Designated Emphasis in Second Language

Designated Emphasis in Second Language Acquisition

For information contact DE chair, Prof. Travis Bradley

The Designated Emphasis (DE) provides doctoral students in Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Education, French, German, Native-American Studies, Psychology, and Spanish with both a theoretical and practical knowledge of language acquisition and technologically-based language instruction. Graduate students who more fully understand the process of second language acquisition contribute to improving the overall delivery of undergraduate language instruction. Graduate students that complete the DE will significantly increase their prospects in the foreign-language and ESL job market.

Cultural and linguistic diversity are obvious features of today's society. Since culture is principally expressed and negotiated through language use, learning about other cultures must necessarily involve language study. The study of second language acquisition, especially in the areas of bilingualism and multilingualism, two topics of considerable interest to California's educational system, is crucial for students trying to develop cross-cultural knowledge. Likewise, the teaching and learning of English as a second language (ESL) is a key element in improving K-12 education in California and in improving the eligibility of under-represented students for UC admission. The field of second language acquisition also includes the study of the effective ways that technology can be used to improve language learning and self-access language study.

Graduate students who are currently pursuing an MA at UC Davis may apply to the DE once they complete the MA and are enrolled in their Ph.D. program.  Students in a PhD program may apply at any time.

The basic requirements of the DE are four courses in second language acquisition in specific topic areas and a research paper written under the direction of an affiliated faculty member. Requirements must be completed before the students take their qualifying exams. Further, the dissertation topic chosen must have some relevance to the DE.

DE Requirements

DE Application [pdf]

Three additional forms en route to your Ph.D. will require the DE Director's signature: Qualifying Examination Application (complete at least a month before you take your exam); Candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (complete promptly after passing your exam); and Designated Emphasis Report Form Final Verification (complete about a month before your file your dissertation).  See for the most up-to-date versions of these forms.

For assistance with DE paperwork, please contact the staff Graduate Coordinator, Maria Ruby at (530) 752-2239 or