Ph.D. Linguistics and Applied Language Studies (LALS)

The Ph.D. program in Linguistics and Applied Language Studies (LALS) prepares students for research and teaching in the interdisciplinary field of Applied Linguistics. Applied linguists address a broad range of language-related issues, to better understand how language functions both in the lives of individuals and in society. The LALS program at the University of South Florida emphasizes multiple theoretical and methodological approaches.  We offer specializations in the following subdisciplines:  the analysis of spoken and written texts, multilingualism, second language acquisition, and sociolinguistics. Through its curriculum, as well as through close mentoring between faculty and students, the LALS program emphasizes real-world, practical applications to language-related problems and prepares students with the 21st century skills necessary to succeed in both academic and industry careers.

Why Study Here?

Faculty-Student Collaboration  
Our faculty are committed to supporting student intellectual and professional development through active mentoring.  One form of mentoring is faculty-student collaborative research which allows students to work closely with faculty on research projects of common interests and to co-present/co-publish the findings with the faculty. Faculty-student collaborations have produced co-authored articles in journals as CALICO Journal, CALL, Discourse, Context & Media, Ethnography and Education, Foreign Language Annals, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, Journal of Sociolinguistics, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, International Journal of Multilingualism, International Journal of Studies in Applied Linguistics and ELT, Language Teaching Research, Study Abroad Research in Second Language Acquisition and International Education, TESL–EJ, TESOL Journal, TESOL Quarterly, and Writing Pedagogy.

Faculty-student collaborations have also produced dozens of presentations at international and national conferences such as the American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL) Conference, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Conference (ACTFL), Association for Business Communication conference, the CLIC Conference on Study Abroad (for 2017), the Georgetown University Round Table (GURT), the Language Teacher Education (LTE) Conference,  the Second Language Research Forum (SLRF), the Symposium on Second Language Writing, the Convention of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and the Teaching and Language Corpora Conference.

University of South Florida is located in the vibrant and diverse Greater Tampa Bay area with a population of more than four million. The Tampa Bay area offers a multitude of cultural and recreational activities year around and boasts of one of the best airports in the world. Local attractions include beautiful beaches in Clearwater and Saint Petersburg and the world-famous Disney parks are just a short drive away in Orlando. The Tampa Bay area has much to offer to those seeking professional development opportunities in Applied Linguistics and TESOL. In particular, BART, Bay Area Regional TESOL, offers a rich array of activities for professional networking and socializing.

Non-Traditional Career Trajectories  
Our curriculum provides students a solid foundation in multiple theoretical and methodological approaches to studying both language use and second language learning.  Through coursework and guided and independent research which emphasize and examine language-related problems in real-world contexts, our students are well prepared to pursue academic as well as non-traditional careers.

Funding for Qualified Students  
Our Ph.D. program receives strong support from the Department of World Languages (WLE). Qualified applicants are awarded teaching assistantships and teach foreign language or applied linguistics courses in WLE. Some students will be funded by teaching in INTO-USF's ELP. Qualified applicants may also compete for the University Graduate Fellowship.  Once in the program, students have the opportunity to complete for other awards. For example, the Dissertation Completion Fellowship is awarded by the Office of Graduate Studies to qualified doctoral students completing their dissertation research and writing.


What kind of job will I be prepared for with the Ph.D. in LALS from USF?                         As members of an applied discipline, applied linguists are language scientists who address issues related to language use in diverse contexts, ranging from understanding language choice in professional writing, to analyzing the critical role of language in doctor-patient interactions, to understanding how people from different language backgrounds are able to communicate successfully in global business environments. Focusing on the rigorous empirical analysis of language data, applied linguists address problems such as how writers in various disciplines use language to construct professional expertise, how users of a second language can make their accent intelligible to others, how and why second language learners differ in their language learning journeys, and how to define and measure specific language abilities.  The program prepares graduate to work both in academic and non-academic positions. 

How long does it take to complete the Ph.D. degree?                                                             For the LALS program, the coursework requirements should take two years to complete with an additional two years for the qualifying exam and the dissertation. The program advisors will help each student determine the coursework sequence and timing.

Can I get financial aid or an assistantship?                                                                              Our goal is to help all students admitted to the LALS program find funding for a 4-year period (unless otherwise specified in the acceptance letter).  If a student should need longer than 4 years to finish the program, we will try to help with funding when possible; however, funding priority will be given to those students in their first 4 years of study.  Based on your application, the faculty will help identify potential funding opportunities, and you will likely be asked to complete additional applications and/or go through the interview process for these positions. For loans or other types of non-USF financial aid, please contact the Office of Financial Aid.

What are the research specializations of the Applied Linguistics faculty?        The faculty have a wide range of research interests and specializations. For details, see the “people” page.

Do I have to know exactly what my research specialization will be before I apply to the program?                                                                                                                                     You will submit a statement of purpose (SOP) as part of your application package. The SOP is a discussion of why you want to pursue the LALS Ph.D., including your current research interests and faculty that you could potentially work with at USF. In other words, you would need to have some sort of tentative plan of a research topic in Applied Linguistics that you would like to pursue for your Ph.D. studies. That being said, you might become inspired by a specific class, the research of a specific faculty member at USF, or a conference that you attend during the first part of your studies.  While the information in your SOP will be an indication to the faculty of whether or not you will be a good fit for the program, the project/topic you propose in your SOP is open to modification. 

Is it possible to waive the GRE requirement?                                                                            No, all applicants must submit a GRE score from a test taken within the past 5 years.

How do I know if I need to submit a TOEFL score?                                                                      If you are an international student, you will need a TOEFL score for both admission and funding. Please note that while admissions accepts the IELTS for admissions purposes, the Office of Graduate Studies does not accept it to show English proficiency for a TA position. As such, if you are requesting funding from USF (as we expect most Ph.D. applicants will do), we require a TOEFL be submitted at the time of application.  

There are so many Ph.D. programs in Applied Linguistics.  What makes USF special?    The faculty in the LALS program at USF pride themselves on the close mentoring they give to their students.  The faculty have a long history of advising doctoral students and have many co-authored papers and conference presentations with their graduate students. 

Current Students

Prospective Students

Applying for Admission                                                                                                           Applying for admission can take a surprisingly long time. The actual application document is not very long, but the other documents can be very time consuming. You are encouraged to plan your admissions packet with careful attention. Your packet represents you to the Linguistics Faculty Admissions Committee, so be sure that it reflects the quality of work that you intend to give your graduate studies. If you have any questions, please e-mail the graduate director, Camilla Vasquez, PhD

Deadline for applying for admission                                                                                               A deadline date means date of receipt by the Graduate Admissions office or International Admissions office. The deadline date presumes a completed application packet.

Application deadline                                                                                                                January 15th

Note: Our program deadline January 15 precedes the University's application deadline.  In order to be considered for admission to LALS, we must receive ALL of your information on or before January 15. International students may have earlier university deadline requirements. Please inquire with the Office of Graduate Studies.

If you do not see our program listed in the drop-down menu of the application website, please contact the graduate director, Camilla Vasquez, PhD. Do NOT choose a different program (such as English Education). Thank you, and we look forward to receiving your application.

How to apply

A list of all documents required for application is located in the Graduate Course Catalog.

Please upload all documents to the application website.

Additional admissions requirements for International Applicants

For information about the process for International Applicants, including the online application, please contact the Office of International Admissions


For questions regarding our PhD program, please contact:

Camilla Vasquez, Ph.D.
PhD Director of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies (LALS)
Office: USF Tampa campus, Cooper Hall 438
Phone: 813-974-2548