University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The program emphasizes intellectual breadth and connections integrating many areas of Linguistics, as well as connections with neighboring disciplines.  

Faculty expertise in the department spans an unusually diverse range of endeavors. The graduate program accordingly includes a broad range of advanced coursework focusing on analyzing linguistic structure, variation and change, and cognition, using methods including archival research, field methods, experimental and corpus-based analyses, and computational modeling.

The Linguistics department has strong commitments to language documentation and reclamation, theoretical training and research, and the interdisciplinary study of language and cognition. Graduate students in the Linguistics department are eligible to apply to Graduate Designated Emphases, including the Designated Emphasis in Indigenous Language Revitalization, and the Designated Emphasis in Cognitive Science.

The department has an excellent record of placing graduates in professional careers in academia, in private industry (e.g. research and development, technology), and non-profit organizations.


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Admission to the University

Applying for Graduate Admission

Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. The Graduate Division hosts a complete list of graduate academic programs, departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application and steps to take to apply can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Admission Requirements

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;

  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and

  3. Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.

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

All students in the Department of Linguistics graduate program, including those holding a  Master’s degree from another institution, must earn a Berkeley MA in Linguistics en route to the  PhD.

Research training is part of the MA/PhD program from the start. As part of the MA phase of the program, students write an MA Capstone Paper. The MA Capstone Paper represents a piece of original research, undertaken with guidance from two faculty members. After the MA and before advancing to PhD candidacy, students write a PhD Qualifying Paper, with guidance from two additional faculty members. Throughout the program, students participate in professional activities, including research, writing, and presenting their work at conferences.

The usual timeline of program milestones, including both the MA and PhD portions is as follows:

Year 1: Research training and coursework.  This includes LINGUIS 200 (Graduate Proseminar). Towards the end of the year, a required MA Capstone Planning Meeting with (at least) two faculty members launches students into working on their MA Capstone Paper.

Year 2: Continued training and coursework. Completion of MA Capstone Paper.

Year 3: LINGUIS 201 (Advanced Graduate Proseminar in Linguistics), PhD Qualifying Paper and Qualifying Exam. Advancement to PhD candidacy.

Year 4: Annotated Bibliography and Dissertation Prospectus + Prospectus Review, begin dissertation writing.

Year 5 (and 6): Continue Dissertation Writing + Dissertation Committee Meetings

The MA Course Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 24 semester units of graduate coursework in Linguistics, which include the Proseminar LINGUIS 200, two Methods courses (any two of LINGUIS 240A, LINGUIS 240B, LINGUIS 260 Statistical Methods, or LINGUIS 252 Computational Modeling), and at least one course each from four of the five bins shown below.  

Bin 1: Phonetics, Phonology, and Morphology: 3
Advanced Phonology I [3]
Advanced Phonology II [3]
Advanced Experimental Phonetics [3]
Advanced Morphology [3]
Topics in Linguistic Theory: Phonology [3]
Topics in Linguistic Theory: Phonology [3]
Bin 2: Syntax and Semantics:3
Advanced Cognitive Linguistics [3]
Advanced Syntax I [3]
Advanced Syntax II [3]
Advanced Formal Semantics I [3]
Advanced Formal Semantics II [3]
Topics in Linguistic Theory: Syntax [3]
Topics in Linguistic Theory: Semantics [3]
Topics in Linguistic Theory: Pragmatics [3]
Bin 3: Areal and Historical Linguistics:3
Advanced Linguistic Typology [3]
Advanced Comparative and Historical Linguistics [3]
Indo-European Linguistics [3]
Structure of a Particular Language [3]
Topics in Linguistic Theory: Diachronic Linguistics [3]
Topics in Linguistic Theory: Linguistic Reconstruction [3]
Bin 4: Language and Society:3
Anthropological Linguistics [3]
Indigenous Language Revitalization: Contexts, Methods, Outcomes [3]
Advanced Sociolinguistics [3]
Advanced Sociolinguistics: Variation [3]
Bin 5: Language & Cognition:3
Advanced Psycholinguistics [3]
Advanced Phonetics [3]
Language, Computation, and Cognition [3]
Topics in Linguistic Theory: Psycholinguistics [3]

To find more specific information and details about our PhD, please review our Department website and the Grad Program Webpage.



Contact Information

Department of Linguistics

1203 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-2757

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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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