M.S. students are admitted to one of four concentrations:

  • Applied Linguistics
  • Computational Linguistics
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Theoretical Linguistics

The general requirements for the M.S. in Linguistics include:

  • Coursework (36 credits)
  • Foreign Language Proficiency
  • Master’s Research Paper (MRP)

An M.S. in Computational Linguistics requires 24 credits of coursework instead of 36 and a Master’s Thesis instead of an MRP.

Further details concerning requirements, standards, and procedures for the M.S. are given in the Linguistics Graduate Student Handbook and the Graduate Bulletin.


The requirements for the Master of Science in Linguistics include coursework, foreign language proficiency, and a Master’s Research Paper. The Graduate School allows three years from matriculation to complete all degree requirements and to graduate.


M.S. Students in concentrations other than Computational Linguistics are required to complete 36 hours of coursework. Of the total hours, 9 hours will consist of Departmental Core Courses in Sound, Form, and Meaning (See Part I, Section 3). (Students in Computational Linguistics have different requirements. For details of the Computational Linguistics M.S., see Part II, Section 2.2.1.). Each concentration also requires courses within its own subject area: consult the descriptions provided in Part II of the handbook. The remaining credit hours are taken as supplemental courses, selected under the guidance of the student’s faculty advisor. These courses will reflect the needs and interests of the individual student. They may include additional courses within the student’s concentration, courses in other concentrations, language courses, courses in other departments, and courses at area universities through the Washington Area Consortium of Universities (see Part I, Section 4).

Master’s students must maintain a grade point average of B (3.0) in order to remain in good standing in the program. Students who fail to maintain a B average will not be allowed to continue in the program.

Foreign Language Proficiency

All M.S. students are required to demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language. Proficiency can be demonstrated in several ways, described in the departmental guidelines in Part I, Section 2.

Master’s Research Paper or Master’s Thesis

All M.S. students must write either a Master’s Research paper (MRP) or a Master’s Thesis. The two options are very similar; the MRP is the normal choice for M.S. students, but some choose to do a Thesis, which has more formal requirements for formatting and is deposited in the University Library. Students interested in doing a Thesis instead of an MRP should discuss the possibility with their advisor. (Note that computational students pursuing the 24 credit Master's program must do a Thesis, while students pursuing the 30 credit program may do an MRP or a Thesis.) Students must register for Thesis Research in order to write a Master’s Thesis.

An MRP or Thesis demonstrates students' ability to conduct and report original research in their area of concentration. The MRP/Thesis is written under the supervision of a Department faculty member selected by the student, who does not necessarily need to be the student’s faculty advisor. Early on in the semester in which the MRP/Thesis is due, the student must meet with the faculty member who will work with the student on the MRP/Thesis to discuss the requirements and to determine a schedule for submitting drafts. The MRP/Thesis should be 30 to 100 pages long and is usually written in the final semester of Master’s coursework. When the final draft is submitted to the DGS, a student must include a completed coversheet which is available on our website: https://sites.google.com/a/georgetown.edu/gulinguists/students/forms. The MRP/Thesis must be formally approved by the Reader/Mentor and the Director of Graduate Studies.

An MRP is kept on file in the Linguistics Department, while a Thesis is filed with the Graduate School and kept in the University Library. If human subjects are involved, both the MRP and Master’s Thesis require IRB approval. See part 5.13 below for more information.

No oral defense of a Master's Thesis is required. One faculty member is required to serve as Thesis advisor/mentor, and no additional committee members are required; however, students may choose to ask additional faculty members to serve on their Thesis committees. Information about approval and submission of the final Thesis can be found here: http://grad.georgetown.edu/academics/dissertation-thesis-information.

Foreign Language Proficiency

All M.S. students are required to have in-depth knowledge of a foreign language. (Students in the MLC program do not have a language requirement.) A foreign language is a language other than the student’s native language: Students whose native language is not English may present English as a foreign language.

Foreign language proficiency is required in linguistic research for either or both of the following two reasons:

  • As a medium: The language is needed so that the student can conduct teaching, research, or other professional activities using the language, or
  • For linguistic analysis: The language is needed so the student can carry out linguistic analysis using data from that language.

Many students will already have sufficient proficiency in a foreign language to satisfy the requirements before beginning their graduate program. If not, there are several ways to gain proficiency, and the way in which a student fulfills the language requirement depends on whether the language is needed mainly as a medium or mainly for linguistic analysis.

Students who need a foreign language for use as a medium can gain proficiency by taking a series of courses in that language. Intensive undergraduate courses may be used with departmental and Graduate School permission. Students must reach the Intermediate II level, and undergraduate courses used to fulfill the language requirement will not count towards the credits required for the graduate program. For more information about language study scholarships offered by the Graduate School, see Section 5.15 below.

Students can gain proficiency for purposes of linguistic analysis by taking one or more graduate courses on the structure of the language. Such courses must be passed with a grade of B+ or higher. It is also possible to develop the capacity to analyze a foreign language by successfully completing a suitable course such as LING 404 Field Methods. Students should discuss these options with their advisor and record the approved option on a student request form to be kept in the student’s Department file.

A student who has achieved proficiency in a foreign language may establish this in several ways:

(i) Students may take a proficiency test administered by someone who knows the language and also has knowledge of linguistics. Proficiency tests are offered regularly by the Georgetown language departments; consult the relevant Department for further information. Prior to the examination, the Graduate Program Coordinator should be notified by the student so that an exam ballot can be given to the professor administering the exam so that the results can be officially recorded on the student’s academic record. Exam ballots cannot be given to the student.

(ii) Students may formally request that a previous undergraduate major, minor or Master’s degree in a foreign language can be used to fulfill the foreign language requirement. The Director of Graduate Studies is responsible for approving or not approving such requests.

(iii) Students can demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language by taking for credit a graduate Linguistics course conducted primarily in the language.

(iv) Students can request to satisfy the language requirement by writing a paper which analyzes an aspect of the language. The paper must be evaluated by a linguist familiar with the language and must constitute clear evidence that the student has sufficient command of the language for purposes of linguistic analysis. Typically such evidence would consist in the gathering of original data in the language, the use of the language in conducting research, or novel analysis of an extensive set of data.

(v) Non-native speakers of English may request that TOEFL or IELTS results presented as part of their application for admission be used to fulfill the foreign language requirement. The request must be made in writing on a student request form and be approved by the advisor and Director of Graduate Studies. Please attach a copy of the exam results. If you no longer have a copy of the results, you may request that the Graduate Program Coordinator obtain a copy from the Graduate School.

Students will submit a departmental request form (https://sites.google.com/a/georgetown.edu/gulinguists/students/forms) indicating how they will fulfill the requirement along with any supplemental documentation to demonstrate proficiency. The form must be signed by the academic advisor and submitted to the Graduate Program Coordinator.

In order to have the satisfaction of the language requirement officially recorded, the Graduate Program Coordinator will obtain the signature of the appropriate faculty member (either the advisor or the linguist evaluating the student’s proficiency) on a completed language Exam Ballot.


Applied Linguistics

Overall course requirements: 36 credits, 30 of which must be taken from the Linguistics Department’s course offerings.

Departmental course requirements: 9 credits. See departmental guidelines (Part I, Section 3) regarding the fulfillment of coursework requirements.

Applied Linguistics courses: 9 credits, or three courses, chosen from among at least the following Applied Linguistics area concentration courses. Please note prerequisites, as they affect planning when to take courses.

  • LING 350: Language Testing
  • LING 451: Language Acquisition
  • LING 456: Second Language Writing
  • LING 494: Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching
  • LING 546: Telecollaboration
  • LING 553: Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism
  • LING 651: Bilingualism
  • LING 681 Research Design and Methods

Applied Linguistics electives: Three or more electives may be selected from among all the Linguistics Department courses or from courses offered by other departments (see the schedule of classes for listings and descriptions: registrar.georgetown.edu/). The choice of electives is subject to the approval of the advisor. A total of 30 credits must be taken from within the Linguistics Department course offerings.

Language proficiency: All Master’s students in the Applied Linguistics concentration must demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language. (see Part I, Section 2 for details).

Master’s Research Paper: Following the departmental guidelines in Part I, Section 1.2, students are required to submit a research paper on any topic of interest in Applied Linguistics.

Computational Linguistics

The M.S. in Computational Linguistics prepares students for research and development careers in the field, as well as for advanced study at the Ph.D. level.

Overall course requirements:


  • 24 credit hours and a Master’s Thesis, or
  • 30 credit hours and a Master’s Research Paper.

To complete a Master’s Thesis, students must submit a proposal to their advisor and to the Graduate School. The Thesis will be mentored by the faculty advisor with or without additional readers. Upon completion, the Master’s Thesis must be submitted to the Graduate School. The Master’s Research Paper has neither of these requirements (see Part I Section 1.2 above for further details concerning the Master’s Thesis and Master’s Research Paper).

Computational Linguistics courses:

Required core computational courses:

LING 362: Introduction to Natural Language Processing

LING 367: Computational Corpus Linguistics

One course in programming or scripting language (e.g. Python for programming proficiency.) This requirement can be waived for students who already have programming proficiency.

One seminar in computational linguistics (or another area of linguistics, if approved by the advisor)

Required core linguistics courses:

  • LING 411: Phonology I
  • LING 427: Syntax I
  • LING 531: Semantics & Pragmatics I

These courses can be waived with prior linguistics coursework.

Electives can be selected from the following list. The number of electives will vary depending on the program (24 credits vs. 30 credits) and on whether any core courses have been waived.

  • COSC 387: Artificial Intelligence
  • COSC 502: Programming Concepts & Tools
  • COSC 503: Objects & Algorithms
  • COSC 578: Statistical Machine Learning
  • LING 413 Acoustic Phonetics
  • LING 412: Phonology II
  • LING 461: Signal Processing
  • LING 466: Machine Translation
  • LING 467: Information Extraction & Retrieval
  • LING 469: Analyzing Language Data with R
  • LING 428: Syntax I
  • LING 532: Semantics & Pragmatics II
  • LING 564: Computational Grammar Formalisms
  • LING 572: Empirical Methods in NLP
  • LING 765: Computational Discourse Modelling

Depending on the students' prior linguistics and computer science background, the faculty advisor may allow substituting of the core courses with other more advanced courses from the electives list or other course offerings. The programming language requirement may be satisfied by passing a programming languages proficiency examination.


Overall course requirements: 36 credits hours, with at least five courses in Sociolinguistics.

Departmental course requirements: See Part I, Section 3, above.

Sociolinguistics courses: M.S. students in Sociolinguistics are required to take LING 571: Sociolinguistic Field Methods. It is also recommended that students take courses from a range of faculty members in Sociolinguistics, as well as courses on both quantitative (e.g. LING 481: Sociolinguistic Variation) and qualitative approaches to sociolinguistics (e.g. LING 483: Discourse Analysis: Narrative; LING 484: Discourse Analysis: Conversation).

Supplemental Courses: Any remaining hours of a Master’s student's program are taken as supplemental courses, selected under the guidance of the student's faculty advisor. These courses will reflect the needs and interests of the individual student. They may include additional courses in sociolinguistics, other linguistics courses, and possibly courses in other departments.

Supplemental Courses: Any remaining hours of a Master's student's program are taken as supplemental courses, selected under the guidance of the student's faculty advisor. These courses will reflect the needs and interests of the individual student. They may include additional courses in sociolinguistics, other linguistics courses, and possibly courses in other departments.

Language proficiency: M.S. students in the Sociolinguistics concentration must demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language. See Part I, Section 2 above for information on how to satisfy the foreign language requirement.

Master's Research Paper: Following the departmental guidelines in Part I, Section 1.2, all M.S. students in Sociolinguistics must submit a research paper on a topic of interest in Sociolinguistics.

Theoretical Linguistics

Overall course requirements: For Master’s students concentrating in Theoretical Linguistics, at least 21 credit hours must be in the concentration.

Departmental Distribution requirements: The Theoretical Linguistics courses listed below will result in the satisfaction of the departmental distribution requirements.

Theoretical Linguistics courses: The departmental distributional requirements will be satisfied with Syntax I (LING 427), Phonology I (LING 411), and Semantics & Pragmatics I (LING 531). In addition, M.S. students concentrating in Theoretical Linguistics must take at least three of the following four courses:

  • LING 412: Phonology II
  • LING 428: Syntax II
  • LING 451: Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition
  • LING 532: Semantics and Pragmatics II

All four courses are recommended if the student’s schedule allows. M.S. students must also take at least one seminar in the concentration.

Supplemental courses: The remaining hours of a student's program are taken as supplemental courses, selected under the guidance of the faculty advisor. These courses will reflect the needs and interests of the individual student. They may include additional courses in Theoretical Linguistics, linguistics courses in other concentrations, courses in other departments, and courses at area universities through the Washington Area Consortium of Universities (see Part I, Section 4).


Application Checklist

  • Application Form
  • Statement of Purpose (500-word limit)
  • Writing sample (see below)
  • Official Recommendations (3)
  • Indication of concentration (for M.S. and Ph.D. applicants)
  • Non-refundable Application Fee
  • Official Transcripts (all prior institutions)
  • Exam Scores (ETS test code number is 5244)
  • GRE Score
  • TOEFL/IELTS (required for all non-native English speakers, see below)

The application form, statement of purpose, writing sample, and three recommendations should be submitted electronically as part of the application to the Graduate School. Materials should NOT be sent to the Department of Linguistics. Official transcripts and exam results should be sent directly to:

Georgetown University

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Graduate Admissions, Box 571004

Attn: Credentials (Linguistics)

3520 Prospect Street, NW, Room CB-207

Washington, DC 20057-1004

If prospective students have administrative questions or general questions about the application process, they are encouraged to contact Erin Esch Pereira, Graduate Program Coordinator. Please understand that application materials sent to individual faculty members cannot be considered.

Writing Sample:

Each applicant must submit an appropriate academic or professional writing sample in English, e.g., a term paper, thesis, or professional article that demonstrates writing and analytical skills. We have no length requirement, ut recommend that submissions be between 15 and 40 pages. Doctoral applicants should submit a research paper that demonstrates their ability to conduct original research in Linguistics or a closely related discipline.


Students applying to the M.S. program should indicate on their application form (and written statement of purpose) the concentration that best matches their interests (choose one only).

Students whose interests cross concentration boundaries may also, in consultation with their faculty advisors, plan individualized courses of study. Applicants who wish to pursue this option should indicate the "General" concentration on their application, and describe how their interests correspond to those of particular faculty in their statement of purpose.


Results of the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are required for all applicants. There is no minimum required score on the GRE. Information on registering to take the GRE can be found on the Educational Testing Service website.


All applicants who are not native English speakers are required to demonstrate a level of proficiency in the English language sufficient to meet the admission requirement of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Proficiency can be demonstrated in the following ways:

  1. Bachelor's or advanced degree from an accredited institution of higher education in the United States or from a university where English is the primary language of instruction.
  2. Minimum score on either the TOEFL or IELTS test.

Minimum scores:

  • TOEFL: A minimum score of 600 (paper-based test) or 250 (computer-based tests) or 100 (iBT test) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
  • IELTS: A minimum score of 7.5 from the International English Language Testing System.

Admitted applicants with a TOEFL writing score of less than 28 (iBT) or an IELTS writing score of less than 7.5 that intend to matriculate are required to take the Department of English as a Foreign Language Writing Placement Exam prior to enrolling in Fall courses. Students who score less than 5 on the written exam will be required to enroll in ENFL-111: Expository Writing for Foreign Students. More detailed information will be sent the summer prior to matriculation.

Test scores must be received by the application deadline date. Applicants should allow six to eight weeks from the test date for the reporting of scores to the institution. Applications will not be considered without GRE or TOEFL/IELTS scores.

Program taught in:
  • English (US)

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