University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Department of Linguistics takes a broad approach to the study of language. The department covers not only the standard core areas of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics, but also historical linguistics, field linguistics and language documentation, cognitive linguistics, psycholinguistics, and language in society. The Graduate Program trains students to do the kind of research that seeks to discover and provide explanations for general properties of linguistic form, meaning, and usage. The department has a strong commitment to language documentation as well as cutting edge theoretical training.

Berkeley's graduate program is a PhD program in which students earn an MA along the way.

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Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:

    • courses in English as a Second Language,

    • courses conducted in a language other than English,

    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and

    • courses of a non-academic nature.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.


Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Departmental Requirements

In additional to the general materials required by the University we ask that you include:

Writing Sample: A writing sample is required of all applicants. Ideally, this sample would be a research paper on a linguistic topic, but it should in any event demonstrate the applicant's competence in writing analytic expository prose. The writing sample is to be submitted/uploaded with your online application.

For detailed information as to what we are looking for please go to our website at Linguistics.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

MA Curriculum

(Note: minimum 30 units for the MA.)

LINGUIS 200Graduate Proseminar in Linguistics1
LINGUIS 211AAdvanced Phonology I3
LINGUIS 220AAdvanced Syntax I3
LINGUIS 230Advanced Comparative and Historical Linguistics3
Language & Cognition: Select one of the following:3
LINGUIS 205Advanced Cognitive Linguistics3
LINGUIS 208Advanced Psycholinguistics3
LINGUIS 225Construction Grammar: The Relationship Between Thought and Language3
LINGUIS 242Course Not Available3
LINGUIS 243Language, Computation, and Cognition3
Language & Social Context: Select one of the following:3-4
LINGUIS 123Pragmatics3
LINGUIS 150Sociolinguistics3
LINGUIS 245Anthropological Linguistics3
LINGUIS 250BSociolinguistic Analysis: Language Contact3
LINGUIS 250CSociolinguistic Analysis: Language and Gender3
LINGUIS 250DSociolinguistic Analysis: Conversation/Discourse Analysis3
LINGUIS 250ESociolinguistic Analysis: Endangered Languages3
LINGUIS 255Advanced Sociolinguistics3
LINGUIS 210Advanced Phonetics3
LINGUIS 211BAdvanced Phonology II3
LINGUIS 215Advanced Morphology3
LINGUIS 220BAdvanced Syntax II3
LINGUIS 221Advanced Formal Semantics I3
LINGUIS 222Advanced Linguistic Typology3
LINGUIS 234Indo-European Linguistics3
LINGUIS 270Structure of a Particular Language3
LINGUIS 290ATopics in Linguistic Theory: Syntax3
LINGUIS 290BTopics in Linguistic Theory: Semantics3
LINGUIS 290DTopics in Linguistic Theory: Pragmatics3
LINGUIS 290ETopics in Linguistic Theory: Phonology3
LINGUIS 290FTopics in Linguistic Theory: Diachronic Linguistics3
LINGUIS 290HTopics in Linguistic Theory: Linguistic Reconstruction3
LINGUIS 290LAdditional Seminar on Special Topics to Be Announced3
LINGUIS 290MTopics in Linguistic Theory: Psycholinguistics3

PhD Curriculum

(Note: additional 9 units minimum for the PhD)

LINGUIS 240AAdvanced Field Methods4
LINGUIS 240BAdvanced Field Methods4
LINGUIS C160Quantitative Methods in Linguistics4
LINGUIS 213Advanced Experimental Phonetics3
LINGUIS 243Language, Computation, and Cognition3
LINGUIS 201Advanced Graduate Proseminar in Linguistics2



Faculty and Instructors

* Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Gasper Begus, Assistant Professor. Phonology, phonetics, computational linguistics, historical linguistics, Indo-European.

Christine Beier, Assistant Adjunct Professor. Language endangerment, documentation, and revitalization, Amazonian languages.

Isaac L. Bleaman, Assistant Professor. Sociolinguistic variation, language contact, language maintenance, and language change.
Research Profile

Amy Rose Deal, Associate Professor. Syntax, semantics, fieldwork, Nez Perce.
Research Profile

Susanne Gahl, Professor. Psycholinguistics; language production and comprehension; aphasia.
Research Profile

* Andrew Garrett, Professor. Historical linguistics; Indo-European; Karuk, Yurok, and California Indian languages.
Research Profile

Larry M. Hyman, Professor. Linguistics, phonological theory, typology, African languages, the Niger-Congo family, especially the comparative and historical study of the Bantu language family.
Research Profile

Sharon Inkelas, Professor. Morphology, phonology, reduplication, child phonology.
Research Profile

Peter S. E. Jenks, Associate Professor. Syntax, semantics, phonology, fieldwork; Moro and other Niger-Congo languages; Thai, Mandarin, and other East and Southeast Asian languages.
Research Profile

Keith Johnson, Professor. Linguistic phonetics, phonetic neuroscience, psycholinguistics.
Research Profile

Susan S. Lin, Assistant Professor. Articulatory phonetics, speech perception, sound change.
Research Profile

* Lev D. Michael, Professor. Anthropological linguistics, language typology, Amazonian documentary, descriptive, and comparative linguistics, language contact, grammar and interaction, prosodic systems and verbal art, language endangerment and revitalization.
Research Profile

* Line Mikkelsen, Associate Professor. Syntax, semantics, morphology, Danish and other Germanic languages, Karuk and other languages of California, philosophy of language.
Research Profile

Terry Regier, Professor. Language and cognition; semantic variation and universals; computational linguistics.
Research Profile

Richard Rhodes, Associate Professor. American Indian languages, lexical semantics, lexicography, Algonquian languages, Ojibwe, Mixe-Zoquean languages, mixed languages, Michif, Sayula Popoluca.
Research Profile

Hannah Sande, Assistant Professor. Phonology, morphology, and their interface; prosody; language documentation and description; African languages, especially languages of Côte d'Ivoire.

Eve E. Sweetser, Professor. Semantics, syntax, historical linguistics, Celtic languages, speech act theory, metaphor theory, semantic change, grammaticalization, grammatical meaning, gesture.
Research Profile


Sherry L. Hicks, Lecturer. American Sign Language.

Emeritus Faculty

Leanne Hinton, Professor Emeritus. Language revitalization of Native American languages.
Research Profile

Paul Kay, Professor Emeritus. Linguistics, sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, pragmatics, syntax, semantics, lexicon, grammar, color naming, lexical semantics, grammatical variation, cross-language color naming, the encoding of contextual relations in rules of grammar.
Research Profile

George P. Lakoff, Professor Emeritus. Mathematics, literature, philosophy, cognitive linguistics, the neural theory of language, conceptual systems, conceptual metaphor, syntax-semantics-pragmatics, the application of cognitive linguistics to politics.
Research Profile

Robin T. Lakoff, Professor Emeritus. Linguistics, sociolinguistics, pragmatics, comparative syntax of Latin and English, the relation between linguistic form, social and psychological context, language gender, discourse strategies, discourse genres, politics of language.
Research Profile

Ian Maddieson, Professor Emeritus. Linguistics, phonetic and phonological universals, articulatory and acoustic phonetics, African, Austronesian, South-East Asian and Sino-Tibetan languages.
Research Profile

* James A. Matisoff, Professor Emeritus. Linguistics, Japanese, Southeast Asian languages, Tibeto-Burman, Thai, Chinese, field linguistics, Yiddish studies, historical semantics, psychosemantics, language typology, areal linguistics.
Research Profile

William S-Y. Wang, Professor Emeritus. Evolution, psycholinguistics, language change, phonology, Chinese linguistics, language engineering, experimental phonetics.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Department of Linguistics

1203 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-2757

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Terry Regier, PhD

1221 Dwinelle Hall

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Johnny Morales Arellano

1207 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-643-7224

Head Graduate Advisor

Susanne Gahl

1220 Dwinelle Hall

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