Graduate Degree

Second Language Studies - Doctor of Philosophy

Second Language Studies - Doctor of Philosophy
Plan Code:
Program Level:
Award Type:
Doctor of Philosophy
College of Arts and Letters
Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures

Excerpt from the official Academic Programs Catalog:

Listed below are the approved requirements for the program from the official Academic Programs Catalog.
Students must consult their advisors to learn which specific requirements apply to their degree programs.

College of Arts and Letters

Department of Linguistics, Languages and Cultures

Graduate Study
Second Language Studies - Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy in Second Language Studies seeks to provide students with a deep understanding of how second, multiple, and additional languages are learned and ways of thinking about the application of this knowledge in a pedagogical context. The program is designed to prepare students for university-level faculty and administrative positions, as well as private and public sector positions, in the fields of language learning and/or teaching. Students will be prepared to conduct research and contribute to the future development of these fields.

Because teaching and research are integral to this program, every effort will be made to provide students with research and teaching experience in the form of graduate assistantships. Teaching experience may include classroom teaching or related activities, such as program and curriculum development.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the University and of the College of Arts and Letters, students must meet the requirements specified below.


Preference for admission will be given to those with a Master of Arts degree in a related field. All admission decisions will be made by the Advisory Committee in consultation with other relevant faculty.

To be considered for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Second Language Studies, an applicant must submit the following along with an application.

  1. An Academic Statement of Purpose (ASOP).
  2. A writing sample, preferably a research paper or other product that reflects the degree of the applicant’s familiarity with applied linguistics.
  3. Three academic references from faculty who are able to address the applicant’s academic background and/or professional experiences.
  4. For international applicants and applicants whose first language is not English, English language test scores, with the test being an approved one from the Michigan State University Graduate School’s list of English language tests for international students.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Second Language Studies

Complete 24 to 44 credits of course work. The student’s program of study must be developed in cooperation with and approved by the student’s guidance committee and must include the requirements specified below.

1. Complete the following courses (27 credits):
LLT 807 Language Teaching Methods 3
LLT 808 Assessment for Language Teaching and Research 3
LLT 860 Second Language Acquisition 3
LLT 872 Research Methods for Language Teaching and Foreign/Second Language Learning 3
LLT 873 Quantitative Research in Second Language Studies 3
LLT 874 Qualitative Research in Second Language Studies 3
LLT 861 Advanced Topics in Second Language Acquisition 3
LLT 862 Advanced Research in Second Language Acquisition 3
LLT 864 Second Language Psycholinguistics 3
2. Complete five courses for a minimum of 15 credits selected from courses listed as elective options in the Second Language Studies Graduate Student Handbook or as approved by the guidance committee.
3. Within one year of completion of the course work, students must write two qualifying research papers in two separate areas. Each qualifying research paper must be read and approved by two core Second Language Studies faculty members, with any exceptions approved by the Second Language Studies Director.
4. Write and successfully defend a dissertation proposal including a literature review, the research questions, the methodology, including the participants, materials, and analysis plans, the reference list, the timeline, and the budget.
5. Pass a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation.

Guidance Committee

The Program Director will serve as the initial advisor. By the midpoint of the second semester, the student will select a guidance committee with a chair. This committee will be comprised of four members, including two core second language studies faculty members.

Academic Standards

In order for the student to be considered in good standing, the student must:

  1. Maintain a cumulative grade-point average of 3.5 in all courses.
  2. Receive a grade of at least 3.0 in courses to be considered as  satisfying any requirement.
  3. Not obtain more than 3 credits with a grade below 3.0.
  4. Submit the first qualifying research paper by the final submission date within the fourth semester in the program.

Any required examination, pre-dissertation or dissertation defenses, can be repeated only once and must be completed the semester following initial failure. No more than one required examination, pre-dissertation or dissertation defenses, can be failed.