UMass Boston

Applied Linguistics PhD

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Join a cohort of scholars, researchers, and activists dedicated to linguistic diversity.

UMass Boston's PhD program in Applied Linguistics is a critically-oriented community of scholars, researchers, and activists dedicated to understanding linguistic diversity in everyday life. Our unique program emphasizes learning-by-doing through mentorship, coursework, and community-engagement. The Applied Linguistics PhD prepares candidates for teaching, research, and public advocacy careers in higher education, government, community, nonprofits, and private organizations.

Our apprenticeship model combines intensive faculty mentoring from the department’s internationally recognized faculty with structured support from a diverse and active doctoral student community. We also draw on the interdisciplinary expertise of our colleagues across Greater Boston and around the world to provide opportunities for community-engaged scholarship. Applied Linguistics doctoral students are involved in a range of local and global projects and initiatives related to our areas of inquiry: bilingual/multilingual education, multilingual language policy, critical applied linguistics, social resources and social contexts in language learning, and sociocultural theory.

Our curriculum is designed to engage future researchers in critical study of language in society. Through the exploration of cutting-edge research methods, students will develop a comprehensive and deep understanding of the theoretical, empirical, and practical dimensions of language use, language teaching and learning, and language policy in local and transnational contexts; and how they interrogate systems of power that produce marginalization, exploitation, and discrimination. Simultaneously, students cultivate their own scholarly identity, develop their inquiries, and generate knowledge to improve life in our schools, communities, and society. Students and faculty collaborate on research projects, manuscripts, advocacy work, and conference presentations throughout the doctoral program. 

Our PhD program requires three years of residency. During the first two years, a typical course load is three courses per semester (fall and spring) plus department events including the Colloquium, Roundtables, working groups, and talks; classes are offered between 4 and 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Funding, including tuition, living stipend, and health insurance, is available for up to three years on a competitive basis.

Please contact Graduate Program Director Professor Avary Carhill-Poza for information about the program, application process, or connection to current students:

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How to Apply

The Department of Applied Linguistics at UMass Boston is committed to cultivating diversity in scholarship and scholar identity and to providing intellectual, social, emotional, and financial support to students from groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education. As such, we strongly encourage students with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, including first generation students, international students, students of color, and linguistically diverse students to apply.


The deadline to submit all materials is January 1 for fall admission. Applicants are responsible for confirming with Graduate Admissions that their application is complete (including all documents and transcripts) well before January 1. Applicants to the PhD Program in Applied Linguistics should submit the following admissions materials:

  1. UMass Boston Graduate Application
  2. Official transcript from each college and university attended (including evidence of a master’s degree in applied linguistics or related field, with a minimum graduate GPA of 3.0)
  3. A current Curriculum Vitae
  4. Three letters of recommendation, at least two of which should come from individuals who can assess the applicant’s academic preparation for advanced graduate work
  5. One well-written sample of academic work (e.g. MA thesis, course paper, research project, published article, etc.)
  6. Statement of purpose [1500 words maximum] that addresses the following questions:
  • How do your research interests map onto the areas of inquiry supported by the PhD Program in Applied Linguistics (bilingual/multilingual education, multilingual language policy, critical applied linguistics, social resources and social contexts in language learning, and sociocultural theory)?
  • What practical or real-world changes do you hope to see as a result of your research, scholarship, and/or activism?
  • What professional, personal, and academic experiences have especially equipped you to bring a critical perspective to your research, scholarship, and/or activism? And, how do your experiences as a multilingual language learner, language teacher, or language user inform your goals? (For applicants who are not multilingual, please explain your plans for developing fluency in another language while completing the PhD program.)

International Students

For international students who have not completed at least two academic years of full-time study (excluding ESL or test-prep) at an approved English-speaking college, proof of English language proficiency is required.

Deadlines & Cost

Deadlines: January 1 for fall

Cost: For additional information regarding tuition and fees, please visit the Bursar’s Office or send an email to Please refer to Graduate Student Financial Aid for more information on financial aid.

Application Fee Waivers: Fee waivers are automatic for all UMass Boston alumni, veterans, and McNair Scholars. Additionally, fee waivers for financial hardship are granted to applicants on a first-come-first-serve basis. To request a fee waiver, applicants should first complete their application (but not submit it), then send an email to the Program Director with the subject line: PhD Fee Waiver Request. State your reasons for requesting the fee waiver in your email and attach a letter from your academic advisor attesting to the financial need to waive the application fee. Applications must be complete in order to receive a fee waiver.

Support: Funding for doctoral students—including tuition, living stipend, and health insurance—is available for up to three years on a competitive basis. Applicants to the PhD program in Applied Linguistics are considered for Graduate Assistantships during the application review process in January.


Coursework is the primary way for students to develop their scholarly identity, knowledge, and research skills as they refine a dissertation topic for study. During the first two years of the PhD program, students are encouraged to explore a range of topics and get to know faculty before they choose an advisor for their dissertation project. In their third year, students move on to candidacy by passing associated benchmarks supported by their inquiry courses. The following courses are offered in the Applied Linguistics PhD Program:

Core Courses (9 Credits)

  • APLING 700 - Issues in Applied Linguistics 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 701 - Issues in Second Language Acquisition 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 702 - Issues in Sociolinguistics 3 Credit(s)

Seminars (9 Credits)

  • APLING 707 - Current Research on Language and Pedagogy 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 708 - Corpus Linguistics 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 709 - Language Policy 3 Credit(s)

Colloquium (1 Credit)

  • APLING 890 - Graduate Colloquium in Applied Linguistics 1 Credit(s)

Research Methods Courses (9 to 15 Credits)

Complete at least three courses from below.

  • APLING 703 - Applied Linguistics Research Methods 3 Credit(s)
and at least two chosen in consultation with your advisor from the following:
  • APLING 704 - Advanced Discourse Analysis 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 705 - Advanced Ethnography 3 Credit(s)
  • PPOL-G 604L - Statistical Methods in the analysis of Social Problems I 3 Credit(s)
  • PPOL-G 605L - Statistical Methods in the Analysis of Social Problems II 3 Credit(s)

Electives (3 to 9 Credits)

Complete no more than three from below.

  • APLING 601 - Linguistics 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 603 - Language, Culture and Identity 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 605 - Theories and Principles of Language Teaching 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 611 - Methods and Materials in Foreign Language Instruction 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 612 - Integrating Culture into the Language Curriculum 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 614 - Foundations of Bilingual/Multicultural Education 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 615 - Dual Language Pedagogy 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 618 - Teaching ESL: Methods and Approaches 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 621 - Psycholinguistics 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 623 - Sociolinguistics 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 627 - Phonetics and Phonemics 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 629 - The Structure of the English Language 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 633 - Discourse Analysis in ESL 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 635 - Literacy & Culture 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 637 - Ethnography of Education: Culture, Language, & Literacy 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 670 - Testing in the Bilingual/ESL Classroom 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 673 - Reading in the Bilingual/English as a Second Language (ESL) Classroom 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 696 - Independent Study 1-6 Credit(s)
  • APLING 697 - Special Topics in Applied Linguistics 1-6 Credit(s)

Inquiry Courses (6 Credits)

  • APLING 891 - Qualifying Paper Seminar 3 Credit(s)
  • APLING 892 - Dissertation Proposal Writing Seminar 3 Credit(s)

Dissertation Research Course (12 Credits)

  • APLING 899 - Dissertation Research 1-12 Credit(s)

Graduation Criteria

Complete 55 credits from 16 courses including three core courses, three seminars, one colloquium, three to five research methods courses, one to three electives, two inquiry courses, and one dissertation research course.

Students with a master’s degree in a relevant field earned no more than seven years before matriculation may be eligible for advanced standing awarding them up to twelve credits toward the degree.

Doctoral candidacy: Acceptance of a qualifying paper and dissertation proposal.
Dissertation: Compose and defend a dissertation based on original research.

Statute of limitations: Seven years.


Graduate Program Director
Professor Avary Carhill-Poza

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Applied Linguistics Department

UMass Boston's Department of Applied Linguistics in the College of Liberal Arts offers a diverse range of programs and research opportunities aimed at exploring theoretical linguistics, applied linguistics, and interdisciplinary areas of psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics.

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