Graduate Admission

Applicants must have completed a bachelor's degree for

For the MATESL program, an undergraduate major in linguistics, English, a foreign language, or education is generally recommended, though other majors are also acceptable. Applicants must present a grade point average of at least 3.0 (A = 4.0) for the last 60 hours of undergraduate work. Two years of coursework in a foreign language or the equivalent are also required. TOEFL score of 103 or above is required for full-status dmission; students with TOEFL scores below 103 may be considered for limited-status admission, please see the requirements page. GRE scores are also required (no minimum score required). For further guidance on applying to the MATESL program, see MATESL Program Application.

For the PhD program in Linguistics, undergraduate preparation should include the study of at least one foreign language; a course equivalent to LING 400 (Introduction to Linguistic Structure) on this campus; and a broad background in the humanities, social sciences, and/or mathematics. Please note that applicants for a graduate degree in Linguistics are considered only for admission to the PhD; beginning in August 2019, there is no admission to the MA in Linguistics. Students in the PhD program in Linguistics may obtain the MA in Linguistics upon completing the requirements for Stage 1 of the PhD.

The graduate admission process to the MATESL program and the PhD program in Linguistics is handled jointly by the Graduate College, the Department of Linguistics, and the SLCL Graduate Student Services office.  Applications are accepted for fall admission only.

Please go to this link to start your graduate application.

The Graduate College web site contains links to information for applicants as well as application instructions and the link to the application itself.  The application fee ($70 domestic applicant/$90 international applicant) can be paid online by credit card (Visa or Mastercard) and the application will then be made available to the department.


The online application will accept uploads of the following required application materials for all graduate degrees in the Department of Linguistics.  Please do not send them to the department or Graduate College:

  • Academic statement of purpose: Please use the Academic Statement of Purpose to describe (within 1000 words): (1) the substantive scholarly questions you are interested in exploring in graduate study, (2) your academic background, intellectual interests, and any training, research, or other experiences that have prepared you for graduate study, (3) how our program would help you achieve your intellectual goals, (4) any specific faculty members, if applicable, whose research interests align with your own interests, and (5) your professional goals. 
  • Personal statement: Please use the Personal Statement to describe (within 500 words) how your personal background and experiences influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Provide insight on your potential to contribute to a community of inclusion, belonging, and respect in which scholars with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, abilities, and experiences can learn and collaborate productively and positively together. 
  • Resume or CV
  • Academic documents: Provide scanned copies of your transcripts (a complete list of all courses taken and grades received) as well as any certificates of degree completion or diplomas for all the post-secondary schools you have attended (undergraduate and graduate programs). English translations should be provided when applicable, preferably from the school attended. We will accept translations done by the applicant. They should follow the same format, line-by-line, as the original document. Official documents (original or “attested” copies) will be required if you are admitted.
  • Writing SampleApproximately 10-20 pages of writing from one or two sources are required (e.g. term papers or research papers). The sample should showcase the applicant's academic ability.  Please upload to the online application in the Program Specific section.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Three (3) letters are required, preferably from professors familiar with your work. When you fill out the online application, you will need to include email addresses for all of your references. They will automatically receive an email from the online application with instructions on how to upload their letters of reference to your online application. If they don’t receive this email or have trouble uploading their letters, they should email SLCL Student Services:

The information you submit online, as well as the application fee ($70 for domestic applicants, $90 for international), goes directly to the Graduate Admissions office. The online application materials will then be made available to the SLCL Student Services office, which will prepare your application file for the department’s admission committee to review.

Also required:

1) English Proficiency Exams:

All applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit a TOEFL iBT or Academic IELTS score report. The test must have been taken no more than 2 years prior to the start of your first semester at UIUC. Minimum score requirements for full-status admission to Linguistics are 103 total with a minimum of 24 in the speaking section on the TOEFL iBT or 7 total with a minimum of 8 in the speaking section on the IELTS.

This requirement may be waived if you have completed at least 2 academic years of full-time study or have completed a graduate degree at an English-language university in an English-speaking country within 5 years of your first semester at UIUC. The requirement may also be waived if you were raised in and/or went to school in one of the countries on this list (scroll down to where it says "Approved countries with English as the primary language").

These waivers are for admission purposes only and do not provide an exemption from the English proficiency requirement for non-native English speaking teaching assistants.

In order to hold a teaching assistantship (our most widely available source of financial aid), all applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate their proficiency in spoken English. There are two ways to do this:

  1. pass the speaking section of the TOEFL iBT with a minimum score of 24, or the speaking section of the IELTS with a minimum score of 8; or
  2. pass the English Proficiency Interview (EPI) when you arrive on campus.

The oral English requirement for teaching assistants cannot be waived like the admissions requirement above. Any teaching assistantship award will be conditional upon proof of your proficiency in spoken English.

We would appreciate receiving your official score report by the application deadline or shortly thereafter, so please arrange to take any of these tests as early as possible in the application process. Have ETS send the TOEFL iBT score report to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, institution code #1836. If you took the Academic IELTS, please upload the score report to your online application.

Please see for more information, and for COVID-19 English proficiency requirement updates, which include information about at-home test options.

2) GRE score report (taken within the last five (5) years) should be sent by ETS to institution code #1836, dept. #00.  There is no minimum score requirement. During the COVID-19 pandemic, students are encouraged to take the at-home version of the GRE. The admissions committee will grant GRE waivers to students who do not have access to the at-home version of the GRE, or who would face undue hardship, whether health-related or financial, in taking in GRE. To request a GRE waiver, please write to Prof. Tania Ionin,, if you are applying to the Linguistics PhD program, and to Professor Randall Sadler,, if you are applying to the MATESL program.


Your application for fall 2022 must be complete (with all of the required elements on file) no later than January 4, 2022 at 11:00 PM Central Time.  All admitted applicants are considered for financial aid based on their application materials and funds available.  Financial aid may be awarded in the form of fellowships, assistantships, or a combination of the two.

There are many opportunities for financial aid at the University of Illinois other than those provided by the department.  The Graduate College Fellowship Office has a website Financial Assistance which describes various kinds of financial assistance available for graduate students.  It also has a database, accessible for various fellowship opportunities potentially available to you.  In addition, there are fellowship opportunities available to graduate students studying specific languages through the FLAS Fellowships program.

If you are interested in second language acquisition, it is important that you know about the SLATE (Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Education) advanced certificate program.  Another option is the Language and Speech Processing certificate program.  Students enrolled in our Ph.D. program can simultaneously earn either of these certificates.

Alternative forms of admission are also available.  Domestic students may apply for non-degree graduate student status and previous graduate students of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign may apply for re-entry.  Please contact SLCL Graduate Student Services for information on how to do so.

For detailed program information, please see the University’s Programs of Study Guide. 

Contacts for Graduate Admission:

  • Should you need assistance with the application process itself, please address your questions to SLCL Graduate Student Services at
  • If you have questions about the graduate programs in Linguistics, please direct them to our Director of Graduate Admissions, Prof. Tania Ionin.