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Student Handbook
Last updated April 29, 2014

Table of Contents

The SLA Student Handbook describes the degree requirements, policies and guidelines of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Doctoral Program in Second Language Acquisition.  Students in the SLA Program are also subject to all of the requirements and policies of the UW-Madison Graduate School.

The handbook reflects changes in required course work agreed to by the SLA Steering Committee in Spring 2014. Those students who began the program prior to Fall 2014 may choose to follow the prior requirements. See previous curriculum here>.

1. SLA Ph.D. Major Requirements

The requirements for the Doctoral Major in Second Language Acquisition consist of coursework for the major, a language requirement, preliminary examinations (comprising 4 exams), and the dissertation (comprising the dissertation proposal, the dissertation, and the dissertation defense). Students whose L1 is not English should plan to take the SPEAK test in their first semester of studies, to help determine their eligibility for various funding. Students must consult with their advisor before registering for courses.

1.1 Coursework

Because the doctoral program in Second Language Acquisition is interdisciplinary, courses are taken from different departments to meet requirements for the degree. Students are required to take 51 credits. With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 6 credits of graduate course work from graduate work at other institutions or the UW-Madison. Course work earned ten years or more prior to admission to the program is not allowed to satisfy requirements. At least half of degree credits must be completed in courses numbered 700 or higher.

Doctoral Major Required Courses/Credits

Required Courses

2 courses

6 credits

Research Methods

2 courses

6 credits


4 courses

12 credits


6 courses

18 credits


Dissertation Credits

3 courses (minimum)

9 credits


51 credits


1.1.1 Required Courses (6 credits)

Students must take the following two courses:

  • English 318 Second Language Acquisition (please note the course number change, effective fall 2014; formerly English 333)
  • English 711 Research Methods in Applied Linguistics

Generally, English 318 and 711 are taken in the student's first year; however, with the consent of the advisor, these courses may be taken in the second year. Students who wish to substitute credits for these courses because they believe they have completed equivalent course work prior to their start in the program, should consult with their advisors about the feasibility of presenting a request to the SLA Steering Committee. The approval of the Steering Committee is required for all substitutions.

1.1.2 Research Methods (6 credits)

Students must take two courses, one in Quantitative Methods and one in Qualitative Methods. Choose from among the approved list of courses. Additional courses may be approved by the student's advisor and the SLA Steering Committee to meet the Research Methods requirement. Students may upon consultation with their advisor choose to take more research methods courses to count as electives.

Quantitative Methods: 

Educational Psychology 760: Statistical Methods Applied to Education I
Educational Psychology 761: Statistical Methods Applied to Education II

Qualitative Methods: 

Curriculum and Instruction (C&I)


714 Research and Evaluation Paradigms in Curriculum and Instruction
715 Design of Research in Curriculum and Instruction
719 Introduction to Qualitative Research
916 Special topics in Research & Evaluation in Curriculum and Instruction (with appropriate topic)
917 Seminar: Design of Research & Evaluation - Curriculum and Instruction (with appropriate topic)
975 General Seminar (with appropriate topic)
976 Discourse Analysis in Education (Qualitative Analysis Course)


703 Research Methods in Composition Studies

1.1.3. Emphasis (12 credits)

The goal of the emphasis requirement is to bring depth to a student's exploration of an area of research. Students need to prepare a short statement (approximately 250 words, not including course titles) that explains how the requirement is be met (listing proposed courses and, if applicable, a minor) and how the proposed plan supports the student's

research and professional interests. The statement needs to be approved by the student's advisor and the Steering Committee, typically by the end of a student's first year in the program. The requirement is usually met by completing an Option A or B minor such as:

  • a 12-credit Option A Minor ("external"):
  • a 9-credit Option A Minor plus one thematically related 3-credit course
  • an Option B Minor (a so-called"distributed" minor of four thematically related courses)

Option A minors are completed in a minor program and require that program's approval. Note that if the Option A minor is only 9 credits, an additional, related course must be taken to reach twelve credits. For more information on PhD minors, see the Graduate School website.

A selection of Option A minors follows. Consult the Graduate Catalog and departments to inquire about these and other minors.

Foreign language department Option A minors include:

African Languages & Literature
Languages & Cultures of Asia

Other Option A minors of potential interest:

African Studies
Curriculum & Instruction
English Linguistics
Chicano/a and Latino/a Studies
Global Studies
International Education
Qualitative Research Methodology in Education

1.1.4 Electives (18 credits)

Elective courses enhance students' course work in the categories of "emphasis" and "research methods" and help students' explore additional areas that relate to their planned dissertations and professional careers.

A list of suitable elective courses listed in the timetable is shown below. Please note that the frequency with which each course is offered varies, that some courses require instructor's approval for registration, and that some courses are only offered during particular semesters and at pre-determined intervals. If a student is unsure of the appropriateness of a course, s/he can contact the instructor to request a syllabus and/or a meeting to find out more more. Please see the note below about using independent study towards fulfiling elective credits.

Recommended timetable courses:

430 Language and Culture (Cross-listed with Linguistics, S Asian 430)
545 Psychological Anthropology
Curriculum and Instruction (C&I)
630 Workshop in School Program Development (with appropriate topic)
673 Learning Second Language and Literacies
675 General Seminar (with appropriate topic)
714 Research and Evaluation Paradigms in Curriculum and Instruction
715 Design of Research in Curriculum and Instruction
719 Introduction to Qualitative Research
916 Special topics in Research & Evaluation in Curriculum and Instruction (with appropriate topic)
917 Seminar: Design of Research & Evaluation - Curriculum and Instruction (with appropriate topic)
975 General Seminar (with appropriate topic)
976 Discourse Analysis in Education (Qualitative Analysis Course)
Communication Arts
402 Psychology of Communication
560 Communication Theory
572 Interpersonal Communication
East Asian Languages and Literature
431 Introduction to Chinese Linguistics
434 Introduction to Japanese Linguistics
741 Studies in Chinese Syntax and Morphology
775 Studies in Japanese Linguistics (with appropriate topic)
932 Seminar in Chinese Linguistics (with appropriate topic)
933 Seminar in Japanese Linguistics (with appropriate topic)
Educational Policy
755 Methods of Qualitative Research (cross-listed with Rural Soc, Soc)
314 Structure of English
329 Introduction to the Syntax of English
315 English Phonology
316 English Language Variation in the United States
332 Global Spread of English
336 English in Society
415 Introduction to TESOL Methods
515 Techniques and Materials for TESOL
516 English Grammar in Us
700 Introduction to Composition Studies
701 Writing and Learning
702 Perspectives on Literacy
703 Research Methods in Composition Studies
704 Intellectual Sources of Contemporary Composition Theory
708 Advanced English Syntax
709 Advanced English Phonology
710 Discourse Analysis
713 Seminar: Topics in Contemporary English Linguistics (with appropriate topic)
715 Advanced Second Language Acquisition
900 Seminar: Topics in Composition Study (with appropriate topic)
905 Seminar: Topics in Applied English Linguistics (with appropriate topic)
906 Seminar: The English Language
French and Italian
340 Structures of Italian
350 Applied French Language Studies (with appropriate topic)
429 Introduction to the Romance Languages
350 Applied French Language Studies (with appropriate topic)
821 Issues in Methods of Teaching French and Italian
662 Applied German Philology
721 Practicum in the Coordination of Undergraduate Language Instruction
722 Theory of Teaching German
727 Topics in German Applied Linguistics (with appropriate topic)
751 Contrastive Grammar of English and German
758 Topics in Contemporary German (with appropriate topic)
769 Introduction to Comparative Germanic Morphology
960 Seminar in German Linguistics (with appropriate topic)
970 Advanced Seminar in German Linguistics (with appropriate topic)
620 International Communication
621 Mass Media in Developing Countries
510 Phonological Theories
522 Advanced Morphology
530 Syntactic Theories
540 Advanced Semantics
561 Introduction to Experimental Phonetics
512 Methods of Logic
516 Language and Meaning
517 Special Topics in the Philosophy of Language (with appropriate topic)
526 Philosophy and Literature
545 Philosophical Conceptions of Teaching and Learning
333 Structure of the Portuguese Language
340 Portuguese Phonology
429 Introduction to the Romance Languages
815 Seminar: Portuguese Language (with appropriate topic)
406 Psychology of Perception
414 Cognitive Psychology
421 Psychology of Language
550 Animal Communication and the Origins of Language
715 Language and Cognitive Development
720 Speech Perception and Reading
733 Perceptual and Cognitive Sciences (with appropriate topic)
Slavic Languages and Literature
704 Structure of Russian
535 Language and Social Interaction
544 Introduction to Survey Research
545 Ethnomethodology
960 Current Methodological Issues in Social Psychology: Conversation Analysis (topics course; number may change)
965 Recent Developments in Social Psychology: Ethnomethodology (topics course; number may change)
429 Introduction to the Romance Languages
543 Spanish Phonology
544 Applied Spanish Linguistics for Teachers
547 Structure of the Spanish Language I
548 Structure of the Spanish Language II
630 Topics in Hispanic Linguistics (with appropriate topic)
815 Seminar in Language: Modern Spanish
830 Seminar: The Spanish Grammatical Tradition (with appropriate topic)

A note on using independent study towards elective credits: Up to 6 credits of independent study or directed reading may count towards electives. These must be taken in 3-credit increments. Independent studies may not substitute for timetable courses to enable taking the course at a different time or in a different semester. Students may use independent study to explore a research interest that is not addressed in a timetable course and/or to work with a faculty member with whom s/he might not otherwise be able to work. Faculty members offer independent studies in addition to their regular teaching load and may not be able to offer an independent study in a given semester. Students should approach a faculty person about an independent study during the registration period prior to the semester of proporsed study. Students interested in independent study should develop a suitable syllabus and reading list for approval by the supervising faculty.

1.1.5 Dissertation Credits (9 credits min.)

Students take a minimum of 9 dissertation credits (3 semesters); in most cases 4 or more semesters of enrollment in dissertator credits is likely. Students enroll in dissertator credits in their advisor's department and will likely need to obtain authorization from the department to register. An advisor, under certain circumstances, may permit the student to replace the 3 dissertation credits with another 3-credit graduate course that directly supports the dissertation.

1.2 Language Requirement

The language requirement for the SLA PhD Major contains two parts: oral proficiency and reading proficiency, which must be in two languages, including English. Students may not be recommended for preliminary exams until they have fulfilled both parts of the language requirement.

Typically, the student must demonstrate an Advanced level of academic oral and reading proficiency in two languages prior to taking preliminary exams. A plan for meeting this requirement is developed by the student and advisor within the first semester of the student’s program. The plan must be approved by the advisor and the SLA Steering Committee by the end of the first academic year.

1.3 Preliminary Examination

The SLA Steering Committee adopted a new format for the preliminary examination, effective April 2013.

1.3.1 Previous Preliminary Examination Policies, Reading List, Exam Questions (Before April 2013)

1.3.2. New Preliminary Examination Policies (adopted April, 2013; amended and clarified November 2013)

Students must take preliminary exams, as described below, within one semester of completing doctoral coursework. The objectives of these exams are to determine if students have developed a strong overall understanding of the scope of the discipline of SLA (e.g., the theories on which research in the field is based; the type of questions that researchers in SLA address; and the variety of techniques used to answer these questions), as well as more in-depth understanding of the theories and research findings related to questions of specific concern to them. It is expected that students take and pass the preliminary exam within 3 years after the start of their doctoral studies.

Committee membership

The student identifies a dissertation advisor prior to taking the preliminary examination and obtains the selected faculty member’s commitment to advise.

The preliminary examination committee is chaired by the student’s dissertation advisor and consists of the chair and two additional graduate faculty members. Faculty members who may be invited to join the committee are identified by the advisor, in consultation with the student. At least two members of the committee (including the advisor) must be core faculty affiliated with the SLA doctoral program. Preliminary examination committee members are not assumed to be members of the dissertation committee, but are eligible to serve on the dissertation committee.

Scheduling and registration

Students complete the preliminary examinations over a two-week period. Exact dates are determined by the advisor, in consultation with the other two committee members, and the student.
All committee members and the student need to sign a preliminary examination registration form to indicate their commitment to serve on the committee (faculty) and the dates for the exam (faculty and student). The student is responsible for obtaining signatures of committee members and submitting the form to the SLA program coordinator at least four weeks prior to the beginning of the examination period.

Format and content

The preliminary examination questions are written by the student's dissertation advisor, with input from and the approval of the other two committee members.  The objective is for the student to provide a cogent analysis of issues situated in SLA and to find and include relevant research that supports the student’s analysis.

Exam format

The preliminary examination questions are written by the student's dissertation advisor, with input from and the approval of the other two committee members.   

The questions fall into the following two categories:

  1. Question 1: analysis of a ‘big’ question in SLA;
  2. Question 2: analysis of an issue that reflects the student’s specific research interests.

The student’s response to each question should be in the form of a paper of approximately 20 pages, double-spaced, not including references. Strategically placed subheadings that facilitate the reader’s comprehension of the paper’s structure are encouraged. Papers are to be prepared in APA style, include a complete list of all works cited, and clearly indicate cited work as such.

The student may consult non-human resources, including those in print, on the internet, and in databases. During the period of the exam, students may not receive help with writing the responses from or discuss responses or exam questions with anyone, including students and faculty in the program, in related fields, or in related programs.


The student receive the two questions from his/her advisor and then has two weeks from the time when s/he receives the questions to write and submit response papers. The precise deadline is included with the questions.

The papers should be submitted together and in electronic format to the SLA program coordinator, who forwards the papers to the members of the student's prelim committee.

Each committee member reads and rates each paper independently, then submits ratings of either ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ for each of the two questions to the student's dissertation advisor. A final assessment of ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ on each paper is determined by majority ratings.

The prelim committee members have two weeks from the date on which they receive the papers from the program coordinator to evaluate them and to submit their ratings of either ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ to the faculty advisor.  

The advisor conveys the results to the student and to the SLA graduate coordinator.

Exam grades and the remediation process

Preliminary examinations are pass/fail. If a student’s answers to both questions pass, then the student passes the preliminary exam.

If a student’s answer to one of the questions fails (whereas the answer to the other question passes), the committee decides how to proceed, depending on the extent and nature of the failure; options are (a) an oral exam (whose duration is be determined by the committee) for the purpose of clarifying or enhancing the written response, or (b) the provision of a new question, to be answered over the course of one week, with all previous grading procedures applied.  The timing of either an oral exam or the assignment of a new exam question is be determined by the committee.

If a student's second attempt at answering one question fails, or if a student's answers to both questions fail at the first attempt, the student’s status in the program is determined by the Steering Committee of the SLA doctoral program.


1.4.1 Becoming a Dissertator

When a student has fulfilled all of the degree requirements for the SLA Doctoral Program, that is, when s/he has completed all required coursework passed the preliminary examinations, and fulfilled the foreign language requirement, s/he becomes a dissertator. A student who fails the preliminary examination or is denied admission to candidacy is not making satisfactory academic progress and is placed on academic probation. The probation period begins in the semester following the semester in which the examination is taken.

Deadlines for dissertator eligibility generally fall on the first day of each semester. Students must request a preliminary warrant from the SLA Graduate Coordinator at least three weeks before the deadline.  In general, requests for warrants occur approximately one month before the end of the semester, while degree deadlines are near the last day of classes. Check the Graduate School Degree and Dissertator Deadlines for exact dates for the academic year.

Dissertators must maintain continuous enrollment until completion of the doctoral degree. Dissertators must enroll each fall and spring semester for exactly three graduate-level credits. Typically, these are research credits for dissertation work, taken with the dissertation director and under a 990 course number in the dissertation director’s home department. However, under exceptional circumstances, the three credits can be taken in the form of a graduate course that contributes directly to the dissertation topic and has been approved by the dissertation director. Such courses must be taken for a grade and cannot be audited or taken pass/fail.  For more information, see the Graduate School policy on continuous enrollment for dissertators. Note that fall and spring enrollment are required regardless of whether you are residing in Madison.

1.4.2 Dissertation Proposal

Once dissertator status has been reached but before embarking on dissertation research, the student needs to have a dissertation proposal approved by a committee of at least three faculty members of whom at least two, including the dissertation director (advisor), must be SLA core faculty.  Ideally, the three or more faculty members who serve on a student’s dissertation proposal committee would be the same who serve on or constitute a subset of the student’s future dissertation committee, which needs to have at least five members (see below).

The dissertation proposal demonstrates the feasibility and value of the research project and its methodology.

The dissertation proposal must be approved by the student’s dissertation proposal committee no later than one calendar year after the student has become a dissertator. If the proposal is not approved by that date, the candidate, with a support letter from his or her dissertation director (advisor), must petition the SLA Steering Committee for an extension. That petition should include a statement for the reasons for requesting the extension and a description of a plan for making progress, moving forward.

1.4.3. Dissertation Proposal Committee and Procedures

The proposal is prepared under the guidance of the dissertation director and presented to the dissertation proposal committee in an oral dissertation proposal defense that typically lasts between one and two hours. An approved dissertation proposal represents an agreement between the dissertation committee and the student about the focus and the methodology of the dissertation.

The student needs to obtain the dissertation director’s consent to schedule the review and defense of the dissertation proposal and to determine which three or more members need to be present at the defense of the dissertation proposal.  It is the student’s responsibility to establish a time and place for the dissertation proposal committee to meet for the formal review and defense of the proposal.

The dissertation director needs to approve the contents and timing of any drafts of the proposal that the student sends to committee members. No less than two weeks in advance of the proposal defense the student needs to send each faculty member the version of the proposal that s/he wishes to defend.  Faculty may request electronic and/or hard copy.

The review and defense of the dissertation proposal ends with recommendations made by members of the dissertation proposal committee, which can range from approval without changes to recommendations for changes to the proposal to the request for a new proposal followed by a new proposal defense. Once the committee has approved the proposal, the dissertation proposal defense form must be signed and dated by all dissertation proposal committee members and be filed, with a copy of the approved proposal, in the SLA Program Office, room 1322 Van Hise Hall. The committee must approve subsequent revisions to the proposal in writing. 

1.4.4. Scope and Content of the Dissertation Proposal

A typical proposal ranges from 5,000 to 7,500 words, not including appendices and references, and includes the components listed below. Research instruments, data samples (e.g., transcriptions) that exceed 250 words, IRB protocol-related materials, and timeline to dissertation typically appear in appendices. Any changes to the typical scope and structure of the dissertation proposal need to be approved by the dissertation director. The dissertation director also determines the extent to which each component is developed.

A typical dissertation proposal contains the following components:

  • a description of the rationale of and need for the study;
  • a review of the literature pertaining to key concepts and key theories used in designing the study and/or in analyzing the results;
  • questions to be addressed by the research;
  • methods;
  • a sample analysis, which can be applied to select qualitative and/or quantitative data;
  • based on the sample analysis, a description of next steps, including a timeline to dissertation completion and of any planned alterations in method, data types, or theoretical approaches from the original intentions described in the proposal to the dissertation study.

1.4.5. Dissertation models and formats

The last step in completing the Ph.D. in Second Language Acquisition is the successful defense of a doctoral thesis or dissertation, followed by its deposit with the Graduate School.  The dissertation is an original piece of research and follows a canonical structure, usually very similar to the guidelines published in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (current edition). You may wish to consult models, such as prior dissertations written by students in the program, all of which are inventoried electronically and may be found via a database (e.g., LLBA at the UW Libraries) search that uses ‘author’ names.  Ultimately, the precise format, scope, and content of your dissertation need to be agreed upon between you, your dissertation director/s, and the dissertation committee.

1.4.6. Make-up of the Dissertation Committee

Typically, the dissertation committee is headed by one director (advisor), who guides the research and dissertation writing process and contributes his/her specific expertise to the project’s development. However, under exceptional circumstances and if the nature of dissertation warrants, two faculty members may agree to co-direct a dissertation. In total, the dissertation committee must include at least five members, including the director and at least one other SLA core faculty member. The remaining three or more members of the committee may be affiliate SLA faculty, or faculty in other areas. Of the five dissertation committee members, at least four must be UW-Madison ‘graduate faculty’, that is, UW-Madison faculty who are tenured or on the tenure track. UW-Madison faculty who retire retain their status of ‘graduate faculty’ for one year.The fifth member of a dissertation committee does not have to be ‘graduate faculty’ but should normally hold a Ph.D. In cases in which the proposed fifth member does not hold a Ph.D., the student's dissertation director may petition the SLA Steering Committee for this individual to serve on the committee.

1.4.7. Forming the Dissertation Committee

As the student prepares for preliminary exams, the student must come to an agreement, by mutual consent, with an SLA core faculty member who directs the dissertation. The student chooses his/her dissertation committee in consultation with the dissertation director. Members are chosen for the expertise that they can contribute to the project. It may be useful for the student, in consultation with the director, to clarify with each committee member the role that the committee member is expected to play in terms of scope and specific areas of expertise. Typically, committee members who are SLA core faculty members are responsible for methodological issues that pertain to the dissertation’s design. Dissertation committee members who are not also members of the SLA core faculty typically contribute expertise on specific languages or regions.  At least three dissertation committee members, including the director and at least one other SLA core faculty member, are present at the defense of the dissertation.

1.4.8. The Oral Dissertation Defense

The oral dissertation defense is an approximately two-hour final conference between the candidate and the dissertation committee, held when the director of the dissertation deems the dissertation complete.  Dissertation defenses are not scheduled during the summer.

Dissertation defenses can only be scheduled with the director’s consent and upon agreement among all participants (committee members and the student).

The candidate must give each member of the committee a printed copy of the dissertation’s defense draft at least four weeks before the scheduled defense date. This dissertation copy must be formatted in accordance with the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (current edition).

The student must contact the SLA program coordinator as soon as the defense is scheduled to obtain a copy of the PhD Final Oral Committee Form, which needs to be signed by both the advisor and the SLA PhD Program director and submitted  to the Graduate School at least three weeks in advance of the defense.

In the defense meeting, the committee reviews the aims, methods, and development of the dissertation. If the dissertation committee is not satisfied, another defense may be scheduled. It is common for defense meetings to end with recommendations for changes to the dissertation, although their scope may vary. The student’s compliance with recommended changes needs to be reviewed by the dissertation director before the deposit of the dissertation although other members of the committee, too, may choose to withhold their signature until specific changes have been made to their satisfaction.  Students are advised to plan the deposit of their dissertation so as to allow a sufficient amount of time for changes after the defense.

1.4.9. Rules for Depositing the Dissertation

The Graduate School has stringent guidelines for preparing and depositing dissertations. Dissertations may be deposited electronically or by paper. For more information, see: Options for dissertation submission for PhD students. Students may also contact the Graduate School directly at: Graduate Degree Coordinator 217 Bascom Hall, 500 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI 53706, (608) 262-3011 or etd@grad.

2. SLA Program Policies and Guidelines

2.1 Graduate School Academic Guidelines

The Graduate School acts as the Dean’s office for graduate students.  It maintains a website, The Graduate School, with comprehensive information about Graduate School policies and procedures.  Included on this website are the Graduate School Academic Guidelines

The following policies and guidelines are for the SLA Program. They are intended to supplement, not to replace, the policies and guidelines of the Graduate School.

2.2 Governance

The SLA Doctoral Program is governed by an Steering Committee consisting of core members of the SLA programs and Co-Directed by primary SLA faculty elected by the Steering Committee to serve rotating terms.  A student representative is invited to attend appropriate portions of each meeting.

2.3 Advising

The advisor is perhaps the most important individual in the student’s doctoral program.  Advisors must be primary SLA faculty members.   Students are required to meet with their advisor at least once each semester to review their progress, select courses, and to discuss any outstanding issues or questions.

Students are assigned an academic advisor when they begin the SLA Program.  The advisor is selected based on the student’s interests and the interests and availability of faculty.  As students progress through the program and formulate a research agenda, they may decide to change their advisor.

Students identify a dissertation advisory prior to taking the preliminary examination (April, 2013 policy). The dissertation advisor may or may not be the same faculty member as the student’s advisor at the pre-dissertation stage.  The choice of a dissertation advisor is a mutual decision between the student and the professor.

2.4 Prior Coursework Credits


The Graduate School requires that students take a minimum of 32 graduate credits (300 level or above, no audits or pass/fail) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 6 credits of graduate course work from graduate work at other institutions or the UW-Madison.  Course work earned ten or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree or earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

2.5 Request for Exceptions to Course Requirements

In addition to addition to counting up to 6 credits of graduate course work to the SLA program, the student may request to waive additional courses if he/she has taken similar course work.  If a student wishes to waive a required course, he/she must submit first to the advisor, and then in writing to the SLA Steering Committee, a description of the course taken and a statement of which course is desired to be waived.  The student should append to that request relevant material documenting the course (e.g., transcript, reading list, syllabus, if available). When a required course is waived, elective courses must be substituted so that student still take a 36 credits of courses in the program (with the exception of one transfer course as described in Section 2.4, above).

2.6 Satisfactory Academic Progress

Continuation in the Graduate School at UW-Madison is at the discretion of the SLA Program, the Graduate School, and your advisor. Students who are not making satisfactory academic progress are placed on academic probation.

Criteria for making satisfactory academic progress are:

  • GPA:  The Graduate School requires students to maintain a minimum of a 3.00 grade point average for graduate courses (numbered 300 and above, excluding research) to receive a degree.
  • Ph.D. Major coursework:  Students typically complete all of the coursework requirements within two years of enrolling in the Program.  Students are required to complete all coursework before taking the preliminary examinations.
  • Preliminary Examinations: New policy (adopted April, 2013):Students must take the preliminary examination within one semester of completing coursework. It is expected that students take and pass the preliminary exam within 3 years after the start of their doctoral studies. Previous policy (before April, 2013): Students must take the preliminary examination within one year of completing the required coursework for the Ph.D. Major and Minor. Students must pass the preliminary examinations within two years of completing the required coursework.
  • Foreign Language Requirement:  Students must meet the oral and reading language requirements before being granted dissertator status.
  • Dissertation Director and Proposal:  Students must come to an agreement with the SLA primary faculty member who serves as the dissertation director prior to taking the preliminary examination (April, 2013 policy). The dissertation proposal must be approved no later than one calendar year after achieving dissertator status. If the proposal is not approved by that date, the candidat,e with a support letter from his or her advisor, must petition the SLA Steering Committee for an extension.
  • Dissertation Defense: Graduate School regulations require Ph.D. candidates to defend their dissertation five years from the date of passing their preliminary examinations.

2.7 Incompletes

The Graduate School requires that incompletes be resolved by the end of the next fall or spring term in which you are enrolled.  The SLA Program requires that all incompletes be resolved before students may take any portion of the preliminary examination. 

2.8 Leaves of Absence

Students at the pre-dissertator stage who wish to take a leave of absence must apply to the SLA Steering Committee for a leave of absence from the program. Approval of that leave is necessary for the student to continue to make satisfactory academic progress.  Approval is also necessary to defer guaranteed support.  In certain types of guaranteed support, the program may not be able to defer, and thereby maintain, the guarantee of support if a leave of absence is taken. It is to the student’s advantage to request a leave of absence as soon as possible, especially when funding is at issue.  Students at the pre-dissertation stage who take a leave of absence must apply for reentry to the Graduate School within one year of the semester in which they wish to return.

Dissertators may not take a leave of absence.  They must remain enrolled until graduation. See the Graduate School policy on continuous enrollment for dissertators.

2.9 Auditing Courses

Students may not audit a course that is used to fulfill a degree requirement.  In addition, courses that "by their nature require participation (seminars, research, laboratory, or performance courses)” are not appropriate for auditing. Audits do not count toward the minimum/maximum credit load but students need to complete a form if they will go over the total 12 credits with the audited course. Dissertators who audit a course beyond the 3-credit (dissertation) requirement will be removed from dissertator fee status and assessed regular graduate student fees.

2.10 Grievances and Appeals

Students should first approach the person(s) concerned, if possible, then the advisor, then the SLA Co-Directors, then the SLA Steering Committee, and then, only if the problem is not resolved, the Graduate School.

2.11 Academic Honesty

The SLA Program holds its students to high standards of academic integrity.  We expect all students to become familiar with the University’s guidelines for academic honesty and the consequences for academic misconduct.

2.12 SPEAK Test for International (English = L2) Students

Students whose L1 is a language other than English are required to take the SPEAK test (a test of oral proficiency in English, administered by the English as a Second Language [ESL] program) before the end of their first semester in the program. The test is for informational purposes only, specifically to assess whether the student would qualify for a teaching appointment in ESL. Many students will already have to take the SPEAK test as part of a teaching appointment on campus (as per university policies) but those who do not will be required to take the SPEAK test through the SLA program. Students should contact the SLA program administrator to register them for the test, which is offered only on pre-determined dates. In order to be eligible for a teaching appointment in ESL, prospective teaching assistants need to achieve the top score of 60. The test may be taken only once in a three-month period. More information about the test is available at .





Upcoming Events

2014-15 SLA Series: Technology-Mediated Language Teaching and Learning

Fall Brownbag discussions (all will take place 12:00-1:00pm, 1418 Van Hise Hall, 1220 Linden Drive):

December 4: Using the Critical Reader
With featured discussants Blaire Bundy (Division of Information Technology), Jan Miernowski (Department of French & Italian), Steel Wagstaff (Learning Support Services)

Fall 2014 Lunchtime Chats with SLA Faculty

Wednesdays, 12:00-1:00pm, in the Language Institute: 1322 Van Hise Hall, on the following dates:
September 10, September 24, October 8, October 22, November 12, December 3.

Fall 2014 SLA Steering Committee Meetings

Retreat: Friday, August 29, 10:00am-4:00pm, location TBD

Regular meetings: Wednesday, 1:00-3:00pm, room 1418, Van Hise Hall, on the following dates:
September 24, October 22, December 3

MOOCs and Beyond

Ed Dixon, University of Pennsylvania
4:00pm, Thursday, February 5, 2015
254 Van Hise Hall, 1220 Linden Drive

















































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