PhD in Applied Linguistics

The PhD program in Applied Linguistics prepares students to teach and conduct original research in the US and abroad. Students specialize in areas of applied linguistics, including teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), second language writing, language policy, sociolinguistics, corpus/computational linguistics, critical discourse analysis, second language acquisition, multimodal communication, and more. Past students have found positions in institutions of higher education, the US State Department and other governmental agencies, and in consulting in the multicultural workplace.

Students take courses in both TESOL and Applied Linguistics. Many courses are offered both online and in person. Students may also choose to pursue opportunities to teach abroad in the Czech Republic. 

Students are active researchers. Students have recently presented research at Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) International, American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL), Sociolinguistics Symposium, Second Language Research Forum, Tennessee TESOL, Southeast TESOL, and other regional, national and international conferences.  

For more information about the PhD in Applied Linguistics program requirements, visit the Graduate Catalog.

Structure of the PhD Program

stage 1: coursework. stage 2: comps and prospectus. stage 3: thesis

When you begin the program, you will be assigned an advisor that will help you select courses and (if relevant) help you transfer in credits from your prior graduate studies. Students with a prior MA in Applied Linguistics, TESOL, or similar generally spend three semesters fulltime in coursework. 

As you are completing your coursework, you will form a committee for the comprehensive exams and to write your research prospectus (the proposal for your dissertation research study). You can learn more about the PhD Comprehensive Exams and the PhD Prospectus expectations. 

After you have defended your prospectus, the final stage of the program is researching, writing, and defending your dissertation. 

Graduate Assistantships

There are limited opportunities for graduate assistantships. Assistantships can include teaching in the Department of English, assisting in research, or other opportunities. Students interested in a graduate assistantship can indicate that in their application to the PhD program. You can learn more about how to apply to the PhD program here and can learn more about assistantships here

Applied Linguistics Coordinator:
Dr. Rebecca Adams

Ready to apply?

Apply Now >


Current PhD Students

A generic square placeholder image with rounded corners in a figure.

Hannah Pitner
B.A. in Romance Languages: Spanish, University of Memphis
M.A. in Applied Linguistics, University of Memphis
Dissertation Title: The Effects of Classroom Type on Interactional Processes, Vocabulary Development, and Motivation

I have interests in task-based language teaching, language for specific purposes,  genre-based language teaching, and innovative classroom design in interaction research. My work examines the application and analysis of communicative language methodologies.  I have taught middle school ESL, 4th and 5th grade dual language, university level Spanish, first year writing, and modern English grammar. 

Amir Rouhallahi

Amir Rouhallahi 
B.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language, Azad University, Iran
M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language, Khatam University, Iran & TESOL, The University of Memphis
Dissertation Title: Using Comupter-Assisted Pronunciation Teaching (CAPT) to Improve Speech Comprehensibility of International Teaching Assistants

My research interests are speech perception and production. I like to teach courses in phonetics, phonology, second language acquisition, and grammar.

No available photo

Lindsay Helms
B.A. in Creative Writing/Romance Languages: Spanish, University of Memphis
M.A. in Romance Languages: Spanish and Portuguese, University of Memphis
Dissertation Title: Spanish for Emergency Room Nursing: A Task Based Needs Analysis for a Language for Specific Purposes Course

My area of research is Second Language Acquisition with a focus in teaching foreign languages (Spanish). My research interests are TBLT (task-based language teaching), specifically needs analysis, and the intersection between TBLT and Languages for Specific Purposes. My teaching interests are undergraduate Spanish and Applied Linguistics courses. 


Uthman Alzuhairy

Uthman Alzuhairy
B.A. in English Language and Translation, Qassim University
M.A. in TESOL, University of Central Florida
Dissertation Title: Saudi Parents’ Attitudes and Ideologies towards the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language to First Grade Students at Public School

I am a lecturer in English at Qassim University since 2017. My research interests include in language education policy, language ideology, and language teaching and learning. I am currently writing my dissertation on Saudi parents’ attitudes and ideologies towards the teaching of English as a foreign language to first grade students at public school.

Daryl Anderson

Daryl Anderson 
B.A. in Romance Languages: Spanish, University of Memphis
M.A. in TESOL, University of Memphis 
Dissertation Title: Family Language Policy: Perceptions and Attitudes toward African American language

My research investigates African American families’ language attitudes towards African American language. In this study, emphasizing issues of racialization and racism connected with home language use helps to explain the intersections of ethnolinguistic identity, home language, and societal language ideologies and practices. I currently teach classes in linguistics and TESOL. 

Elliott Burgess

Elliott Burgess
BBA/MBA in Marketing, Freed-Hardman University
M.A. in Applied Linguistics, University of Memphis
Dissertation Title: Language Center Design: Community and Belonging for Refugees and Immigrants During COVID-19

I am interested in exploring how space and place impacts the social and cultural aspects of English language learners. I've taught first year writing at The University of Memphis and Freed-Hardeman University and ESOL in Memphis and the Czech Republic. 

No available photo

Alaa Alamri
B.A. in Applied Linguistics, University of Memphis
M.A. in Applied Linguistics, University of Memphis
Dissertation Title: Family Language Policy of Transnational Returnees: The Case of Arab Families Re-adapting to Mainstream Arab Society

My research interests include Family language policy (FLP), Bilingualism, and translanguaging. Apart from research, I am a teaching assistant in the English department at the University of Memphis, where I teach ENGL 1010 and ENGL1020. My inspiration to become a writing instructor stems in part from my summer 2018 teaching experience at the University of West Bohemia in the Czech Republic.

A generic square placeholder image with rounded corners in a figure.

Iratishe Madaki
B.A. in English, Taraba State University, Nigeria
M.A. in Applied Linguistics, University of Memphis
Dissertation Title: Role of Translanguaging among Multilingual Learners at the University Level in Nigeria and the Implications for Teaching and Learning in Multilingual Classrooms

My Research Areas of Interest are in Translanguaging and Multilingual Education, Language Policy, Speech Perception and Second Language Acquisition. I taught English language in Nigeria and received the Fulbright Scholarship to teach Hausa Language in the United States at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. 

Majed Alsulami

Majed Alsulami
B.A. in Arabic Language Studies, King Abdulaziz University, KSA
M.A. in Arabic Rhetoric, Imam University, KSA & M.A. in TESL, Carson-Newman University, USA
Dissertation Title: Exploring Arabic as a Second Language (ASL) Learners’ Imagined Communities, Communities of Practice, and Investment in Learning ASL in Saudi Arabia

My research interests include L2 identities, Bilingualism, and ASL teaching and learning. I am a lecturer at King Abdulaziz University since (2014), and I have taught Arabic as a second language to international students from different places and backgrounds.

Mughram Alshehri

Mughram Alshehri
B.A. in Arabic Language and Literature, King Khalid University, KSA
M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language, Carson Newman University, USA
Dissertation Title: Students, Teachers, and Policymakers' Perceptions Towards Teaching Saudi Dialect in L2 Arabic Classroom

I am a lecturer at King Saud University, and I have taught Arabic as a second language for more than five years. My research interests include second language acquisition, second language teaching methodologies, Arabic diglossia, and language teaching and learning.

Hind Saheed Alghamdi

Hind Saeed Alghamdi
B.A. in English Language and Literature, Albaha University 
M.A. in TESOL/TEFL, Southern New Hampshire University 
Dissertation Title: What Meaning That Western Tourists Make of Saudi Arabia: Youtube Videos' Positioning Analysis of Place-Identity in the Context of Change 

My research interest lies at the intersection of language, discourse analysis, place-identity, identity studies. I am particularly interested in exploring how language is used to construct and negotiate meanings and identities in different social and cultural contexts. My current research project explores the ways in which language contributes to the construction of place identity, particularly in the context of tourism in YouTube videos. I am a lecturer in English Department at  Albaha University since 2016. 

Bakheet Almatrafi

Bakheet Almatrafi
B.A. in English Language, Umm Al-Qura University, Saudi Arabia
M.A. in TESOL, Indiana University of Pennsylvania 
Dissertation Title: The Effectiveness of Translanguaging Written Corrective Feedback in English for Specific Purposes

My research interests include second language acquisition, academic writing, discourse analysis, translanguaging and World Englishes. My current work explores the efficacy of translanguaging practices in the provision of written corrective feedback in academic writing. I have been a language instructor at Umm Al-Qura University since 2016, and currently working as a writing consultant at the CWC at the University of Memphis.

Bakheet Almatrafi

Nabaz Kareem
B.A. in English Language and English Literature, University of Slemani, Kurdistan of Iraq
M.A. in TESOL, Valparaiso University, USA
Dissertation Title: The Effectiveness of Pedagogical Translanguaging to Develop Academic Writing in Comparison to Monolingual Instruction in an EFL Context

My area of interest is SLA focusing on EFL/ESL learning and teaching. My research investigates the effectiveness of pedagogical translanguaging in comparison to monolingual instruction in an EFL context concentrates on developing academic writing skills of EFL learners in Kurdistan of Iraq. In this study, I focus on applying translanguaging as a pedagogy via individual and collaborative writing and investigate its impact in comparison to monolingual instruction.


Alumni are invited to update professional information by contacting Dr. Rebecca Adams (radams4@memphis.edu)

  • Shima Farhesh
    • Class of 2022
    • Dissertation: No to language-based discrimination: The effect of multimedia, perspective taking, and ITAs’ exposure on native speakers’ attitude toward L1-accented speakers. 
    • Current Position: Assistant Professor, Christian Brothers University
  • Abdul Hakim
    • Class of 2021
    • Dissertation: Complexity, Accuracy, Fluency, and Reformulation in Pair and Individual Writing, and Revision: A Study in an EFL Context. 
    • Current Position: Career-track lecturer in the Writing Program, the Department of English, University of Arizona
  • Mahmuda Sharmin
    • Class of 2021
    • Dissertation: Multi-modal Narrative Practices in Adult ESL: Fostering Investment in Language Learning and Negotiating Racism, Linguicism, & Identity. 
    • Current Position: Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
  • Md Nesar Uddin
    • Class of 2021
    • Dissertation: L1 Use in Corrective Feedback Interactions and Learner Uptake in Foreign Language Learning. 
    • Current Position: Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
  • Emil Ubaldo
    • Class of 2020
    • Dissertation: Collaborative writing in an online synchronous mode: Comparing L2 learners’ interactions, texts, and experiences working in pairs and groups
    • Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of Secondary Education; Head, International Mobility Unit - International Affairs Office, Central Luzon State University, The Philippines
  • Amy Burden
    • Class of 2020
    • Dissertation: Gender representation in American made English language learning textbooks: A  multi-modal study.
    • Current Position: Multilingual Multimodal Test Development Manager, Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, DC., USA
  • Lorraine Meiners-Lovel
    • Class of 2020
    • Dissertation: How Preschool Teachers Use Book Sharing Strategies to Build Academic Language Skills. 
    • Current Position: Assistant Professor of Teaching/Senior Experience Coordinator, College of Professional and Liberal Studies, University of Memphis
  • Daniel Harper
    • Class of 2018
    • Dissertation: Place, Identity, and Language Learning: The Transformative Role of Place-Based Language Learning.
    • Current Position: Dean of Graduate School, Associate Vice President for International Initiatives, Christian Brothers University, Memphis, TN
  • Rashad Ahmad Odayni
    • Class of 2018
    • Dissertation: Teachers’ Practices and First-year Students’ Perspectives on Peer Review in Academic Writing Classes. 
    • Current Position: Assistant Professor TESOL and Applied Linguistics, Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, MS
  • Hammad Alshammari
    • Class of 2018
    • Dissertation: The Effect of Educational Background on Second Language Reading
    • Current Position: Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics, Jouf University, Saudi Arabia 
  • Erin Hillis
    • Class of 2017
    • Dissertation: Exploring Linguistic Barriers to Help-Seeking Behaviors: The Lived Experiences of Chinese Undergraduate Students.
    • Current Position: Director of International Programs at Rhodes College
  • Abdurazzag Alghammas
    • Class of 2016
    • Dissertation: Wiki-based Collaborative Writing Tasks in ESL Context.
    • Current Position: Assistant professor of Applied Linguistics at Qassim University, Saudi Arabia. Assistant to Vice President for  Graduate Studies and Scientific Research for scholarship affairs
  • Jessica Swan
    • Class of 2015
    • Dissertation: Writing to Understand our Lives and Languages: A Case Study of an Immigrant Women’s Writing Group. 
    • Current Position: Education Program Specialist at U.S. Department of Education
  • Amina Gaye
    • Class of 2015 
    • Dissertation: Teacher Development for Content-Based Curricula and Material Design: A Study of Senegalese EFL Instructors' Attitudes towards ESP.
    • Current Position: Assistant Professor, Universite Amadou Mahtar Mbow de Dakar, Senegal
  • Rooh Ul-Amin
    • Class of 2015
    • Dissertation: Situating the Self: Identity and Power Relationships in a Pakistani ESL Classroom.
    • Current Position: Professor, Foundation University, Islamabad
  • Abdullah Alasmary
    • Class of 2014
    • Dissertation: Receptive and Productive Mastery of Recurrent Academic Word Combinations by First (L1) and Second (L2) English Speakers.
    • Current Position: Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia
  • Chris Hastings
    • Class of 2012
    • Dissertation: Attitudes & Acculturation: A Qualitative Case Study of EFL Teachers in Saudi Arabia.
    • Current Position: Regional English Language Officer, Office of English Language Programs, U.S. Department of State
  • Gabriela Kleckova
    • Class of 2004
    • Dissertation: A Study of Inter-level Visual Design Elements in English Language Teaching (ELT) Texts.
    • Current Position: Head of English Department, University of West Bohemia, Czech Republic. Past President of the International Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages professional Organization