3150 Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language

Programs Offered:

  • Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics
  • Dual B.A./M.A. in Applied Linguistics
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Linguistics
  • Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Department of Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language
15th Floor, 25 Park Place Building

Sara Weigle, Chair
Diane Belcher, Director of Graduate Studies
E-mail: dbelcher1@gsu.edu

The department offers a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in applied linguistics that integrates the study of second language acquisition theory with practical applications. Both the theoretical and practical aspects of the program focus on the language acquisition needs of adolescent and adult learners of English as a second language or English as a foreign language.

The department participates in the Master’s International Program with the Peace Corps. This program enables students to obtain an M.A. degree and serve in the Peace Corps. Students take one year of coursework, serve two years in the Peace Corps (receiving 6 hours of course credit), and return to Georgia State University to finish their coursework.

Students may obtain additional information about the Department of Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language by contacting the Director of Graduate Studies at the addresses above.

Additional Admission Requirements

In addition to the general requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language have the following requirements:

  1. A typed statement of professional and academic goals that is at least two to three pages in length.
  2. Three letters of recommendation, preferably from academic references.
  3. For non-native speakers of English, official scores on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) .

Degree Requirements

Master of Arts (36-hour program)
  1. The following core courses:
    • AL 8240 General Linguistics (3)
    • AL 8250 Second Language Acquisition (3)
    • AL 8320 The Sound System of English (3)
    • AL 8330 Intercultural Communication (3)
    • AL 8450 Approaches to Teaching Second/Foreign Languages (3)
    • AL 8460 English Grammar for ESL/EFL Teachers (3)
    • AL 8900 Practicum in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (3) or AL 8480 Classroom Practices in Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language (3)
  2. Fifteen hours (5 courses) of elective courses from within the department.
  3. Portfolio that includes (a) Table of Contents, ( b) Résumé, (c) Classroom-Based Experience and Teaching Documentation, (d) Master’s Paper/Project, and (e) Professional Development Documentation.
  4. Language Requirement that is intended to ensure that all graduates have had the experience of studying a second or foreign language. The requirement can be met in one of the following ways:
    1. Successful completion of one academic year of a university-level foreign language sequence (three quarters or two semesters of the same language), or
    2. Successful completion of two quarters or one semester of a non-Western language, or
    3. One year living/studying abroad as an adult, or
    4. Acquisition of English as a second language for international students.

Ph.D. Program in Applied Linguistics

The Department offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in response to societal needs resulting from the current status of English as the language of international communication. This worldwide use of English in programs and institutions of higher education has created a need in two areas. The first urgent need is research on an assortment of interrelated topics: language learning by adults who will use English for academic purposes, effective teaching of adult language learners, and the nature of English as an academic language. The second need is for doctoral faculty who can teach in educational programs that prepare master’s level teachers of English as a Second/Foreign Language.

Ph.D. students may focus on a range of topics. Research, for example, may be related to issues in second language writing, reading, listening, or speaking; analysis of academic language; assessment; teacher cognition; classroom dynamics; sociolinguistics; or the role of culture in second language acquisition.

Admission to the Ph.D. Program

Requirements for admission include (1) a master’s degree in applied linguistics or a related field, (2) teaching experience in a second or foreign language, and (3) GRE scores appropriate for doctoral level work. Non-native speakers of English must submit TOEFL scores of at least 600 on the paper-based test or 250 on the computer-based test and a score of at least 5 on the Test of Written English or the TOEFL Writing Test, or if the Internet-based TOEFL is taken, a composite score of 97 and writing score of 22 and speaking score of 24 are required. At the master’s level, successful Ph.D. applicants would have had at least a GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale with the strength of the M.A. program taken into consideration. Students who demonstrate prior experience with adult language learners and/or English for Academic Purposes will be preferred. In addition, students who demonstrate research potential based on an M.A. thesis or research papers submitted as part of the application process will be preferred. New students will be admitted only in the fall semester.

Applicants must submit the following materials:

  1. Completed graduate program application form;
  2. Two copies of official transcripts from all colleges attended;
  3. Official verbal, qualitative and analytic scores on the GRE and, if applicable, official scores on the TOEFL or IELTS;
  4. Three letters from academic references;
  5. Sample of academic writing (published or unpublished);
  6. Statement of professional and academic goals that includes a response to the following: Why are you seeking a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics (specifically in the Department of Applied Linguistics and ESL at Georgia State University)? What are your research interests? With what faculty member are you interested in studying?
  7. Current C.V.
Ph.D. Program: Components and Requirements

The Ph.D. program in applied linguistics consists of five main components and requirements:

  1. Required and elective coursework, with a GPA of 3.5 or higher
  2. Language requirement
  3. Qualifying paper
  4. Comprehensive exams
  5. Dissertation


In the first two years of doctoral study, students will take five required core courses (15 semester hours) in conjunction with an additional 15 semester hours of coursework and 21 semester hours of dissertation credit. For students whose M.A. is not in Applied Linguistics, check the website for prerequisite courses.

The courses in the program over three content areas include the following:

  • Area I: Research Methods and Applications
  • Area II: Language, Cognition, and Communication
  • Area III: Language Teaching and Teacher Development

The five required core courses from Areas I through III are the following:

Area I:

  • AL 8960 Quantitative Research Methods
  • AL 8961 Qualitative Research Methods

Area II:

  • AL 8970 Linguistic Analysis (phonetics-phonology topic)*
  • AL 8970 Linguistic Analysis (morphology-syntax-semantics topic)*
  • AL 8980 Current Issues in Adult Second Language Acquisition

Area III:

  • AL 8990 Current Issues in the Preparation of Second Language Teachers

*Students are required to fulfill breadth and depth requirements in linguistic theory. The preferred way to do this is by taking both versions of AL 8970. However, students may be exempted from one of the AL 8970 courses if they have taken AL 8240 General Linguistics or an equivalent course from another institution. (General Linguistics itself does not count toward the 30-hour requirement.) Those who wish to teach Introduction to Linguistics need to have taken both Linguistic Theory courses.

Additionally, all PhD students must have taken a course comparable to AL 8550 Second Language Evaluation and Assessment either at the MA level or while in the PhD program in AL/ESL. If it is taken during the PhD program, it counts as 3 of the 6 hours that can be taken in courses that are aimed at both MA and PhD students (see below).

Language Requirement

Teacher-scholars who work in the field of applied linguistics need to experience second language study and use. This experience may take different forms.

  • Successful completion (a grade of “B” or higher) in a minimum of four semesters of university language study, or
  • A minimum of one year living in a country where English is not the primary language and learning and using a language of the country, or
  • The acquisition of additional language(s) as a child or adult.

Students whose language study does not fit one of these three categories are required to successfully complete four semesters of language study or an intensive program that covers at least four semesters of work.

Qualifying Exam

The purpose of the Qualifying Exam is for the PhD student to demonstrate theory and content knowledge, research and methodology competence, and communication skills, as well as to develop a plan of study. It consists of a Qualifying Paper and a meeting with a faculty committee (the “exam” proper).

The Qualifying Paper is an empirical paper that is completed in a course during their first year in the program. The goals of the meeting with the faculty are to discuss the paper and to advise the student on a plan for the rest of their program.

Comprehensive Examination

After students complete their coursework, they take comprehensive exams. Students receive three topics and have two weeks to write responses to all three. The questions will require the student to address issues in theory, research methodology, research topics of importance in the field, and/or topics related to the student’s intended dissertation research. At least one of the topics will require consideration of issues that overlap the boundaries between language, cognition & communication and language teaching & language teacher development.


When students have passed their comprehensive exams, they officially begin work on their dissertation. The dissertation process consists of three stages: a proposal, research and writing, and an oral defense.

Dual B.A./M.A. Program in Applied Linguistics

The department offers a dual Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics. The dual degree opportunity enables qualified students to enroll in graduate courses late in their undergraduate program and apply the coursework toward both the bachelor’s and master’s programs.

Students must be formally accepted into the dual degree program by the department and College of Arts and Sciences to be able to take graduate courses as an undergraduate. Additionally, acceptance into the dual program does not constitute admission to the master’s program. Students must fulfill regular graduate admissions requirements and apply for the master’s program following college processes.

Information about the dual program, including application instructions and program requirements, can be found at cas.gsu.edu/dual-degrees/.

Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

The Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) will be awarded to students who successfully complete a series of five graduate courses (15 hours) offered by the Department of AL/ESL. The Graduate TESOL Certificate is an entry-level credential for those who plan short-term stays overseas or who are interested in employment in adult schools, private language institutes, or non-profit organizations that offer adult English language courses.

Through this certificate program, students will:

  • Learn language teaching methodology and principles of second language acquisition
  • Study the nature of language and the structure of English
  • Gain practical experience in language classrooms

Program Requirements:

  • Required foundational courses: 9 hours of the following courses
    • Approaches to Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language (AL 8450)
    • General Linguistics (AL 8240)
    • Practicum (AL 8900) , Classroom Practices (AL 8480), or International Internship (AL 8410)
  • Elective courses: 6 credit hours from the following courses
    • Second Language Acquisition (AL 8250)
    • Sound System of English (AL 8320)
    • English Grammar for ESL/EFL Teachers (AL 8460)