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Graduate Schools

This page is intended to serve as a guide and resource for Majors interested in pursuing graduate studies in linguistics. 

Researching Schools

Sometimes one of the hardest parts in applying to grad schools is choosing the program that is right for you. A good way to go about it is to spend time looking at university's websites and brochures and looking at the courses they offer. Take a look at the faculty at the institution. Read their work- are these people you can see yourself working with and learning from? You might take inspiration from articles and books you have read in your classes. Was there a particular author you liked? Find out where they teach. Also ask professors for their input. It may help to create a spreadsheet to organize your thoughts. Also see:

Taking the GRE

Many graduate schools in linguistics require GRE scores as part of their application. While schools look at GRE scores as only part of the whole application it is important to do your best on it, especially if you are applying to more competitive schools or hope to acquire funding. Individuals can sign up to take the GRE at When deciding upon the time to take the GRE keep application and scholarship deadlines in mind. You want to make sure that there is enough time for scores to be reported so that your application will be processed. According to ETS, scores from the computer test are reported within 10-15 days after the test date, while scores from a paper test may be reported within six weeks. Test results are good for five years. If you have taken multiple GREs you may need to contact the university or consult their website for information on how they handle scores in that situation. Also, when you take the test you may want to have in mind four schools that you want to apply to as you can have your scores sent to four schools for free on the day you take the exam, otherwise you will have to pay.

Getting Recommendations

An important part of every application is recommendations from your professors. Most schools will ask for between 2-3 recommendations so make sure that you maintain relationships with at least three professors (Office hours!) who can attest to your  skills and character. Each professor will have their own policies regarding recommendations, but a good rule is to approach them early. If you are applying to a formal linguistics program the best bet is to get recommendations from linguistics professors, but for fields such as psycholinguistics or sociolinguistics it may be appropriate to ask professors from the psychology or sociology departments who are familiar with you and your work.

Writing the Personal Statement

In some cases the personal statement  may be the only "interview" you get so make sure that you incorporate yourself into the statement. This is your chance to talk about the work you've done in linguistics and what you want to do. Pay special attention to the prompt you are given, if there is one. When writing your personal statement for a linguistics program you want to be sure to tailor your statement to the school you are applying to. Mention specific professors at the school you are interested in working with and be as detailed as possible, with the caveat that you should try not to repeat information that the schools can find out from looking at other parts of your application. The personal statement is usually only about two pages long, so make each word count. Also, make sure that you get several people to look over your statement for errors and clarity; some faculty may be willing to give you comments.

Including a Writing Sample

Linguistics programs will often ask you to send a writing sample as part of your application. This generally means a 10-15 page RESEARCH paper. It is preferable to send a sample written on a linguistics topic, but more important to include a sample that highlights your researches skills and abilities. Seek faculty advice on which piece of work to send.

Resume/Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Schools will often ask you to include a resume or CV, both of which are essentially brief summaries of your activities and involvements. The CV, however, is longer and more academic than the resume. Coming from an undergraduate program and applying for graduate work, you should focus on your academic background, relevant extracurricular activities (e.g., tutoring, language clubs, etc.), internships and study abroad, and anything else relevant to your program. Include work experience; but keep that section brief if it’s not relevant. List academic skills, languages, computational skills, etc..