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Stages in a Candidate's Career

Stage 1: Advisement

Following admission to the program and assignment of a first-year advisor, the candidate meets with advisor to select courses for first and second semester.

Stage 2: The Committee on Studies

  1. The candidate chooses the major advisor (who will chair the committee) and selects additional members of your Committee on Studies.
  2. Develops the program of studies.

Stage 3: Coursework

If coursework is not successfully completed within five years, the Committee of Studies will review the status of the candidate and advise the Educational Linguistics faculty of recommended action.

Stage 4: The Comprehensive Examination Paper and Advancement to Candidacy

  1. The candidate plans the comprehensive examination papers in concert with your selected and approved Committee on Studies.
  2. Provides copies of all three papers, when completed, to each Committee member.
  3. Submits Program of Studies/Advancement to Candidacy form, Language Competency form, and results of comprehensive examination to the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS).

Stage 5: The Dissertation

  1. The candidate, together with the advisor, selects the dissertation committee.
  2. The candidate requests and receives the approval of all members to serve on the committee.
  3. Dissertation proposal presentation.
  4. Dissertation hours.
  5. Final examination (the dissertation defense).
  6. Final revisions and submission of the dissertation.
  7. Notification of intent to graduate.
  8. Time Limit for Completion of Degree Requirements: From the date on which you passed your comprehensive exam, you have five calendar years to complete the dissertation.


Upon admission to the program, you will be assigned a first-year faculty advisor. This assignment may be but does not have to be temporary. In general, advisement is the responsibility of your advisor and the Committee on Studies, but with guidance from the program coordinator and the total concentration faculty. Initial advisement will be the responsibility of the first-year advisor.

You should also consult closely with your advisor as you begin to design your program of studies. As you become more familiar with the program and the faculty, you should feel free to work with other faculty as seems appropriate. This will include forming your Committee on Studies. Prior to taking any course work, the student will meet with the first-year advisor for advisement concerning a general plan and specifically the first two semesters' course work.


By the end of the second semester of full-time study, you should have selected your major advisor and your Committee on Studies. There will be a minimum of three members of the Committee on Studies, including your advisor. At least one member of the Committee on Studies must be both a member of the Educational Linguistics faculty and a faculty member of the College of Education & Human Sciences; another committee member must be a member of the Educational Linguistics faculty and a faculty member of the College of Arts and Sciences. The third member may be any person eligible to serve on the committee in accordance with the general UNM requirements (see the section on Doctoral Comprehensive Examination in the UNM catalog).

The chair (your advisor) must be a member of the Educational Linguistics faculty.

The members of this committee, in particular your major advisor, should participate in designing your program of doctoral study.

The basic role of the committee is to plan, with the student, an integrated individual program of study that meets general UNM requirements and the specific requirements of the Ph.D. program in Educational Linguistics. The committee must approve the program and oversee its execution. The committee is also charged with establishing prerequisites when needed, recommending transfer of credit, certifying satisfaction of the research skills requirements, approving significant changes in the program of studies, and administering the doctoral comprehensive examination. The role of the Committee on Studies is to insure that the student acquires an appropriate depth and breadth of study during the time spent at UNM. The student and the committee are mutually obligated to consult with each other to promote the student’s progress.

Appointment of the Committee on Studies usually involves the following steps:

  1. You arrange for an appropriate faculty member to serve as committee chair. This may or may not be your first-year advisor.
  2. You and the committee chair agree upon the remaining members of the committee.
  3. The committee must be approved by the program coordinator.
  4. The committee must be approved by OGS (as part of the approval of the Application for Candidacy). Your progress will be reviewed by your Committee on Studies after each semester during the first year and annually thereafter; advisement recommendations will result from this periodic review.

The doctoral Committee on Studies is automatically disbanded once the comprehensive exam is passed, and you must establish a Dissertation Committee that will provide you guidance through the final stages of progress toward the Ph.D. It is, of course, possible to appoint former members of the Committee on Studies to the new Dissertation Committee.


The aim of the concentration in Educational Linguistics is to provide high quality education in the field to a limited number of qualified students. Within the concentration, students will be able to emphasize specific areas and dimensions. The major area will be determined by the student in consultation with the Committee on Studies, as outlined above. The College of Education & Human Sciences and the following Departments in Arts and Sciences have courses relevant to Educational Linguistics, although candidates are not limited to taking courses only in these departments: Linguistics, Anthropology, Psychology, English, Communication and Journalism, Speech and Hearing Sciences, Spanish and Portuguese, Foreign Languages and Literature, Native American Studies and Chicano Studies. Courses are deemed “relevant” based on the research interests of the student, as approved by the Committee on Studies. For information about the range of course offerings available at UNM which might be included in a program of studies, refer to the Graduate Bulletin.

Every year in November, the Educational Linguistics faculty will review the academic progress of all candidates. You will be asked to provide the name of your advisor or committee chair, as well as a brief, specific outline of your coursework, professional achievements, and academic progress to date. This information will be used to assess your progress in the program. Annually, you will receive a letter summarizing the faculty’s response, a copy of which will be placed into your file.


Advancement to Candidacy. You must apply for and be admitted to doctoral candidacy. The UNM form titled "Application for Candidacy for the Doctoral or MFA Degree" formally summarizes your program of doctoral study. This form is available on-line under “Academics” at: You should fill out this form the semester you plan to defend the doctoral comprehensive examination and turn it in to the LLSS Department Office for review by the program administrator and coordinator. Formal approval of your program is indicated by the signatures of your Committee on Studies on this form, along with that of the program coordinator.

The Educational Linguistics Program must submit the fully approved Application for Candidacy form to OGS once you have passed the doctoral comprehensive examination and completed the research skills requirements. It cannot be submitted earlier than this, though if you have questions that cannot be answered by your committee, you may make an appointment with OGS to review the form prior to completing the comprehensive exam. When submitted, the Application for Candidacy form is to be accompanied by the “Report of Examination” and “Certification of Language or Research Skill Requirement” forms. After determining that all requirements except for outstanding coursework and the dissertation have been fulfilled, the Dean of Graduate Studies will advance the student to candidacy.

The Comprehensive Examination. The form of the Educational Linguistics Comprehensive Examination is three papers exploring three different perspectives with some thematic relatedness around a central issue or question in Educational Linguistics.

The Comprehensive Examination process. In general, the policies of the College of Education and the Office of Graduate Studies with regard to Comprehensive Examinations will be followed. The Educational Linguistics Program strongly urges that you complete the Comprehensive Examination process within one year of completion of coursework.

Scheduling your exam. The date of your comprehensive examination is anticipated to be two weeks after you submit the final/completed version of the last of your three papers to your Committee on Studies. You must set the date of the comprehensive examination in consultation with your Committee on Studies. You must notify the coordinator of the Educational Linguistics Program at least three working weeks in advance of the intended date of exam. In addition, an "Announcement of Examination" form must be processed at least two weeks prior to the date of the examination.

Comprehensive Exam Committee:

The Committee on Studies serves as the Comprehensive Exam Committee. The student will work with his/her Committee on Studies to plan the contents of the comprehensive exam. At least one member of the Committee on Studies must be both a member of the Educational Linguistics faculty and a faculty member of the College of Education & Human Sciences; another committee member must be a member of the Educational Linguistics faculty and a faculty member of the College of Arts and Sciences. The third member may be any person eligible to serve on the committee in accordance with the general UNM requirements (see the section on Doctoral Comprehensive Examination in the UNM catalog).

The student is expected to meet at least once with the entire Committee on Studies to define and discuss the central issue the exam will address, and how each of the papers will approach it. All committee members are expected to understand the overall structure of the student’s exam. The committee will ensure that the topics of the separate papers are appropriate: they should be thematically related while also ensuring that the student demonstrates the breadth of knowledge necessary in an interdisciplinary field.

Exam Format:

The exam will consist of three papers each of approximately 20 pages in length. Each paper should be self-contained but must relate to the central theme agreed to by the student and the Committee on Studies. This format is intended to give the student the opportunity to explore areas of interest related to a likely dissertation topic, without requiring that the dissertation topic be determined before the Comprehensive Exam can be undertaken.

While only one meeting of the student with the entire committee is required, students are encouraged to consult with committee members individually or as a group, during the process of preparing for the Exam. Committee members are expected to suggest readings and generally guide students to ensure that they are adequately prepared to address the selected topics.

Recommended Timeline:

In the last semester of course-work:

Very early in the semester

Student meets with chair of Committee on Studies to discuss Comprehensive Exam. Student should also meet with other committee members to discuss possible topics.

No later than the 10th week of their last semester of coursework (Spring or Fall)

Student meets with entire Committee on Studies to decide on overall “theme” of Comprehensive Examination and topics of each of the three papers. The student should arrange this meeting at least a month in advance to ensure that the entire committee is able to be present. The Program Coordinator and program staff must be notified at least three weeks in advance of the date of the meeting.

11th – 15th weeks of last semester of coursework and inter-session break or summer

Student should meet with individual committee members for further discussion. Committee members advise student on additional readings for the topics to be addressed in the Exam.

The semester when the Comprehensive Exam will be completed:

1st week

Student is expected to have completed the background reading for the Exam, both that which they identified on their own and that which was recommended by committee members. Student begins writing the papers.

No later than the 8th week of instruction

Student submits OGS “Announcement of Examination” form to the Program Coordinator. The Program Coordinator and staff check the student’s status and send the form to OGS for approval.

No later than 4 weeks before the last day of instruction

Student gives copies of all three papers to each member of the Committee on Studies. (The student should consult each faculty member to determine if they prefer a printed copy or an electronic version.)

No later than 2 weeks before the last day of instruction

Committee on Studies notifies the student if they have passed the examination, passed with distinction, passed subject to revisions, or failed.

No later than the last day of instruction

If the student passed subject to revisions, they submit to each committee member a revised copy of the paper or papers that required revision. The committee will then re-read the revised versions and determine if the revisions are sufficient to pass the examination.

If the student fails the Comprehensive Examination, the policy stated in the UNM catalog applies.

Note that students may not complete the Comprehensive Examination if they are on academic probation. They must maintain continuous enrollment. Students may enroll in dissertation hours during the semester in which they successfully pass the Comprehensive Examination; it is also acceptable to enroll in Graduate Problems (Linguistics 595 or LLSS 591) during the semester when the Comprehensive Examination is taken.


Students entering the Educational Linguistics program in the Fall of 2008 or later will be required to complete their Comprehensive Examinations in accordance with the policy described here. Students enrolled in the Educational Linguistics program prior to Spring 2008, but who have not yet begun preparation for the Comprehensive Examination proposal as currently required, may choose which policy they will follow for their Comprehensive Examination.

Time Limit for Completion of Degree Requirements: From the date on which you pass your comprehensive exam, you have five calendar years to complete the dissertation.


Each candidate for the Ph.D. must prepare a dissertation that demonstrates ability to do independent research and competence in scholarly exposition. The dissertation should present the results of an original investigation of a significant problem and should provide the basis for a publishable contribution to the research literature in educational linguistics. The responsibility of the dissertation committee (especially the director) includes the evaluation of the substance and methodology of the dissertation as well as an assessment of the candidate's competence in scholarly exposition.

Dissertation Committee. The dissertation committee is charged with the supervision of your dissertation activities, including approval of the dissertation proposal. You initiate the process of selecting the dissertation committee by first arranging for a qualified faculty member to serve as the director of the dissertation and the committee chair. You and your faculty director jointly select the remainder of the committee. The committee should be established shortly after completion of the doctoral comprehensive exam. The "Appointment of Dissertation Committee" form must be processed to officially establish the committee. In general, the policies of the Office of Graduate Studies and the program with regard to the dissertation process will be followed. The candidate will first form a Dissertation Committee, with one member designated as chair, from among the concentration faculty. The Dissertation Committee will have at least four members. In addition to the chair, two other members will be from the concentration faculty. The fourth member will be chosen from another graduate unit on the basis of competence in an area related to the dissertation. Please see OGS guidelines regarding composition of the dissertation committee. The next stage is the development of a formal dissertation proposal in conjunction with the Dissertation Committee.

Dissertation Proposal. The first stage in the dissertation process after establishing the Dissertation Committee is the dissertation proposal. You are expected to develop this proposal within six months of successful completion of the doctoral comprehensive examination. Once the candidate has developed a formal dissertation proposal that has been tentatively approved by the Dissertation Committee, a public presentation will be scheduled. TIMELINE FOR NOTIFICATION OF THE DEFENSE. All members of the program faculty will be invited to attend this presentation and an official notice of your proposal defense will be posted electronically and in paper form by the College of Education staff. Following the presentation, the candidate's Dissertation Committee will make a recommendation regarding acceptance of the dissertation proposal. The committee's recommendation will be considered official unless within one week a member of the program faculty lodges an objection, in which case the program faculty will determine the official recommendation collectively. A copy of the approved dissertation proposal containing the signatures of the dissertation committee is to be provided to the program administrator for placement in the student's file in the department.

The dissertation proposal is expected to be 20-25 double-spaced pages (approximately 4,000 to 7,000 words) in length. It should provide a concise summary of the intended scope of the dissertation topic (including a preliminary table of contents) and its scholarly significance (established with appropriate reference to the literature). The feasibility of the topic should be demonstrated by evidence from a pilot project or sample data analysis. The proposal must also make explicit the theoretical framework of the dissertation as well as the methodological procedures to be employed in data collection and analysis.

Dissertation Hours. During the course of your dissertation work, you are required to enroll for a minimum of 18 hours of Dissertation (LLSS/Ling 699) credit. Enrollment in 699 may begin during the semester in which you plan to take the doctoral comprehensive examination. However, only those hours gained in the semester during which the comprehensive examination is passed can be counted toward the 18 hours required. If you fail the comprehensive exam, you cannot count any 699 credits until the semester in which the exam is retaken and passed. Enrollment for Dissertation (699) may be for 3, 6, 9, or 12 hours per semester. The specific number of hours taken should reflect the amount of time you devote to the dissertation. Minimum enrollment in 699 for one semester is 3 hours; this number is appropriate when you are working full-time off campus while continuing to make progress with the dissertation. Six hours of 699 represents a half-time commitment.

Once you have completed the comprehensive exam, continuous enrollment is expected in subsequent semesters (exclusive of summer sessions) until the dissertation is accepted. This rule applies whether or not you are enrolled for other credit hours. If you enrolled for 699 and subsequently stopped enrollment for one or more semesters (not including summers), you must petition for reinstatement and pay a reinstatement fee. (See the OGS web site for additional information on reinstatement guidelines.) You must be enrolled for 699 during the semester (including Summer) in which degree requirements are completed.

Final Examination (Dissertation Defense). The oral defense of the doctoral dissertation is the last formal step before the degree is awarded and is conducted with due respect to its importance. It is scheduled as a department colloquium and is open to the UNM community. You are responsible for providing each member of your dissertation committee with a complete final draft of the dissertation in ample time (e.g. two weeks) for review prior to the defense.

At least two weeks before the final examination is held, the "Announcement of Final Examination for Doctorate" form must be filed. Remember, you must notify the coordinator and administrative assistant of the Educational Linguistics Program no later than the fourth week of the semester in which you intend to defend your dissertation proposal or dissertation, and at least four working weeks in advance of the intended date of defense. (Two of these four weeks are required by the Office of Graduate Studies, the other two are required by the Educational Linguistics Program to check the status of the candidate within the program, and to take any necessary remedial action.) The deadline for reporting the results to the Office of Graduate Studies is November 15 for fall defenses, April 15 for spring defenses, and July 15 for all summer defenses. In order to graduate these deadlines must be followed. This means that the announcement of the defense and the defense itself must proceed in a manner that respects these university deadlines.

The focus of the oral defense is the dissertation and its relationship to the field of educational linguistics. Its purposes are: (a) to provide an opportunity for you to communicate your research results to a wider group of scholars (b) to afford an opportunity for the members of the dissertation committee and others to ask questions (c) to ensure that the research reflects your independence of thought and accomplishment rather than excessive dependence on the guidance of a faculty member and (d) to ensure that you are thoroughly familiar not only with the particular focus of the dissertation, but also its setting and relevance to the fields relevant to educational linguistics.

At the conclusion of the examination, the dissertation committee members will confer to complete the "Report of Final Examination for Doctorate" on which they make one of the following recommendations, which must be agreed upon by at least three of the committee members: (a) that the dissertation be approved without change, (b) that the dissertation be approved subject only to minor editorial corrections, (c) that the dissertation be rewritten or revised before approval, or (d) failure. If either the first or second recommendation is made, the committee may decide that no further meetings are needed. In the second instance the director of the dissertation will be responsible for seeing that all necessary corrections are made before the dissertation is submitted to OGS. If the third recommendation is made, the full committee may elect to meet again to determine that the concerns have been addressed. Each member of the dissertation committee must also complete the department's "Assessment of Doctoral Dissertation" form for student outcomes assessment.

Final Form and Submission of Dissertation. You are responsible for preparing a dissertation in proper format, of high reproduction quality, and free of grammatical and typing errors. Detailed guidelines are available from the OGS. Click on “Manuscripts” at this link: To verify the satisfactory quality of typing and format, to ensure acceptability of copies, and for any technical advice and guidance, you are urged to contact and to submit sample pages to the OGS Manuscript Coordinator well in advance of the dissertation submission deadlines. The Manuscript Coordinator holds a very useful workshop on dissertation mechanics several times each year.

You must obtain from the UNM Bookstore or the Web three sets of red-bordered pages, each including an Approval page, a Title page, and an Abstract Title page. One set of these pages must be included with each copy of the manuscript submitted to OGS and the department.

Two copies of the unbound dissertation, each with an abstract of not more than 350 words, all in perfect form and approved by at least three members of the dissertation committee, must be submitted to OGS by November 15 for Fall graduation, April 15 for Spring graduation, or July 15 for Summer graduation. The following forms must be submitted with the manuscript:

  1. a "Certification of Final Form" completed by the dissertation director,
  2. an “Information Cover Sheet” attached to the box in which the manuscript is placed, and
  3. a “Survey of Earned Doctorate.”

An additional copy of the dissertation must be submitted to the Educational Linguistics Program for binding and placement in the department library. A $30 fee is charged to cover the cost of binding the two dissertation copies submitted to OGS and forwarded to the university library, one copy to be placed in the library archives and the other in circulation. All doctoral students must, as part of graduation requirements, have their dissertations published through University Microfilms International (UMI). This involves completion of a contract, available from the OGS Manuscript Coordinator, and payment of a fee to UMI. The fee, currently $55, is subject to change. There is also a fee for the diploma that must be paid at Cashiers.

Notification of Intent to Graduate. You must notify the Educational Linguistics Program administrator by email of your intent to graduate the semester prior to the semester when you intend to graduate. The program administrator must be notified at least two weeks prior to the official OGS deadline. OGS deadlines vary from year to year; so make sure you check the OGS web site under “Graduation” at this link: to check for any critical dates. You will then be placed on the Department’s Intent to Graduate listing. Graduation is dependent upon completion of all degree requirements by November 15 for Fall, April 15 for Spring, or July 15 for Summer. If you do not complete all degree requirements in time for graduation in the semester originally intended, you must stay continuously enrolled for at least 1 graduate credit hour until you graduate, and you will need to contact the program administrator by email stating your intent to graduate in a subsequent semester.

Personal responsibility and accomplishment:

We have stressed throughout this manual that the person who is responsible for the completion of all degree requirements in a timely fashion and for meeting all required deadlines, and who successfully achieves the goal of a Ph.D. in Educational Linguistics, is YOU. Your faculty advisor, your Committee on Studies, and your dissertation committee members are here to support and encourage your progress, but YOU are the one who must take responsibility for meeting appropriate deadlines and expectations. Each November, as part of our program advisement process, your advisor or chair will request from you a brief written update on your progress to date. This information will be brought to the Educational Linguistics program faculty for review, and their response and any suggestions will be provided to you. In this way, the program seeks to facilitate to the best of our efforts your timely and successful completion of the doctoral degree.