PhD in Applied Linguistics



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Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics at NAU

Students and faculty pursue a wide range of areas in applied linguistics, including:

  • Corpus linguistics
  • Curriculum & program evaluation
  • Grammar and vocabulary
  • Grammatical variation
  • Language testing and assessment 
  • Pragmatics
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Research methods
  • Register and discourse analysis
  • Second language acquisition
  • Second language listening and speaking
  • Second language reading and writing
  • Speech perception and production
  • Spoken discourse
  • World Englishes

Our faculty work closely with individual students, helping them to develop as colleagues in applied linguistics.  As a result, our PhD students have an outstanding record 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.

Faculty and student research is supported by our three labs, the Corpus Research Lab, the Applied Linguistics Speech Lab, and the Language and Memory Lab, as well as the Program in Intensive English.

Corpus Research Lab: Undergraduate, graduate, and visiting scholars actively participate in cutting-edge corpus research. The lab has an extensive collection of corpus holdings, some of which are only available to NAU researchers and visiting scholars. We also have a suite of corpus tools available. For more information, visit the Corpus Research Lab website or contact Dr. Randi Reppen. 

Applied Linguistics Speech Lab (ALSL): Both undergraduate and graduate students actively participate in empirical research through hands-on experience in the ALSL. Using facilities in the speech lab, students have opportunities to analyze speech production and perception data, observe speech signals, and verify their effects on speech perception. The ALSL is equipped with advanced speech acquisition and processing equipment and software. Find more information on the Speech Lab's website or contact Dr. Okim Kang.

Language and Memory Lab: The lab is equipped for chronometric, psychometric, and visual-world eye-tracking investigation of language learning and processing. Graduate students, undergraduate students, and visiting scholars can participate in ongoing projects or propose studies of their own. Our psycholinguistics and SLA courses and seminars serve as incubators for student projects. For more information, visit the lab website or contact Dr. Vedran Dronjic. 

Program in Intensive English (PIE): “Applied Linguistics and TESL students and faculty are able to propose and carry out research projects at the PIE. Historically, this research has resulted in numerous publications and presentations and has provided valuable evidence-based input into PIE’s curriculum and assessment practices. To find out more, visit the PIE research page.

Learn more about the program in the graduate college program notes.


TESL / Applied Linguistics Faculty 

MA-TESL and PhD in Applied Linguistics handbook  

Please see the academic catalog for the most recent information regarding courses and academic plans.

PhD in Applied Linguistics Catalog Information 

List of PhDs in Applied Linguistics (1994-present) 

The NAU academic catalog is the official, authoritative source for all academic requirements and policies. Any discrepancies in curricular requirements from other sources will default to the catalog as the official, authoritative source. 

Graduate Student Association of Applied Linguistics (GSAAL)

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Program Requirements

Completion of the PhD requires:

  • advanced course work
  • excellent performance on a variety of assessment measures
  • evidence of ability to carry out independent dissertation research

Please see the academic catalog for the most recent information regarding courses and academic plans.

Graduate Student Association of Applied Linguistics 

Other requirements

  • Passing the PhD screening process, which comprises completion of the university MA-TESL comprehensive examination plus completion of an original empirical research paper within three semesters of provisional admission. Passing the screening process requires an overall assessment of high pass on the comprehensive exam and empirical research paper.
  • Satisfying the PhD language requirement.
  • Preparation of PhD qualifying exam papers based on questions provided by the student's dissertation committee members.
  • Preparation and oral defense of a dissertation proposal.
  • Preparation and oral defense of a dissertation.
  • Presentation of a public lecture based on the dissertation, preferably immediately preceding the oral defense.

Financial Aid

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Various forms of financial support including, graduate teaching assistantships, are available.

To qualify, you must have a master’s degree and a minimum 3.0 grade point average.

Applications will be considered until the end of April for the following fall semester. However, first priority is given to applicants submitting their material by February 1 for the following fall semester.

Applicants who are interested in teaching assistantships or tuition waivers are encouraged to apply by February 1 for first review of files for financial aid.

How to Apply

1. Prepare your documents for submission to the Graduate College

Your application should include:

  • recent GRE scores for the general test taken within the last 5 years
  • for non-native English speakers: Official iBT (TOEFL) scores taken within the last 2 years; minimum score of 100 iBT (reading: 27, listening: 24, speaking: 22, writing: 27) or IELTS scores of reading: 7.5, listening: 7, speaking: 7, writing: 7.5 required for admission
  • a curriculum vitae that describes your educational background, employment history, and professional activities
  • a letter of intent that describes why you are interested in obtaining a PhD from Northern Arizona University, what research focus you anticipate pursuing, and how you ultimately intend to use your degree
  • 3 letters of recommendation from people who can attest to your ability and potential for doctoral level work
  • 1-2 sample publications or manuscripts (both hard and electronic copies); manuscripts from presentations or term papers from graduate courses are acceptable
  • a copy of your transcripts with the application submission (may be unofficial); an official copy of your transcript will be required before beginning the program or being awarded financial aid

2. Submit an application for graduate study to the Graduate College.

Apply to the Graduate College.