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Subject: Speech-Language Pathology to Linguistics
Question: 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.
Reply: 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 learning or 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 your goals. Have fun figuring this out!
Reply From: Nancy J. Frishberg      click here to access email
Date: 01-Nov-2012
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Speech-Language Pathology to Linguistics    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (01-Nov-2012)

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