Applied Linguistics Degree Programs

Applied linguistics degree programs offer training in the theoretical and practical aspects of language. Find out about the training you'll need to enter a master's or doctoral degree program in applied linguistics, get an idea of the required courses and learn what occupations involve applied linguistics. Schools offering Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Will I Learn in a Master's Degree Program?

To be admitted into a master's degree program in applied linguistics, you must have a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as English, a foreign language, sociology, linguistics, psychology or political science. Regardless of your major, you'll likely need to have some linguistics credits and at least reading proficiency in a foreign language.

Graduation requirements may include completing a research project or writing a thesis. In some cases, you may need to complete a practicum, such as a student teaching experience, as well as pass comprehensive exams in language and linguistics. Often, you can select a specialization, such as English as a second language (ESL), second language studies or bilingual education. Many of your courses could cover information about teaching foreign language. Some topics could include:

  • Sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics
  • Syntax and phonology
  • Language disorders
  • Acquisition theories
  • Brain development through language
  • Methods in teaching foreign language
  • Assessing language skills

Common Master's Degree Courses Syntax, teaching methods, psycholinguistics, language acquisition, phonology
Key Doctorate Topics Language development, communication, teaching methods, linguistic theory
Online Availability Available for the master's degree
Possible Careers Researcher, college professor, foreign language teacher
Job Outlook (2016-2026)18% growth (for interpreters and translators)*
Median Salary (2018)$49,930 (for interpreters and translators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is Covered at the Doctoral Level?

To be admitted into a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Applied Linguistics, you must have a master's degree in a related field, such as English, a foreign language or linguistics. In many cases, you must also speak at least two foreign languages and pass a language exam. Generally, to earn the doctoral degree, you must pass qualifying exams, complete research projects and write a dissertation, which you must present to members of the faculty.

Through a Ph.D. program, you'll research how learning a language affects adults, how adult learners can use a foreign language and ways adults acquire language. This can lead to developing targeted teaching and educational methods. Topics you may study prior to beginning research for your dissertation include:

  • Communicating with other cultures
  • Linguistic theories
  • Language perception and development
  • Linguistic methods
  • Language at risk
  • Teaching a foreign language

Can I Earn My Degree Online?

Online degree programs in applied linguistics are very rare. This is generally due to the intensive face-to-face communication that linguistics study requires. At least one online master's degree program exists, however, and it basically deals with ESL and foreign language instruction. If you complete the online program, you may have different project requirements, such as an additional research project in place of writing a thesis.

How Can I Use My Degree?

With a master's degree in applied linguistics, you're eligible to teach foreign language to English-speaking children or adults. You could also teach English to foreign language speakers. You could be employed by a school or school district, a large corporation or a not-for-profit company that helps foreigners learn English. With a doctorate, you can look for university teaching positions, preparing college students to teach a second language to children or adults. You could also go into the research sector and study methods for acquiring language and the effects of learning language.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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