The MIT application includes a statement of purpose, an academic transcript from each college/university attended, three letters of recommendation and a writing sample.

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The statement of purpose, letters of recommendation and writing sample are submitted on-line. Scanned copies of transcripts are submitted on-line for review purposes but are considered unofficial. Applicants who are admitted will be required to send an official transcript in a university sealed envelope.

The application fee is $75.00 in US funds. Major credit cards are the accepted form of payment.

Writing Sample

Applicants to the linguistics program should include copies of one or more research papers or other written work relevant to their application. These papers need not necessarily be about linguistics, but they should demonstrate an applicant’s ability to pursue serious scholarly inquiry. Submitting more than one piece of work is especially appropriate for applicants with research experience in multiple relevant areas. Papers, research reports, theses, or insightful solutions to problem sets are all helpful in assessing an application. At least one of the writing samples should be written in English, but submissions in other languages can sometimes also be reviewed. Please try to limit your writing sample to a maximum of 100 pages in total (less is fully acceptable). If this is impossible (for example, because you wish to include a lengthy undergraduate thesis), please indicate particular sections that you consider especially interesting or representative.

Sample research summary (maximum length: 3 pages): In addition to the information about your goals and accomplishments that we can learn from your statement of purpose and writing sample, the Linguistics Program would like to learn more about how you approach scientific questions and puzzles. To this end, your application should also include a short summary of one of the research projects or problems discussed in your writing sample. The summary should cover the following points in a compact and logically transparent way:

1. What questions does your project attempt to answer?
2. Why do you find these questions interesting?
3. How does the project try to answer these questions?
4. What questions remain open (or are likely to remain open) at the conclusion of the project? What might you do next, and why?

As an alternative, you may also propose a project that you have not undertaken, if you have thought about it with enough depth and care to answer the questions listed above.

The summary should be understandable and engaging to an educated reader who is not necessarily a specialist in the area of the project. The described project does not need to reflect actual goals or plans for doctoral research (and need not be a project in linguistics).


GRE scores are not required for admission to the doctoral program.

MIT requires international applicants whose native language is not English to submit the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

TOEFL Score Requirements and Reporting Codes:
Minimum score required: 577 (PBT) 90 (IBT)
Department code: 04 (Linguistics)
Institute code: 3514 (MIT)

IELTS: Minimum score required: 6.5. MIT accepts electronic IELTS score reports. Choose “MIT Graduate Admissions” as reporting option; no code is required.

TOEFL/IELTS Waivers:  The Department of Linguistics and Philosophy does grant waivers. In general, we grant waivers to students who have received a degree from an American or English-speaking university, or who show an extensive background in English. We ask that students who request a TOEFL waiver have their recommenders comment in depth on their English speaking, reading and writing skills as a part of the recommendation. We also strongly suggest that they submit a writing sample in English. Applicants may request a TOEFL/IELTS waiver in the application.


Students are only admitted into the program for the Fall semester. The application deadline is January 2 for the following September. Decisions are normally communicated to applicants by early March.


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