Linguistics and Philosophy

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Building 32-D808




Application Opens: 

September 1

Application Opens: 

September 1 for Linguistics September 15 for Philosophy


December 15
January 2



Linguistics Deadline: Dec 15 | Philosophy Deadline: Jan 2

Terms of Enrollment: 

Fall Term (September)


Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics (PhD)
Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy (PhD)

Standardized Tests: 

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

  • General test required for Philosophy program, not required for Linguistics program
  • Institute code: 3514
  • Department code: 2804

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

  • Minimum score required: 6.5
  • Electronic scores send to: MIT Graduate Admissions

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

  • Minimum score required: 90 (iBT) 577 (PBT)
  • Institute code: 3514
  • Department code: 04 or 20

Waiver of TOEFL/IELTS may be available.

Areas of Research: 


Application Requirements: 

Online application
Statement of objectives
Three letters of recommendation
English proficiency exam scores
GRE scores (not required for Philosophy program during 2020-2021 cycle)
CV or Resume
Writing sample

Special Instructions: 

Applicants to the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy are required to submit a writing sample as part of their application.

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 may take the form of a 1-3 pages conference abstract but, in any event, 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?
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).

Applicants to the Philosophy Program should submit a writing sample in philosophy, 
ideally of 15–25 pages in length. The 
writing sample should allow us to assess the applicant’s understanding of a philosophical problem, and ability to evaluate philosophical arguments. This assessment is usually easier
if the writing sample explicitly engages with some of the contemporary philosophical literature.