Skip to Search
Skip to Navigation
Skip to Content

University of Connecticut College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Linguistics


The Department of Linguistics at the University of Connecticut is a leading center for theoretical and experimental research in generative grammar, child language acquisition, and sign language linguistics. The Department offers graduate training leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics, and is noted both for its high standards in graduate teaching, and for considerable success in job placement. The Department comprises eleven regular faculty members, three professors emeriti, thirteen additional faculty members involved in our teaching and research activities, and approximately 35 doctoral students.

On this page you will find all of the information necessary to apply to the Ph.D. program in the Department of Linguistics. Please read all of the information carefully by scrolling down. For convenience, we have organized the information into the following sections:

Degrees and Certificates Offered

The department offers graduate training leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics. Doctoral students at UConn engage in original research throughout their graduate program, and are well represented both as co-authors and as sole authors, at major national and international conferences and in publications in professional journals.

The department plays a leading role in one of the fastest growing language and cognitive science communities in the country. This affords graduate students in the department many opportunities for interdisciplinary work, such as the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) program on Language Plasticity: Genes, Brain, Cognition, and Computation, the certificate in Cognitive Science, and the forthcoming certificate in the Neurobiology of Language.

Please note that the department does not offer a separate Master's degree program. However, students enrolled in the Ph.D. program can earn a Master's degree during their course of study if they so desire.

Also note that the department does not offer degrees in Applied Linguistics or Teaching English as a Second Language. If your research interests are in these areas, you might wish to explore the degree programs in our School of Education.

Admission Requirements


The department encourages applications from students who have some background in formal generative linguistics, with interests in one or more of the department's strengths: theoretical linguistics, experimental linguistics, child language acquisition, or sign language linguistics. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree, preferably in linguistics or a closely related field such as psychology, philosophy, cognitive science, mathematics, or computer science.

Proficiency in English for admission

If you are not a native speaker of English, the UConn graduate school requires that you submit evidence of proficiency in English prior to admission. Completion of a degree (eithe BA or MA) at university in an English-speaking country is generally sufficient (e.g., USA, UK, Australia, and parts of Canada), or sufficiency may be demonstrated by means of the TOEFL or IELTS test. See the FAQ section below for more information.


GRE scores are not required for admission to the Linguistics Ph.D. program.

Minimum graduate school requirements

All applicants must meet the minimum requirements set forth by the Graduate School at UConn. Seats in the Linguistics Ph.D. program are highly competitive, therefore admitted students generally exceed these requirements:

Application Procedure

Ph.D. students are only admitted for studies beginning in the Fall semester each year. The deadline for applications is the winter before. This year the application deadline is Friday, December 16th, 2016.

Applications must be submitted online through the graduate school. Here is a link to the online application:

You will submit the following materials directly through the online application:

  • Application for admission
  • Application fee: $75, payable by credit card when you apply online
  • Transcripts from each college/university attended
  • Degree certificates or diploma, unless that information is contained in the transcripts
  • TOEFL or IELTS score
  • Residence Affidavit (Connecticut residents only)
  • Photocopy of passport (international applicants)
  • Financial declaration form (international application)
  • Personal statement of Purpose
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation
  • An example of academic writing. This should be a research paper on a topic in linguistics. The paper should be written in English.
  • GRE scores are not required for admission to the Linguistics Ph.D. program.

If you are interested in applying to the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) program on Language Plasticity: Genes, Brain, Cognition, and Computation, please indicate this in you Personal Statement of Purpose.

Financial Support

All students admitted to the program receive financial support for five years, which is the expected length of the Ph.D. program. This includes full tuition to the program, as well as a living stipend that is competitive with other top Linguistics PhD programs in the US. Financial support is contingent upon satisfactory progress in the program (see the graduate handbook for details about the requirements of the Ph.D. program). Financial support takes the form of fellowships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships.

U.S. citizens who think that they might qualify for financial aid based on need should refer to the Office of Student Financial Aid Services. Please note that aid applications can take a very long time to process. We advise you to send your materials in as soon as you can.

We strongly encourage students to apply for sources of external support, in the US and/or in their home countries, as external support can often provide additional research and educational opportunities.

The LinguistList provides a list of potential funding sources for linguists at all stages of their careers :

The Linguistics Department at Stanford university has also compiled a list of potential funding sources specific to graduate students (although some are specific to Stanford):

Frequently Asked Questions

I am an international applicant. What should I do?
The process is largely the same. You should fill out the online application. If you are not from an English-speaking country, you will have to demonstrate proficiency in English (through a standardized test or through the completion of a degree at an English-speaking university). The English proficiency requirement is also discussed in a question below. If your transcripts are not in English, you will have to have your transcripts translated before uploading them to the application. Finally, if you are admitted, you will have submit an application for a US visa (but this can wait until after the admissions committee has made a decision about your application). The graduate school provides more details about the requirements for international students here:

I have a problem with the online application. Who should I contact?
For problems with the online application, you should contact the graduate school. Here is a website with more information:

Will you look at my transcript/resume/CV and tell me my chances for admission?
No. The admissions committee reviews all applications in their entirety in order to assess the strengths of each applicant. If you are interested in our program and meet the requirements listed above, please apply.

Do you offer any part-time/evening programs?
No. Our Ph.D. program is a full-time program that lasts 5 full years. Nearly all of the courses take place during business hours.

Do you offer a Master's Degree?
No. We only offer a PhD in Linguistics.

Do you offer a degree in Applied Linguistics, or Teaching Languages, or Translation, or Literature?
No. We offer training in theoretical and experimental linguistics, child language acquisition, and sign language linguistics.

I can demonstrate proficiency in English through a previous degree from an English-speaking country. What exactly do I need to do?
The requirement is satisfied automatically based on answers you provide on your application. All you have to do is (1) list a degree from an institution in an English speaking country, and (2) provide a transcript from that instiution. These are required sections of the application, so you do not need to do anything special. The graduate school will see your degree and transcript, and record that you are proficient in English. You do not need to contact the graduate school. Please note that intensive English language programs do not qualify. Only academic degrees (BA or MA) qualify.

I did not earn a degree in an English-speaking country, so I need to take a test to demonstrate my proficiency in English. What scores do I need to achieve on the TOEFL or IELTS tests?
There are two standardized English tests that UConn accepts. You only need to take one. The first is the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). For the TOEFL, you must have a score of 550 for the paper-based test, or 80 for the Internet-based test. The second is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). For the IELTS, you need an average overall band score of at least 6.5. Only the scores from the Academic Module, not the General Training Module, are applicable.

Do you admit students in the Spring term?
No. Our Ph.D. program requires a full five years to be completed. For that reason, we only admit students beginning in the Fall term. Applications for the Fall term are due the preceding January.

Do I need to send my official transcripts with the application?
There are two steps to the process of enrolling in a graduate program in the US: the application step, and the enrollment step. For the application step, all we need is a scanned version of your transcript (translated into English, if necessary). You need to upload the scanned version of your transcript into the online application in order for your application to be considered complete. The admissions committee will use that version to decide whether to recommend you for admission into the PhD program. If the committee decides to recommend you for admission, the next step is to actually enroll in the program. For the enrollment step, you must send official copies of your transcript to the Graduate School at UConn. The Graduate School will verify that the transcripts are official, and that you meet the requirements for enrollment. In sum, scanned versions are fine for the application, but if you are admitted, you will need to send official copies. If you can send official copies earlier, it will make the enrollment process easier/faster.

Can I send an unofficial or provisional transcript?
Yes. If your current program will not be completed by our application deadline, you can submit an unofficial or provisional transcript with your application. If you are subsequently offered admission, you will then need to submit a full official transcript to the Graduate School before you can enroll (see the question above).

Do I need to send in the financial declaration form with the application?
There are two steps to the process of enrolling in a graduate program in the US: the application step, and the enrollment step. You do not need to send in the financial discolsure form for the application step. The admisssions committee does not take financial information into consideration during the admissions process because every admitted student is offered a complete package of financial support. If the committee decides to recommend you for admission, the next step is to actually enroll in the program. For the enrollment step, you must send the financial declaration form to the Graduate School at UConn. Please note that if you are admitted, you will be offered a complete financial package that meets the visa requirements for becoming a student in the US. You will not need to secure additional outside funding for your visa. That being said, it is always best to apply for competitive funding packages (e.g., Fulbright awards) in addition to the UConn funding package, as these may afford you additional academic and research opportunities.

What are the requirements for the letters of recommendation?
We have no specific requirements for the content of the letters of recommendation. Your recommenders are free to discuss anything that they think is relevant to the evaluation of your application. All we ask is that you submit 3 letters of recommendation, and that your recommenders submit the letters electronically using the links that they are sent through the online application system.

Should the writing sample be on a topic in linguistics?
It is strongly recommended, but not required. The admissions committee will use the writing sample to evaluate your ability to perform the kind of research that is conducted in the department (i.e., theoretical linguistics, experimental linguistics, and sign language linguistics. If you submit a writing sample on a topic outside of linguistics, the committee will still read it and attempt to evaluate it, but they may not be able to properly evaluate your potential for research in linguistics.

How long should the writing sample be?
There are no minimum or maximum requirements. You should submit a writing sample that is of sufficient length to allow the admissions committee to evaluate your potential to conduct linguistic research. It is common for applicants to submit a term paper or an MA thesis

My writing sample is not written in English. What should I do?
All writing samples must be written in English. If your original paper is not written in English, please translate it into English before submission. You do not need to submit the version written in the original language. The admissions commitee will only read the English version.

Contact Information

If you have questions that are not covered on this page, please feel free to contact the Co-Chair of Graduate Admissions below. But please double check that your question has not already been covered by the (detailed) information above.

  • Prof. William Snyder
  • Co-Chair of Graduate Admissions
  • Department of Linguistics
  • University of Connecticut
  • Oak Hall (East SSHB)
  • 365 Fairfield Way, Unit 1145
  • Storrs, CT 06269-1145
  • E-mail: