4.2 PhD in Applied Linguistics and Technology (ALT)

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4.2.1 ALT Degree Requirements
4.2.2 ALT Curricular Policies and Guidelines
4.2.3 ALT Portfolio Assessment: Qualifying Examination
4.2.4 ALT Prospectus
4.2.5 ALT Preliminary Examination
4.2.6 ALT Dissertation Guidelines
4.2.7 ALT Final Oral Defense of Dissertation (Final Oral Examination)
4.2.8 ALT Student Learning Outcomes

4.2.1 ALT Degree Requirements

  • Expected to complete the doctoral degree within five years
  • Complete 72 credit hours of graduate coursework beyond the BA or BS (see About the Doctoral Degrees).
Area of CourseworkCoursesCredits
PREREQUISITESA course in descriptive English grammar (Engl/Ling 220 or test-out)
Engl/Ling 219 or 511 or equivalent
Engl/Ling 510
COREEngl/Ling 512
Engl/Ling 519
Engl/lLing 537

Engl/Ling 516
Engl/Ling 517
Engl/Ling 520
Engl/Ling 530

Engl/Ling 527
Engl/Ling 623 Topic: Qualitative Methods
Engl/Ling 623 Topic: Quantitative Methods
SEMINARS IN APPLIED LINGUISTICS Engl/Ling 630 (taken 4 times)12
*630 credits in Electives must be in addition to the four courses (12 credits) required in the Seminars section
May use:
Engl 500 or SP CM 513
Engl/Ling 514, 515, 517, 524, 525, 526, 528, 626, 630, and other courses approved by the POS committee
TOTAL72 minimum
  • Pass both a portfolio assessment and (following the completion of coursework) the preliminary examinations
  • Write and defend a dissertation that makes a contribution to the discipline


Prerequisites for new students: a Master’s degree from an accredited institution.

Prerequisite coursework: students must document previous coursework that meets prerequisites by submitting a Prerequisite Equivalency Petition signed by their assigned program adviser or major professor. Students who have not completed the prerequisites upon entry into the program must complete them as soon as possible after admission.

  • a course in descriptive English grammar that may be taken after admission to the program or passing the online Engl 220 grammar test-out
  • an introductory course in linguistics or applied linguistics which may be taken after admission to the program
  • ENGL/LING 510 Introduction to Computers in Applied Linguistics

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4.2.2 ALT Curricular Policies and Guidelines

Annual reviews

Annual reviews are a means of communicating expectations, providing feedback to students, and helping students progress towards degree completion. Each graduate student will complete required documentation and submit it for review to the PhD ALT Annual Review Committee early in April each year. The ALT AR Committee will conduct a review and make all reviews available to the Applied Linguistics graduate faculty prior to a meeting to discuss reviews and suggest modifications. Within one week of this faculty meeting and before the end of the spring semester the ALT AR Committee provides a report and a performance review rating to the student, the student’s assigned program adviser or major professor, and the DOGE according to the benchmarks on the benchmark summary chart. Appropriate action will take place as described in the “ALT PhD Student Annual Review Process” document downloadable from the English Department graduate program Forms website or the Graduate College website.

Program of Study Committee and the POSC Form

POS Committee

The ALT PhD Program of Study (POS) committee consists of at least five members of the ISU Graduate Faculty with a minimum of three faculty members (including the major professor) from within your major. Below are specific requirements for the composition of the committee (See committee make-up for co-majors if applicable.):

  • It must include three members, including the major professor, from within your major area.
  • It must include a fourth member which can be from within the major, inside the Department of English, or outside the Department of English.
  • It must include a fifth member from outside the Department of English.

A faculty member from a major area other than the student’s major may co-chair the committee. Information about English Department graduate faculty, their major areas, and their areas of research and teaching can be found in the Graduate Faculty Members section of this manual.


The Program of Study and Committee Form is required to be completed by no later than the announced deadline in your fifth semester (or the equivalent). See Program of Study Committee and the POSC Form (PhD) for more information.

POS Categories


These courses represent core content areas in applied linguistics.

Technology and Language

These courses develop skills in the use of technologies for language teaching, assessment and analysis.

Research Methods

Research Methodology courses teach students methods to draw from in designing their own applied linguistics and technology research.

Seminars in Applied Linguistics

Applied linguistics seminars are offered to meet students’ research needs in their area of interest. Seminars currently planned cover topics in lexis, corpus linguistics, computational linguistics, and systemic functional linguistics. Seminars on pedagogy include advanced pedagogy topics such as research on the teaching of pronunciation, automated feedback generation in the teaching of writing, linking second language acquisition with technology and language learning, and research methods for evaluation of technology for language teaching. Seminars on language assessment include developing language tests, validation research in language testing, and advanced quantitative methods in language testing. You must take this course four times (12 credits) to fulfill this requirement.


Electives in Applied Linguistics and Technology constitute a coherent group of courses that you have selected and that have been approved by the faculty. Other courses that can be applied to electives are Engl 500 (Teaching Multimodal Composition) or Sp Cm 513 (Teaching Fundamentals of Public Speaking), Engl/Ling 514 (Sociolinguistics), and applied linguistics seminars beyond the four courses (12 credits) that are required. Electives may also be selected from other disciplines including anthropology, computer science, education, English, psychology, rhetoric, statistics, and world languages.

You are encouraged to consult with your assigned program adviser about ideas for designing your individual program. You may transfer in elective credits only if they provide a strong complement to the other courses in your program of study.

Transfer credits

Doctoral students must complete a minimum of 36 graduate credits at Iowa State University. Students may transfer up to 36 credits, but the actual number of transfer credits approved will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Requests for transfer credit consideration must be made by completing a Transfer Credit Petition form accompanied by required paperwork. Refer to the section on transfer credits for more information.

Foreign Language Requirement

Given the international and intercultural nature of applied linguistics, holders of doctorates in the field should have personal experience learning a second language and be able to conduct some research or teaching activities in a language other than English. Students may, however, vary with respect to the focus they want to give to oral or written skills. To indicate how you will meet this requirement, you must submit a Language Requirement Form to be approved by the Director of Graduate Education. After this form has been approved, it will appear on your official academic record that this requirement has been met.

Native speakers of English

If you are a native speaker of English, you can satisfy the language requirement by

  1. passing an oral examination in a foreign language, conducted under the supervision of your POS committee, that ensures you demonstrate language ability at the Advanced Level of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages proficiency scale, OR
  2. passing a reading/translation test, translating published work in applied linguistics from a foreign language into English, OR
  3. completing three years (or the equivalent) of college-level study in a single foreign language with grades of B or higher.
Nonnative speakers of English

If you are a nonnative speaker of English from a country where English is not the medium of instruction, you do not need to satisfy one of the above criteria. The TOEFL score submitted for admission and the ability to do doctoral-level work in English is considered evidence of your ability to use a second language for your scholarly activities.

However, to satisfy the major’s language requirement, all nonnative speakers of English must pass the English Placement Test (EPT) as a graduate student or qualify for one of the EPT exemptions (see exemption information on their website). If you fail the EPT, you will be required to take and pass English classes in order to satisfy the requirement.

All graduate students in the Applied Linguistics and Technology PhD programs whose first language is not English are required to pass the OECT as part of their program requirements. To pass the OECT, students must receive a Level 1 pass and be fully certified or may be exempted from taking one or both of the OECT components. Check the OECT website for further information.

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4.2.3 ALT Portfolio Assessment: Qualifying Examination

As a doctoral candidate in Applied Linguistics and Technology, you will submit a portfolio for diagnostic assessment of your scholarly writing that will be evaluated to assess your eligibility to continue in the program. This assessment will also provide you with diagnostic information about the areas of your academic writing that you need to work on going forward.

All doctoral candidates in Applied Linguistics and Technology will submit a portfolio for assessment no later than the announced deadline in the spring semester prior to their sixth semester in the program (not including summer terms). For most students entering the program in fall semester this effectively means the spring semester of their second academic year in the program. However, students enrolled in the program on a part-time basis (registered for fewer than 9 credits per semester and not appointed on a graduate assistantship), must submit a portfolio for assessment no later than the announced deadline in the spring semester immediately following the completion of 18 POS credits used toward meeting degree requirements. Failure to submit by the deadline will constitute lack of satisfactory progress toward the degree.

Students are not eligible to take the portfolio assessment unless all courses taken at ISU during their first academic year in the program have received a grade. Any Incomplete grades earned during Year 1 must be resolved prior to the portfolio due date. If Incomplete grades from Year 1 remain on the student’s record at that time, he/she will be ineligible to submit the portfolio assessment. Failure to submit the portfolio assessment due to an unresolved Incomplete grade in Year 1 will constitute lack of satisfactory progress toward the degree.

The following spring semester timeline for the portfolio assessment submission has been established for students who have entered the program in the fall semester. The specific deadlines will be posted on the graduate program Deadlines website:

1st Monday of the semesterPortfolios due by 12:00 Noon
6th Monday of the semester – Decisions communicated to students
12th Monday of the semesterPortfolios due by 12:00 Noon from students who resubmit
16th Monday of the semester – Decisions communicated to students


An ALT Examinations Committee, consists of at least three elected Applied Linguistics graduate faculty members will be convened each spring semester to evaluate ALT portfolio assessments. Later in the spring semester, the ALT Examinations Committee will hold an open meeting, which all students who have not yet submitted their portfolios for assessment are encouraged to attend. The purpose of this meeting is to explain the procedure of the portfolio assessment and to answer students’ questions. Student who have further questions about the procedure are encouraged to contact the ALT Examinations Committee chair.

If for any reason you wish to request a change in the procedure for the portfolio assessment (for example: extending the deadline), you must make a written request to the DOGE before the 12th Tuesday of the fall semester prior to which your exam is due (or, in extremely rare cases of new and unforeseeable circumstances beyond your control, as soon as you become aware of such circumstances). The DOGE will consult the ALT Examinations Committee to determine if and how your request will be granted. The chair of the ALT Examinations Committee will be advised of the DOGE’s decision. Normally, extensions and/or changes to the procedures are not granted so students should plan to take the portfolio assessment as scheduled.


The portfolio should represent your best scholarly work. In order to pass, it needs to display your readiness to undertake research and writing in applied linguistics. Your writing, therefore, needs to demonstrate your ability to define problems/issues, to make and support scholarly claims, to cite and synthesize research literature, to report results from empirical research, and to sustain a coherent scholarly argument. All elements of the portfolio must be of excellent quality, must conform to the professional writing conventions of the Applied Linguistics field, and must adhere to the style of the American Psychological Association (APA).


The Applied Linguistics faculty expects that you will prepare your portfolio by revising your course papers in part by considering the comments of your instructor and soliciting suggestions from readers before submission. You may ask the instructor for clarification of that instructor’s feedback on a class paper as originally submitted but may not ask Applied Linguistics faculty for feedback on drafts of portfolio assessment papers.

Submission requirements

To complete your portfolio, you will choose and revise representative samples of your strongest single-authored work according to the following requirements

  • The entire portfolio should be based on work that you did entirely, or substantially, after your entry into the PhD program in Applied Linguistics and Technology at Iowa State University (i.e., work completed in a master’s program prior to entry into the PhD program may not be included).
  • Three separate papers are to be typewritten Microsoft Word or PDF documents, double-spaced, 12-point font format. To ensure that your electronic files are anonymous, you should remove your name from the papers and files via the author identification from the properties for each file (g., in Windows, right click on the file> “Properties” > “Details” > “Remove Properties and Personal Information”). Instructor’s comments and grades should also be removed.  You should also realize that members of the ALT Examinations Committee might recognize papers even after your name has been removed because they know your work, but you should write to a general audience of applied linguists. Part of your skill as an academic writer is understanding and addressing the audience of applied linguists, and not assuming readers have the specialized knowledge of the area covered in your paper.
    1. A reflection paper. This should explain how the contents of the portfolio reflect your intellectual development in the program so far. It should introduce the other two papers that you have included as part of the portfolio and explain how these projects reflect your interests as a Ph.D. student at ISU. Your portfolio should also be used to highlight possible paths for dissertation research that could emerge from the work that you have done as part of the portfolio as well as other areas of work that you plan to pursue. (1,000-1,500 words)
    2. An empirical research article. This qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods study should be on a topic related to your research interests (which may or may not be the subject of your future dissertation work). This paper should demonstrate your ability to synthesize and evaluate published research in the form of a comprehensive critical literature review and to identify key research questions and issues based on analyses of this previous work. It should also demonstrate your ability to report a well-developed study with well-defined research questions, a thorough explanation of the research methodology selected and used in the study, a clear presentation of the findings, the subsequent implications of those findings, and the limitations of the study. This paper is intended to demonstrate your ability to conduct research and appropriately report that work to the academic community. (9,000-10,000 words)
    3. A critical review of a recent (within 3 years of publication) book, test, or software. This paper should demonstrate your ability to critically evaluate the book, test, or software in the context of larger relevant issues in the field. (1,500-1,600 words)
  • Each paper must include title pages with the following information:
    1. The same student-selected 5-digit identification number for all 3 papers;
    2. Word count (defined as every word in the document including the list of references, appendices, and tables)
    3. One of the following three titles clearly identifying which paper it represents:
      A) “Reflection Paper”
      B) “Empirical Research Article”
      C) “Critical Review”
  • The file name for each document must follow the following format:
    (X’s are replaced by year; Y’s are replaced by the student-selected 5-digit identification number; “PaperTitle” is replaced by one of the following—Reflection, EmpRes, or CriticalRev).
  • Upload each of the separate electronic Microsoft Word or PDF portfolio documents: Submit to the ALT Portfolio Assessment: STUDENT SUBMISSION folder in CyBox (students will have upload only access so they cannot access other submissions).
  • Download from the Forms website under “Program Specific Forms and Documents” the PhD Portfolio Assessment Student ID Memo, fill it out with the requested information, and save it with a file name following the required file name format:
    (X’s are replaced by year; Y’s are replaced by the student-selected 5-digit identification number.)
  • Upload the completed STUDENT ID MEMO document as a separate Microsoft Word or PDF document to the ALT Portfolio Assessment: STUDENT ID folder in CyBox (students will have upload only access so you cannot access other submissions).
  • The Graduate Program Staff Assistant will place the student portfolio submissions in the ALT Portfolio Assessment: Exams Committee Review folder in CyBox for the committee to access and evaluate submissions.
  • The ALT Examinations Committee chair will request access be given to the ALT Portfolio Assessment: STUDENT ID folder in CyBox by contacting the Graduate Program Staff Assistant only after evaluations and decisions are completed in order to communicate results to students correctly according to the student-selected 5-digit identification numbers.


The ALT Examinations Committee members will access the student portfolio documents in CyBox. Portfolios will be evaluated on a four-level scale to produce results indicating the level of academic writing displayed in the papers which will be used to judge the candidate’s promise for completing the remaining work for the degree.

The three papers should, taken together, demonstrate a student’s ability to

  1. define a problem or issue
  2. make and support claims and sub-claims
  3. cite and synthesize sources
  4. sustain a coherent scholarly argument
  5. carry out and report on a well-developed research study
  6. evaluate research in applied linguistics

Because the portfolio demonstrates a broader range of competencies than any individual course assignment and because it focuses on a student’s ability to address a wider disciplinary audience than an individual instructor, even papers receiving superior evaluation as they were originally written for courses typically do may not meet the expectations of a portfolio paper, and normally require significant revision to demonstrate the characteristics listed above.


The ALT Examinations Committee will assign each paper one of the following ratings:

after receiving the result of the 1st submission
High PassPaper is exceptional for a qualifying examination/portfolio assessment. The student is encouraged to consider submitting the paper for publication in an appropriate academic venue.No 2nd submission required
PassPaper fully meets the expectations for the qualifying examination/portfolio assessment.No 2nd submission required.
Low PassPaper demonstrated sufficient readiness to undertake research and writing in applied linguistics, but contains issues of concern that should be addressed. The student is encouraged to discuss the committees' comments with appropriate faculty members and make the revisions recommended by the committee even though you have passed the qualifying examination/portfolio assessment.No 2nd submission required.
No PassPaper fails to demonstrate readiness to undertake research and writing in applied linguistics.2nd submission is invited (see below)

The ALT Examinations Committee chair will request access to the ALT Portfolio Assessment: STUDENT ID folder in CyBox by contacting the Graduate Program Staff Assistant only after evaluations and decisions are completed. Results will be communicated to students according to the five-digit student selected identification number.

The following will be completed:

  1. A letter communicating the results as well as a written rationale for the decision will be provided to you.
  2. At least two members of the ALT Examinations Committee will meet with you in a face-to-face meeting as soon as possible after you receive written notification of the results to discuss the written comments and to provide additional feedback on your scholarly writing.
  3. A copy of the results letter and written rationale will be uploaded by the ALT Examinations Committee to the ALT Portfolio Assessment: Exams Committee Review CyBox folder following the file name format:

Second portfolio submission

In the case of a portfolio that receives a rating of “No Pass,” the ALT Examinations Committee will provide feedback indicating the reasons for “No Pass” rating based on the comments provided on the paper. The committee will suggest strategies for improving the papers prior to resubmission of the portfolio, which, at the ALT Examinations Committee’s direction, may include different papers and analyses. This second portfolio must be submitted by the announced deadline later in the same semester, following the same procedures and requirements for submission as for the first portfolio submission (see “Submission requirements” above), but must also include an additional document detailing how the reviewer comments were addressed. These documents must follow the file format:
(X’s are replaced by year; Y’s are replaced by the student-selected 5-digit identification number; “PaperTitle” is replaced by one of the following—CommentResp, Reflection, EmpRes, or CriticalRev).

The same evaluation, feedback, and results procedures will be used as those for the first submission except as follows:

  1. The DOGE will also participate in the evaluation and discussion of the second portfolio, but only the members of the ALT Examinations Committee will vote on the success or failure of the second portfolio.
  2. A copy of the results letter and written rationale will be uploaded by the ALT Examinations Committee to the ALT Portfolio Assessment: Exams Committee Review CyBox folder following the file name format:
    (X’s are replaced by year; “LnameFname” is replaced by the student’s name)

You are permitted to submit portfolio papers only twice, and a passing portfolio is necessary for you to continue in the PhD program. If you do not pass the portfolio assessment or are ineligible to submit the portfolio due to an unresolved Incomplete grade from Year 1, you can serve out your teaching contract for the remainder of the current semester.

Grievances regarding the portfolio assessment

If you believe that you have legitimate reasons to appeal the decision of the ALT Examinations Committee, you may follow the grievance procedure outlined in the Graduate College Handbook (see Grievances Related to Scholarly and Professional Competence).
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4.2.4 ALT Prospectus

Before starting on the dissertation, submit a prospectus to your major professor for approval. A prospectus should describe the nature of your project and its importance, summarize the key research that provides the background for your study, and present the general research questions and methods you plan to use. The prospectus is typically fewer than 2,000 words including references, but there is no prescribed length for this paper. You may use your prospectus as a basis for discussions with committee members and as a way of developing a pilot study appropriate for your project.
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4.2.5 ALT Preliminary Examination

Doctoral candidates in Applied Linguistics and Technology must take the preliminary examination, which is composed of two parts—a written dissertation proposal (which includes a section on piloting) and the preliminary oral exam. The purpose of the preliminary examination is to prepare you to work on the dissertation project, with the guidance of your POS committee. The preliminary examination may be taken during your final semester of coursework or just after you finish coursework and are ready to concentrate on the dissertation.

You will submit a dissertation proposal (which includes a section on piloting of your dissertation methods/materials) to the POS committee, who will then evaluate your proposal. The POS committee may ask you to revise or further develop parts of the proposal. Once the POS committee agrees you are ready, you will then schedule the oral preliminary exam. The preliminary oral examination can be scheduled no sooner than 2 weeks after the POS committee’s decision. The oral preliminary exam is an oral defense of the dissertation proposal, and an opportunity for the POS committee to help you develop your dissertation study.

The entire preliminary exam process (including the proposal/piloting and oral prelim) takes a minimum of 4 weeks to complete; however, most students will need more than 4 weeks to complete the process. All parts of the preliminary exam requiring active participation from the committee members must be carried out while a Fall or Spring semester is in session, as faculty are not available over semester breaks, on University Holidays, or during the summer to read the proposal/piloting or attend the oral preliminary exam.

If for any reason you wish to request a change in the procedure for the preliminary examination, you must write a memo to the Director of Graduate Education before the second Tuesday of the semester in which the exam is to be taken specifying the request and providing a rationale for it. The DOGE will decide whether or not the request will be granted.

Upon successfully completing the dissertation proposal and oral preliminary examination, you will be ready to pursue work on the dissertation (see additional requirements for “ABD Status”).

Time limits and other restrictions

The Graduate College requires that a student’s POSC Form is approved for the first time (does not apply to modifications) by the Graduate College (not simply submitted and routing) by November 1, April 1, or July 1 of the  semester before taking the written preliminary examination. Also, you are required to have the preliminary oral examination at least six months prior to your dissertation defense (final oral examination). Several other requirements must be met as well (see Preliminary examination requirements for more information).

4.2.5a ALT Dissertation proposal and piloting

The Dissertation Proposal should reflect standard format for applied linguistics research proposals, followed by a section that reports on a piloting of select components of the dissertation study. The components to be piloted should be selected in consultation with the major professor and POS committee. The proposal should include the following:

  1. Cover Page: Cover page with your name, contact information, and the names of your POS committee members.
  2. Introduction: a 3- to 5-page overview of your research, including the research goals and methods to be employed.
  3. Literature Review: a 10- to 12-page review of the theoretical underpinning of your research, previous work in the area, and unique methodologies. For all citations, use the American Psychological Association (APA) style.
  4. Rationale: a one-paragraph to one-page rationale which includes research questions and the potential significance of the results.
  5. Research Design: a 5- to 10-page narrative of the project, including a description of the object of study, whether human, text, or software, the materials that will be used in the study – tests, measures, texts, equipment, software, etc. – and the procedure to be used in collecting data.
  6. Data Analysis: a 2- to 3-page description of how you will analyze the data in order to answer each research question.
  7. Piloting: a 3- to 10-page description of your piloting of your proposed methods/materials; you should discuss with your major professor and/or POS committee which components of the study should be piloted, as well as what aspects of piloting should be reported.
  8. Schedule: Proposed schedule of work including a realistic assessment of how long it will take for completion of each of the major parts of the research and writing.
  9. References: List of all references cited in the text using APA style.

You should work closely with your POS committee to ensure that the dissertation proposal and the piloting of the dissertation methods/materials are of acceptable quality to form the basis of the oral preliminary examination. After submitting your proposal/piloting, your committee will have two weeks to evaluate the proposal. Based on this evaluation, they may ask you to further develop specific parts of the proposal before moving on to the oral preliminary exam. When these requirements have been met to the satisfaction of your POS Committee, your major professor will send an email so indicating to you and to the Graduate Program Administration Assistant (englgrad@iastate.edu) before you are able to schedule the oral preliminary exam.

4.2.5b ALT Preliminary oral examination

The preliminary oral examination, as the second part of the preliminary examination, is an oral defense which helps you prepare for dissertation work in a specific research area of your choosing. You must pass the preliminary oral exam at least six months prior to your dissertation defense (final oral examination) per Graduate College policy.

Getting your POS committee together for the preliminary oral examination

Consult with your POS committee members about convenient meeting times. The earlier you can do this, the better, since it can be difficult to arrange a time when all faculty members are available (especially in the summer). All committee members must attend the preliminary oral exam. Preliminary oral exams may be held in person, virtually, or a combination, per Graduate College policy.

Graduate College approval must be granted before the exam for permanent replacements (submit a POSC Form modification in your AccessPlus account in plenty of time for routing and final approval by the Graduate College before the exam). For POS committee substitutions in the case of last minute emergencies, find a substitute that fills the same role on the POS committee as the absent member, contact the Graduate College right away, and submit a Request for Committee Substitution at the Preliminary or Final Oral Exam form. See the Graduate College Handbook for complete details and requirements.

Reserving a meeting room / Setting up a virtual exam

For in-person/hybrid oral exams, reserving a meeting room is your responsibility and is not automatically done with the submission of the Online Preliminary or Final Oral Exam Request (see below). Your major professor can access the conference room schedules or you can contact the Graduate Program Administrative Assistant for assistance.

For virtual/hybrid oral exams, you should coordinate with your major professor to set up the virtual meeting space (typically using WebEx) and share the link with your committee members. It is recommended that the major professor host the virtual meeting.

Online Preliminary Oral Examination Request

After the meeting time is established, complete an Online Preliminary or Final Oral Exam Request. You must submit this request in the online system at least TWO weeks before your examination. Your major professor immediately receives an email with a link to go into the system and approve your request before it is reviewed by the Graduate College for final approval. All POS committee members receive an email for their information regarding your exam request date, time, and place. Because the request will specify the date and time of the preliminary oral examination, it should be submitted only after your committee indicates that our proposal and piloting document are ready for the oral defense and you have met all other Preliminary Examination Requirements. You and your POS committee may not hold the exam unless the Preliminary Oral Examination has been approved by the Graduate College.

Conducting the preliminary oral examination

According to Graduate College policy, all POS committee members must be convened for the entire exam (see above for procedures to arrange a substitute member if this is not possible). You should discuss the format of the preliminary oral exam with your major professor. The oral exam typically involves a presentation-based component, a period of questions/discussion with the committee members, a confidential deliberation between committee members (without the student present), and a concluding section in which the committee’s evaluation is shared with the student.

Online Report of Preliminary Oral Examination form

The Graduate College sends an email to your major professor approximately 1 week before the exam; this email contains a link to this online form used to report exam results. The Online Report of Preliminary Oral Examination must be completed within 24 hours of the exam. All POS committee members, the student, and support staff in the graduate program receive a confirmation email that includes the exam results. The student and all POS committee members have 72 hours after the confirmation email is sent to dispute the reported results. Once the 72-hour dispute period has passed, the results are final and will be recorded on the student’s record and the student will be notified via email.

If a student receives a Conditional Pass, the conditions must be included in the Online Report of Preliminary Oral Examination form. All POS committee members and the student agree to the conditions provided by the major professor unless they dispute the conditions within 72 hours of the confirmation email being sent. A Conditional Pass must be removed by the Major Professor submitting a Preliminary Oral Examination Conditions Met form before the Online Final Oral Examination Request form can be submitted. These conditions must also be met before you will be considered ABD.

According to Graduate College policy, you must pass the preliminary oral examination at least six months prior to your dissertation defense (final oral examination). However, in practice, most students require more than six months between the oral preliminary exam and the final oral exam, particularly in cases of a conditional pass on the preliminary oral exam. Upon successfully completing the preliminary oral examination, you will be ready to pursue work on the dissertation (see additional requirements for “ABD Status”).

Grievances regarding the preliminary examinations

If you believe that you have legitimate reasons to appeal the decision of the POS committee, you may follow the grievance procedure outlined in the Graduate College Handbook (see “Grievances Related to Scholarly and Professional Competence”).
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4.2.6 ALT Dissertation Guidelines

Detailed university requirements for the PhD dissertation appear in several online university documents:

University expectations

According to the Graduate College, a doctoral dissertation must

  • follow all requirements detailed in the Thesis Checklist
  • “demonstrate conclusively” your ability to conceive, design, conduct, and interpret independent and original research
  • demonstrate your ability to analyze, interpret, and organize data
  • be written independently (e.g., no co-authorship or joint writing)
  • make a significant contribution to the field
  • be worthy of publication in professional journals of quality or in book form

As the Graduate College Handbook points out, you, rather than the major professor or the Graduate College, are responsible for writing and editing the dissertation, as well as for completing any necessary paperwork.

Department expectations

In addition to general university expectations, there are a number of departmental expectations for students enrolled in the English Department doctoral programs. These expectations involve the POS procedures, the structure and emphasis of the dissertation itself, and the oral defense of the dissertation.

POS procedures

You are responsible for reaching an understanding with POS committee members concerning their respective roles. In discussing member roles, you will find it useful to review such issues as

  • whether or not each committee member wants to see every draft
  • what your research and writing schedule will be
  • how drafts will be submitted (e.g., whether or not the POS chair should see each draft before it’s circulated)

Dissertation options

When selecting an option for the dissertation, you and the POS Committee will need to reach a consensus regarding both the dissertation’s emphasis and structure.


Although dissertations are quite varied, many ALT dissertations fall into one of the following two categories: quantitative or qualitative.

Structural options

Given the expectations of the Graduate College, there are two typical arrangement options for structuring a dissertation: specified chapter option or articles within a framework. In working with your POS committee, you may develop variations on these options or discover additional options for structuring your work.


Whatever the dissertation structure, you will be asked to prepare an abstract of the dissertation. Abstracts of doctoral dissertations nationwide are available in the library. Actual dissertations may be available through interlibrary loan, depending on the policies of the lender. Even when a particular dissertation can be obtained, you may need to wait two to three weeks for delivery.
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4.2.7 ALT Final Oral Defense of Dissertation (Final Oral Examination)

See the section on Graduation for more details and information on finishing up as well as resources with links to very helpful information.
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4.2.8 ALT Student Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes students in this program are expected to meet include:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of and confidence with the use of computer applications relevant to teaching, learning, research, and assessment in applied linguistics.
  • Design, implement, and evaluate algorithms for automating linguistic analysis tasks based on knowledge of natural language and speech processing programming.
  • Formulate important research questions for guiding investigations that contribute to theory and practice in one or more areas of applied linguistics.
  • Apply principles of research methodology to design data collection and analysis procedures to address research questions in at least one area of applied linguistics.
  • Interpret and evaluate findings in view of their contribution to theory, research, and practice in the relevant area.
  • Communicate ideas, discoveries, and findings to others in a professional and creative manner.
  • Collaborate with other professionals to create and investigate new knowledge, practices, and products.
  • Demonstrate independence and professionalism in teaching and research.

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