Ph.D. in SLAT

The primary goal of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) is to provide rigorous intellectual graduate-level training to prepare the future leadership in the field of second language acquisition at all levels of instruction. To achieve this goal, the SLAT program foregrounds a strong interdisciplinary approach to the investigation of how second languages are learned, used and maintained, and equips graduate students with the knowledge and skills to carry out high-quality research studies and offer practical solutions to language-related real-world problems.

Hallmarks of the SLAT Program

1- Interdisciplinarity: Our program’s strong interdisciplinary emphasis is supported by a large network of related programs in cognitive sciences, education, humanities, linguistics, social and behavioral sciences across 5 colleges. These interdisciplinary connections draw on the strengths of faculty in 19 departments:

  • Disability and Psychoeducational Studies, Educational Psychology, Educational Policy Studies and Practice, Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies in the College of Education;
  • Classics, East Asian Studies, French & Italian, German Studies, Public & Applied Humanities, Russian & Slavic Studies, Spanish and Portuguese in the College of Humanities;
  • Anthropology, Communication, English, Linguistic, Mexican American Studies and Middle Eastern & North African Studies in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences;
  • Cognitive Science, Psychology, Speech, Language and Hearing in the College of Science; and
  • Educational Technology

2 – Research, Teaching, and Community: Our program offers students a broad academic experience in combination with a hands-on apprenticeship within a community of researchers and scholars. Starting in the first year, each student is paired with two faculty mentors and one academic advisor with whom they collaborate on a research proposal. Further, students have opportunities to teach, co-teach, or lead discussion sections across a broad spectrum of courses, language focused or language-related general education courses across a range of levels. Students also have opportunities to help organize colloquia, workshops, and conferences or work as journal editors and reviewers. Many of our students are also engaged in community work.

3 – Individually tailored course of study: Our program offers students the opportunity to tailor a course of study that meets their current and future needs. As they progress in the program, they increasingly have greater agency in course selection and research projects.

The SLAT Program is central to the University mission in providing graduate education that meets designated criteria for excellence and demonstrates promise for national and international distinction; in having faculty with an outstanding record of publications and research grants, and established collaborative networks with local, regional, national, and international scholars in the field; in providing services of particular relevance to regional multilingual settings; and in stimulating and coordinating interdisciplinary activities which are contributing to new knowledge and innovative developments in practical application.

Course Unit Requirements

Degree candidates are subject to all requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy determined by the Graduate Catalog of the University of Arizona. Nearly all incoming SLAT students enter with a completed Master’s degree.  Depending on course content and relevance to the SLAT degree, up to 24 units of previously completed post-baccalaureate work may be transferred in to meet the credit requirements of the SLAT program. Transfer units are evaluated individually and must be approved by the SLAT Graduate Advisor and the Graduate College to count toward SLAT degree requirements.

In total, degree candidates complete 24 units of core courses and select an 12-unit specialization from among the following four areas:  Instructional Dimensions of L2 Learning, Sociocultural Dimensions of L2 Learning, Cognitive Dimensions of L2 Learning, or Linguistics Dimensions of L2 Learning. In addition, candidates choose a minor field (consisting of 12 or more units depending on field) and must complete a minimum of 18 dissertation units.

Path to Degree

Prospective Ph.D. candidates complete a qualifying exercise within one year of entry into the program.  Before formal admittance to candidacy, all students must demonstrate a thorough knowledge of one language other than English, and must pass a written and oral comprehensive examination in both the major and minor fields of study. A final oral examination is required in defense of the dissertation. Please see the SLAT student handbook for complete details on degree requirements.

Rationale for Coursework

The SLAT faculty believes that a SLAT scholar must have a solid grounding in linguistics, psycholinguistics, and sociolinguistics, as well as second language acquisition theory and teaching methods and approaches. Therefore, the core requirements include courses in each of these areas. In addition, a SLAT scholar must be well versed in research methods, research design, and approaches to analyzing and interpreting research findings. Accordingly, research-related and statistics courses are included as a part of the core requirements.

Time to Degree

Students have completed the SLAT Ph.D. program in as few as 3.5 years.  On average, SLAT students take 5.0 years to complete the program.