Will you write me a letter of recommendation?

For graduate school applications, I typically only write letters of recommendation for students that I have taught in two or more courses, as it makes for a much stronger letter if I can speak to your strengths and achievements across these multiple contexts. For awards, I am generally happy to write you a letter of recommendation as long as you have done well in a course you have taken a course with me.

If you would like me to write you a letter, please email me to see if I am able to write a letter for you. You will then need to complete this form if you need a letter for graduate school or this form if you need a letter for an award, grant, or fellowship.

What can I do with a linguistics major or minor?

A number of linguistics departments have posted wonderful resources about job options for linguists here, here, and here. The Linguistic Society of America discusses job options for linguists here, and the LinguistList has information on the topic here. Linguist Gretchen McCulloch has a site with information on getting started in public linguistics, available here. Linguist Lauren Gawne has done a number of interviews with people whose whose careers were launched in large part because of their background in linguistics, available here.

What should I know before applying to a PhD program?

William Pannapacker, a professor of English at Hope College, has written at length about the state of doctoral education in the humanities. Read what he has to say here, here, and here. Then read what economist Dave Colander has to say about the job market for English PhDs, which is also relevant to disciplines across the humanities and social sciences: the article is here and there's a nice writeup of the article's main points here.

Because a PhD is ultimately a path to employment, you should be aware of job placement rates in your prospective field: the MLA has numbers on this for humanities disciplines PhDs here, NSF has numbers for different disciplines here, and the Atlantic pulled together numbers from various sources here. Related to this, before applying for a PhD you should also see what kinds of jobs are available and what their listed qualifications look like: for linguists like me, that means looking at the job postings on the Linguist List, the LSA's Career Center, and the Academic Jobs Wiki, but most professional organizations offer similar resources (e.g., the MLA, NCA, ASA, AAA).

You should also know that there are significantly more people getting PhDs than there are academic jobs: the numbers vary by field, but you can see an example of this trend in science and engineering here. If you are interested in a job teaching and researching at a university, you should read historian Erin Bartram's very frank discussion of her decision to leave academia after years of (unsuccessfully) trying to get a permanent university position, available on her website here. You will also want to learn more about the so-called "adjunct crisis" in higher education: read what the AAUP has to say here as a starting point. Finally, if you are serious about applying for a PhD, you should also know about mental health issues in academia: two reports on mental health issues for graduate students can be found here and here.

Where can I learn more about language variation?

Links to bibliographies