An Introduction to UBC Linguistics

Graduate Program: Overview

The UBC Linguistics Department has high-quality and very lively graduate programs in linguistics; the Ph.D. program also offers an interdisciplinary stream in cognitive systems. Our students are actively engaged in research from the moment they enter the department, and they have an excellent track record of publishing and presenting their work at national and international conferences. We welcome applications from outstanding students who want to do research in the areas that define our department’s unique profile. The department offers generous financial support. Before beginning the application process, prospective students are encouraged to explore our website to get a good sense of our particular research strengths and culture.

The UBC Linguistics Grad Guide

The grad guide is intended to be a supplement to (and in some cases, a guide to) the official sources of information about the programs, the department, the university, and life in Vancouver, Canada. It also includes some helpful tips based on grad students’ experiences with these entities.

Ph.D. in Linguistics (incl. Cognitive Systems)

There are two streams that lead to the Ph.D. in Linguistics. In addition to the main (Linguistics) stream, we also offer the alternative of an interdisciplinary Cognitive Systems (COGS) stream.

We normally require applicants to the Ph.D. program to have an M.A. degree, or at least one year of training at the graduate level in a relevant area of study. Before starting their dissertation research, all Ph.D. students complete a sequence of graduate courses in the core areas of linguistics, and write two original research papers (Qualifying Papers) in two distinct sub-disciplines (e.g., phonetics and semantics). Depending on a student’s background, this first phase of the program is normally completed in two years. The length of time required for completion of the doctoral dissertation varies considerably, but may take two to three years after completion of the other requirements.

M.A. in Linguistics

Applicants whose previous linguistics training was at the undergraduate level normally apply for admission to the M.A. program. Completion of the program usually takes two years, but after the first year, students interested in pursuing doctoral research can apply for a transfer directly into the second year of the Ph.D. program.

Master of Data Science in Computational Linguistics

In addition to the academic, research-oriented MA and PhD programs, UBC also offers a new professional degree program: Master of Data Science in Computational Linguistics. This 10-month intensive program is aimed at providing those with a degree in linguistics or other language-focused discipline the technical skills to pursue a career in language technology and natural language processing. This specialization is a joint program with UBC Computer Science and Statistics departments. For details on this program, please see the Master of Data Science in Computational Linguistics page.


For more information, feel free to e-mail the Graduate Admissions Coordinator, Henry Davis ( However, before contacting us, please make sure to read the information on this website, including the list of Frequently Asked Questions.