Linguistics is a discipline that explores the structure of language, its role in human activity, and its relationship to the biological and psychological human organism. It is considered one of the humanities because it focuses on the relationship between human beings and language, but it is also an exact science because of its systematic explanation of the facts of language and its use of experimental methodology.

The Department of Linguistics offers graduate programs leading to the degrees of MA and PhD in linguistics. It is possible, through the selection of relevant courses, to specialize in a variety of areas of linguistic research. These include the following: theoretical linguistics (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics), first and second language acquisition, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics and sociolinguistics. Detailed information about the programs, for instance, the research areas of professors, course descriptions, and student advising arrangements is provided in the department's student handbook.

The Department participates in a collaborative program in Canadian Studies at the PhD level. 

The programs are governed by the general regulations in effect for graduate studies. 

Learn more on application deadlines, language requirements and more by visiting the specific requirements webpage.

The MA in Linguistics (or the equivalent) is required for admission to the doctoral program.

Language Requirements

Candidates must have an adequate knowledge of English. Most of the courses are offered in English. Under the regulations of the University of Ottawa, examinations and assignments may be written in French or in English.

Transfer from Master’s to PhD

Students enrolled in the Master of Arts in Linguistics at the University of Ottawa may, exceptionally, be allowed to transfer to the doctoral program without completing the master’s. To take advantage of this option, they must:

  • Complete 3 compulsory courses (LIN 5315, LIN 5317 and LIN 5318) and an optional course in the master’s program with a minimum grade of A- or better in each;
  • Provide letters in support of the fast-track from professors in two of the courses mentioned above;
  • Provide a letter of recommendation from the Graduate Studies Committee of the Department;
  • Provide the name of the professor who has agreed to supervise the doctoral thesis.

The transfer must take place within twelve months of initial enrollment in the master's; the student must enroll in the PhD program in the 4th term at the latest. Please note that the minimal admission average requirements for the doctoral program must also be met. Following the transfer, all the requirements of the doctoral program must be met. The total number of course units required is 30 (12 at the master’s and 18 at the doctoral level).

A total of six course (18 units) are required as follows: 

Compulsory Courses:
6 course units from:6 Units
Phonology II
Syntax II
Semantics II
12 optional course units in linguistics (LIN) at the graduate level 112 Units
6 additional course units in French as a second language (FLS) 2
LIN 8398Doctoral Seminar0 Unit
Comprehensive Examination:
LIN 9998Ph.D. Qualifying Examination0 Unit
LIN 9999Ph.D. Thesis Research0 Unit



All students must take 12 optional course units, chosen in consultation with their advisory committees. All linguistics graduate courses fulfill this requirement, except those which are prerequisites to required doctoral courses (LIN 5315, LIN 5317, LIN 5318).


All students must pass 6 course units in FLS (French as a second language), unless:

  • they have completed their previous studies in French or have passed at least one university course in French (with the exception of language courses);
  • they pass, while in the PhD program, a university course in which all course requirements are completed in French (with the exception of language courses);
  • they successfully complete at least one of the two major papers for the qualifying examination in French;
  • they write their thesis in French; or
  • they obtain at least 4.5 on the TestCAN administered by the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute.

N.B. Research courses and seminar courses may be repeated if the content of the course is different.

Doctoral Seminar

The aim of this seminar is to provide doctoral students with the necessary methodological and professional tools for carrying out research in linguistics. This seminar must be taken in conjunction with their first comprehensive exam. Topics to be covered include: defining a research project; presentation of research results; poster preparation; techniques for writing academic papers, conference abstracts, and reviews; journal submission and review procedures; conference participation; research ethics. Compulsory for doctoral students. Graded S/NS.

Comprehensive Examination

All students must satisfy a comprehensive examination requirement. The requirement consists of two substantial research papers, each in a different field, selected in consultation with the student's advisory committee.

Residence and Thesis

All students must spend a minimum of six terms in residence and present a supervised thesis incorporating the results of original research. Transfer students must complete a total of nine terms in residence (master's and doctorate combined).

Additional Requirements

The requirements listed above are necessary minimums, and the department may impose additional courses if this appears desirable in view of the candidate's previous preparation. Candidates will be informed of any such additional courses at the beginning of their studies.

Minimum Standards

The passing grade in all courses is C+. Students who fail two courses (equivalent to 6 units), the thesis proposal, or the comprehensive exam or whose research progress is deemed unsatisfactory are required to withdraw.

Duration of the Program

Students are expected to complete all requirements within four years. The maximum time permitted is six years from the date of initial enrollment in the program.

Thesis Advisory Committee

During the first term of the program, a thesis advisory committee (TAC) is formed for the candidate. The Committee's membership will be determined by the specific interests of the candidate. It will be composed of the supervisor and two to three additional professors. At least one member of the thesis committee, in addition to the supervisor, must be from the Faculty of Arts. The TAC is responsible for guiding the student throughout the program, including course selection, the comprehensive examination, thesis proposal, and thesis defense.

The thesis examining board may include members who are not part of the TAC.

Research Fields & Facilities

Located in the heart of Canada’s capital, a few steps away from Parliament Hill, the University of Ottawa is among Canada’s top 10 research universities.

uOttawa focuses research strengths and efforts in four Strategic Areas of Development in Research (SADRs):

  • Canada and the World
  • Health
  • e-Society
  • Molecular and Environmental Sciences

With cutting-edge research, our graduate students, researchers and educators strongly influence national and international priorities.

Research at the Faculty of Arts

The Faculty of Arts is proud of the state of the art research conducted by its professors. In the spirit of showcasing its research to the university community as well as to the general public, the Faculty has created three activities: Dean's Lecture Series, Treasures of the Library, and Excellence Lectures.

Facilities, Research Centres and Institutes at the Faculty of Arts

Centre de recherche en civilisation canadienne-française, Institute of Canadian and Aboriginal Studies, Institute for Science, Society and Policy, Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute (OLBI) and Morisset Library.

For more information, refer to the list of faculty members and their research fields on Uniweb

IMPORTANT: Candidates and students looking for professors to supervise their thesis or research project can also consult the website of the faculty or department of their program of choice. Uniweb does not list all professors authorized to supervise research projects at the University of Ottawa.

LIN 5302 Laboratory Techniques: Software, Signals and Stimuli (3 units)

Current laboratory techniques in empirical linguistics.

Course Component: Lecture

LIN 5303 Sociolinguistics I (3 units)

Survey of recent and classical literature on variationist sociolinguistics, and the development of skills to locate, extract and interpret variable phenomena in spontaneous speech.

Course Component: Seminar

LIN 5304 Psycholinguistics (3 units)

Introduction to the psychological factors governing the acquisition and use of language.

Course Component: Seminar

LIN 5308 Bilingualism (3 units)

Variationist perspectives on the linguistic consequences of language contact in stable bilingual communities.

Course Component: Lecture

LIN 5310 Dialectology (3 units)

Seminar on methods in dialectology, with reference to modern languages.

Course Component: Lecture

LIN 5315 Phonology I (3 units)

Basic phonological concepts; current problems in phonological research; the goals of phonological theory; fundamentals of theoretical and experimental phonology.

Course Component: Seminar

LIN 5317 Syntax I (3 units)

Current aspects and goals of syntactic research. Development of contemporary syntactic concepts.

Course Component: Seminar

LIN 5318 Semantics I (3 units)

Introduction to formal semantics with emphasis on the composition of meaning; research goals in formal semantics and overview of some current research questions.

Course Component: Seminar

LIN 5323 Research in English Linguistics (3 units)

Current issues in English linguistics.

Course Component: Lecture

LIN 5324 Research in Sociolinguistics (3 units)

Current issues in sociolinguistic research.

Course Component: Seminar

LIN 5921 Recherche en linguistique française (3 crédits / 3 units)

Volet / Course Component: Cours magistral / Lecture

LIN 5922 Recherche en linguistique franco-canadienne (3 crédits / 3 units)

Volet / Course Component: Cours magistral / Lecture

LIN 5998 Travaux pratiques I / Guided Research I (3 crédits / 3 units)

Volet / Course Component: Recherche / Research

LIN 5998S Travaux pratiques III / Guided Research III (3 crédits / 3 units)

Volet / Course Component: Cours magistral / Lecture

LIN 5999 Travaux pratiques II / Guided Research II (3 crédits / 3 units)

Volet / Course Component: Cours magistral / Lecture

LIN 5999S Travaux pratiques III / Guided Research III (3 crédits / 3 units)

Volet / Course Component: Cours magistral / Lecture

LIN 6301 Experimental Phonetics: Physiology (3 units)

Physiological aspects of speech production.

Course Component: Seminar

LIN 6302 Experimental Phonetics: Acoustics (3 units)

Fundamentals of speech acoustics.

Course Component: Laboratory, Lecture

LIN 6315 Phonology II (3 units)

Current issues in formal and experimental phonology.

Course Component: Seminar

Prerequisite: LIN 5315

LIN 6317 Syntax II (3 units)

Current issues in syntax.

Course Component: Seminar

Prerequisite: LIN 5317

LIN 6318 Semantics II (3 units)

Advanced topics in formal semantics; overview of current debates and technical proposals.

Course Component: Seminar

Prerequisite: LIN 5318

LIN 6701 Phonétique expérimentale : La physiologie (3 crédits)

Aspects physiologiques de la production de la parole.

Volet : Groupe de discussion, Cours magistral

LIN 6702 Phonétique expérimentale : L'acoustique (3 crédits)

Bases de l'analyse acoustique de la parole.

Volet : Séminaire

LIN 7301 Statistics for Linguistics Research (3 units)

Specialized statistical methods for linguistic analysis, including both descriptive and inferential statistics (e.g. frequency distribution, standard deviation, ANOVA, MANOVA, Regression, Correlation, and T-tests). Training in statistical software. Reading and writing of reports on statistics results. Practical training with linguistic data sets.

Course Component: Seminar

LIN 7310 Seminar I (3 units)

Topic to be announced.

Course Component: Lecture

LIN 7311 Seminar II (3 units)

Topic to be announced.

Course Component: Lecture

LIN 7312 Seminar III (3 units)

Topic to be announced.

Course Component: Lecture

LIN 7319 First Language Acquisition I (3 units)

First language acquisition, concentrating on theoretical, experimental and methodological issues.

Course Component: Seminar

LIN 7320 Second Language Acquisition I (3 units)

Second language acquisition, concentrating on theoretical, experimental and methodological issues.

Course Component: Seminar

LIN 7330 Topics in Theoretical Linguistics I (3 units)

Topic to be announced.

Course Component: Seminar

LIN 7331 Topics in Theoretical Linguistics II (3 units)

Topic to be announced.

Course Component: Lecture

LIN 7332 Seminar in Theoretical Linguistics I (3 units)

Topic to be announced.

Course Component: Lecture

LIN 7333 Seminar in Theoretical Linguistics II (3 units)

Topic to be announced.

Course Component: Lecture

LIN 7340 Second Language Acquisition II (3 units)

Current issues in second language acquisition.

Course Component: Lecture

LIN 7341 Psycholinguistics II (3 units)

Current issues in psycholinguistics.

Course Component: Lecture

LIN 7342 Sociolinguistics II (3 units)

Current issues in sociolinguistics.

Course Component: Seminar

LIN 7343 Neurolinguistics (3 units)

Fundamentals of neurolinguistics: concepts, methods and theories.

Course Component: Lecture

LIN 7701 Statistiques pour la recherche en linguistique (3 crédits)

Méthodes statistiques appliquées à la recherche en linguistique, incluant les méthodes appartenant à la statistique descriptive et à la statistique inférentielle (distributions, écarts-type, analyse de la variance, analyse de la variance multiple, régressions, corrélations et statistiques t). Apprentissage de l'utilisation de logiciels statistiques. Lecture et rédaction de rapports de résultats statistiques. Formation pratique dans l'étude et l'analyse des données linguistiques.

Volet : Cours magistral

LIN 7710 Séminaire I (3 crédits)

Sujet à déterminer.

Volet : Cours magistral

LIN 7711 Séminaire II (3 crédits)

Sujet à déterminer.

Volet : Cours magistral

LIN 7712 Séminaire III (3 crédits)

Sujet à déterminer.

Volet : Cours magistral

LIN 7913 Séminaire IV / Seminar IV (3 crédits / 3 units)

Volet / Course Component: Cours magistral / Lecture

LIN 7921 Cours de pratique psycholinguistique / Practicum in Psycholinguistics (3 crédits / 3 units)

Volet / Course Component: Cours magistral / Lecture

LIN 7997 Mémoire de maîtrise / M.A./ Research Paper

Volet / Course Component: Recherche / Research

LIN 8398 Doctoral Seminar

Development of presentational and writing skills (abstracts, articles); the inner workings of the linguistic community (conferences, types of publications, the publication process); the academic job market (applications, interviews); the academic career; the non-academic job market and the transferability of academic skills.

Course Component: Seminar

LIN 9998 Examen de candidature du doctorat / Ph.D. Qualifying Examination

Volet / Course Component: Recherche / Research

LIN 9999 Recherche et thèse de doctorat / Ph.D. Thesis Research

Volet / Course Component: Recherche / Research