Second Language Acquisition-Ph.D. (SLPH)

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The Ph.D. program in SLA at the University of Maryland aims to train students to conduct research on second language acquisition processes. It has a strong cognitive focus. The program draws upon the expertise of a distinguished cadre of faculty in the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, and in affiliate departments such as Human Development, Linguistics; Measurement, Statistics, and Evaluation; Hearing and Speech; Philosophy; Psychology; and Curriculum and Instruction.

Admissions Information

Application Deadlines
Type of Applicant Fall Spring

Domestic Applicants; US Citizens and Permanent Residents

Deadline: January 15
Preferred: January 15
Deadline: October 15
Preferred: October 1

International Applicants seeking admission under F (student) or J (exchange visitor) visas, as well as those seeking admissions under A,E,G,H,I and L visas and immigrants.

Deadline: February 1
Preferred: February 1
Deadline: June 1
Preferred: June 1

Application Requirements

  1. M.A. or M.S. degree in related field such as SLA, linguistics, psychology, or applied linguistics.
  2. Three Letters of Recommendation.
  3. Statement of Purpose in English. [Note that this single statement replaces the statements listed on the Graduate School application: "Statement of Goals and Research Interests" and "Statement of Experiences."]
  4. Verbal and Quantitative GRE scores are required for all applicants
  5. iBT TOEFL score of 105, or TOEFL PBT 620 or higher for non-native speakers of English
  6. Writing sample demonstrating evidence of ability and interest in undertaking scholarly research; could be published paper or M.A. thesis.
  7. An interview may be required, in person or by phone.
For more information, consult the program's web site.

Degree Requirements

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
The Ph.D. has 4 areas of specialization: Second Language Learning, Second Language Instruction, Second Language Measurement and Assessment, and Second Language Use. Students select 2 courses each from 2 of these areas (for a total of 4 courses) and are expected to take 2 additional electives in the area of their proposed dissertation work. In addition, all students are expected to take 2 courses in quantitative and/or qualitative research methods. The 8 courses (total) represent the minimum coursework requirement. Some students may need remedial coursework prior to undertaking their 8 courses, and many will wish to take courses beyond the minimum 8 based on their interests. Additionally, all students are strongly encouraged to take a course in the philosophy of science. Before graduation, all students completing the PhD in Second Language Acquisition must demonstrate three types of experience with non-native language: learning a non-native language, using a non-native language, and teaching a language to non-native speakers of that language. All three types of experience will be verified through official documentation and/or assessment as follows:

1. Language Learning. Students must have spent at least two semesters as a student of a non-native language in a post-secondary classroom environment (6 total credits minimum). Verified through transcript. SLLC will provide this experience for any student who needs it.

2. Language Teaching. Students must have taught a language to non-native speakers of that language for at least 1 semester, or the equivalent of 45 hours. Verified through contract, letter, etc. SLLC will provide this experience for any student who needs it.

3. Language use. Students must show that they are able to communicate in a non-native language at the intermediate-low level on the ACTFL scale through an Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI). Students whose native language is not English will be able to satisfy this requirement through their competency in English. These three requirements do not necessarily have to be met in the same language. Before the PhD dissertation, two qualifying papers are required. Please see the program website for more details.

Facilities and Special Resources

In addition to the University graduate library, the SLA program offers research facilities and resources to facilitate research and materials development, including a multimedia SLA Lab, the Language House, The Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, the Office of Information Technology, and the Center for Teaching Excellence.

Students completing coursework with affiliate faculty in the Departments of Psychology, Communication, Linguistics, and Education as well as the Center for Advanced Study of Languages may have access to their respective resources.

Financial Assistance

Most students admitted to the Ph.D. program will be funded, either via graduate or teaching assistantships or via research assistantship on grants and contracts, all providing tuition waiver plus stipend. Some students may receive a Graduate Assistantship from the UMCP-affiliated Center for the Advanced Study of Language (CASL) or the National Foreign Language Center (NFLC, a unit within the College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU).

Contact Information

The SLAA web site offers more information on the program. For further questions, please contact Dr. Steven J. Ross, Graduate Director of the program, at or at (301) 405-4246. Alternatively, if you have a particular interest in the research of an individual faculty member, you are welcome to contact that person directly via email.

Dr. Steven Ross Professor & Graduate Director
Second Language Acquisition Program University of Maryland 2103 Jimenez Hall

MD  20742
Telephone: 301-405-4246
Fax: 301-314-9752


Related Programs and Campus Units

Speech-Language Pathology

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