Applied Linguistics, M.A.

As of Spring 2019, this degree is in teach out phase, no new students will be admitted.

Program Description

The Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics provides a broad multi-disciplinary foundation to deal with literacy, lexicography, language surveys and planning, orthography, bilingual and multilingual education, language acquisition, translation, and other language-related issues. It combines academic rigor and practical skills for students seeking appropriate solutions to real-world problems. Students may either pursue a generalist track or may choose to specialize in translation, literacy, language survey, Scripture in Use, or TESOL.

Those who want to specialize in Bible translation also have the option of the Master of Arts in Linguistics and Ancient Languages. This degree combines the resources of Talbot School of Theology, where students take classes in Greek or Hebrew and biblical exegesis, and the Department of Applied Linguistics and TESOL where they take classes in linguistics and translation. The application of linguistic principles to the study of the biblical languages facilitates a deeper understanding of these languages. The study of Greek or Hebrew and linguistics develops skills in exegesis and translation for virtually any language situation.

SIL at Biola

Each of these Applied Linguistics programs benefits from SIL-at-Biola, a collaboration between the Summer Institute of Linguistics and Biola. Experienced instructors who have served with Wycliffe Bible Translators cooperate in teaching a range of courses here. These courses are equivalent to those offered at other SIL schools and are recognized as valid for membership in Wycliffe and other similar organizations. Depending on the expected field of service and specialty, some students, however, may need to take additional courses at Biola or other SIL summer programs to meet all their SIL training requirements.


Although language teaching is a prominent area within the field of applied linguistics, there are many other areas of importance that address language-related human problems both in the United States and abroad. Among these are bilingual and multilingual education, language planning, lexicography, literacy, second language acquisition, translation, and the development or modification of writing systems.

The M.A. in Applied Linguistics goes beyond the certificate courses by providing Christian professionals with advanced training in various areas of language analysis and by developing a multidisciplinary approach within which to seek appropriate solutions to real-world problems. Students may pursue either a generalist track or a specialized one by concentrating their electives in language surveys, linguistics, literacy, TESOL, or translation. Students satisfactorily completing the TESOL concentration will receive the graduate Certificate in TESOL.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics, students will be able to:

  1. Apply knowledge and skills as working applied linguists in areas such as language survey, literacy, Scripture in use, TESOL, and translation (ULO 1).
  2. Identify concepts pertaining to language systems and related theory and practice in applied linguistics (ULO 1).
  3. Exhibit personal and professional commitment to ethical and biblically informed practice in applied linguistics (ULO 2).
  4. Demonstrate their ability to create research projects to address issues in their areas of applied linguistics specialty (ULO 3).
  5. Collect and organize applied linguistics resources to evaluate their effectiveness and usefulness for research (ULO 3).

Each Program Learning Outcome (PLO) listed above references at least one of the University Learning Outcomes (ULO 1, 2, 3), which may be found in the General Information section of this catalog.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have completed all bachelor's requirements prior to the start of the program and must have a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) grade point average conferred from a regionally accredited institution prior to the start of the second term. Applicants must submit a written statement outlining their vocational objectives and how the degree will relate to those objectives; a one-page typed letter should be appended to the application. Three letters of reference on forms supplied by Biola are required, as are official transcripts of previous schools attended. Applicants who are non-native English speakers must demonstrate both spoken and written proficiency in English through an oral interview with an admissions counselor or faculty member and through submission of an internationally recognized standardized test of English (taken within the last two years). A TOEFL score of 600 PBT/250 CBT/100 iBT is normally required. The essay score should be at least 5.5. Alternatively, an IELTS score of 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element) is required. Applicants to the online M.A. must either have relevant teaching experience, have completed ISTE 501, or have faculty approval.

Foundational Requirements

Students are required to have 12 foundational credits as noted below. Students entering the program without the stated foundational credits may take them concurrently with regular program courses, normally completing them by the end of the first year.

Because teachers and applied linguists are expected to have a high degree of competence in written English, all new graduate students, both native and non-native English speakers, are required to take the department's Writing Proficiency Exam. If the results indicate that the student needs additional work in grammar and composition to perform at the level expected for these fields, he or she will be directed to take a writing course in the English Language Studies Program or do independent supplementary work on writing.

Program Requirements

The Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics requires 12 credits of foundational work including Bible, introduction to linguistics, phonetics, and syntax or phonology. Beyond those credits, the Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics consists of 33 credits. The culmination of the Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics consists of a comprehensive exam or, with permission of the department, a thesis.

The Master of Arts program requirements may be reduced for students with appropriate background course work, but the minimum number of graduate credits required is at least 32, 24 of which must be taken through Biola University.

Normally, the M.A. in Applied Linguistics degree can be completed in two years for people who come into the program with the foundational credits. However, students who wish to pursue a specialization may need a third year to complete the program depending on their background and the advanced elective courses offered during the three-year course cycle.

Graduation Requirements

Students must successfully complete all required coursework with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 to qualify for graduation. No ALT course with a grade less than a "B" (3.0) will be counted for the Master of Arts.

The program is usually completed within two years by full-time students. Part-time students may have up to seven years for the M.A. degrees.

All students must meet with their department advisor and Graduate Graduation Counselor in the Office of the Registrar one year prior to graduation to declare intent to graduate. (See Graduate Graduation Check description in the Admission, Enrollment and Graduation Requirements section).

Curriculum Requirements

Foundational Courses 1
ISAL 520Introduction to Language and Linguistics3
ISAL 521General Articulatory Phonetics3
ISAL 523Introduction to Phonology3
or ISAL 525 Introduction to Syntax
Program Courses
ISAL 511Applied Linguistics3
ISAL 668Seminar in Applied Linguistics3
ISAL 679Planning, Evaluation, and Research in Applied Linguistics3
ISAL 697Comprehensive Examination0
ISAL 652Field Methods in Second Language and Culture Learning3
or ISAL 654 Field Methods in Linguistics
Select 18 credits of ISAL or ISTE Electives18
Select 3 credits of Bible or World Perspectives Elective 23
Total Credits45


Specializations of 18 credits each are possible in the areas of Language Surveys, Scripture in Use, TESOL, and Translation.

Language Surveys (18 Credits)

Elective Courses (Consult Department for elective choices)6
ISAL 641Language Surveys3
ISAL 646Sociolinguistics3
ISAL 654Field Methods in Linguistics3
ISAL 683Topics in Linguistics3
or ISAL 684 Topics in Linguistics
Total Credits18

Scripture in Use (18 Credits)

Elective Courses (Consult Department for elective choices)9
ISAL 537Introduction to Literacy3
ISAL 652Field Methods in Second Language and Culture Learning3
ISAL 523Introduction to Phonology3
or ISAL 524 Introduction to Phonology - Challenge
Total Credits18

TESOL (18 Credits)

ISTE 509Structure of English3
ISTE 525Introduction to TESOL—Adult3
ISTE 527Materials Evaluation and Preparation3
ISTE 530Ethics, Values, and Intercultural Communication for TESOL Professionals3
ISTE 614Second Language Acquisition3
ISTE 692Practicum in TESOL II3
Total Credits18

Translation (18 Credits)

Elective Courses (Consult Department for elective choices)3
ISAL 529Introduction to Semantics and Pragmatics3
ISAL 535Introduction to Bible Translation3
ISAL 626Approaches to Translation3
ISAL 648Discourse and Text Analysis3
ISAL 684Topics in Linguistics3
Total Credits18