Online PhD in Modern Languages

Those who already have master's degrees in linguistics, modern languages, or second language acquisition can further their education in an online modern languages PhD program. Online PhD programs in modern languages prepare students to educate and effectively form working relationships with students who speak common modern languages. Some of the languages studied by modern languages PhD students include Chinese, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Arabic. Online PhD programs in second language acquisition are very similar to modern languages programs. Students who wish to consider all of their options should look into second language acquisition and modern languages programs.

Full-time students typically complete PhD programs in modern languages in two to three years. Over the course of these two to three years, students master the modern languages of their choice and research theories of language acquisition. They are also expected to write a dissertation that is relevant to the study of languages, language acquisition, or multilingual pedagogy. Those who earn their PhDs in Modern Languages are able to work as translators, interpreters, and educators in K-12 education, adult education programs, and higher education.

About Online PhD Programs in Modern Languages

Modern languages PhD students customarily specialize in at least one modern language while taking linguistics courses, courses that expose them to theories of language acquisition, and pedagogy courses. Additionally, students of these programs study cultural differences they'll need to be aware of as they educate English language learners. Programs can vary slightly depending on the specifications of the university and the chosen concentration of the student. A typical modern languages PhD student will take courses similar to the following, which are offered by the University of Iowa:

Year One:

  • Second Language Acquisition Research and Theory I. In this course and in similar courses, you'll study research in the fields of linguistics and neuroscience regarding how people learn new languages.
  • Second Language Acquisition Research and Theory II. This course will pick up where your first research and theory course left off, and it will provide you with additional information about how people acquire language skills.
  • Grammar of Modern Languages. You'll learn the essential grammatical rules of various modern languages in a course of this kind.
  • Bridging Cultural Gaps. This type of course will teach you about the cultural considerations you need to keep in mind as a professional working with a diverse population.

Year Two:

  • Creating Curriculum for Second Language Instruction. By the end of a course like this, you should be able to successfully design a basic curriculum for English language learners, based on their skill levels.
  • Phonological Theory. This is one of the many linguistics courses you'll need to take. In a phonological theory class, you'll learn about the sounds that make up all of the modern languages.
  • Modern Language Linguistics. You'll take a few linguistics courses in the modern languages you choose to study. These courses will familiarize you with how language is acquired in specific modern languages.
  • DissertationAfter completing all of your required coursework in linguistics, second language acquisition studies, and modern languages pedagogy, you'll research a topic that relates to the study of modern languages and write your dissertation.

In terms of your dissertation, you'll be expected to research a chosen topic of academic merit that relates to your modern languages course work. Your dissertation will most likely relate to linguistics, language acquisition, or teaching English language learners. Once you complete your dissertation, you'll be expected to present your research findings to an academic committee.

Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Modern Languages

As our world becomes increasingly globalized, being an expert at communicating in other languages becomes increasingly useful. An online PhD program in modern languages will set you apart in the global marketplace. After completing such a program, you'll be able to teach and communicate with people who speak common modern languages. You'll understand how languages work on a fundamental level. Additionally, you'll have a thorough understanding of how people learn languages and how people who speak different languages can learn from each other.

Since PhD programs in modern languages cover many bases, you may not get to spend as much time studying specific subjects such as pedagogy, linguistics, and sociology as you'd like. Some students may find that they'd get more out similar Ph.D. programs, depending on their professional interests. Prospective students should consider whether or not they'd prefer to get their doctorates in other areas of linguistics, pedagogy, and the social sciences. Choosing the right Ph.D. program can be difficult, and prospective students benefit from researching all of their options thoroughly.

Application & Admission Requirements

Modern languages PhD programs typically require that you have a master's degree in a foreign language or linguistics. Some longer programs allow you to get your master's degree and then continue your studies until you earn a Ph.D. Most schools request that you submit your GRE score in addition to college transcripts and three letters of recommendation. You will typically also be required to fill out an online application and submit an application fee in order to be considered for admission to modern languages PhD programs.

Career Options & Job Market

Once you have your doctorate in modern languages, you are qualified to teach certain linguistics courses, education courses, and foreign language courses at a university level. Additionally, a PhD in modern languages could help you get your foot in the door as a translator or interpreter. It would also qualify you to teach English language learners of all ages and skill levels. Additionally, government agencies are always looking for highly skilled bilingual workers and so are many corporations that provide goods and services to the global community.

Where to Find Information

  • American Association for Applied LinguisticsA professional association for linguistics professionals, the American Association for Applied Linguistics provides scholarships to Ph.D. students in the various fields of linguistics and provides relevant professional information to its members.
  • Cambridge University Studies in Second Language AcquisitionThis is an academic journal you can access online to learn more about what people in academia are discussing regarding second language acquisition and modern languages.
  • American Council on the Teaching of Foreign LanguagesThis association is useful if you're interested in learning more about the different types of professional development opportunities available to foreign language educators and educators of English language learners.

How to Get Funding

Many second language acquisition and modern languages programs provide fellowships and scholarships to select students. Additionally, Ph.D. candidates who demonstrate financial need may qualify for federal, low-interest loans. It's a good idea to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to get a better picture of your financial options. Here are some examples of financial assistance you may be eligible for:

  • Federal Direct Stafford Loans. Ph.D. students at U.S. colleges and universities are able to receive up to $12,000 in Stafford loans each academic year. These loans are offered at a fixed rate of 6.80%.
  • Federal Perkins Loans. Some Ph.D. students who demonstrate extra financial need qualify for Federal Perkins low-interest loans. These loans provide students with $3,500 per year in assistance and accrue interest at a fixed rate of 5.0%.
  • Campus-Based Aid. The financial aid office at the university you attend can offer you information about additional loans. The vast majority of universities participate in all of the loan programs run by the federal government.

Essential Advice

  • Decide whether or not an online modern languages PhD program is right for you and research other, similar programs. Think about whether or not a Ph.D. program of this kind will help you reach your future goals and further your career in a meaningful way.
  • Wet your whistle in the real world before you commit to a program. There's no need to rush to get your Ph.D. right after you complete a master's program. It may benefit you to spend a little bit of time in the working world to give yourself a chance to mentally flesh out your professional goals and figure out which Ph.D. program is right for your needs.
  • If you're positive you want to enroll in an online modern languages PhD program, start the application process as early as possible. Make sure to submit all your application materials before the deadline. Request letters of recommendation from former instructors and former colleagues a few months before your application deadline.
  • Remember to get your financial ducks in a row before you start your Ph.D. program. You'll want to make sure you have the proper amount of financial assistance to complete the program.