Application Procedures and Deadlines

The SLA Program admits students to begin in the Fall semester of each year. The application deadline is mid-December of the previous calendar year. The SLA program does not accept applications for spring-semester admission.

Our annual application deadline is December 15. All application materials must be received by this deadline.

The information on this page is intended for applicants who are not current UW-Madison students. Applicants who are current students in UW-Madison graduate programs submit materials directly to the program.

Please note that all application materials must be submitted electronically to the Graduate School’s Electronic Application system.

To Apply

1. Consult the website for the Office of Graduate Admissions for detailed information on applying to graduate school at the UW-Madison.

2. Complete the UW-Madison Graduate School Electronic Application and submit the (non-refundable) $75.00 application fee. In addition, non-US citizens will be charged a $6.00 international document processing fee.

3. Solicit three letters of recommendation from persons who can judge your academic qualifications with respect to this particular program, as well as your potential for employment in an academic setting, such as a research, project, or teaching assistantships. Letters of recommendation are typically submitted electronically, using a form provided directly to your recommenders. (Contact Cathy Stafford if you will need to submit hard copies of letters of recommendation.)

4. Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide an English proficiency test score. Your score is considered too old, and will not be accepted if it is more than 2 years old from the start of your admission term. Country of citizenship does not exempt applicants from this requirement. The language of instruction at the college or university level, and how recent it has been, are the determining factors in meeting this requirement.

Applicants are exempt if:

  • English is the exclusive language of instruction at the undergraduate institution; or
  • they have earned a degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university not more than 5 years prior to the anticipated semester of enrollment; or
  • they have completed at least two full-time semesters of graded coursework, exclusive of ESL courses, in a U.S. college or university, or at an institution outside the U.S. where English is the exclusive language of instruction not more than 5 years prior to the anticipated semester of enrollment.

The required scores are:
Internet-based TOEFL (iBT): Above 96
Computer-based TOEFL (CBT): Above 250
Paper-based TOEFL (PBT): 590
IELTS: Above 7.5

5. Upload the following documents with your electronic application (in PDF format only, please):

  • Statement of Reasons for Graduate Study, which clearly identifies your topical or methodological interest within the field. Your statement of purpose should describe in concrete terms how you see the relationship between our specific program, your research interests, and your professional goals. It is also useful to hear which sorts of (typically, language or ESL) courses you feel qualified to teach, with a view to potential graduate-student financial support. You may but need not refer to specific faculty members who you think share your research interests or specific courses which seem to contribute to your educational needs. In that vein, you might also choose to contact specific faculty members on your own (please see their respective departmental websites), to explore whether/how you might work together. If you have been in touch with specific faculty members, please mention it briefly in your statement of purpose. Last, a succinct review of your preparation, both in terms of research/academic work and work (e.g., teaching) experience is useful, though we really would like to emphasize that the statement of purpose should generally be oriented toward the future and not the past. There are no maximum or minimum word or page requirements. Two pages (double-spaced) may be a suitable goal to start with although particular circumstances may justify less or more.
  • Curriculum vitae (summary of academic program and related work, especially teaching)
  • Funding statement that details qualifications for and type of work requested (teaching assistantship in a foreign language or ESL, project assistantship). International students who wish funding by teaching ESL must take the Test of Spoken English (TSE) and receive the top score.
  •  An academic writing sample: You are required to provide evidence of your writing ability (master’s thesis, academic paper from a graduate course, or a journal article which you believe can be used to judge your writing ability). If your preferred writing sample is in a language other than English, please contact Cathy Stafford for instruction.
  • Scanned PDF of your unofficial transcripts of each post-secondary institution attended.

6. If the SLA program recommends admission, the applicant will be asked by the Graduate School to supply official transcripts for every postsecondary institution attended. International academic records must be in the original language; if the records are not in English, they must be accompanied by a certified English translation. Documents must be issued by the institution with the official seal/stamp and an official signature.