Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics and Technology


Our PhD program in Applied Linguistics & Technology was developed to meet the needs of our rapidly changing profession in which computer technology is an integral part of English language learning, assessment and analysis. We developed courses that allow students to learn new technology skills and use those skills to address important issues in the field in a manner that creates an impact on knowledge in the field as well as on practices in teaching and assessment.


The curriculum was designed to provide the foundational knowledge in applied linguistics and technology as well as advanced courses where you will learn research methods for transforming your ideas into research and practice that can contribute to the new era of English language learning and assessment. It consists of the following types of coursework Pre-/Co-requisites (required prior to taking other classes), Technology & Language; Research Methods; Seminars, Electives; and Dissertation Research.

Students are welcome to transfer in relevant courses from their MA degree. Depending on the number of courses transferred in,  students typically finish their course work in 2.5 to 3 years and completion of the degree is expected in no more than five years.

Pre requisites: These courses are typically considered as background for the degree, but students who have not studied any one of these subjects or want to update their knowledge can take the needed courses in our program.

  • ENGL 220 Descriptive English Grammar or similar
  • ENGL 511 Introduction to Linguistic Analysis
  • ENGL 512 Second Language Acquisition
  • ENGL 516 Methods of Formal Linguistic Analysis (Introduces programming for linguistics)
  • ENGL 519 Second Language Assessment

Technology & Language (12 credits): These courses provide develop skills in the use of technologies for language teaching, assessment and analysis.

  • ENGL 510 Computer Methods in Applied Linguistics
  • ENGL 530X Technology and Oral Language
  • ENGL 520 Computational Analysis of English
  • ENGL 537 Corpus Approaches to Grammar

Research Methods (12 credits): These courses teach students methods to draw from in designing their own applied linguistics and technology research

  • ENGL 527 Discourse Analysis
  • ENGL 623 Research Methods in Applied Linguistics
  • Quantitative research methods (e.g., Stat 401)
  • Qualitative research methods (e.g., Soc 513)

Seminars in Applied Linguistics (12 Credits): Seminars are offered on topics in technology and language learning, assessment and analysis. Specific topics vary, but seminars typically include the following:

  • ENGL 630: Development of Language Assessments
  • ENGL 630: Validation of Language Assessments
  • ENGL 630: Quantitative Methods for Applied Linguistics
  • ENGL 630: Psychometric Methods for Language Testing
  • ENGL 630: Advanced Pronunciation Seminar
  • ENGL 630: Automated Writing Evaluation
  • ENGL 630: Evaluation of Technology for Language Learning
  • ENGL 630: Corpus Linguistics Research Methods
  • ENGL 630: Corpus linguistics for Teaching and Assessment

Electives (18 credits) chosen from:

  • ENGL 514 Sociolinguistics
  • ENGL 515 Statistical Natural Language Processing
  • ENGL 500 Proseminar: Teaching English Composition (required if teaching composition)
  • ENGL 524 Literacy: Issues and Methods for Nonnative Speakers of English
  • ENGL 525 Methods in Teaching Listening and Speaking to Nonnative Speakers of English
  • ENGL 526 Computer-Assisted Language Learning
  • ENGL 528 English for Specific Purposes
  • ENGL 626 Computer Assisted Language Testing
  • ENGL 688 Practicum in Technology and Applied Linguistics

Electives may also be selected from the applied linguistics seminars and from other disciplines including anthropology, computer science, education, English, psychology, rhetoric, statistics, and world languages.

Students are encouraged to consult with their program adviser about ideas for designing your individual program. You may transfer in elective credits only if they provide a strong complement to the other courses in your program of study.

Dissertation (18 credits)

The dissertation reports original, empirical research undertaken by the student in consultation with the major professor and program of study committee. Research topics are chosen by students with advice from faculty during the course of studies. Topics are developed and refined by learning in courses.

Assessment of Progress toward Degree

Assessment is at three points: a portfolio assessment, written and oral preliminary examinations, and a final oral examination. The program consists of 72 credits.

Foreign Language Requirement

Given the international and intercultural nature of applied linguistics, holders of doctorates in the field should have personal experience learning a second language and be able to conduct some research or teaching activities in a language other than English. Students may, however, vary with respect to the focus they want to give to oral or written skills. All students are required to submit a Language Requirement Form indicating how this requirement is to be met from the following options for approval by the Director of Graduate Education in order to receive acknowledgement on your official academic record that this requirement has been met.

Students who are native speakers of English can satisfy the language requirement by

  1. passing an oral examination in a foreign language, conducted under the supervision of the student’s POS committee, that ensures the student demonstrates language ability at the Advanced Level of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages proficiency scale or
  2. passing a reading/translation test, translating published work in applied linguistics from a foreign language into English or
  3. completing three years (or the equivalent) of college-level study in a single foreign language with grades of B or higher

Nonnative speakers of English from countries where English is not the medium of instruction do not need to satisfy one of the above criteria. The TOEFL score submitted for admission and the ability to do doctoral-level work in English is considered evidence of a student’s ability to use a second language for their scholarly activities.

However, to satisfy Iowa State University Graduate College language requirements, all nonnative speakers of English must pass the English Placement Test (EPT) as a graduate student or qualify for one of the EPT exemptions; if students fail the EPT, they will be required to take English classes. Students who are exempt from the EPT do not take the EPT, but must submit a Graduate English Requirement Approval Form required by the Graduate College.

Information for Applicants

Ph.D. applicants must have completed a Master’s degree prior to their first semester in the program. Minimum TOEFL scores for Ph.D. applicants: 111 (IBT)/ 640 (PBT)

Financial Aid

The majority of our doctoral students are funded through teaching assistantships, which provide a tuition waiver and stipend in addition to the opportunity to teach courses. Research assistantships fund some students, as well. These become available when faculty are awarded research grants, and they are typically assigned on the basis of students’ expertise in contributing to a particular project after they have had at least one year of courses. Applications for financial aid are part of the application process.

Application Process

The only way to be considered for admission to the doctoral program is to complete an application according to the instructions provided. Before you apply for admission to the program read the detailed information starting on page 74 of the English Department Graduate Program of Study Manual.

Application Deadline: January 5 (Fall entry only).