Before a doctoral qualifying exam committee can be established for applicants to the PhD program, a student must pass a screening procedure. This procedure consists of a review of the student's graduate work at USC by Linguistics Department faculty. The review will be based on the following criteria: course work completed, including grades and papers; faculty recommendations; and evaluation of both the student's MA research paper and a PhD screening paper. The MA research and PhD screening papers must be in two different sub areas of linguistics, for example: syntax and psycholinguistics, or phonology and semantics, or sociolinguistics and typology.
The MA research paper must be completed and defended prior to the end of the fourth semester of graduate study, and the PhD screening paper must be completed and defended prior to the end of the fifth semester. The set of courses leading to the MA research paper and the PhD screening paper are determined through recommendation of the screening committee and approval of the Graduate Studies Committee.
Qualifying Exam Committee
Following the successful completion of the screening procedure, the student will establish a five-member qualifying exam committee. The qualifying exam committee is composed of at least five members; a minimum of three, including at least one tenured member, must be from the Linguistics Department and one must be a faculty member from outside the Linguistics Department. The Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Programs is ex officio a member of all qualifying exam committees. (Refer to the Graduate School Policies and Requirements for instructions on forming a qualifying exam committee.)
The Request to Take the Qualifying Examination Form is the means by which the qualifying exam committee is formally established. This form should be filed with the qualifying exam committee and the Graduate School the semester prior to taking the qualifying examination but no later than 30 days before the date of the student's written examination. In order to take the written examination, the student must submit a dissertation prospectus and an original research paper to each member of the qualifying exam committee.
The examination qualifying a student for candidacy for the PhD degree is comprehensive in nature, partly written and partly oral. Prior to taking the qualifying examination, the student must have met all of the departmental requirements for doing so and have the recommendation of the qualifying exam committee. The committee will determine and administer the written examination.
The written examination consists of a limited number of questions in the fields related to the student's research. Students will receive the written examination two weeks after submitting the qualifying paper and will have 30 days to complete the questions. An oral examination will be scheduled by the qualifying exam committee two weeks after the written examination has been submitted.
The successful completion of the qualifying procedure is represented by the approval by the qualifying exam committee of (1) the prospectus, (2) the original research paper, (3) the written examination, and (4) oral defense.
The final stage of the program is the submission and defense of a dissertation that makes an original and substantial contribution to its field of study. Refer to the Graduate School section of the catalogue for the policies and procedures governing the submission of a dissertation.