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What does it cost?

Check out our cost calculator or visit student financial services for information on estimated costs.

How long will it take?

In the first two years of doctoral study, students will take five required core courses (15 semester hours) in conjunction with an additional 15 semester hours of coursework and 21 semester hours of dissertation credit. After students complete their coursework, they take comprehensive exams. Students receive three topics and have two weeks to write responses to all three. The questions will require students to address issues in theory, research methodology, research topics of importance in the field and/or topics related to the student’s intended dissertation research. When students have passed their comprehensive exams, they officially begin work on their dissertation. The dissertation process consists of three stages: a proposal, research and writing, and an oral defense.

Where will I take classes?

Application Deadlines View Admissions Requirements

Application due date:

  • Fall: January 15
  • Spring: Does not admit
  • Summer: Does not admit

Applied Linguistics, Ph.D.

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in Applied Linguistics is a response to societal needs resulting from the status of English as the language of international communication. This worldwide use of English in programs and institutions of higher education has created needs in two areas:

  • Research on an assortment of interrelated topics, including language learning by adults who will use English for academic purposes, effective teaching of adult language learners and the nature of English as an academic language.
  • Doctoral faculty who can teach in educational programs that prepare master’s level teachers of English as a Second/Foreign Language.

Ph.D. students may focus on a range of topics. Research, for example, may be related to issues in second language writing, reading, listening or speaking; analysis of academic language; assessment; teacher cognition; classroom dynamics; sociolinguistics; or the role of culture in second language acquisition.

Program Highlights

The Department of Applied Linguistics and ESL is committed to teaching and mentoring students. Our faculty also have active research agendas and serve as journal editors, on editorial boards and in responsible positions for national and international professional organizations. ESL and Intensive English Program (IEP) lecturers teach and also write textbooks, work on grants, write professional volumes, and mentor graduate students.

We are located in the center of Atlanta, a lively and diverse city — the home of CNN, Coca Cola, the Center for Civil and Human Rights and the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. Georgia State has students from every state in the United States and from more than 145 countries. The Department of Applied Linguistics and ESL programs thrive under these conditions. The department consists of a well-known M.A. program, a dynamic Ph.D. program, a growing B.A. program, an accredited IEP program, a broad range of credit-bearing ESL courses at the undergraduate and graduate level and a large testing program that measures the academic English proficiency of incoming international students.

Program Details

Requirements for admission include:

  • Master’s degree in applied linguistics or a related field
  • Teaching experience in a second or foreign language
  • A GPA of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale at the master's level, with the strength of the M.A. program taken into consideration.
  • Non-native speakers of English must submit TOEFL scores of at least 600 on the paper-based test or 250 on the computer-based test and a score of at least 5 on the Test of Written English or the TOEFL Writing Test, or if the Internet-based TOEFL is taken, a composite score of 97 and writing score of 22 and speaking score of 24 are required.

Students who demonstrate experience with adult language learners and/or English for Academic Purposes will be preferred. In addition, students who demonstrate research potential based on an M.A. thesis or research papers submitted as part of the application process will be preferred. New students will be admitted only in the fall semester.

Applicants must submit the following materials:

  • Completed graduate program application form
  • Two copies of official transcripts from all colleges attended
  • If applicable, official scores on the TOEFL or IELTS
  • Three letters from academic references
  • Sample of academic writing (published or unpublished)
  • Statement of professional and academic goals that includes a response to the following: Why are you seeking a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics (specifically in the Department of Applied Linguistics and ESL at Georgia State)? What are your research interests? With which faculty member are you interested in studying?
  • Current C.V.

In the first two years of doctoral study, students will take five required core courses (15 semester hours) in conjunction with an additional 15 semester hours of coursework and 21 semester hours of dissertation credit. For students whose M.A. is not in Applied Linguistics, check the website for prerequisite courses.

The courses in the program over three content areas include the following:

  • Area I: Research Methods
  • Area II: Language Analysis and Use
  • Area III: Language Learning and Teaching

The five required core courses from Areas I through III are the following:

Area I:

  • AL 8960 Quantitative Research Methods (3)
  • AL 8961 Qualitative Research Methods (3)

Area II:

  • AL 8970 Linguistic Analysis (phonetics-phonology topic)* (3)
  • AL 8970 Linguistic Analysis (morphology-syntax-semantics topic)* (3)

Area III:

  • AL 8980 Current Issues in Adult Second Language Acquisition (3)
  • AL 8990 Current Issues in the Preparation of Second Language Teachers (3)

*Students are required to fulfill breadth and depth requirements in linguistic theory. The preferred way to do this is by taking both versions of AL 8970. However, students may be exempted from one of the AL 8970 courses if they have taken AL 8240 General Linguistics or an equivalent course from another institution. (General Linguistics itself does not count toward the 30-hour requirement.) Those who wish to teach Introduction to Linguistics need to have taken both Linguistic Theory courses.

Ph.D. students must have taken a course comparable to AL 8550 Second Language Evaluation and Assessment either at the M.A. level or while in the Ph.D. program in AL/ESL. If it is taken during the Ph.D. program, it counts as three of the six hours that can be taken in courses that are aimed at both M.A. and Ph.D. students.

The doctoral program anticipates the student will demonstrate mastery of a large and complex body of knowledge and a high degree of proficiency in the techniques of teaching and research. This proficiency is evidenced by the successful completion of coursework and examinations, effective performance in classroom instruction, participation in conducting research and writing articles, and the writing of a dissertation.



"The Applied Linguistics Ph.D. program helped mold me into a well-rounded scholar and gave me the skills and experiences necessary to be competitive on the job market. The faculty are generous with their time and energy and are extremely encouraging with regard to all aspects of academic life. I also very much appreciated the diversity of perspectives and research interests represented by the department."

— Dr. Kristopher Kyle, Assistant Professor, University of Hawaii Manoa
Dissertation Title: 
Measuring Syntactic Development in L2 Writing: Fine Grained Indices of Syntactic Complexity and Usage-Based Indices of Syntactic Sophistication

“The Applied Linguistics program at Georgia State University provides Ph.D. students space and opportunity to explore a range of interests within the field, including pedagogy, second language acquisition, L2 writing, assessment, corpus linguistics, sociolinguistics and teacher education. An additional strength of the program is that faculty encourage students’ participation in the academic community at large before—not after—they graduate. The collaborative generosity of faculty, combined with the sheer range of the program’s curriculum, gave me the diversity of knowledge and experience necessary to be competitive outside academia.”

— Dr. Cindy Berger, Applied Linguist, Duolingo
Dissertation Title: The Longitudinal Development of Lexical Network Knowledge in L2 Learners: Multiple Methods and Parallel Data

"The Ph.D. program at the Department of AL/ESL was a place that allowed me to achieve much more than I thought I ever could. While attending the program, I kept my full-time job and raised two young children, yet I managed to publish a book chapter and a journal article, and presented at international conferences. Among many strengths of the program, what made the most difference was the effective support from the faculty members, especially my adviser who showed interest in my research ideas, inspired me, encouraged me and believed in me. I hope my experience can encourage other working parents to pursue their dream of earning a Ph.D. at this wonderful department."

— Dr. Mizuki Mazzotta, Lecturer, World Languages and Cultures, Georgia State University
Dissertation Title: The impact of dialogic corrective feedback on L2 Japanese writers’ linguistic and affective outcomes


Department of Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language
25 Park Place NE, 15th Floor

Director of Graduate Studies
YouJin Kim

College of Arts & Sciences Lockup25 Park Pl NE #2500
Atlanta, GA 30303

The information shared provides an overview of Georgia State’s offerings. For details on admissions requirements, tuition, courses and more, refer to the university catalogs.