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General Information

Undergraduate Programs

Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences



College of Languages, Linguistics & Literature
Moore 569
1890 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-9002
Fax: (808) 956-9165


*Graduate Faculty

*K. Deen, PhD (Chair)—language acquisition (emphasis on experimental approaches); experimental morphosyntax; acquisition of understudied languages, particularly Bantu languages and languages of South East Asia; bilingualism; second language acquisition
*A. L. Berez, PhD (Graduate Chair)—language documentation; language archiving; Athabascan languages; Papuan languages; geography and languages; discourse; intonation; functional approaches to grammar
*V. B. Anderson, PhD—phonetics; prosody; experimental linguistics; phonetic and phonological universals; endangered and underdocumented languages; animal communication; speech technology
*R. A. Blust, PhD—historical linguistics; Austronesian linguistics and culture history; field methods; lexicography; endangered and underdocumented languages
*K. K. Drager, PhD—sociolinguistics; phonetics; experimental linguistics; language variation and change; language and identity
*G. M. Holton, PhD—language documentation; historical linguisitics; Austronesian languages; Na-Dene languages; Papuan languages, linguistic typology; archiving; language revitalization
*B. J. McDonnell, PhD—language documentation; Austronesian linguistics; syntax; phonology; corpus linguistics
*W. D. O’Grady, PhD—syntactic theory and description; experimental syntax; language acquisition; Korean and Jejueo; heritage languages; language revitalization
*A. J. Schafer, PhD—psycholinguistics; experimental linguistics; sentence comprehension and production (including Korean, Japanese, Austronesian languages, underdocumented languages, and in language learners/bilinguals); sentence prosody; information structure; psycholinguistic approaches to language documentation and conservation
*R. J. Turnbull, PhD—phonology; phonetics; psycholinguistics; experimental linguistics; prosody; intonation; computational linguistics; network science; predictability; the mental lexicon

Emeritus Faculty In Residence

B. W. Bender, PhD—general linguistics, morphology, Micronesian linguistics
D. Bickerton, PhD—language variation, pidgins and creoles, language and literature
L. R. Campbell, PhD—language documentation, historical linguistics, endangered languages and language revitalization, typology, field methods, American Indian languages
M. L. Forman, PhD—general linguistics, ethnographic linguistics, Philippine studies
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

P. Arboleda, PhD—Philippine folklore, gender and literature, Philippine ethnolinguistic groups, translation and digital animation
R. Bley-Vroman, PhD—applied linguistics; syntax; second language acquisition theory; computational linguistics; natural language processing; corpus linguistics, machine translation
J. D. Brown, PhD—language learning and teaching, language testing
H. M. Cook, PhD—Japanese linguistics; sociolinguistics; discourse analysis and pragmatics
E. Drechsel, PhD—ethnolinguistics; American Indian languages
S. Fukuda, PhD—syntax; lexical semantics; syntax-lexical semantics interface phenomena and their acquisition; experimental syntax; Japanese linguistics
T. Grüter, PhD—morphosyntax and semantics; developmental psycholinguistics; language processing (using eye-tracking methods); bilingualism
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—languages and social interaction; socially grounded approaches to second language acquisition
C. Sak-Humphry, PhD—Khmer language, linguistics and literature
B. Schwartz, PhD—linguistics theory and second-language acquisition and analysis; Universal Grammar; child second-language acquisition
N. Silva, PhD—Hawaiian politics, indigenous politics
H. M. Sohn, PhD—Korean linguistics; grammaticalization
J. C. Woodward Jr., PhD—sign languages

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

P. J. Donegan, PhD—phonology and phonetics; vowel systems; acquisition; variation and change; typology; Austroasiatic languages
Y. Ostuka, DPhil—syntax; minimalist program; Tongan and Polynesian languages; Austronesian languages; endangered and underdocumented languages of Polynesia; language planning in Polynesia

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 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, all three 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

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 Manoa (exclusive of LING 800) beyond those counted towards the MA degree. Courses in phonology (LING 621), grammar (LING 622), and two Methods courses are required of all PhD students.

All PhD candidates must demonstrate competence in one language other than their native language.

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

LING Courses