Graduate Overview

Graduate linguistics students meet on North Campus.

Graduate linguistics students meet on North Campus

The overall mission of the Department of Linguistics graduate programs is to train students to succeed in careers related to the descriptive and theoretical study of language in academia, government or industry. To help students achieve their professional goals, the department provides training in all aspects of linguistic research, as well as a comprehensive grounding in the properties of languages, research methodologies, contemporary linguistic theories, and skills such as academic writing and the effective dissemination of research results.

To fulfill its mission, the department offers a PhD in Linguistics, an MA in Linguistics with several foci, and a MS in Computational Linguistics.  Students applying to the PhD program may apply with either a bachelor's degree or a master's degree - a master's degree is not a requirement for applying to the PhD program.

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.

Learn More About Linguistics

Before applying, we invite you to learn more about our degree requirements:

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. Until further notice, please if possible do not upload or transmit GRE scores with your application.

  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

A Cross-Disciplinary Approach

Our graduate courses focus on breadth and empirical/experimental methodologies. Students receive training in traditional disciplines, such as syntax, semantics, pragmatics, phonetics, and phonology, in addition to substantial training in other areas, such as language typology, psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, and historical and contact linguistics. All students are required to take at least two semesters of Methods classes that include courses in Field Methods, Quantitative Methods and Statistics, Corpus Linguistics, and Computational Linguistics. 

We encourage our students to explore interdisciplinary research within the Center for Cognitive Science, and many of our students receive extensive training in Cognitive Science through collaborations with the Department of Psychology or Computer Science and Engineering programs.

Welcoming Diversity

In recent years, sixty students have graduated with Linguistics Master's and Doctoral degrees. Of these, roughly half the population joined us from overseas, including students from Asia, Latin America, Africa and Europe. We believe a diverse student body contributes to a wide range of perspectives and lively cross-cultural exchange, both of which serve to strengthen our department and our discipline. 

Graduate Linguistics Association

Graduate students in the Linguistics Department are automatically members of the Graduate Linguistics Association. The GLA coordinates events (both academic and social), assists students with disputes against faculty, and tries to better our department through constant dedication to helping fellow students.

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