Graduate Admissions

Graduate Admissions Information

Royce Hall, viewed from just south of the Janss StepsThe UCLA Linguistics Department welcomes applications from students interested in pursuing the Ph.D. degree. The department currently has approximately 45 graduate students. The admissions process is highly competitive; those offered admission are provided with full financial support, with commitments up to five years. Support packages include tuition, fees, and salary or stipend, and normally involve a mixture of fellowship, research assistantship, and teaching assistantship.

Admission to the Graduate Program 

The admissions application is prepared and submitted online, through the website of UCLA’s Graduate Division. General information about applying to UCLA for graduate study (such as the University’s requirements for admission) is also available at this link.

Although the department offers both the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, it normally admits only those students who plan to ultimately pursue a Ph.D. Students are admitted to begin residence in the Fall quarter only.

We assume a background roughly equivalent to a B.A. in Linguistics. This does not mean that the department will not accept applicants with little Linguistics background. Students lacking sufficient background may, however, need to complete preparatory or supplemental courses in their first year.

The typical class size of entering graduate students per year is about seven to ten. We make admissions offers to about 13-15 applicants per year, from an applicant pool of approximately 180.

Admissions decisions are made by an Admissions Committee composed of department faculty. It will be helpful if applicants include on their Statement of Purpose the names of particular faculty they hope to work with, since the Admissions Committee may solicit the opinions of those faculty in making their decision. You may find our list of active ladder faculty on our Faculty Profiles page.

We recommend you review our Graduate Program Overview page, which includes information about our Graduate Student Support packages.

The deadline for submission of applications for the Fall quarter is December 10 of the previous year.

The online application consists of the following:
  • A statement of purpose, explaining their background for graduate study in linguistics and their immediate and long-range goals in the field. Statements of purpose should primarily focus on intellectual interests and research plans, though autobiographical material can be useful where it is clearly relevant. You can find guiding questions for the statement on the UCLA Graduate Division website here, under “Statement of Purpose”; 1,500 word limit for our application.
  • Three letters of recommendation, ideally from scholars who can attest to the applicant’s potential in linguistics and general intellectual qualifications. Letters from employers can also be useful where they supplement the letters from teachers.
  • Transcripts from each academic institution attended.  Transcripts are to be uploaded to the online admissions application by the deadline, December 10th. Official hard copy transcripts must be mailed to the Department of Linguistics by January 31st.  Official transcripts must bear the signature of the Registrar or seal of the issuing institution. If the transcript is in a language other than English, then a certified translated copy must also accompany the original official transcript.
  • A research paper in linguistics (or a related field). This part of the dossier is very important, and is often given more weight in admissions decisions about admissibility than anything else, since it (potentially) provides evidence of the ability to pursue original research in the field.  Please note that a literature review is less useful than an original research paper. If no paper in linguistics or a related field is available, it is better to include a paper in some non-related field, rather than no paper at all.
  • International applicants whose first language is not English must certify their proficiency in English, via the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). More information, including minimum score requirements, UCLA’s institution code, and eligibility for a test waiver, is available on the Graduate Division’s website.
  • UCLA’s fellowship application, found in online admissions application. It is useful to inspect the list of UCLA fellowships carefully, to see what you might be qualified for. Applicants are also encouraged to apply for as many extramural fellowships and scholarships as they are eligible. As part of the fellowship application, they require you to submit a Personal Statement: You can find guiding questions for the statement on the UCLA Graduate Division website here, under “Personal Statement.” To a limited extent, the Admissions Committee uses the criterion of what students can be supported with available resources.
  • Although not required, it also would be useful to include with your application an informal list of the courses you have taken in your desired field. Add any information you think would clarify the kind of work you did, especially if the title of a given course does not reflect the actual course content.
  • Please note that the GRE is NOT required for admission to our program. Please do not submit GRE score reports to us, as they will not be considered.

We are not the only linguists at UCLA.  There are graduate programs in EnglishIndo-European Studies, and specific foreign languages, each with separate admission processes. Please contact these departments directly for information about applying to their graduate programs.

Admissions Materials

Virtually all admissions materials (writing sample, statement of purpose, etc.) are to be uploaded to the online application.

However, official transcripts (one hard official copy from each institution attended) are still required and should be mailed to:

UCLA Department of Linguistics
c/o Graduate Admissions
335 Portola Plaza
3125 Campbell Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1543 (USA)

We can accept electronic official transcripts, as long as they are sent directly from the institution to the department. Please address electronic official transcripts to the Graduate Student Affairs Officer.

Please contact Graduate Student Affairs Officer if you have any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. How many years is the Linguistics Graduate Program?

The normative time to complete the program is 5 years. The department offers both the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, and all students are expected to complete program requirements at both levels. You may review our Current Graduate Students page to review the normative timeline and requirements for our program.

2. What if I’m an international applicant, and do not meet the eligibility criteria to be exempt from UCLA’s English Language Requirement?

UCLA does not currently accept exception requests to waive the English Language Requirement outside of the exemption criteria listed on UCLA’s Graduate Division website. You will need to take and submit test scores for the TOEFL/IELTS with your graduate program application.

3. Where can I find more information on the graduate application fee waiver?

Please see the UCLA Graduate Division website here, under “Fee Waivers,” to review the eligibility criteria for the application fee waiver.

4. If I do not meet the criteria for a fee waiver, can I submit an exception to the department?

Unfortunately, the university does not accept exceptions to the criteria for fee waivers. These are set at the university level, and individual graduate programs/departments cannot waive this for you.