Frequently Asked Questions

What applications materials do you require? Where and how do I apply?

Please see Requirements and Application Procedures and Deadline pages with details of how to apply.  You do not need to supply hard copies of any application materials; if you are recommended for admission, we will ask you to send official transcripts. 

What are the minimum GRE scores required for admission?

GRE scores are required for admission to the program; however, we do not publish nor recommend minimum GRE scores.

My first language is not English. Do I need to provide TOEFL scores?

To determine whether you will need to supply TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores, please consult the “English Proficiency” section of the Graduate School’s Requirements for Admission page: http://grad.wisc.edu/admissions/requirements/

How competitive is admission to your program? How many students are admitted?

How many students are admitted year to year varies but, in general, admission is quite competitive, with around 10% of applicants admitted. We admit 4-6 students, with an eye towards 2-4 students beginning the program each year. The application review process is holistic and considers the applicant’s academic merit, potential fit with the program in terms of research interests, and funding possibilities.  In addition, admissions decisions are made relative to the entire group of applications; that is, we limit admissions within the same pool of viability for financial support or with similar research interests so as not to overburden financial and faculty resources. In that regard, a student's admission prospects depend on absolute criteria but also, to an extent, evaluation relative to similar applicants.   

Can you tell me if my background and research interests will make me a good candidate for admission?

Admission decisions are made by a committee that looks at each applicant’s entire dossier; a potential applicant’s credentials cannot be assessed in advance by a single person.  Applications are reviewed for their academic merit, potential fit with the program, and funding possibilities for the applicant. Students are admitted to the program as a whole, not to specific faculty members (unlike in some countries where faculty might choose their own students).  However, we recommend reviewing faculty webpages  to understand faculty research interests.  An applicant might also contact individual faculty members to discuss their potential fit with the program.


While we cannot assess whether an applicant is likely to be admitted, potential applicants with Master’s degrees in fields different from those typical of our students (foreign language, English, applied linguistics, linguistics, or education) should contact the program director to inquire about the suitability of the background for applying to the program. Applicants with backgrounds in fields far removed fromsecond language acquisition will not be considered for admission.