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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 December 1, 2020. The deadline for the masters (MA and MS) programs is February 1, 2021 for the fall term. For consideration for a spring term masters application, please contact contact us.

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

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

General Information

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. PhD Allied Departments

All PhD students are required to have a joint appointment in an allied department. These departments include computer science, philosophy, biomedical engineering, and brain and cognitive sciences, but we are open to other types of collaborations which might include or diverse fields such as anthropology or music theory at Eastman. These interests should 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 is your preferred allied field?
  • What are your research interests?

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

2. 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.

3. Official transcripts

For the application process, please upload all transcripts through the application portal. If you are admitted and decide to attend the University of Rochester, you will be required to submit official transcripts to verify your degree. These transcripts typically arrive in our office 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.

4. Graduate Record Examination

Due to COVID-19, the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) exam requirement has been waived for those applying to our PhD in Linguistics, MA in Language Documentation and Description and MA in Linguistics programs. For applications to our MS in Computational Linguistics program, GRE scores are required; however, applicants who find it difficult to participate in testing because of travel difficulties or other impediments should still apply.

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.

5. 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.

6. Tuition

Our PhD students are fully funded.

Unfortunately, we do not guarantee funding for MA or MS students. See the Financial Aid Office. A tuition award (merit scholarship for reduced tuition) may available for some of the strongest applicants in our Masters program. Decisions will be made upon admission to the program.

7. 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 graduate program director, Ash Asudeh.

8. English Language Proficiency Exams

If your native language is not English, you must show proof of English language proficiency.

International applicants that have, or will receive, a Bachelor’s or Master's degree from an American university can request to waive the English proficiency. Please send an email request to once the application has been started.

TOEFL: If you take the TOEFL, we recommend that your score be a minimum of 95. The University of Rochester institution code is 7267. The test should be no older than two-years. The University of Rochester will accept results from the in-person exam or the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition Test. We will not accept scores from the TOEFL ITP Plus Assessment.

IELTS: We recommend a minimum score of 7. (We will not accept results for the IELTS Indicator.)

DUOLINGO: The recommended score is 120.

All exam scores should be submitted electronically through TOEFL and IELTS directly, using school code 7267.

Application Requirements for Non-US Students

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.

For information about Linguistics graduate programs, application and admissions, please 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.