Ph.D. Minor

At UW-Madison, PhD students are required to demonstrate breadth in their degree. To achieve this, many PhD programs require students to declare a minor concentration in an area different from their primary program of study. For example, students in the PhD program in Computer Science can complete a PhD minor in Linguistics, and students in the PhD program in Linguistics can complete a PhD minor in Computer Science.

Photo of the Memorial Union Terrace in the Fall by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison

Declaring the PhD Minor

  • All students (whether pursuing a regular or Distributed Minor) need to formally declare their Ph.D. minor in their Grad Portal in MyUW. (See below for the various types of minors.)
  • Declare the minor as soon as you have determined which minor you plan to pursue – see below for information on the options.
  • If declaring the Linguistics Minor, include your signed PhD Minor form with your declaration.

Declaring the PhD Minor

1. Ph.D. Minor in Linguistics (for students in other departments)


The Linguistics minor consists of 12 credits in Linguistics chosen in consultation with the Language Sciences director, who is also the departmental minor advisor. The set of courses varies depending on the student’s background and goals for the minor. Students should make sure to consult with the advisor before taking classes. See the Faculty page for current director contact information.

See the Linguistics Ph.D. Minor Guide entry for additional information.

Declaring the Ph.D. Minor in Linguistics

  1. Make an appointment with the minor advisor to discuss your personal program of study. The set of courses counting towards the minor must be approved by the minor advisor before any coursework commences. Make an appointment with the minor advisor as soon as possible if you are considering a Linguistics Ph.D. minor, in order to make sure that you are signed up for eligible courses. Unapproved courses will not count towards the 12 credits needed for the minor.
  2. Fill out the Linguistics PhD Minor authorization form and have it signed by the Linguistics minor advisor and the student’s major program advisor.
  3. Request to add the Linguistics Ph.D. minor in your Grad Portal in MyUW (see here for directions). Upload your signed PhD Minor authorization form as part of this process.

2. Ph.D. Minor in something else (for Linguistics graduate students)

Linguistics PhD students are required to complete a 12-credit PhD minor in an area other than Linguistics (although interdisciplinary and elective linguistics courses can count towards the Distributed Minor). Students have two options:

  1. Choose a pre-existing PhD Minor program (such as Computer Science, Psychology, or Second Language Acquisition), which is administered in another department. See the Graduate Guide for the list of all  pre-existing PhD Minor options. Contact the other department directly to learn about their approval process and have your approval form signed.
  2. Design your own individualized minor (called a “Distributed Minor“) in consultation with your faculty advisor. An example of a Distributed Minor might be a set of courses focusing on Native American languages and cultures, Hispanic linguistics, Chinese linguistics, or sociolinguistics, among many other possibilities. A Distributed Minor can contain courses from any combination of departments, including Linguistics.

See the Graduate Handbook for more information on the PhD Minor for Linguistics students.