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Admissions Overview and FAQs

Are you thinking about applying to the Doctoral Program in Second Language Acquisition?  Before you go through the time and effort it takes to apply, we want you to be sure that our program offers what you are looking for. With that in mind, please explore the entire SLA Program website.  For frequently asked questions about admissions to our program, see below.


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Do I need a GRE score?


The SLA Program recognizes that prospective students’ ability to register for and take the GRE may differ. We realize that a single set of scores does not necessarily provide useful insights.  Instead, we consider an applicant’s entire dossier when making admissions decisions.

Do I need an English proficiency test score?


The SLA Program follows the general Graduate School requirements for English proficiency test scores.  Whether or not you need a score depends on a few factors.  Please consult the Graduate School requirements  and scroll down to the “English Proficiency” section for more information.

Do I need a master's degree?

Yes, by the start of your doctoral studies.

Applicants must have a master’s degree in a language other than English, English, applied linguistics, TESOL, linguistics, or education.  If you hold a master’s degree in a different field, please contact the SLA Director or Program Coordinator.

Are there are other linguistics-related doctoral programs at UW-Madison?


In fact, there are many ways to pursue a doctoral degree in linguistics, applied linguistics, and second language studies at UW-Madison. Depending on your interests and career goals, you might consider the following UW-Madison graduate programs, in addition to our program. We encourage prospective students to explore options in consultation with faculty and staff affiliated with these units, and you may also find detailed information about the various graduate programs in the Graduate Guide. Keep in mind that it is possible to apply to up to three graduate programs with one application fee.

  • African Cultural Studies
  • Asian Languages and Cultures
  • Chinese
  • Curriculum & Instruction
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Linguistics
  • Portuguese
  • Scandinavian Studies
  • Slavic Languages & Literatures
  • Spanish

What areas of research does the SLA Program focus on?

This is a great question and one that you should be asking as a prospective SLA PhD student.  Find out about the research interests of our core faculty and staff by reading their profiles.  If you find someone with whom you share a research interest, we encourage you to reach out with an email to find out more.

What types of funding opportunities does the SLA Program offer?

The SLA Program works very hard to secure funding to provide financial support for our students’ studies at UW-Madison. Any offer of admission would be accompanied by an explanation of funding support.  Because of the interdisciplinary nature of our program and the varied interests of our students, funding looks different for different students.  Visit the Graduate School webpage on the various types of assistantships available for general information.

When is the application deadline?

You must complete the application and provide all the requested materials by December 15.

Do you admit students for a spring semester start?


The SLA Program admits students to begin in the fall semester only.

Ready to find out how to apply? Go to how to apply.