Linguistics (Graduate Certificate)

Elly van Gelderen, certificate advisor

This interdisciplinary graduate certificate in linguistics offers students in several fields the opportunity to gain an understanding of the way in which languages are structured, how they are acquired and how they vary over time, space, social distance and situational contexts.

The skills acquired through the completion of the core courses for this certificate include:

  • analytical abilities
  • communication skills
  • critical thinking
  • problem-solving

In addition, the knowledge acquired in the areas of discourse analysis and pragmatics makes students aware of the necessity to use appropriate registers and styles when creating written documents or oral presentations to different audiences.

The field of linguistics has grown rapidly since the 1960s. with an expanding interest in the analysis of language and the application of this knowledge to the solution of real problems such as language teaching, translation and artificial intelligence.

The Linguistics Society of America provides information on job opportunities for linguists in the private sector (academic and industry jobs).

Faculty from several different disciplines participate in the program. Currently, linguistics courses are offered in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Education, College of Engineering and eight departments at ASU.

The 18-credit linguistics certificate can be completed easily within a two-year period as a complement to another degree or as a stand-alone certificate obtained by working professionals. It is appropriate for ASU students, many of whom will be entering the technology and educational workforce after obtaining their degree. It also provides opportunities for people in the workforce to enhance their skills and broaden their knowledge of linguistic issues.

The graduate certificate in linguistics is available to all ASU graduate students irrespective of their major and to nondegree graduate students and working professionals provided they meet eligibility criteria. Students are advised that only nine hours may be taken in nondegree/certificate status and applied to a graduate degree/certificate program.

Eligibility requirements for obtaining the graduate certificate include having:

  1. Completion of an undergraduate bachelor's degree from an U.S. accredited institution or equivalent.
  2. Formal knowledge of a foreign language, equivalent to two years of study of a foreign language at the university level or plans to fulfill the language requirement concurrently with their certificate courses. The language requirement may be met by completion of courses through the second-year level (four semesters) at ASU or elsewhere, or completion of an upper-division language course with an average of "B" (3.00) or better for all such course work (200 or 300-level), or through examination (language placement tests available online under Language Placement Policies and Tests), indicating they should be placed above the 200-level. If this requirement is not already fulfilled at the time of application, candidates must demonstrate completion of this requirement at the end of their certificate course work, in order for their certificate to be granted.
  3. An introductory course in linguistics taken at the upper-division or graduate level, e.g., FLA 400/598, LIN 510, ASB 480/598 or equivalent.

Note: International students on an F1 or J1 visa cannot study only in a certificate program. They would need to be in a graduate program.

Application Process

Applications are accepted year-round.

Complete the Graduate College Online Application for Admission and submit the application fee.
Supporting documents (resume and statement of purpose) must also be uploaded into the online application. The statement should be a one- to two-page, well-considered statement of purpose detailing the student's background and reasons for wanting to do the linguistics certificate.
For further information e-mail
International students must have an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS score report sent to the Graduate College. Please refer to the English Proficiency Score requirements.

Questions about the application process and other logistical matters concerning the certificate should be directed to Sheila Luna at 480-965-3194,

Upon completion of the certificate program, students should be able to analyze linguistic data and understand how language use varies according to time, space, social context and characteristics of individual speakers (e.g., age, sex, social class, ethnicity).

Prerequisite Course Work

The prerequisite for the program is an introductory course in linguistics taken at the upper-division or graduate level.

Required Course Work

The certificate requires 18 credit hours—nine hours of core course work and nine hours of electives—to be selected by the student in consultation with the certificate advisor.

The required nine-hour core of the certificate consists of courses in phonology, syntax, and discourse analysis/pragmatics. The other three courses (nine hours) may be chosen from fields such as second language acquisition, applied linguistics, sociolinguistics, computer science, education, or language and culture.

All certificate course work must be completed with an average grade of "B" (3.00) or better.

Students may transfer up to three credit hours of graduate level linguistics courses (with a grade of "B" (3.0) or better from another institution to this certificate. To petition for the transfer of previous coursework credits, students must submit the syllabus, reading list, exams, papers, and a copy of official transcripts to the certificate advisor. In addition, official transcripts confirming the completion of these courses must be sent to the Graduate Admissions office of the Graduate College at ASU, Graduate Admissions, P.O. Box 871003, Tempe, AZ 85287-0112.

Required Core
LIN 511 Phonology (3) 
LIN 514 Syntax (3) 
LIN 516 Pragmatics and Discourse Analysis (3)

Students must complete one three-credit course in each category:

  • Phonology: courses in this category provide an in-depth discussion understanding of current trends in phonological theory. The course also involves practice in phonological analysis.
  • Syntax: courses in this category provide students with an in-depth understanding of how to analyze syntactic structure using contemporary theoretical models. The course includes practice in syntactic analysis and discussion of theoretical issues.
  • Discourse/pragmatic analysis: courses in this category provide an in-depth understanding of how language is used appropriately to fulfill communicative functions in various social contexts and how language is structured in conversation and written text.

The remaining nine hours (three courses) should be chosen in consultation with the certificate advisor within one of four emphases to complement the student's professional needs. The following courses are sample electives:

  1. Natural language processing

    CSE 579 Knowledge Representation
    CSE 571 Artificial Intelligence
    CSE 576 Topics in Natural Language Processing

  2. Second language acquisition/applied linguistics

    One course in second language acquisition theory chosen from the grid of ASU linguistics courses (e.g., LIN 520 SLA Theory)
    One course in applied linguistics chosen from the grid of ASU courses (e.g. APL601 Introduction to Applied Linguistics; LIN521 Methods of TESL; LIN522 Grammar for TESOL; LIN523 Language Testing and Assessment, LIN524 Curriculum Design & Materials Development)

  3. Sociolinguistics

    One course on regional language variation and change chosen from the ASU grid of linguistics courses (e.g. LIN 515 American English; LIN 517 History of English; LIN 617 Advanced Studies in History of English; SPA 540 History of Spanish Language; SPA 541 Spanish in America; FRE 521 History of French Language)
    One course on the social aspects of language chosen from the ASU grid of linguistics courses (e.g. LIN 615 Studies in Advanced Sociolinguistics; LIN 616 Advanced Studies in Discourse Analysis; SPA 542 Studies in Spanish in the Southwest; SPA 547 Spanish Pragmatics)

  4. Educational linguistics

    BLE511 - Introduction to language minority education
    BLE515 - Instructional methods for bilingual students
    BLE520 - ESL for children
    BLE522 - Literacy/biliteracy development
    BLE527 - SEI for middle and secondary school
    BLE529 - Language assessment and evaluation of ESL/BLE students
    BLE533 - Literacy in secondary BLE/ESL settings
    BLE535 - Sociolinguistic issues in bilingual education
    BLE537 - Language structure acquisition
    BLE541 - Nature of bilingualism/second-language acquisition
    BLE561 - Parent involvement in language minority education programs

    For instance, students and working professionals in computer science can concentrate on courses in natural language processing, while prospective teachers, or those in the field, can focus on second language acquisition, sociolinguistics/language variation and change, and educational linguistics/policy issues. Those with a Ph.D. in literature can take courses in second language acquisition to aid in language/composition supervisory positions and sociolinguistics for a better understanding of the language used in literary texts.

Note to current students: According to Graduate College policy, "No more than 40% of coursework towards the requirements of a graduate certificate can be completed prior to admission to the certificate program." This means that a student who is in a master's program cannot get towards the end of their program and request to use their credits earned to get a certificate too. However, if a student starts a certificate and a degree at the same time, they could finish both in 30 hours.

The student will file a plan of study for the certificate program and apply for graduation. The student will be awarded a certificate when they fulfill the requirements. 

Note to certificate students: Credit hours earned in a certificate program may also be used towards a degree program, standard preadmission rules apply.

Note to current students:  According to Graduate College policy, "No more than 40% of coursework towards the requirements of a graduate certificate can be completed prior to admission to the certificate program"  This means that a student who is in a master's program cannot get towards the end of their program and request to use their credits earned to get a certificate too.   However, if a student starts a certificate and a degree at the same time, they could finish both in 30 hours.

For further information contact Sheila Luna at 480-965-3194 or

Important Notice to Current International Students: In order for international students to maintain good standing for their VISAs, they must take a minimum of 9 credit hours per semester (i.e., 3 classes), 6 of which should be face-to-face classes.

Degree Offered

Linguistics (Graduate Certificate)
Liberal Arts and Sciences, The College of


Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

View Plan of Study

Application Deadline

Applications are accepted year-round.

How to Apply

See the Eligibility and Application Procedure tab above. 

Questions? Contact