MA in Linguistic Theory & Typology

Program overview

The Master’s in Linguistic Theory & Typology (MALTT) offers training in theoretical frameworks for approaching descriptive and sociolinguistic data with a special focus on how grammatical features are distributed across the world’s languages. Emphasis is given to language modeling through computational and quantitative methods. In addition to providing invaluable intellectual preparation for doctoral studies in linguistics, the MALTT program prepares students for careers in high-tech industry, text-based consultancies in law and medicine, and jobs in government agencies.

How to apply

The application process is handled online through the University of Kentucky Graduate School. To learn more about graduate school requirments or to apply to the MALTT program, click here. The deadline to apply to the MALTT program is December 13. The GRE requirement has been waived for Fall 2021 applications.

Financial assistance

Funding opportunities and graduate teaching assistantships are available to qualified students. The Linguistics Program employs teaching assistants in its program for a stipend plus full tuition remission per academic year.  Students will be required to teach a nine credit hour load split between fall and spring semesters.  Assistantships are renewable for two years while in the MA program provided that the student has made satisfactory progress toward a degree, and is performing satisfactorily as a teacher. 

The Graduate School also offers a number of non-service fellowships, for which Linguistics graduate students are eligible. These may be awarded in conjunction with a teaching assistantship. 


  • The MALTT degree emphasizes both linguistic theory, whose aim is to increase our knowledge about the fundamental nature of human language, and typology, the study of the domains of similarity among languages and the dimensions and degrees of their differences.
  • Students of MALTT are trained in formal and computational methods in the analysis of linguistic data, important transferable skills and fast becoming a standard expectation in any program of linguistic research.
  • MALTT offers specializations in morphosyntax and sociolinguistics.
  • Students have opportunities to participate in faculty research projects involving a range of languages, including K’iche’ Maya, Eastern Iranian, Slavic, Sanskrit, Appalachian English, and others.

The courses

  • Morphosyntax track
    • core: morphology, syntax, phonology
    • additional courses in: grammatical typology, computational linguistics, constraint-based lexicalist grammars, etc.
  • Sociolinguistic track
    • core: syntax, phonology, phonetics - plus courses in
    • additional courses in: sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, discourse analysis, quantitative & qualitative methods in sociolinguistics, acoustic phonetics, etc.

Degree Requirements

30 total hours including the following core courses:


  • LIN 601 - Research Methods in Linguistics
  • LIN 701 - Research Seminar in Linguistic Theory & Typology
  • A syntax course (LIN 512 or 600-level course)
  • A phonology course (LIN 515 or 600-level course)


  • A morphology course (LIN 505 or 600-level course)
  • A phonetics course (LIN 500 or 600-level course)

Required:  At least 20 credit hours (7 courses) taken as regular courses (rather than as independent study or research courses)

Required:  At least 15 credit hours (5 courses) taken at the 600 or 700 level (excluding thesis, practicum, or internship credit)

Only 9 credit hours transferable (excluding independent work, research, workshops, practica, or thesis work); student must have had graduate status at the time the courses were taken.

The faculty

With a world class faculty on hand, students are exposed to cutting-edge research in morphosyntax and sociolinguistics.

  • Rusty Barrett: Mayan linguistics, sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, language revitalization, language & gender
  • Allison Burkette: Linguistic Atlas Projects, sociolinguistics, material culture
  • Andrew Byrd: Indo-European linguistics, historical linguistics, phonology
  • Thomas Clayton: Language policy and planning, language in education, Cambodia, Teaching English as a Second Language
  • Jennifer Cramer: Perceptual dialectology, discourse analysis, language and identity, Kentucky
  • Josef Fruehwald: Sociolinguistics, phonetics, phonology, quantitative methods, computational linguistics
  • Mark Richard Lauersdorf: Historical sociolinguistics,corpus linguistics, Slavic, Germanic, Romance languages, language technologies
  • Kevin B. McGowan: Phonetics, speech perception, coarticulation, sociolinguistics

Concurrent Degrees

MALTT students may choose to pursue a concurrent degree with another program in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (MCLLC.

Nine credit hours are shared between two degrees, with the approval of both Directors of Graduate Studies. Visit the Graduate School web page to find the Concurrent Master Degrees form


Where can MALTT take me?

MALTT graduates will be prepared to succeed in the top doctoral programs in the United States and abroad, and will be positioned to enter a global, information-based marketplace that demands the skills that a strong MA in Linguistics provides, with careers in such fields as, for example:

  • speech and language processing
  • globalization of commercial products
  • healthcare communication
  • business
  • legal professions
  • analysts in government agencies
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