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Graduate Program

How to Apply

The Department of Linguistics accepts application into its PhD program once a year with a deadline of 15 January. The deadline for the Masters (MA and MS) programs is 15 February for the fall term. For consideration for a spring term Masters application, please contact us

Applicants may submit their materials online at the University's online application site. These materials should include the following

  • Statement of purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • GRE scores
  • Writing sample
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores for applicants whose native language is not English.

General information questions

1. What kind of applicant are we looking for

We look for people with strong academic records, or interesting profiles, who show breadth and depth of interests, especially for pursuing interdisciplinary work, and with the potential for creativity in pursuing a successful linguistics research program. 

2. Allied departments

All PhD students are required to have a joint appointment in an allied department.  These departments include Brain and Cognitive SciencesPhilosophy and Computer Science, but we are open to other types of collaborations which might include BME or diverse fields such as Anthropology or Music Theory at Eastman. These interests should be addressed in the applicant's personal statement.

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3. Statement of purpose

Your statement of purpose should be a clear, readable narrative that contains information relevant to your application into our graduate program. If you are applying for the PhD program you should specifically address these questions: why you want to pursue an advanced degree in linguistics at Rochester, what your allied field might be and what your research interests are. Also address why a degree in linguistics will further your goals. Don't repeat information found elsewhere in your application.  

MA candidates do not need to address allied fields, but should address what their specific goals are.

If you have areas in your application that you feel deserve explanation, address them concisely in your letter. Your letter is best kept to about 500-600 words.

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4. Letters of Recommendation

We require three letters of recommendation. These are submitted online. You should ask for letters from people who know you as a student, have supervised your research or who you have worked for and know you well.  If possible select people who know what linguistics is and can address your interest and ability in undertaking linguistic research and working in a cross-disciplinary environment.

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5. Official transcripts

Transcripts are required from all prior college level schools attended.  A scanned copy of the official transcript is submitted as part of the online application.  Please do not mail hard copy transcripts to the department at the time of application.

6. Graduate Record Examination 

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) exam is required of all applicants. No minimum GRE score is required to apply. The GRE scores are important, but they are not the only measure of evaluation we consider. The GRE institutional code for the University of Rochester is 2928. 

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7. Writing sample

We strongly recommended that applicants submit a sample of written work. The writing sample is a demonstration of the applicant's scholarly ability. This may be a term paper, a senior thesis, or any paper that demonstrates your ability to research a topic and write your results up clearly. Your written sample doesn't need to be in linguistics. If the work is in a language other than English, please also submit a sample of written work in English.

8. Tuition

Our PhD students are fully funded.

Unfortunately, we do not fund MA students. See the Financial Aid Office.  A tuition award (for reduced tuition) may available for some of the strongest applicants in our MA program, decisions will be made after admission to the program.  

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9. Bridging courses

Students who come into a Masters degree programs without any prior coursework in linguistics will be required to take LIN110 Introduction to Linguistics. This course is not part of your Program of Study for the degree, and the credits do not count towards your degree.  For futher information, please contact the Graduate Program Director, Joyce McDonough.

10. TOEFL or IELTS

To have ETS send your TOEFL results to the University of Rochester's Arts, Sciences and Engineering graduate programs, use school code 7267.

For information about the University of Rochester's graduate programs and courses, please consult the University's websites and Graduate Studies Bulletin.