Follow the steps below to apply to the Linguistics MA, Linguistics PhD and Linguistics BA-MA. (Applications for the BA-MA are open only to current Michigan State undergraduate students). Additional information is on our FAQs page.

If you are looking for the admissions requirements for MA or PhD programs in applied linguistics, please go to the websites of the Second Language Studies PhD program or the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program.


IMPORTANT! From August 2, 2021, Michigan State University is using a new online application system. Thank you in advance for your patience as faculty and staff learn to use it. If you have any technical issues, please contact the relevant team at MSU’s Graduate School:

  • If you began an application in our old system and paid your application fee before July 12, 2021, you most likely do not need to take further action. We will contact you if it is necessary to transfer your materials to our new system.
  • If you began an application in our old system and did not pay your application fee before July 12, 2021, we will contact you. You’ll need to restart your application in the new system. However, we will transfer your materials to the new system for you.


Admission to the M.A. program. Applicants should have completed at least an introductory course in linguistics. Students with an otherwise appropriate background may be admitted without this, but they must then enroll in LIN 401 Introduction to Linguistics in their first semester.

Admission to the Ph.D. program. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree (or a foreign equivalent) in linguistics or a related field. 

Admission and B.A.-M.A. dual enrollment. If you are currently a linguistics major at MSU, you may be eligible for dual enrollment in the undergraduate and M.A. programs. This makes it possible for certain courses to be counted toward satisfying the minimum credit requirements for both degrees. For further information, talk to your academic adviser, and to the director of the Linguistics graduate program. More information is available here.

Online application

Begin your application:

Required documents and fees

  • Admission fee. You will be prompted to pay the fee in the online system. If you would like to request a fee waiver, you may do so at that time.
  • International students only. Upload a copy of your passport. You may also be prompted for other documents including e.g. affidavit of support, English language test scores (or a waiver). Some documents are required at the time of initial application. Others will be requested only if you are admitted to the program.
  • Graduate Record of Education (GRE) scores. The MSU institution code is 1465.
  • Letters of recommendation. Provide the e-mail addresses of three people who can evaluate your readiness for graduate study.
  • Statements. Two statements are required. For applicants to the M.A. program, each of these statements should be 500–700 words; for applicants to the Ph.D. program, 700–1,000 words.
    • Personal statement. This should include a summary of your academic and personal background, with a special emphasis on aspects of it that might be relevant to graduate work in linguistics. Of course, any previous study of the subject should be mentioned. You should also indicate your reasons for wanting to pursue a graduate degree in linguistics.
    • Academic statement. This is a statement of purpose that characterizes your intellectual goals. It should indicate your specific area(s) of interest in linguistics and what you hope to focus on in the program. It’s entirely appropriate to speculate about potential topics of future research papers or even the topic of your thesis or dissertation. (If admitted, you will not be required to do precisely what you describe. Your plans may change.)
  • Resumé or academic CV. A 1-3 page summary of your major educational (and if relevant, occupational) milestones and achievements. If you have any publications, conference presentations, software, databases, or academic awards, include them here. Please do not include personal information such as marital status or a photograph.
  • PhD applicants only. Provide a sample of your academic writing. Ideally your sample will be from a linguistics course or thesis, but it does not have to be. Applicants come from a wide variety of backgrounds in the sciences, arts, and humanities; sometimes they have spent years in an unrelated professional career before returning to academic study. Select a piece of writing that best demonstrates your ability to do at least some of these things: Summarize and critique ideas or studies; put forward your own evidence-based opinion or argument; analyze existing or novel data; generate and justify a hypothesis; test a hypothesis; describe methodological steps; suggest new directions for future research(ers).


The deadline for admission for fall semester is December 15. US students: To be eligible for funding via graduate assistantships or recruitment awards, submit your application before November 30.

It is technically possible to start in the spring semester, but we strongly discourage this! Our curriculum for both the MA and PhD programs is organized so that mandatory foundational courses are taken in a two-semester sequence in the first year, starting in the fall semester. If you think you might need to pursue this possibility, email the graduate program director to discuss it BEFORE submitting an application. The deadline for spring admission is September 15.


For PhD students, a 5-year funding package is available, contingent upon sustained academic performance and progression toward program milestones. The package covers tuition for 9 credits (typically 3 courses) per semester in fall and spring, and health insurance all year, plus a stipend. In exchange, PhD students work for 20 hours per week in fall and spring as Graduate Assistants in teaching, research or administrative roles. More information can be found here.

For MA students, we do not routinely make funding offers, but funding is occasionally available.

Additional sources of funding available through the MSU Graduate School and external sources are described here.