Degrees and Requirements

M.A. Program

The MA program provides a basic introduction to the subject matter and skills of the discipline.


The department offers MA Plan A and Plan B programs.  In addition to the University-wide residence requirements of a minimum of two semesters of full-time work, all three programs require that students demonstrate competence in one language other that their native language.

  Plan A requires a thesis (9 credit hours) and a minimum of 21 credit hours of course work.  A final oral examination covering the thesis and related areas is also required.

  Plan B students must complete 30 credit hours of course work for a grade (not CR/NCR or Audit), of which 18 hours must be at the 600-level or above, including 3 hours of a 700-level seminar.  Students may choose between three "streams":  Linguistic Analysis, Experimental Linguistics, and Language Documentation and Conservation.  For a list of courses required for each stream, see the MA manual and MA checklist.  A final seminar presentation near the end of course work is required for students in the Linguistic Analysis and Experimental Linguistics streams.  The topic and format of the presentation must be approved in advance by the graduate chair.  Students in the Language Documentation and Conservation stream must submit a 'Research Portfolio' for approval.


Click here to view the full MA manual and MA progress list.


Ph.D. Program

The PhD program provides full professional training for careers in research and teaching.


All students in the PhD program are required to complete a minimum of 33 credit hours of course and seminar work at the University of Hawai`i (exclusive of LING 800) beyond those counted toward their MA degrees (or, for students not holding an MA, beyond the core courses specifically LING 410, 420, 421, 422, and 645). Courses in phonology (LING 621), grammar (LING 622), and methods are required of all PhD students.  Methods courses include: LING 630 Field Methods, LING 632 Laboratory Research, LING 750F Phonetic Fieldwork on Endangered Languages, LING 750Q Methods in Language Acquisition and LING 750Y Psycholinguistics.  Students interested in experimental research are strongly advised to take one or more courses in statistical analysis as well (e.g., EDEP 429, SLS 490 or 671).

PhD students are required to demonstrate competence in one language other that their native language. They are also required to prepare two clearly and professionally written 'publication-quality' papers and pass a comprehensive examination, dissertation proposal defense, and final oral examination in defense of their dissertation.

Click here for the full PhD manual and PhD progress list.


Course Exemption

There are four 400-level courses that are typically part of the MA core that students with some prior study of these areas may wish to be exempted from. These are:

Ling 410:  Articulatory Phonetics

Ling 420:  Morphology

Ling 421:  Introduction to Phonological Analysis

Ling 422:  Introduction to Grammatical Analysis

If you wish to seek exemption from any of the courses listed above, you must successfully pass a Linguistics Department exam for the relevant course, with a minimum grade of B (not B-). You must make every effort to take the exemption exam (or take the relevant course) within the first year of your program.

Each exam will be given and corrected by a member of the appropriate Area Committee, usually the faculty member who most recently taught the course. If you are attempting to place out of LING 410, LING 420, LING 421 or LING 422 you should attend the course until an exemption has been granted.

Exemptions exams are held during the first week of instruction and are scheduled in two hour blocks. If you wish to take one or more of these exams, you must notify the Department secretary no later than July 15 (for Fall) and December 1 (for Spring), stating which exams you are planning to take.  The secretary will then notify you of the exact exam schedule.  All exemption exams must be completed no later than Wednesday of the first week of classes. You must arrange to take your exemption exams during this period.

Instructors must provide exam grades to the Graduate Chair and relevant students no later than the day before the last day to add classes. You may take any given exemption exam only once. Should you not pass an exam, you must take the relevant course at the first availability, i.e., the same semester if the course is offered (if not, the following semester).


Department Updates

NEW The Graduate Chair holds office hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. To sign up for appointment times, log in to either a gmail account or your UH email account and then click here.

The Bilinski Educational Foundation board of members recently visited the campus to meet the fellows who have been supported by their generous gifts. Here is a video of some of the students talking about the impact of the Bilinski Fellowships.

Roshan Institute Fellowship is now available. Click for more information.

Professors Andrea Berez and Victoria Anderson receive NSF grant for the 4th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation.

Amy Schafer awarded large NSF grant

Research team discovers existence of Hawai'i Sign Language, the last of America's undiscovered languages

Click here to view University of Hawaii at Manoa press release about Hawai'i sign language discovery.

Click here to view Hawai'i sign language demonstration.

Google Partners with UH Mānoa Linguistics on Endangered Languages Project

Bilinski Fellowships in Linguistics - Pre-dissertation fellowship added to the dissertation fellowships. Click here for information. Click here to view the 2011 Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship video.

Financial Aid for Graduate Students

Wait List for Ling 102 Unit Mastery. Write to

General Ed in Linguistics -
  • Click here for a list of linguistics courses that fulfill General Education requirements.

Unit Mastery LING 150B and LING 102 as well as classroom formats.
Want to know more?
Check out this short video.

Spring 2015 course schedule and descriptions.

List of potential committee members

Language Documentation Training Center

Language Documentation & Conservation