Home About UH Academic Calendar Courses Undergraduate Education Graduate Education Degrees, Minors, & Certificates Colleges, Schools, & Academic Units


Degree, Minors and Certificates Offered

General Information


Undergraduate Programs

Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences

Professional Programs



College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature
Moore 569
1890 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-9002
Fax: (808) 956-9165
Email: linguist@hawaii.edu
Web: www.ling.hawaii.edu


*Graduate Faculty

*P. J. Donegan, PhD (Chair)—phonology and phonetics; vowel systems; acquisition; variation and change; typology; Austroasiatic languages, language documentation
*K. Deen, PhD (Graduate Chair)—language acquisition, morphosyntax, Bantu languages; second language acquisition
*V. B. Anderson, PhD—phonetics-phonology interface, phonetic and phonological universals, prosody, Austronesian and Australian languages, endangered languages, speech technology
*A. L. Berez, PhD—language documentation; language technology; Athabascan languages; geography and language; discourse; intonation; language change; functional approaches to grammar
*R. A. Blust, PhD—historical linguistics; Austronesian linguistics and culture history; field methods; lexicography; endangered and underdocumented languages
*L. R. Campbell, PhD—language documentation, historical linguistics, endangered languages and language revitalization, typology, field methods, American Indian languages
*K. K. Drager, PhD—language variation and change; sociophonetics; language and identity; language in contact; laboratory phonology
*W. D. O'Grady, PhD—syntactic theory and description, language acquisition, Korean, assessment of language strength
*Y. Otsuka, DPhil—syntax; Minimalist Program; Tongan and Polynesian languages; endangered and underdocumented languages and language planning in Polynesia
*K. L. Rehg, PhD—phonology; Micronesian linguistics; lexicography; endangered and underdocumented languages; language contact; language planning; vernacular language education
*A. J. Schafer, PhD—sentence comprehension and production across languages (including Korean, Japanese, and Austronesian languages); sentence prosody; information structure; psycholinguistic approaches to language documentation and conservation
J. Terrell, MA—language documentation; case and voice systems; tones; typology; sociolinguistics; language planning and policy; economics; North Korea; Southeast Asia

Linguists in Other Departments

*R. Bley-Vroman, PhD—applied linguistics; syntax; second language acquisition theory; computational linguistics; natural language processing; corpus linguistics, and machine translation
*H. M. Cook, PhD—Japanese linguistics, sociolinguistics, discourse analysis and pragmatics
*B. Schwartz, PhD—linguistics theory and second-language acquisition and analysis, Universal Grammar, child second-language acquisition
*H. M. Sohn, PhD—Korean linguistics; grammaticalization
*A. Vovin, PhD—East Asian and Central Asian historical comparative and descriptive linguistics; Japanese, Korean, Ainu, and Manchu-Tungusic

Emeritus Faculty—In Residence

B. W. Bender, PhD—general linguistics, morphology, Micronesian linguistics
D. Bickerton, PhD—language variation, pidgins and creoles, language and literature
M. L. Forman, PhD—general linguistics, ethnographic linguistics, Philippine studies
G. W. Grace, PhD—historical linguistics, Austronesian
A. V. Lyovin, PhD—typology, Sino-Tibetan, historical linguistics
A. M. Peters, PhD—language acquisition: prosody, emergence of grammatical morphemes, crosslinguistic issues
A. J. Schütz, PhD—descriptive linguistics, field methods, lexicography, Fijian and other Melanesian languages; history of linguistics in the Pacific
D. L. Stampe, PhD—computational linguistics, phonology and prosody, holistic typology and drift, Munda languages

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

J. D. Brown, PhD—language learning and teaching, language testing
E. Drechsel, PhD—ethnolinguistics; American Indian languages
C. Higgins, PhD—macro- and micro-sociolinguistics, qualitative research methods, conversational analysis, code-switching
Y. Hoonchamlong, PhD—Thai linguistics (syntax, discourse, semantics), Tai/Thai dialectology, language learning and teaching, internet technology in language research and language instruction, translation
G. Kasper, PhD—second language curriculum, discourse analysis, interlanguage, pragmatics
C. Sak-Humphry, PhD—Khmer language, linguistics and literature
N. Silva, PhD—Hawaiian politics, indigenous politics
S. Warner, PhD—Hawaiian language, Hawaiian language immersion education, curriculum development and second language acquisition, educational psychology

Degrees Offered: BA in interdisciplinary studies (linguistics), MA in linguistics, PhD in linguistics

The Academic Program

Linguistics (LING), also called linguistic science or the science of language, is the study of how language works—how it is acquired, how it is used, how it is represented in the brain, how it changes over time, and so on. Major subfields are phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, discourse analysis, pragmatics, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics (including developmental psycholinguistics), neurolinguistics, mathematical and computational linguistics, and ethnographic linguistics.

Linguistics is relevant to many endeavors, including cognitive science, language planning, language teaching, speech synthesis and recognition, treatment of language disorders, repair of communication breakdowns, and information technology. Our program presents unique opportunities for the study of Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) and Asian languages. It also has special strengths in language acquisition, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and language documentation and conservation.

Our program is recognized as being among the top twenty-five in the U.S.


All faculty in the department participate in the advising of students majoring in linguistics. Undergraduates majoring in linguistics under the Interdisciplinary Studies program are advised initially by the undergraduate advisor. Graduate majors are advised by the chair of the graduate field of study or by one of the language documentation faculty. Students are later assigned to specific faculty members for advising according to their special interests.

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor’s Degree

Students may obtain a BA degree with a linguistics major at UH Manoa through the Interdisciplinary Studies program. See manoa.hawaii.edu/undergrad/is/about/. In this program, with the guidance of a faculty advisor, students create for themselves a major that may combine the study of linguistics with related disciplines, such as anthropology, second language studies, or psychology, or with the study of one or more foreign languages. Students majoring in linguistics in this way may include some or all of the MA core of courses in their BA program, and are thus able to do more advanced work, should they continue with an MA.

Graduate Study

The faculty represents a variety of theoretical viewpoints. The various faculty members are especially well qualified to direct research on languages of the Pacific and parts of Asia. Fields of special competence include descriptive and comparative linguistics, general linguistic theory, language contact and variation, ethnolinguistics, language development, experimental phonetics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and cognitive linguistics.

Students admitted to graduate programs in linguistics normally have a background in at least one foreign language. Some background in mathematics or one of the sciences may also be useful. Students entering without a course equivalent to LING 320 are required to take this course to make up for this deficiency in their preparation for graduate work.

The GRE General Test is required of all applicants. Both the MA and the PhD degrees are offered.

The MA program provides a basic introduction to the subject matter and skills of the discipline. The PhD program provides full professional training for careers in research and teaching. Employment opportunities for graduates of both programs today often require additional knowledge of one or more related disciplines.

Students are therefore encouraged to broaden their training in linguistics by including work in other disciplines. Such programs, and those that include many of the specializations listed above, will involve the inclusion of faculty members from other fields of study on students' program committees. Students should make known their interests to the graduate chair as early as possible so that appropriate advisors can be chosen to direct students to courses, and any key prerequisite courses, that will help them explore their interests further. It is also possible for students to include concentrations in linguistics in their programs for the MA degree in Asian studies or Pacific Islands studies.

The guidelines listed below are offered to guide students in their preparation for the various examinations, although individual study must be done in areas not covered by course offerings. Courses bearing the 700-level numbers are seminars, and various sections of these seminars are typically offered in a given semester, depending on the interests of the resident faculty and students. Each semester there are normally a number of seminars dealing with geographical areas, particular language families, the structures of individual languages, and particular theoretical problems. A major portion of the work done beyond the MA level is in seminars and in directed research.

Master’s Degree


The department offers MA Plan A and Plan B programs. In addition to the university-wide residence requirements of a minimum of two semesters of full-time work, the programs require that students demonstrate competence in one language other than their native language.

Plan A requires a thesis (9 credit hours) and a minimum of 21 credit hours of course work. A final oral examination covering the thesis and related areas is also required.

Plan B requires a minimum of 30 credit hours plus a final project near the end of course work.

The required 30 hours of course work must be taken for a letter grade (not CR/NCR or Audit), of which 18 hours must be at the 600-level or above, including 3 hours of a 700-level seminar. Students may choose between three "streams": Linguistic Analysis, Experimental Linguistics, and Language Documentation and Conservation. For all streams there is a core list from which different numbers of courses are to be selected. For details, see our MA manual, via www.ling.hawaii.edu/graduate-program-overview.

Doctoral Degree


All students in the PhD program are required to complete a minimum of 33 credit hours of course and seminar work at UH Mânoa (exclusive of LING 800) beyond those counted towards the MA degree. Courses in phonology (LING 621), grammar (LING 622), and a Methods course are required of all PhD students. Methods courses include LING 630 Field Methods; LING 632 Laboratory Research; LING 750F Phonology and Phonetics; LING 750Q Language Acquisition; and LING 750Y Psycholinguistics. Students interested in experimental research are strongly advised to take one or more courses in statistical analysis as well (e.g., EDEP 429, SLS 490 or SLS 671.)

All PhD candidates must demonstrate competence in one language other than their native language. Students may demonstrate their language knowledge either by taking a reading/ translation test involving a linguistics-related passage or by having satisfactorily taken courses in the language through the 202 level. Foreign students may use English if it is not their native tongue; certification by the English Language Institute that they are exempt from ELI courses suffices to establish their competence in English.

PhD students must present two professionally written papers, pass a comprehensive examination, and pass a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation.

For details, see our PhD manual, via www.ling.hawaii.edu/degrees-and-requirements#phd.

LING Courses