May 19, 2024  
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2022-2023 
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2022-2023 [-ARCHIVED CALENDAR-]

Cognitive Science of Language, Ph.D

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Ph.D. Degree

The M.Sc. in the Cognitive Science of Language  or an equivalent Master’s degree is required for entrance into the Ph.D. program. Some applicants may require additional courses in core areas (e.g., linguistics or cognitive science) in order to be eligible for admission. Each application will be evaluated on an individual basis.

A. For students holding an M.Sc. in the Cognitive Science of Language

Required Courses:

Students entering with the M.Sc. in the Cognitive Science of Language are required to complete three half courses plus one pass/fail module. If the following courses were not completed in the M.Sc. program, they must be included in the Ph.D. program of study:

Additional Requirements

(this is a Pass/Fail course):

B. For students entering with a Master’s degree but not an M.Sc. in the Cognitive Science of Language


(seven half courses plus one pass/fail module)

Comprehensive Examination

The Comprehensive Examination is intended to ensure that the student develops competence in a subfield of Cognitive Science of Language beyond the focus of the thesis. In consultation with the supervisory committee, the student will identify a topic for the Comprehensive that is distinct from the thesis topic.

In most cases, the Director of the Comprehensive will not be the thesis supervisor. The student and the Comprehensive Director agree in writing on the nature of the deliverable for the Comprehensive and on interim and final deadlines. At a minimum, the Comprehensive consists of a written paper and oral examination of the topic of the paper. The paper may consist of a literature review, proposal for a research project, report of a research project, or report of a teaching project. The scope of the project should be such that it can reasonably be completed within one semester; the paper will usually be 20-30 pages long.

The Comprehensive Director identifies at least one other faculty member; together, the Director and these other faculty members constitute the Comprehensive Exam Committee. (Comprehensive Directors are encouraged to recruit Comprehensive Examiners from beyond the Department of Linguistics and Languages.) The Comprehensive Director advises the student on the preparation of the paper. The Comprehensive Exam Committee determines whether the paper is ready for an oral defense, and conduct the oral examination. The oral examination consists of a brief presentation by the student of the content of the paper followed by questions from the Committee.

The Comprehensive Exam must be successfully completed within 20 months of entering the PhD program.

Language Requirement

In order to ensure language diversity and breadth, the Department has a second-language requirement for the Ph.D. degree, in addition to the general Graduate School requirement of English proficiency. Candidates should have, as a minimum, intermediate knowledge of a language other than English, defined as having passed the equivalent of two (2) full year courses. Candidates admitted without this requirement will be expected to pass the equivalent of two (2) full year courses or to pass a Qualifying Exam. The Department will evaluate each student’s language preparation at the Admission stage.


Presentation at annual Student Research Day
Students in the PhD program in Cognitive Science of Language are required to give a presentation at the annual Student Research Day departmental conference at the end of the Winter term of their second year of study. The topic of the presentation can, but does not have to, be thesis-related.


Thesis proposal
Students in the PhD program in Cognitive Science of Language are required to submit a thesis proposal to their supervisory committee in the first term of their second year (Term 4). The format of the proposal should follow the guidelines for a SSHRC research proposal for doctoral scholarships. They will also give an oral presentation of this proposal to their committee. The thesis proposal milestone should be passed during the second year of study.

Quantitative Methods Requirement

To ensure a solid command of quantitative research methods, the Department of Linguistics and Languages has a quantitative methods requirement for the PhD degree in Cognitive Science of Language. This requirement is evaluated as Pass/Fail, and can be fulfilled by providing evidence of knowledge equivalent to the content of two undergraduate-level courses (or one graduate-level course) in quantitative research methods and/or statistics, or by taking an examination administered by the department. Students should complete this program requirement within the first 24 months of their studies.

Lecture Series

All students are expected to attend the talks in the Cognitive Science of Language Lecture Series, where scholars from around the world in the fields of Linguistics, Psychology, and Cognitive Neuroscience discuss their research.

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