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||Speech-Language Pathology to Linguistics
Hello! I am a practicing speech-language pathologist obtaining
information for preparation to apply for my PhD. The more I pursue my
interests, the more I find myself led towards the field of Linguistics.
My B.S. and M.S. are both in Communication Sciences and
Disorders. How would pursuing a PhD in Linguistics be different in my
case? Since the two fields do overlap in some aspects, does anyone
have any resources/references I can refer to for further information?
There are so many Linguistics programs I'm unsure where to begin.
Thank you for your assistance.
You've asked at least 2 questions:
i) How will your studies be different if you choose Linguistics rather than Speech
Path or Communication Disorders for a PhD?
ii) How to choose among graduate programs?
Linguistics programs can be more theoretical or more applied (or a mix). Most
programs will have little attention on communication disorders, unless there is a
professor with a specialization in this area. Other (more familiar) specializations
include emphasis on specific languages or language families; investigation of
phonology, syntax and/or semantics; studies of universals of human languages
despite obvious surface differences, or human capacity for learning language.
Applied programs will include these topics along with courses or research on
"hyphenated" linguistics topics (socio-, psycho-). They can include child language
acquisition, experimental studies to shed light on language capabilities, or brain and
language studies (which may also include language loss from injury or illness or
congenital issues). Pragmatics and discourse studies look beyond language in the
"ideal speaker-hearer" as an object of study to the relationship of language to
knowledge of the world and interaction between 2 or more participants using
language. Applied programs might also offer a specialization on second language
Where to study? You don't say where you are, but I'll assume US, given your email
address. Yes, there are a lot of Linguistics programs. As Elizabeth Pyatt suggested,
your prior experience will bring a lot to most programs, and yet I applaud your
willingness to consider stepping out of the familiar to something new. Why not visit
2-3 programs? Talk to the faculty to understand their expectations of what you can
learn at their program, and how your interests might fit into their research
programs. At least as important would be meeting with the graduate students at the
different programs to find out what their goals are and how much collegial support
there is among the student population. And, just because you've visited those
programs doesn't mean you can't decide to attend a different one! It's mostly a way
for you to figure out what "a good fit" means and which kind of program works for
Have fun figuring this out!
Nancy J. Frishberg
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Re: Speech-Language Pathology to Linguistics
Elizabeth J Pyatt
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