Follow the steps below to apply to the Linguistics MA and Linguistics PhD. (Applications for the Linguistics 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.


May 4, 2022. We have removed our requirement for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). You do not have to take this exam to apply to the Linguistics MA or PhD programs.


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. For MA students, we do not routinely make funding offers, but funding is occasionally available. More information can be found at our Funding page.


The deadline for all graduate applications for fall semester is December 1.

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions before you apply to our program.


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.

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. Please see our FAQ page for more information on waiving the application fee.
  • 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.
  • 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).