Ph.D. Emphases

To broaden and deepen their graduate experience, students may add one or more optional interdisciplinary Ph.D. emphases to their degree. The department currently participates in Ph.D. emphases in Applied LinguisticsCognitive ScienceFeminist StudiesGlobal StudiesLanguage, Interaction, and Social Organization (LISO)Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences, and Writing Studies. In addition, students may earn a Ph.D. emphasis to which linguistics does not currently contribute, with the permission of participating faculty from the contributing departments. The student will receive a letter of completion instead of a notation of the emphasis on the graduate transcript.

Applied Linguistics

Applied Linguistics is a growing and vibrant field that provides theoretical and descriptive foundations for the empirical investigation and solution of language-related issues, especially those of language education (first language, second language, foreign language and heritage language teaching and learning), but also issues of bilingualism and biliteracy, language policy, language assessment, translation and interpretation, lexicography, rhetoric and composition, and language endangerment and revitalization. Students who demonstrate competence in these areas increase their opportunities for employment, as many job descriptions indicate a preference for candidates with an emphasis in applied linguistics or second language acquisition. Moreover, with the ever-increasing number of second language learners in the United States and around the world, as well as with the growing concern with the situation of speakers of minority languages and dialects, it is essential for all linguists to have a fundamental understanding of the theories and practices of applied linguistics. For more information, visit the Applied Linguistics homepage.

Cognitive Science

Cognitive Science is a field that, ultimately, studies all aspects of the human mind: cognition and reasoning, acquisition and learning, perception, emotion, interaction, and more. Given this vast scope, Cognitive Science brings together assumptions, concepts, and methods from a large number of independently established disciplines, including anthropology, computer science, artificial intelligence, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, (neuro)biology, and neuroscience. Over the past decades, it has become more and more obvious that language can only be fully understood by taking into account humans' cognitive skills and processing. Everything we do with language ultimately passes through the mind at some point of time, as when we acquire our first language, learn a second language, access new referents from long-term memory or given referents from working memory, decide unconsciously to use one syntactic structure over another, or experience language impairments as a result of brain lesions or strokes. For all these and many other linguistic phenomena, an understanding of cognitive processes is often indispensable. The study of Cognitive Science offers exciting opportunities to deepen our understanding of language within the broader question of what it is that makes us human. For more information, visit the Cognitive Sciencehomepage.

Feminist Studies

The study of gender and sexuality is a longstanding and important component of sociocultural linguistics. Conversely, the analytic tools and concepts of linguistics provide a valuable perspective for addressing questions of gender and sexuality. Graduate students with a research interest in any aspect of gender, sexuality, or the intersection between the two are encouraged to pursue the Feminist Studies Ph.D. Emphasis. Students who participate in the emphasis receive training in feminist theory, epistemology, and pedagogy as well as specialized topics. For more information, visit the Feminist Studies homepage.

Global Studies

The interdisciplinary study of international and transnational sociocultural, economic, and political processes is at the heart of global studies. The field looks beyond the traditional borders of nation-states and governmental structures to examine the flows and ruptures of global dynamics both historically and in the present day. The broad and deep perspective offered by global studies is invaluable to linguistic scholarship on a wide range of topics, including transnational migration, linguistic and cultural contact, the minoritization of languages and populations, language policy, language and human rights, the emergence of world languages, translation and interpretation, language and environmental justice, language in global and local economies, and many other issues. Graduate students interested in these or related topics are encouraged to add the emphasis to their degree. For more information, visit the Global Studies homepage. 

Language, Interation, and Social Organization (LISO)

Students interested in discourse, interactional linguistics, and sociocultural linguistics (including sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology) will find the graduate emphasis in Language, Interaction, and Social Organization (LISO) a valuable addition to their Ph.D. program. LISO brings together faculty and graduate students in linguistics, sociology, and education who share a recognition of the importance of language as a fundamental resource for human action and social organization. LISO faculty and graduate students conduct research on language use and other communicative action in their naturally occurring interactional contexts. Relying primarily on video and audio recordings of social interaction, linguists in LISO examine such issues as how grammatical structures emerge from communicative needs, how embodied communication such as gesture interacts with language, and how broader social phenomena like identity and power are produced within interaction. Members of LISO study informal conversational interaction in a variety of languages and cultures as well as such institutional contexts as day care centers, classrooms, and the media. LISO participants explore a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches that can be brought to bear in working with discourse data, such as conversation analysis, ethnography, corpus linguistics, and other perspectives. The LISO proseminar and the affiliated LISO Research Focus Group host a series of events annually, including data sessions, research presentations by invited outside speakers and by LISO faculty and graduate students, and a student-run conference held each spring, which is organized in alternate years by UCSB and by LISO’s counterpart at UCLA, CLIC. For more information, visit the LISOhomepage.

Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences


Writing Studies

Writing Studies is a research-based field broadly focused on analyzing the production, consumption, and circulation of writing in specific contexts. The field incorporates subspecialties such as composition and rhetoric, computers and writing, second language writing, genre studies, and textual analysis. It is both interdisciplinary and international, attracting researchers from diverse departments and countries. Writing studies researchers examine the ways in which writing serves to construct and perpetuate communities of practice --  academic disciplines, community groups, civic enterprises, or professions. These studies frequently combine multiple research methods, including textual analysis, ethnographic observation and interviews, discourse analysis, and statistical analysis. While studying the production, consumption, and circulation of texts, Writing Studies scholars often cultivate a primary or secondary focus on helping writers analyze and practice the expectations for writing in specific contexts. Thus, experts in Writing Studies also work with writers to develop writing, reading, and critical analysis strategies necessary for successful participation in diverse communities. Experts may be writing faculty or faculty in other disciplines who deliberately analyze writing as a learning activity. For more information, visit the Writing Studies homepage.