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Prospective Students

Admissions Deadline

Applications for the PhD. and MA Programs are due no later than December 15th for Fall admissions. Anyone interested in the Computational Linguistics (CL) MA Program with an advanced CL background or CL education / training must consult with Kyle Gorman in order to be considered for Spring admission (applicants must submit an early application no later than November 15th).

Please visit the Admissions Office for an online application. Please see information about Program and Graduate Center scholarships here.

Is this Linguistics Program for you?

Linguistics is a broad discipline at the intersection of the sciences, social sciences and humanities. As a consequence, it is important to have some sense of the field before beginning your graduate studies. Every graduate program is different: some programs are more theoretical, while others are more applied: some programs are large, others very small; some programs will offer expertise in the precise languages you may be interested in, while others will not. For these reasons, and many more, we urge you to consider the following questions before applying to our program.

  1. Are you primarily interested in our program in Computational Linguistics? Apply now!
  2. Are you primarily interested in one of our areas of specialization, such as: bilingualism and multilingualism; endangered languagesfirst language acquisition; historical linguistics; linguistic typology; morphology; neurolinguistics; phonetics and laboratory phonology; phonology; psycholinguistics; second language acquisition; semantics; sentence processing; sociolinguistics; syntax? If so, apply now to our M.A. in General Linguistics or our PhD program!
  3. Are you interested in a program where theoretical, experimental, descriptive, community and educational applications of linguistics are well represented?  If so, apply now to our M.A. in General Linguistics or our PhD program!
  4. Are you interested in studying with one of our internationally reknown and widely published faculty members?  If so, tell us who in your application, and apply now to our M.A. in General Linguistics or our PhD program!
  5. Are you interested in the structure, use, or history of Australian Aboriginal languages, Austronesian languages, Basque, Indo-European languages, Native American languages, or pidgin and creole languages? If so, apply now to our M.A. in General Linguistics or our PhD program!
  6. Are you someone with significant background in linguistics who wants to get to know our program better?  Explore our website, come to our annual Open House, or contact us to arrange another time to visit.
  7. Are you someone with primary interests in Linguistic Anthropology, Spanish and Luso-Brazilian languages and linguistics, Speech-Hearing Sciences, Language teaching, or TESOL?  Consider graduate studies in these other Graduate Center programs.
  8. Are you someone with very little background in linguistics, wondering what the field is about? Check out the resources below:




  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1933. Language. New York: Henry Holt.
  • Deutscher, Guy. 2010.  Through the looking glass: Why the world looks different in other languages. Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company.
  • Robins, R. H. 1967. A short history of linguistics. Longman Linguistics Library.
  • Sapir, Edward. 1921. Language: An introduction to the study of speech. New York: Harcourt, Brace and co.


Online encyclopedia of the world’s languages

  • The Ethnologue:  a comprensive list of the world’s languages with basic data including geographical distribution, number of speakers, genetic affiliation, and references for each entry

Putting Together an Application

Because the goal of the Program is to provide students with research tools in Linguistics, applicants must demonstrate a committment to research and some evidence that they understand what is involved in making such a committment. The admissions committee looks for evidence that the candidate has both the intellectual curiosity to want to devote a lifetime to linguistic research, and the intellectual discipline to be successful at such an enterprise. The Admissions Committe looks at four general areas to determine a candidate's suitability. We also recommend inclusion of a writing sample of your choice.

1. The Personal Statement

Each candidate is asked to write a personal statement describing why he or she wishes admission to the graduate program. This statement should discuss problems and concepts that have interested the applicant and show how the applicant has thought about them, being as specific as possible. The personal statement provides the candidate an open-ended opportunity to convince the admissions committee that he or she has the required commitment to research. Although the committee understands that many candidates may be unprepared to define specific topics of interest, an expression of curiosity in some definable area of language is expected. It is in the personal statement that applicants may choose to explain any aspects of their personal or academic records that they think need clarification.

2. Letters of Recommendation

The chief purpose of letters of recommendation is to provide the admissions committee with evidence that the candidate has the discipline and ability to succeed in a rigorous, intellectually demanding academic program. Letters from college or university faculty are most useful, particularly if they are in areas related to Linguistics. The admissions committee understands that many applicants have personal circumstances that preclude acquiring letters from academicians, particularly from former professors in language related areas. Therefore, applicants are invited to elicit letters from anyone they think can provide the kind of evidence needed by the committee.

3. Transcripts from Prior Institutions

Transcripts, especially if they are records of recent work, are frequently good evidence of a candidate's academic ability and discipline. A good academic record in all areas of college speaks well for a candidate's ability to perform well in a variety of structured learning environments. Nevertheless, the admissions committee understands that there are circumstances under which a transcript may be misleading. Candidates may explain any such circumstances in the personal statement.

4. The Graduate Record Examination

Update: As of July 2020: For the first time, The Graduate Center is suspending GRE requirements for Fall 2021 and/or Spring 2021 applications “due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on GRE testing”.  However, TOEFL and IELTS requirements remain in place for international students from foreign countries in which English is not the primary language. ETS now offers online versions of both tests that can be taken at home