Department of Cognitive Science

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Introduction to Graduate Program

What is cognitive linguistics?

Prospective students often wonder how cognitive linguistics is different from neurolinguistics (how language is represented in the brain), psycholinguistics (the psychological processes of language production and understanding), “regular” linguistics (the study of language), or from cognitive science (the study of the mind). Cognitive linguistics is really a way of doing linguistics. Cognitive linguists believe that language is not separate from other cognitive processes like memory, attention, categorization,flyer social cognition, etc., and that language is influenced by the way the body interacts with the world. The field of cognitive linguistics arose for historical reasons, and practitioners often use tools and theories like conceptual metaphor theory, conceptual integration, cognitive grammar, construction grammar, embodied cognition, etc. (See the bottom of this page for more information about those tools and theories.) There are many neurolinguists, psycholinguists, and cognitive scientists who work within cognitive linguistics.

Why earn an MA in cognitive linguistics?

Cognitive linguistics provides tools that bring language and cognition together, making it possible to study very disparate topics such as how joint attention is involved in reading novels, which metaphors are most effective in getting people to change their minds, or how teaching can be improved through the use of gesture. See a range of current research here.

Why join our program?

Our faculty are leaders in the field of cognitive linguistics and our program is designed to be very flexible. Students who come to this program tend to:

  • Already be in the workforce, but believe greater knowledge of cognitive linguistics can benefit their careers.
  • Have a BA/ BS and want to go on to a PhD (or MD or JD, etc.) program but don’t have the background or research experience they need to be competitive.
  • Want to explore this field and aren’t yet certain what their path is.

Faculty work with MA students beginning in their first semester to help them take a strategic approach to their time in the program. We will help you move towards your goals, whatever they are.

 What are the admissions criteria?

We only admit students we believe will flourish in the program, and we only admit about five students per year. Because our students are often working already or bridging between their undergrad and grad experiences, there are no requirements for GPA or GRE scores. There are also no requirements for undergrad degree—our students come from many fields, including linguistics, psychology, computer science, English, comparative literature, etc. The admissions committee simply looks for a fit between our program and the candidate.

To decide if the program is right for you, we encourage you to do the following:

  • Check out the links above to clarify how cognitive linguistics is different from related areas.
  • Check out the program from a recent conference or the papers in the flagship journal. Does this work seem interesting to you?
  • Look at the research of our faculty. Are there people you might like to work with?
  • Contact Fey Parrill, the director of the MA program, to discuss the program: After the formal application process, we often arrange an interview (via skype for candidates who aren’t local) to answer any outstanding questions.

You can also download a copy of this flyer for more info. We look forward to hearing from you!

Page last modified: June 10, 2016