English: Language and Linguistics Option (M.A.)

English: Language and Linguistics Option (M.A.)
English student taking a test

Why get a master’s degree in English language and linguistics?

Our M.A. in language and linguistics offers you the opportunity to explore all facets of the study of human language. You will build a background in core areas like phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics, but also have the chance to delve deeply into such areas as sociolinguistics, neurolinguistics, language contact and bilingualism, language and gender, and history of the English language. You can also specialize in applied linguistics and learn about theory, methods, curriculum design, and assessment in TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages). Psycholinguistics courses are offered through the psychology department.

Why choose UNH for your English degree?

At UNH you’ll be supported by productive and internationally recognized faculty and have access to prominent professionals in the field. Our faculty specialize in syntax, morphology, sociolinguistics, TESOL and composition. The English department offers a variety of cultural activities including speakers’ series and a biannual composition conference.

Potential career areas

  • Academia 
  • Curriculum development 
  • Language engineer  
  • Marketing 
  • Research 
  • Teaching English as a second/foreign language 
  • Theatre – dialect coaching

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Curriculum & Requirements

Students who wish to specialize in any of the various areas of English language and linguistics may design an M.A. program to meet their interests. Specialties include applied linguistics and the teaching of English as a second language as well as the traditional subfields of linguistics. Psycholinguistics courses are offered through the psychology department.

Degree Requirements

M.A. candidates must complete at least 32 credit hours at the 800 or 900 level, including 4 credit hours of a research experience. 

Reading knowledge of one foreign language is required. This may be demonstrated by passing a departmental examination or by receiving a grade of B or better in a fourth­-semester college-­level language course. Students whose native language is not English may be exempt from this requirement.

The student's course of study must be approved by the program adviser.

Required Courses
ENGL 893Phonetics and Phonology4
ENGL 894Syntax4
Five Electives20
ENGL 815
Teaching English as a Second Language: Theory and Methods
ENGL 816
Curriculum, Materials and Assessment in English as a Second Language
ENGL 817
Languages in Contact
ENGL 818
ENGL 819
Sociolinguistics Survey
ENGL 852
History of the English Language
ENGL 879
Linguistic Field Methods
ENGL 890
Special Topics in Linguistics
ENGL 891
English Grammar
ENGL 910
Practicum in Teaching College Composition 1
Concluding Research Experience
ENGL 998Master's Paper 24
Total Credits32

ENGL 910 Practicum in Teaching College Composition is reserved for graduate teaching assistants.


The alternative to this requirement is a 4 credit course at the 800 or 900 level in which students, with the consultation of the course instructor and/or the program advisor, produce a substantial (30 page) paper

This graduate program is approved to be taken on an accelerated basis in articulation with certain undergraduate degree programs.

General Accelerated Master's policy, note that some programs have additional requirements (e.g. higher grade expectations) compared to the policy.

Please see the Graduate School website and contact the department directly for more information.

  • Demonstrate competence in the major areas of linguistic theory including phonetics, phonology, morphology, and syntax
  • Understand processes of language variation and change
  • Be able to deploy the analytical tools, modes of critical thinking, and types of writing that are used in studying languages and linguistics
  • Understand practical application of linguistic knowledge to daily life
  • Develop expertise in theories of second language acquisition and teaching English as a second/foreign language

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 Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: Jan. 15 (for funding); July 1 (final)
  • Spring: Oct. 15 (for funding); Dec. 1 (final)
  • Summer: April 1 (Admission only)
  • Special: N/A

Application fee: $65

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: RI VT ME

Accelerated Masters: Yes (for more details see the accelerated masters information page)

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence Form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.


If you attended UNH or Granite State College (GSC) after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester, UNH Non-Degree work and GSC. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must upload a copy (PDF) of your transcript in the application form. International transcripts must be translated into English.

If admitted, you must then request an official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to grad.school@unh.edu. Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Transcripts from all previous post-secondary institutions must be submitted and applicants must disclose any previous academic or disciplinary sanctions that resulted in their temporary or permanent separation from a previous post-secondary institution. If it is found that previous academic or disciplinary separations were not disclosed, applicants may face denial and admitted students may face dismissal from their academic program.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions

Prepare a brief but careful statement regarding:

  1. Reasons you wish to do graduate work in this field, including your immediate and long-range objectives.
  2. Your specific research or professional interest and experiences in this field.

Additional Department Requirements

A writing sample is required for this program. You will need to provide ten to twenty pages of a linguistics-related essay or a previously submitted piece for a literature class. Should you have more questions on this requirement please contact the department.

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program-specific application questions.

International Applicants

Prospective international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

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