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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Course/Program Name
Application closes on
National :02 Jan 
International :02 Jan 

PhD Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics

 Course Level
Full Time

5 Years
 Start month

 Tuition fee

2410 USD
2410 USD

Application fee

International 75 USD
National 75 USD
Linguistics and Philosophy
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)7.5
TOEFL-IBT (min)90
TOEFL-PBT (min)577
GRE (avg)329
GMAT (avg)710

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About this course

The Linguistics Section offers a demanding program leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics. The normal course of study is four or five years, including the writing of the dissertation. The orientation of the program is highly theoretical, its central aim being the development of a general theory that reveals the rules and laws that govern the structure of a given language and the general laws and principles that govern all natural languages. The topics that form the core of this program are the traditional ones of phonology, syntax, and semantics, but the program's interests also extend into questions of the interrelations between linguistics and other disciplines such as philosophy and logic, speech science and technology, computer science and artificial intelligence, and study of the brain and cognition.

Approximately eight students enter the program each year in a highly selective admissions process. The department does not require that applicants have taken any particular set of subjects or that they be trained in any particular discipline. Instead, applicants must present evidence that they are able to engage in serious scholarly inquiry of complex subject matter.

Check further details on University website

Eligibility Criteria

All applicants must complete one test from each category SAT/ACT/TOEFL; Math Level 1 or Math Level 2 in Math SAT II Subject Test and Biology or Chemistry or Physics in Science SAT II Subject Test


International students - or domestic students who do not speak English natively - have two options for testing. The University have no preference between these options. It is your choice, and you should take the set of tests with which you feel the most comfortable (All November testing is allowed for EA consideration and January testing is allowed for RA consideration.):


Option 1: The SAT or the ACT, as well as two SAT Subject Tests: one in math (level 1 or 2), and one in science (physics, chemistry, or biology e/m).

Option 2: The TOEFL (IELTS is not accepted) as well as two SAT Subject Tests: one in math (level 1 or 2) and one in science (physics, chemistry, or biology e/m). This option is especially recommended for students who do not speak English at home or in school, or who have been speaking English for fewer than five years.

Native English speakers must take either the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT; and two SAT Subject Tests: one in math (level 1 or 2), and one in science (physics, chemistry, or biology e/m).


All students must meet the testing requirements. You may not substitute other exams (such as IB, A-Levels, etc.) for the above testing requirements. Students from countries where the SAT and ACT are not offered for all students (such as Iran and the People's Republic of China) will be considered without a full set of required test scores on a case-by-case basis.


The University have no minimum or recommended scores for the SAT Reasoning Test, the ACT, or the SAT Subject Tests. However, minimum and recommended scores for the TOEFL are required. These minimums are in place to ensure your level of English proficiency. Because MIT offers no English as a Second Language (ESL) programs, and English is the language of MIT, all students must show that they will thrive in MIT community. The minimum TOEFL scores are Paper Based Test (PBT) - 577, recommended 600+ and Internet Based Test (iBT) - 90, recommended 100+.


Your scores must be reported to MIT officially from the testing agency; scores you list on your application and scores appearing on your school transcript will not be considered official. It is recommended to list MIT as a school to receive your scores when you take the test. If you take the January test, you must list MIT as a school to receive your scores or the University will not receive your scores in time for our review. MIT SAT and TOEFL code is 3514, and ACT code is 1858.


It is important for all students - and very important for international students - to register for tests with the same name as you have indicated on your application and MyMIT account. Your record and test scores will not be linked to the system if the names do not match.


Check further details on University website

Course Modules

The following subjects are normally required of all doctoral candidates in linguistics:

  • 24.951
  • Introduction to Syntax
  • 12
  • 24.961
  • Introduction to Phonology
  • 12
  • 24.970
  • Introduction to Semantics
  • 12
  • 24.992
  • Survey of General Linguistics
  • 12
  • 24.952
  • Advanced Syntax
  • 12
  • 24.962
  • Advanced Phonology
  • 12
  • 24.973
  • Advanced Semantics
  • 12
  • 24.993
  • Tutorial in Linguistics and Related Fields
  • 24.942
  • Topics in the Grammar of a Less Familiar Language
  • 12
  • 24.949[J]
  • Language Acquisition I
  • 9
  • 24.991
  • Workshop in Linguistics (two terms) 1
  • 12

Check further details on University website

How to Apply

Letters Of Recommendation

At MIT, we require letters of recommendation from two teachers (one math/science, one humanities), plus materials from your guidance counselor (typically including your transcript, a school profile, and a letter of recommendation). 

MIT's recommendations process is online; you will need to create a separate recommendations account in addition to your MyMIT account.

Recommendations: Whom to Ask
MIT requires two letters of recommendation from teachers. One recommendation ("Evaluation A") should be from a math or science teacher, and one ("Evaluation B") should be from a humanities, social science or language teacher.

You should certainly ask a teacher who has taught you in an academic class in high school (i.e. no middle school, and no basket weaving class). Ideally, this will also be a teacher who knows you as more than just a student who does well on all the tests. We find that the best recommendations are written by teachers who know an applicant well as both a student and a person.

Evaluation A potential subjects
Earth Science
Environmental Science
Computer Science
Science Research 

Evaluation B potential subjects
Foreign Language
Social Studies


Check further details on University website

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