How to Apply

The Department of Linguistics accepts fall entry applications into its PhD program once a year with a deadline of December 1. The deadline for fall entry into the masters (MA and MS) programs is February 1.

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

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

For frequently asked questions about linguistics graduate programs visit our FAQ page.

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

General Information

1. What kind of applicant are we looking for?

We look for students 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. Interdisciplinary engagement

Many of our students have benefited from engaging in interdisciplinary work with other departments at the University of Rochester. These departments include computer science, philosophy, biomedical engineering, and brain and cognitive sciences, and might include diverse fields such as anthropology or music theory at the Eastman School of Music. These interests may be addressed in the applicant's personal statement.

Required Application Materials

1. Statement of purpose

Your statement of purpose should be a clear, readable narrative that contains information relevant to your UR linguistics graduate program application. Statements are best kept to approximately 500-600 words. It should address why a degree in linguistics will further your professional and academic goals. If you feel there are areas in your application that deserve explanation, address them concisely in your statement. Do not repeat information found elsewhere in your application.

PhD program applicants should specifically address the following questions:

  • Why do you want to pursue an advanced degree in linguistics at Rochester?
  • What are your research interests?

MA and MS candidates should address what their specific goals are.

2. Diversity statement

All Arts, Science, & Engineering graduate applications have a diversity statement requirement. You should upload a separate document responding to the following prompt in 500 words or less:

The University of Rochester motto of Meliora - or "ever better" - deeply integrates critical core values into all that we do. These core values of equity, leadership, integrity, openness, respect, and accountability define not only who we are but also who we hope to become. Based on our motto, please share something about your background, lived experiences, or viewpoint(s) that speaks to how you can contribute to your intended field of study, your community, or the University of Rochester to make it "ever better."

3. 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.

4. Official transcripts

For the application process, you may upload your unofficial transcript(s) through the application portal. Official transcripts are required to be submitted if you are admitted and decide to attend the University of Rochester to verify your degree. These transcripts typically arrive during the summer before your start date. The actual due date for official transcripts will be posted on the Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs Office’s website.

5. Graduate Record Examination

Application to our graduate programs does not require the GRE (Graduate Record Examination).

If you take the GRE, you may still submit your score to us, if you wish. The GRE institutional code for the University of Rochester is 2928.

6. 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.

7. Tuition

Our PhD students are fully funded.

Unfortunately, we do not guarantee funding for MA or MS students. A tuition award (merit scholarship for reduced tuition) may be available for some of the strongest applicants in our masters program. Decisions will be made upon admission to the program. Applicants will be responsible for raising the difference between any departmental tuition award and full tuition.

For further information on tuition, please visit the Office of the Bursar’s website and consult the graduate tuition rates, under "Arts and Sciences & Hajim”; note that our MA and MS have 32 credit hours. For further information on financial aid and scholarships, please visit the Financial Aid Office’s website.

8. Bridging courses

Students who come into a masters degree programs without any prior coursework in linguistics will be required to take LING 110: 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 further information, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Aaron White.

9. English Language Proficiency Exams

All international students whose native language is not English are required to provide proof of English language proficiency through the submission of official test scores from one of the following exams. Scores more than two years old from the application deadline are not valid.

  • IELTS: Recommended minimum score of 7
  • TOEFL or TOEFL iBT Home Edition: Recommended minimum score of 95
  • Duolingo: Recommended minimum score of 120

To send in IELTS scores please use the following address:

University of Rochester

Graduate Studies – AS&E500 Joseph C. Wilson BlvdP.O. Box 270401Rochester NY 14627

TOEFL scores can be submitted using the code 2928 (A department code is not necessary).

Duolingo score can be sent directly to the University of Rochester at no cost.

The English proficiency test requirement is waived for citizens of the following countries whose native language is English:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Commonwealth Caribbean Nations
  • Ghana
  • Ireland
  • Kenya
  • Liberia
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Uganda
  • United Kingdom
  • Virgin Islands

The requirement may also be waived if a student has completed at least three years of full time and in-person postsecondary study in one of the countries listed above or the United States. We reserve the right to require further demonstration of English proficiency, even if you have received your degree from one of the above mentioned countries.

If you would like to be granted a waiver for these exams, please email

Application Requirements for Non-US Students

Applicants who are neither citizens nor permanent residents of the US should visit the International Services Office website for additional information.

Please send all documents and letters in support of your application in English. If necessary, you can send supporting materials in original formats supplemented by English translations.

Please do not send secondary school records.

Many countries do not issue visas without proof of adequate proficiency in English, such as a satisfactory score on the TOEFL. To obtain a visa for study in the United States, international students must present their Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or IAP-66) at a US consulate or embassy and demonstrate full proof of ability to pay all tuition and living expenses for the first year of study.