Rice linguists are interested in the study of language use, with the ultimate aim of answering the question: What are the cognitive underpinnings of language structure, use and understanding? Our students view language in its cognitive, social, cultural and physical context, exploring such questions as: What are the cognitive, articulatory, and social-interactive factors that shape human language in general and natural languages in particular? How do languages organize, form and express human knowledge and thought? How do the patterns of language reveal properties of the human mind?

The department offers excellent training and a supportive environment for field studies, particularly of undocumented languages. Through exposure to ongoing field research projects, students gain both an appreciation of the linguistic diversity found in the world and an understanding of the practical aspects involved in conducting successful field research. 

Graduate students in our Ph.D. program receive five years of financial support in the form of tuition waivers and stipends; support for summer research and conference travel (where possible); faculty mentorship on publications and conference presentations; and a collegial and active community of scholars, including the Rice Linguistics Society.

For more information, please visit the Linguistics Department website. Download the graduate study brochure and graduate program handbook.

Degrees Offered:


All prospective applicants should note that the Linguistics Department is offering a Ph.D. Program only and does not consider applicants pursuing a terminal Master's degree. Usually admitting four to five students each year, the Linguistics graduate program only admits students planning to study for the Ph.D. degree on a full-time basis.

Areas of Research

  • General and cognitive-functional linguistics
  • Syntax and semantics
  • Discourse analysis
  • Typology
  • Language description and change
  • Computational linguistics¬†

The Linguistics Department Contact Info:

Professor Michel Achard, Chair
Location: 218 Herring Hall
Phone: 713-348-6010
Fax: 713-348-4718