Frequently Asked Questions

Graduate Program

I already have an advanced degree. What is the policy on duplicate degrees?

UC Berkeley, in general, will not grant a second degree to someone holding an advanced degree in the same field. But, students who already hold an M.A. degree from another institution in Linguistics, or any field, and are admitted into the Linguistics Ph.D. program at Berkeley, will be granted a second M.A. upon completion of the M.A. requirements. Students who are enrolled in a Ph.D. program in Linguistics elsewhere at the time they apply to U.C. Berkeley will not be allowed to transfer Ph.D. units. If the Department of Linguistics or the Graduate Division determines from information provided on the application that a student will obtain a Linguistics-related Ph.D. degree before the date that he/she would enter our graduate program, the application will not be processed. Though the University wishes to discourage students who already hold a Ph.D. in an unrelated subject from enrolling in the Ph.D. program in Linguistics, we can petition for an exception to this policy.

What opportunities are there for exchange programs with other institutions?

Students enrolled at any University of California campus may take courses at another UC campus for credit to be applied to their home department's degree program. Students interested in this option should talk to their own department, as well as to the faculty members in our department who would be teaching the courses that are of interest to them. An application form for the Intercampus Exchange Program may be obtained from Graduate Services, 318 Sproul Hall, (510) 642-7330. Students who have maintained good standing at UC Berkeley or at Stanford University for a year of graduate study may apply to take courses through the Stanford-California Exchange Program. Doctoral students who have completed one year of studies at Berkeley are also eligible to participate in the Exchange Scholar Program which allows them to study at Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford or Yale for up to one year. More information on this program can also be obtained through Graduate Division. Graduate students who have completed at least one year at UC Berkeley may be granted permission to study abroad at most of the study centers under the Education Abroad Program. (Linguistics students are encouraged to apply for Foreign Language Area Study (FLAS) fellowships for the summer or the regular academic year in order to secure funding for foreign language study at home or abroad.) For more information on the Education Abroad Program write to: Berkeley Programs for Study Abroad, 160 Stephens Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-2302, (510) 642-1356 or (510) 642-1790.

Is the Berkeley graduate program a good fit for me if I am interested in language teaching or translation?

Students whose primary interest is in the field of Applied Linguistics, especially the Teaching of English as a Second Language (TESOL or ESL) should be aware that there is no faculty specialization in this area at UC Berkeley and very little relevant coursework offered in the Department of Linguistics. (Note, however, there are some courses offered through the Education Department's Language and Literacy Program.) Linguistic programs with specialization in TESOL and other areas of Applied Linguistics are San Jose State University (San Jose, CA 94192), the University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA 90024), San Francisco State University (San Francisco, CA 94132), the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI 48109), Ohio University (Athens, OH 45701-2979), Georgetown University (Washington, D.C. 20057), and Southern Illinois University (Carbondale, IL 62901).

Students whose primary interest is in the field of language translation should consider the programs at Georgetown University (Washington, D.C. 20057) and at the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies (Monterey, CA 93940). If you wish to obtain information on other programs in Linguistics in the United States and Canada you can access the Linguistic Society of America's (LSA) web site. Questions regarding the LSA Directory of Programs in Linguistics may be addressed to LSA Secretariat, lsa@lsadc.org.

How do I choose a field of study?

Students should choose whether or not to apply to UC Berkeley Linguistics carefully, making sure that their interests overlap to a significant degree with the expectations of the program. Having fulfilled the requirements for the M.A. in Linguistics students have more flexibility in choice of classes, since there are few additional course requirements beyond the M.A. program in our department. To have recognition for breadth of interests, it is possible to take a second M.A. in another department before proceeding to a Ph.D. Another option would be to design a unique course of study. Such an option is only available to students with a superior academic record who have completed at least two semesters of a doctoral program at UC Berkeley, working with faculty members from several departments to create an individual program, which then must meet with the approval of the Dean of the Graduate Division. It is not possible to be admitted to UC Berkeley as an "unaffiliated student". Students must first be admitted into and show success in a particular program before designing a unique course of study. It is possible, however, for a person who has not been accepted into a graduate program to take individual courses of interest. (See the section on Concurrent Enrollment.)

How do I get credit for outside work?

Students who have completed coursework relevant to our program at another institution may be allowed to apply that work toward a degree at UC Berkeley. This can be accomplished in one of two ways: either by formal transfer of credit or by waiver of requirements. After the first semester of residence at UC Berkeley a graduate student may transfer up to 4 semester units or 6 quarter units toward the M.A. program in the Department of Linguistics. This lowers the number of units necessary to complete the degree, but it does not automatically fulfill any other departmental requirements. Alternatively, work can be applied toward an M.A. at UC Berkeley through a waiver of requirements. In certain cases a required course may be waived if a student has previously completed coursework that is comparable to the corresponding course at Berkeley. Such a waiver requires the permission of the professor who normally teaches the course, as well as that of the Head Graduate Advisor. Unlike a transfer of units, this waiver will not decrease the total units of UC Berkeley coursework required for the M.A. degree. It may, however, allow the student to take more advanced courses and enable the student to receive the degree sooner.

Can I take courses without being admitted to the program?

Even if you are not enrolled in an academic department at UC Berkeley, it is possible to take many of the Linguistics courses that are offered to Berkeley students through Concurrent Enrollment, a program that is under the auspices of UC Extension. Taking Linguistics courses through this program does not imply that you have been or will be accepted into the Department of Linguistics' graduate program. If you are later accepted into the program you would not be able to transfer courses you have taken under Concurrent Enrollment towards the course load required for an M.A. degree, though it would allow you to skip certain prerequisite courses in order to take more specialized courses during the M.A. program. One advantage of taking courses through Concurrent Enrollment is that you might become more familiar with the faculty members and have a better idea of the focus of our program. For further information, contact the UC Extension Office, 1995 University Avenue, Suite #110, Berkeley, CA 94720-7000; (510) 642-4111.

Can I do coursework in the summer?

No courses required for the Linguistics M.A. are offered in the summer, only introductory undergrad linguistics courses can be taken. To obtain more information and to register for classes contact the Summer Sessions Office, 1995 University Avenue, Suite #1080, Berkeley, CA 94720-1080, (510) 642-5611. All students are encouraged to participate in one or more of the Linguistic Institutes sponsored every other summer by the Linguistic Society of America (LSA). Each Linguistic Institute features a wide range of courses, seminars, conferences, workshops, and lectures covering developments in Linguistics and related fields; Berkeley graduate students and faculty often participate. Scholarships are available from the LSA and possibly (depending on funding) from the Berkeley Department of Linguistics. For more information, write to the LSA, 1325 18th Street, NW, Suite 211, Washington, DC 20036-6501, fax (202) 835-1714, email: lsa@lsadc.org(link sends e-mail) or check their website(link is external).

How do I access department-wide events?

The department hosts several recurrent events, including colloquia and more specialized discussion groups. These can be accessed as follows:

Department colloquia: information at https://events.berkeley.edu/index.php/calendar/sn/ling.html 

Fieldwork Forum: https://lx.berkeley.edu/fforum

Group in American Indian Languages (GAIL): https://lx.berkeley.edu/group-american-indian-languages-gail

Language, Computation, and Cognition Reading Group (LCCRG)

Language Revitalization Working Group:https://events.berkeley.edu/index.php/calendar/sn/ling.html

Siouan Languages Working Group:https://lx.berkeley.edu/siouan-languages-working-group-slwg

Sociolinguistics Lab at Berkeley (SLaB): https://sites.google.com/berkeley.edu/sociolinguistics/

Syntax and Semantics Circle: http://linguistics.berkeley.edu/~syntax-circle/

What are the committees and regular service roles in the department?

An up-to-date list of department offices, staff positions, committees, service positions, and research groups, along with who currently holds those positions, can be found here.


This document includes information on certain service positions typically held by graduate students in the department.

How are funding decisions made for grad students? On what timeline? By whom?

​​Funding decisions are made at the time of admission, by the admissions committee. As of 2021/2022, offers of admissions include a funding package. The package includes fellowship money for the first year and a combination of GSI positions and other forms of support thereafter. Decisions about how the package is implemented after the first year take into account the availability of GSI positions, faculty research grants and external fellowships (e.g. NSF predoctoral fellowships).

What is the Oswalt Grant?

Berkeley graduate students (in any department) are invited to apply for funding for linguistic fieldwork on endangered languages. This funding comes through the Robert L. Oswalt Graduate Student Support Endowment for Endangered Language Documentation, given in memory of Robert L. Oswalt (Ph.D. UC Berkeley 1961) by his widow and sons. It is restricted to Berkeley graduate students, for linguistic fieldwork on endangered languages (anywhere in the world). More information can be found here.

What are NSF GRFP fellowships and when can I apply?

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing full-time research-based master's and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The GRFP provides three years of support over a five-year fellowship period for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements in STEM or STEM education. 

You can apply both:

  1. before you begin your graduate studies (as long as you are at least an undergraduate senior) 

  1. as an early graduate student. 

If you have completed more than one year in a graduate degree program, there are restrictions on your eligibility to apply. 

You can check the FAQ here.

How are decisions on summer teaching positions made, and by whom?

During the academic year, the GSAO sends out a poll to determine who wants to teach what class in the summer. Following that, the GSAO and chair work together to try to match teachers with classes.

How often are students expected to teach? Is there any requirement?

Teaching expectations depend on a student’s funding package. The Department tries to encourage everyone, even if they are fully funded in other ways, to teach at least once to gain teaching experience. Note that one’s funding package may limit how often one is allowed to be a GSI.

What conference funding opportunities are available?

There are two main sources of conference funding, both of which are contingent upon having an abstract accepted for the conference and attending it.

  1. The Conference Travel Grants Award from Berkeley’s Graduate Division is available twice over a Ph.D student’s career (see https://gradapp.berkeley.edu/portal/fellowships?cmd=travel). This grant covers up to $600 within California, $900 elsewhere in North America, including Canada and Mexico, and $1500 outside of North AMerica.

  2. Each academic year, the GSAO will send out an application for conference travel funds. It covers up to $500 for West Coast travel, $800 elsewhere North America, and $1100 outside of North America.

Your research funds may also be used for conference funding. The policy for using these funds may be found here: https://travel.berkeley.edu/understand-policy/travel-policy-nutshell

This website also lists a number of other available funding for conferences: https://grad.berkeley.edu/financial/options-for-financial-support/fellowships/

What can my research funding cover? What are the limitations?

Graduate students receive $2000 of research funding from the department upon entering the program. An additional $1000 is added upon passing the Qualifying Exam. One common use is funding conference costs: conference registration, poster printing travel, lodging, and food, for example. See here for limitations: https://travel.berkeley.edu/understand-policy/travel-policy-nutshell . It is also common to use research funds to buy equipment for experiments or to pay participants. Another possible use is to pay transcribers for linguistic data. Note that department research funding cannot be used to purchase laptops. Research funding can cover many costs, so don’t be afraid to ask the Linguistics manager!

How does one develop or propose a new course in the department?

First, work with the relevant departmental committee, which is either the undergraduate studies committee or the graduate studies committee. Then submit the proposal to the Committee on Courses of Instruction (COCI), which is the academic senate committee that oversees courses at the campus level.

Where can graduate students and faculty find resources to develop mentoring relationships?

The Graduate Division has developed guidelines for faculty mentoring of graduate students, which can be accessed here:

https://academic-senate.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/gc_mentoring_guidelines-final.pdf

Where can I find resources for job opportunities after grad school in academia and outside academia? Are these opportunities also available for international students?

Three important resources for job opportunities are the Career CenterBeyond Academia, and Graduate Professional Development. Beyond Academia and Graduate Professional Development are specifically for graduate students and postdocs; the Career Center serves undergraduate students as well. All three resources are available to domestic and international students. The Rhetoric Department has also put together a comprehensive list of resources here.


Linguistics graduate students can also contact Head Graduate Advisor Susanne Gahl (gahl@berkeley.edu) to be added to the mailing list for ProD, the department’s forum for graduate students to learn about and share experiences related to professional development.

What is the Climate Committee and what does it do?

The primary purpose of the Climate Committee is to serve as a resource for monitoring and improving department climate. It maintains open channels of communication with the department, including a committee email address (ling-climate@berkeley.edu), anonymous open survey form, and climate office hours. Department members are encouraged to contact the committee with comments, concerns, and recommendations regarding department climate. The committee meets regularly (usually weekly) to discuss ongoing initiatives and any climate-related issues that have been brought to the committee’s attention. 

On a regular basis (usually yearly), the Climate Committee takes the temperature of department climate generally, typically via surveys that are sent to department members. Based on the results of such surveys, the Climate Committee issues reports on department climate to the department. The committee also manages information about climate-related resources at the department- and university-level, including helping to organize and maintain a department FAQ page. In these way, the committee also functions as climate historians.

The committee and its members are available to serve as point people for issues of climate within the department, and as an informal (and ideally impartial) consultation resource for people who observe or are experiencing climate-related problems.

Based on the state of department climate and demand for such events, the Climate Committee may help organize climate-beneficial events, including workshops and invited speakers. When necessary/appropriate, the committee also makes recommendations to the department or department chair about actions that can be taken to improve climate or mitigate/avoid climate-related problems.

Please be aware that the Climate Committee is not able to provide professional-level counseling, psychological health services, or conflict resolution (though it does know how to direct individuals to such campus resources). While the committee may be proactive in making recommendations or organizing certain climate-beneficial events, it does not police department climate in an aggressive, authoritative, or overly pre-emptive manner. It does not have the authority to administer punishments or disciplinary action against department members, and it is never a goal of the committee to pass judgment on the department or department members.

What is the Ombuds Office? What is an Ombudsperson?

The Ombuds Office is a campus resource for issues of conflict resolution or other concerns, which is available to students (graduate and undergraduate) as well as postdocs. An ombudsperson serves as an impartial listener and confidant, with whom one can discuss a recent or ongoing problem, and possible resolutions or solutions, in a confidential setting.


More information on the Ombuds Office at Berkeley can be found here

Where can I find resources on how to resolve a conflict with a peer or other department member?

There are numerous campus resources for conflict resolution for a wide range of situations. You can access these through the Office of Ethics: https://ethics.berkeley.edu/conflict-resolution

For faculty: https://ofew.berkeley.edu/faculty-ombuds

The Faculty Ombuds role is a confidential, informal, impartial resource for faculty experiencing work-related problems and conflicts. The Faculty Ombuds assists faculty in finding non-confrontational solutions to problems involving other members of the University.

What should I do when I experience or witness what I think might be bullying or harassment?

Relevant links:

UC Berkeley’s policy on workplace bullying prevention

Information pages about bullying in the workplace, including definitions and examples, campus resources, and means of reporting bullying. Note that if one wishes to submit a formal grievance report, it must be done so within 30 days of the incident.

Incident reports can be made on this page

Bullying and harassment are serious obstacles to maintaining a welcoming and safe department environment where every person feels able to teach and conduct research to the best of their ability. If you observe or experience bullying or harassment, the following is a loose guideline for how one might approach the situation, in increasing order of magnitude and officiality. 

  1. Briefly familiarize yourself with the campus resources linked above. Double check that the behavior or incidents are cases of bullying or harassment.

  2. If you feel comfortable doing so, approach the parties involved yourself, particularly if it seems like a smaller or more easily resolved issue, or if it’s not clear whether the situation constitutes bullying/harassment.

  3. If you feel comfortable doing so, consult with any of the following, depending on the nature, context, or parties involved in the incident(s):

    1. The Climate Committee and/or department chair (for any issues in the department)

    2. The Head Graduate Advisor (for issues pertaining to graduate students)

    3. The GSI Advisor (for issues pertaining to GSIing, including co-GSIing)

    4. A department member with some connection to the setting/situation. (For example, if one observes or experiences bullying in a lab setting, one might bring it up with whoever is in charge of the lab.)

  4. Seek guidance from the University’s Ombuds Office

  5. Make an official report of the incidents or behavior (more information and guidance can be found here and here.) From there, the situation may first try to be resolved via informal resolution. Failing that, a formal complaint or grievance can be filed.

What are the opportunities that the Linguistics Department offers for training on implicit bias?

The Linguistics Department itself currently does not offer training for implicit bias. At the university level, however, there are various resources. UC employees (including graduate students) can log into the UC Learning Center and search the catalog for mini-courses on implicit bias by searching for "Managing Implicit Bias" course titles: https://ucnet.universityofcalifornia.edu/working-at-uc/your-career/talent-management/professional-development/managing-implicit-bias.html . Another link with various resources is https://ofew.berkeley.edu/topics/unconscious-bias

Berkeley's PATH to Care Center also has a certificate training program (involving three 2-hour sessions over 3 weeks) that offers an excellent introduction on the basics of implicit bias and of social justice concepts: https://care.berkeley.edu/prevention-first/trail-certificate/

I’m a high school student interested in Linguistics. What are some things I could do to find out more about the field?

If you are interested in knowing more about linguistics at Berkeley, you can start by looking at the BA program in linguistics to have a detailed description of the field and the requirements here. The undergraduate major in Linguistics introduces students to sounds and their patterns (phonetics and phonology), word structure (morphology), sentence structure (syntax), meaning (semantics), how languages evolve over time (comparative and historical linguistics), how language is processed (cognitive science and psycholinguistics), and how language is used in society (sociolinguistics).  You can also see the “Research” section in the program webpage to find out the different fields in linguistics at Berkeley here. Additionally, if you are curious about the history of Berkeley linguistics you can take a look at this page here to discover more about the development of the field at UC Berkeley.

Computing

How can I generate a secure pass phrase?

  • Diceware is a good way to generate secure passwords that are relatively easy to remember. A six- or seven-word passphrase is plenty for securing encrypted files. Skip the discussion on that page if you want and go directly to the steps outlined in the 'Using Diceware' section.
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