Graduate Admissions

We welcome your application to our department, and hope you can join our community of scholars! Our admissions process requires a general application to the program instead of specific faculty members recruiting a student. Applicants who are accepted and who enter the program are free to work with who they choose and may, in fact, change their interests after entering the program. This allows students flexibility in their graduate program.

Yet, it also means that we evaluate applicants more generally in terms of their aptitude and how their interests match those within our department. In other words, we tend not to evaluate students just in terms of how well their interests match those of one specific faculty member.

The Department of Linguistics recognizes that it operates on the territory of the Seneca Nation, a member of the Haudenosaunee/Six Nations Confederacy. Because of this, it places a special priority on supporting research on Haudenosaunee languages that is in line with its overall mission and, in particular, research led by members of the Haudenosaunee nations.

How to Apply

To be considered for admission to a graduate program, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and have an academic record that suggests the applicant can successfully complete graduate work in linguistics. In determining qualifications for admission, attention is paid to academic achievements and grades, potential for research, transcripts of past academic work, letters of recommendation, and intellectual interest in linguistics and in our department as indicated by the statement of purpose.

All applications to graduate tracks must be made online. Buttons below will direct you to create an account and start an application.

Application Deadlines

December 15: applications are due for all prospective PhD students wishing to be considered for funding.

Prospective PhD students wishing to be considered for funding are encouraged to consult the faculty listing to see which faculty have research interests that overlap with theirs and to contact them before applying to get feedback on their plans to pursue a PhD in the Department of Linguistics.

Please see here for information regarding funding for the current application cycle.

March 1: applications are due for all international MA/MS applicants and international PhD applicants with external funding.

Review of other graduate program applications will continue until processing in time for Fall admission becomes unfeasible.

April 1:  all domestic MA applicants

Required Application Documents:
The Department of Linguistics has adopted a GRE-blind admission process for the PhD and MA programs. Please if possible do not upload or transmit GRE scores with your application to these two programs.

  1. Transcripts. Copies of all B.A. and Graduate Transcripts (and certified English translations, if applicable)
  2. Statement of Purpose.  Please tell us as what your training goals are and what career paths you envision to pursue with this training. In writing their statement, we ask that applicants try to answer specifically and exhaustively the questions in the following questionnaires: M.A. questionnaire; Ph.D. questionnaire. You’ll find additional instructions in the questionnaires themselves. Your responses to the questionnaire will guide the Linguistics faculty’s decision on your application. If our program is a good match for your interests and skills, the faculty will be the more likely to reach this conclusion the more informative your responses to the questionnaire will be.
  3. Writing Sample. Strictly required for admission to our Ph.D. program; desirable for admission to all graduate programs. The writing sample fulfills two separate roles in the admissions process: in addition to documenting the applicant’s skill in scholarly writing, it may document the applicant’s research skills. Research aptitude is a key admission criterion for the Ph.D. program. It is primarily assessed through evidence of research projects designed and (ideally) carried out by the applicant.
  4. Letters of Recommendation that assess your scholarly and research skills, provided by former instructors and advisors who have trained you. We require three letters for Ph.D. and M.S. admission and two (three recommended) for M.A. admission. Requests will automatically be sent to the professors you list in the recommendation section.
  5. Curriculum Vitae. Required for the Ph.D. program and the Computational Linguistics M.S. program; recommended for the M.A. programs. A brief standard tabular CV is sufficient.
  6. English Proficiency Requirement. (international applicants only). Please request ETS to forward your English proficiency scores to SUNY University at Buffalo, institution code 2925 and attach a copy of your scores to your application. Please note that an acceptable English proficiency test must be taken within two years of the date you plan to enroll at U.B. unless you are a citizen of a country for which the English proficiency requirement is automatically waived (a list of exempt countries can be found at: We accept theTOEFL, IELTS, and PTE. The Duolingo English Test is also acceptable for admission for the Fall 2022 semester. International applicants who have obtained a U.S. degree or have studied in the U.S. for 2 years or more, had a minimum GPA of 2.0, and have had a break of less than 3 years from obtaining their U.S. degree are also automatically exempt from having to take an English proficiency test.
  7. The GRE is required for applications to the M.S. program.
  8. $75 Application Fee

*Typically, only our PhD applicants will be considered for departmental financial support. MA/MS applicants are encouraged to seek funding through UB's Office of Financial Aid

TOEFL or IELTS Test and Scores

All international applicants must also provide TOEFL or IELTS scores.

The minimum TOEFL score set by UB for admission is 550 paper-based, 79 internet-based, or 6.5 IELTS. However, the Linguistics Department Admissions Committee prefers a TOEFL score of 600 paper-based, 100 internet-based, or an IELTS score of at least 7.5.

The TOEFL or IELTS test must be taken within two years of the date a student plans to enroll at UB. The two-year limit is waived for those who are currently studying at a U.S. university, providing the minimum score of 79 iBT, 6.5 IELTS (with no sub-score below 6.0) was obtained when admitted to the U.S. university, and the applicant has a copy of the original score sheet which must be attached to the online application.

Application Fee

The graduate application fee is $75 U.S. (payable online or by check or money order made payable to the University at Buffalo). Applicants to MA or MS tracks who reside in New York State are eligible to apply for an application fee waiver, provided they have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 and meet the admissions deadlines.

Accepted and Transfer Students

Accepted MA students who are interested in one of the departement's four areas of specialization have up to four years to complete their coursework and take the comprehensive exam. The majority of students complete the MA track within two years.

The PhD track consists of an MA phase and a PhD phase. Advancement to the PhD phase is conditional on satisfying the set MA requirements and performing adequately in the MA phase. Students who are admitted to the PhD phase but leave after satisfying the requirements of the MA phase will receive an MA degree. Students who decide to leave with the MA have the option of doing a set of comprehensive exams instead of the MA project/qualifying paper.

Linguistics MA degrees from other institutions are not equivalent to the MA at the University at Buffalo. However, applicants with graduate courses in linguistics from another institution can apply for transfer credit. All requirements of the MA phase at UB must be completed before advancing to the PhD phase. Students can obtain transfer credit of up to 36 credit hours, substantially reducing the amount of required course work.

With questions about the graduate application process, please contact the Director of Graduate Admissions.