Author Topic: PhD school selection?  (Read 4706 times)

Offline alnkong

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PhD school selection?
« on: July 10, 2016, 09:47:40 PM »
Dear all:

I am planning to apply for PhD in Linguistics/Language Education/Second Language Studies in the US. I am wondering, what should be good selection criteria? Location? Area of specialization? Fame of the school?

I also do not know how to determine an area of specialization. I am interested in applied linguistics, language teaching, second language studies, language aquisition, corpus linguistics, computational linguistics, and linguistic data processing. I might be interested in other branches, too. How should I decide?

Thank you for your advice!

Offline Daniel

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Re: PhD school selection?
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2016, 10:16:26 PM »
The best fit for you personally is probably a good indicator of where you should go. Meet the people, talk to current grad students, look at what kind of research is being done (and any resources like labs you might want to use) and try to talk with some professors you might want to work with for your thesis advisor. Most schools with reasonably large programs have some kind of graduate student organization so you could find their website and ask them for some information.

As for area of specialization, schools vary in what they can offer and also probably in how easy it is to switch between areas and advisors (more true at the PhD level than during the MA part of your studies if you'll be doing both together). If you know what you want to do, I'd suggest focusing on an advisor. If you don't, you might want to pick a school that gives you a few interesting options.

The fame of the school isn't very important. Or at least without some details: 1) some very big name schools like Harvard are not really known for Linguistics. They might be good still, but you should look for a top Linguistics program if you're basing your decision on 'the school'. 2) Who you know, and especially who is on your committee, will make a lot of difference. So if you work with someone who is well known, it won't matter if they aren't at 'the best' school. 3) there are major differences between schools and programs, so the 'best school' might not be best for you. As a basic example, if you go to MIT to study syntax, you better expect to work more or less in the framework they use, based on Chomsky's research. If you want to do something else in syntax, you should go to a different school, even though MIT is a very good program.
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