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Graduate Degree Programs

The Department of Linguistics at the California State University, Fresno offers an M.A. in Linguistics and an M.A. in Linguistics with an option in Teaching English as a Second Language. The Department also offers a Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (see below). At California State University, Fresno, students may also earn a Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Computational Linguistics or Cognitive Science. Department faculty will assist students in planning such a program. For specific requirements, see Degree Requirements below; for general requirements see Division of Graduate Studies.

The Master of Arts degree program in Linguistics assumes a baccalaureate degree major in an appropriate field and at least three upper-division courses in linguistics as prerequisites. Graduate students are required to complete at least 30 units of courses with a minimum of 21 units of graduate level courses, and to pass a comprehensive examination or complete a thesis.

Requirements for Admission

  • Bachelor's degree
  • GPA: 2.9 or above
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • Statement of intent (about 300-400 words)

GRE is not required

Have your recommendation letters and your statement of intent sent directly to the Linguistics graduate adviser - all other official documents should be sent to the admissions office as instructed in the online application

English Proficiency Requirement for International Students:

TOEFL – 80 iBT, or

IELTS – 6.5, or 

Pearson’s Test of English - 53, or

iTEP – 4.5, or

Fresno State’s AEI program – 550 Institutional TOEFL

Contact the graduate coordinator, Dr. Jidong Chen, for admission requirements and prerequisites.

For additional information, visit Graduate Admission at the International Student Services and Programs.


Master of Arts Degree Requirements (Roadmaps)

  • Prerequisites: Students who do not have a sufficient background in linguistics are required to take upper-division undergraduate linguistics courses to attain classified standing. These include LING 100, 139, 142, 143, 148, 165, (all students) and 141 and 171 (TESOL students). Upon examination of the student's academic record, different number of prerequisite courses will be specified for individual student at admission.
  • Graduate course work: The graduate program consists of at least 30 units, 21 of which must be 200-level courses. Graduate topics courses (numbered 231T) are highly recommended electives for all students. Both the Linguistics and the TESOL options are required to take the core curriculum courses in addition to option-specific required courses and electives. 

Core Curriculum for both General Linguistics and TESOL options: 15 units total

  • LING 239: Phonetics (3 units)
  • LING 242: Seminar in Phonology (3 units)
  • LING 243: Seminar in Syntax (3 units)
  • LING 248: Seminar in Sociolinguistics (3 units)
  • LING 265: Seminar in Language Acquisition (3 units)

General Linguistics Option: 9 - 15 units total

  • Required: LING 249: Field Methods (3 units)
  • Electives (6 units): Two courses, at least one of which should be 200 level, when choosing Thesis as the culminating experience; or four courses, when choosing Comprehensive Exam as the culminating experience

TESOL Option: 12 units total

  • LING 236: Teaching Listening, Speaking, and Pronunciation to Speakers of Other Languages (3 units)
  • LING 237: Teaching Reading and Writing to Speakers of Other Languages (3 units)
  • LING 241: Seminar in Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language (3 units)
  • LING 244: Curriculum Design and Classroom Evaluation (3 units)
  • Elective: One course, when choosing Comprehensive Exam as the culminating experience (3 units)
  • Culminating Experience: Select one of the following : 

Thesis: LING 299A-B (6 units) OR 
Comprehensive Exam

  • Graduate Level Writing Competence

This is satisfied by passing the exam below.

  • Qualifying Examination

California State University, Fresno requires that students have graduate level writing abilities before being advanced to candidacy for the M.A. Students demonstrate these abilities by completion of the Qualifying Examination in Linguistics. This exam, which covers the basic material of undergraduate linguistics 100, is offered once each semester, and should be taken in a student's first or second semester. The exam requires answers written in an essay format.