The University of Chicago | Graduate Admissions

Linguistics - PhD

Division: Humanities 
Degree Type: PhD (For the MA degree, see the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities)

Program Description

Founded in the mid-1930s, the Department of Linguistics at the University of Chicago is the oldest linguistics department in the United States. It is theory-oriented with a deep empirical interest in languages. One of its outstanding characteristics is its commitment to a wide range of approaches to the study of language. Interdisciplinary, interdepartmental study is encouraged, and students regularly work with faculty in several other departments. Students are expected to become active researchers as soon as possible after their arrival here. Many students come with strong undergraduate training in linguistics, or with a master's degree; others come with strong training in fields such as philosophy, mathematics, or a particular language or language group. The faculty are involved in synchronic and diachronic research on languages from around the world. These varied interests are reflected in the topics of the dissertations that have been written in the Department.


Application Method

Applications should be initiated through the online application. Paper applications are not accepted.


Deadline for admissions and financial aid: December 15

The Department of Linguistics admits applicants once a year for the following Autumn Quarter. Applications received after the deadline cannot be considered.

Campus Visits

Campus visits and interviews are not required. Contact the department for more information.

Degree Objective

The Department of Linguistics admits applicants only for the PhD degree, and does not offer a stand-alone MA program. If you are If you are interested in pursuing an MA focusing in Linguistics, we encourage you to explore the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH).

Application Requirements

  1. Online Application Form and Supplemental Form
  2. Non-refundable application fee
  3. 3 Letters of Recommendation
  4. GRE and TOEFL Scores
  5. Statement of Academic Purpose
  6. Writing Sample
  7. Transcripts
  8. Supplemental Data Form

Admissions Decisions

Admissions decisions are emailed in early March. Direct all questions about your application directly to the admissions office.

Program Requirements

In the first year, students take the following six courses: Phonological Analysis 1-2, Syntactic Analysis 1-2, and Semantics and Pragmatics 1-2. In subsequent years, students have a great deal of flexibility in course selection, though their programs of study must include: one course each in historical linguistics and morphology; a “methods” course (field methods, mathematical methods, etc.); and one advanced course in each of the following areas: (1) phonetics/phonology, (2) syntax/semantics/pragmatics, and (3) socio-historical linguistics. In years two and three, when students are writing qualifying papers, they must also take the Research Seminar.

In the second and third years, students continue taking courses and write two qualifying papers under faculty supervision. In addition to these major landmarks, students are required to pass reading examinations in two scholarly languages (normally French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, or Russian), and to satisfy a non-Indo European language requirement. Upon completion of the qualifying papers and language requirements and defense of a dissertation proposal, students are admitted to candidacy for the PhD; the only remaining requirement is the dissertation. 

Costs & Financial Aid

The University of Chicago offers generous fellowship support to applicants admitted to our doctoral program.