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Prospective Students


Prospective Students

Open House

The Linguistics Open House will be held on Monday, Nov. 3rd from 12pm-6pm. See the schedule here. If you are interested in attending please contact Nishi Bissoondial.

Fall 2015 Admissions

Fall 2015 Admissions applications are due no later than December 15th, 2014. Visit the Admissions Office for an online application. Please see information about Program and Graduate Center scholarships here.

Considering Linguistics

The goal of the Graduate Center's Ph.D. Program in Linguistics is to provide students with the tools necessary for a career in scientific research on various aspects of human language. While we assume no detailed knowledge of linguistics, we highly recommend that potential applicants read one of the following books. These books raise issues that are both controversial and central to our discipline. If you are strongly intellectually stimulated after this reading, linguistics is the right field for you.

  Newmeyer, F. J. (2000). Language form and language function.
    Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
  Baker, M. (2001). The atoms of language. New York, NY: Basic Books.

We also recommend that prospective applicants read one or more college-level linguistics textbook such as

  O'Grady, W., Archibald, J., Arnoff, M., & Rees-Miller, J. (2004).
    Contemporary linguistics (5th ed.). Edinburgh, UK: Bedford St.

Admissions Criteria 

Because the goal of the Program is to provide students with research tools in Linguistics, applicants must demonstrate a committment to research and some evidence that they understand what is involved in making such a committment. The admissions committee looks for evidence that the candidate has both the intellectual curiosity to want to devote a lifetime to linguistic research, and the intellectual discipline to be successful at such an enterprise. The Admissions Committe looks at four general areas to determine a candidate's suitability. We also recommend inclusion of a writing sample of your choice.

1. The Personal Statement

Each candidate is asked to write a personal statement describing why he or she wishes admission to the graduate program. This statement should discuss problems and concepts that have interested the applicant and show how the applicant has thought about them, being as specific as possible. The personal statement provides the candidate an open-ended opportunity to convince the admissions committee that he or she has the required commitment to research. Although the committee understands that many candidates may be unprepared to define specific topics of interest, an expression of curiosity in some definable area of language is expected. It is in the personal statement that applicants may choose to explain any aspects of their personal or academic records that they think need clarification.

2. Letters of Recommendation

The chief purpose of letters of recommendation is to provide the admissions committee with evidence that the candidate has the discipline and ability to succeed in a rigorous, intellectually demanding academic program. Letters from college or university faculty are most useful, particularly if they are in areas related to Linguistics. The admissions committee understands that many applicants have personal circumstances that preclude acquiring letters from academicians, particularly from former professors in language related areas. Therefore, applicants are invited to elicit letters from anyone they think can provide the kind of evidence needed by the committee.

3. Transcripts from Prior Institutions

Transcripts, especially if they are records of recent work, are frequently good evidence of a candidate's academic ability and discipline. A good academic record in all areas of college speaks well for a candidate's ability to perform well in a variety of structured learning environments. Nevertheless, the admissions committee understands that there are circumstances under which a transcript may be misleading. Candidates may explain any such circumstances in the personal statement.

4. The Graduate Record Examination

Applicants must provide GRE scores no more than five years old before their applications may be considered. More information about the test is available at the GRE site. Applicants with international student status must also submit TOEFL scores, please see the TOEFL website at: