The MA in linguistics is a non-admitting degree. Language Sciences admits students for the PhD degree in linguistics, and awards a master of arts degree to students in a UW–Madison PhD program upon the completion of the MA requirements. See the Linguistics PhD program entry for details on admission to the PhD program.


This master’s program is offered for work leading to the PhD. Students may not apply directly for the master’s, and should instead see the admissions information for the PhD.


Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

All students admitted to the PhD program are offered funding in the form of fellowships and teaching, research, or project assistantships. See the Linguistics PhD funding page for additional details.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

Mode of Instruction

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.

Curricular Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 24 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required. Refer to the Graduate School: Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirement policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1203.
Other Grade Requirements n/a
Assessments and Examinations Submit and defend one prelim paper by the end of the fourth semester. Contact the program for further details.
Language Requirements Knowledge of two languages is required. One must be English. The language requirements can be satisfied in multiple ways and the program should be contacted directly for further details.

Required Courses

All required courses are to be chosen from LINGUIS courses.

  • four courses numbered 300-399
  • two courses numbered 500-599
  • LINGUIS 800 Research Methods and Materials
  • one additional course numbered 500 or above (except 800)
  • two additional approved courses

Contact the program for a list of specific courses.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to transfer no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a master's or doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Undergraduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions or UW-Madison

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree allowed to transfer to fulfill the minimum degree credit requirement.

Credits Earned as a Professional Student at UW-Madison (Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Veterinary careers)

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

Credits Earned as a University Special Student at UW–Madison

With program approval, students are allowed to transfer no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special student. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


Probation is a warning to a student who is not making satisfactory progress in the Linguistics graduate program. Departmental probation for grades or failure to make satisfactory progress lasts for one academic year (two consecutive semesters), while probation for an unsatisfactory prelim paper or unfinished Incompletes lasts for one semester.

If a student on probation clears up the problem that led to probation within the time period allotted, nothing else happens, and the student can continue with the program.

If the student does not resolve the problem (e.g. raise the GPA or successfully complete a prelim), the student is dropped from the program at the end of the probationary period.

Advisor / Committee

Every graduate student must have an official faculty advisor. New students are assigned to the program director by default. By the end of the first year, students must decide whom they would like to work with, and must ask that person if they are willing to serve as advisor. If the faculty member agrees, the student is responsible for having the faculty member sign the advisor agreement form, and for making sure that it is placed in the student’s file. All permanent faculty members in the Language Sciences program (including affiliated faculty but excluding visiting faculty) may serve as advisors. Faculty from outside Language Sciences may not serve as official advisors, although they may co-chair committees.

Every faculty member has the right to refuse to become a student’s advisor. Every graduate student has the right to choose any faculty member as advisor, so long as the faculty member agrees. Students should also feel free to change advisors at any time, without fear of offending a faculty member. If a student changes advisors, a new advisor agreement form must be signed and filed, and the previous advisor must be notified by the student in writing.

The advisor guides the student in the choice of appropriate courses, in the planning of prelims and the dissertation, in choosing prelim committees and the dissertation committee, and in other professional matters. Students are reminded, however, that the fulfillment of departmental requirements is ultimately the student’s responsibility.

Each semester, the student must consult in person with the advisor about courses for the following semester. Registration is blocked until this is done and is only unblocked when the student turns in the relevant form to the department, signed by the advisor.

Credits Per Term Allowed

15 credits

Time Limits

The prelim paper must be completed by the end of the fourth semester.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.


Full-time enrollment is assumed in order to satisfy requirements on satisfactory progress as defined in the graduate student handbook.

Professional Development

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Learning Outcomes

  1. Articulates, critiques, or elaborates the theories, research methods, and approaches to inquiry or schools of practice in the field of linguistics.
  2. Identifies sources of data and assembles evidence pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of linguistics.
  3. Demonstrates understanding of linguistics in a historical, social, or global context.
  4. Selects and/or utilizes the most appropriate methodologies and practices.
  5. Evaluates or synthesizes information pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of linguistics.
  6. Communicates clearly in ways appropriate to the field of linguistics.
  7. Recognizes and applies principles of ethical and professional conduct.


Please visit the Language Sciences website for a complete list of our faculty and their areas of interest and expertise.