encountered in your studies that you would like to know more about, and that also represents a problem and an opportunity for research? The essay should be original; this is the time for you to add to the world’s store of knowledge, not synthesize the work of others. Feel free to discuss your ideas with any faculty member—we will try to help you focus your interests into a well-defined topic that you can actually finish in a year’s time. If your first language is not English, it makes sense to write about your own language, since you yourself represent a data source. You do not have to do this, of course, but many of our students have done so, and have produced excellent essays on Japanese, Ukrainian, Berber, Chinese, etc. If your essay requires collecting data from human subjects, you must apply for and receive approval from the Human Investigation Committee before you collect a single word, waveform, or narrative. This requires web-based training and the submission of an application to the HIC. Do not skip this crucial step, or all of the data you collected before you received approval will have to be thrown away. Talk to your advisor (your advisor needs to be up-to-date on the web-based training, too).

Practical matters: (1) You need to register for 3 credits of LIN 7999 Master’s Essay Direction toward the end of your program, although you do not have to register for all 3 credits in the same semester, nor does the time you sign up for these credits need to correlate with the time you actually spend working on the essay. (2) You decide which faculty member to ask to serve as your primary essay advisor. This person should obviously have the expertise to guide you in writing about the essay topic you have chosen, so pick a phonetician for a phonetics essay, a syntactician for a syntax essay, etc. This person will work closely with you throughout the process. You also ask two other faculty members to serve as members of your essay committee as readers. They may be involved from the beginning, but are usually only brought in toward the end of the process, to comment upon a full draft of the essay. (3) You need to have a rough draft done at the beginning of the semester in which you plan to defend the essay and graduate. To set up a timetable for essay completion, we work backward from the strict College deadline for submission of the essay in final form, which is usually the Friday of the first week of the last month of the semester (but check for the exact day). The oral defense of the essay (which only needs to involve you and your committee, but which you may open to students and friends) is usually held two weeks before that deadline, to allow time for final minor adjustments on the basis of feedback given on the day of the defense. Two months to six weeks before the defense, your two readers should be given a copy of the full draft of the essay. This will allow them time to read it and give you their suggestions for improvements, and will give you time to make those changes.

4. GOING ON? If you are interested in going on for the PhD, you must work on your applications during the fall before the September in which you plan to begin your studies. That means you have to have figured out which programs to apply to before that. The faculty will be happy to talk with you about the PhD programs with which they are familiar. Talk with as many people as possible in making your decision—you don't want to overlook a program that would suit you well.  Most application deadlines are in December or January, although a few programs have later deadlines. You should plan to take the GRE exam in the fall, and you should study for it beforehand. Most PhD programs use GRE scores to figure whose applications to take seriously, so you also need to take this exam seriously.

Current B.A. Students

1. REQUIRED NUMBER OF CREDITS You need to take the three core courses (an Intro course, Phonology, Syntax), at least one “language use” class (sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, anthropological linguistics) and enough electives to add up to 30 credits. Note that either LIN 2720 Basic Concepts in Linguistics or LIN 5700 Introduction to Linguistic Theory fulfills the Intro course requirement.

2. WRITING INTENSIVE REQUIREMENT In one of your last two or three semesters you must register for LIN 5993 Writing Intensive Requirement (0 credits) in conjunction with a linguistics course that has a paper requirement. It may make sense for you to fulfill this requirement by continuing to work on a paper that you wrote for a class you have already completed; in this case, you would consider your completed term paper as the first draft of your Writing Intensive paper. You must ask the instructor of the course if he or she is willing to help you make this paper read like a linguistics paper (i.e., it should involve the analysis of language data, it should involve argumentation of kind appropriate to the field, it should present the goals and the conclusion “up front”, etc.). Plan to work through several drafts of this paper. Grades recorded for LIN 5993 are either S (Satisfactory) or U (Unsatisfactory). You should download and print out this WI form and present it to your instructor for his or her signature, indicating his/her willingness to help you pass this requirement. Return the signed form to the student advisor for your file. Once your final paper is completed to the satisfaction of your instructor, it should also be submitted to the Linguistics Program office for your file.

3. EXIT INTERVIEW In your last semester, we will arrange for you to be interviewed by as many of your instructors as we can assemble. The interview lasts about 45 minutes. During this time, we will first ask you to explain what you are taking away from your experiences as a linguistics major—your view of language, the things you learned that surprised you, the threads that connect the work you did in different courses, the contradictions you encountered. We will also ask you about your plans for work or study after college, and will ask you to advise us on how to improve the major. You must submit a completed exit questionnaire and a selected set of papers demonstrating how you have met the undergraduate learning outcomes at least a week before the interview. This will allow us to ask you more appropriate questions about your experiences here. So don’t throw away any of your syllabuses, term papers, final exams, or interesting assignments! You should get a large file and remember to put portfolio materials in your file at the end of every semester.

4. AGRADE PROGRAM Wayne State has a program that makes it possible for undergraduates with high GPAs to count up to fifteen credits of undergraduate work in their major toward an M.A. degree at WSU in the same field. If you think you might want to stick around and get an M.A. from us, too, this is the best way to do it. In fact, if you are a major right now, it is difficult do an M.A. with us without double-counting: we simply do not offer enough courses for you to find 30 credits for your B.A. and then 30 more for your M.A. easily. See the gradaute student advisor if you would like to discuss this possibility. If you would like to pursue graduate studies in linguistics at another university after graduation, any member of the faculty would be happy to tell you what they know about programs elsewhere.


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