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Master's Degree

The Graduate Group in Linguistics does not provide funding for pursuit of a master's degree, and does not generally accept applications for an M.A. In special circumstances, students who bring a fellowship from another source may be considered for admission to a master's program; such students must show that they have the appropriate academic background, and interests to match the research pursued at Penn. An outside student wishing to be considered for admission to the M.A. program should submit a standard application, which will be considered during the usual admissions cycle; the deadline is December 15.

The requirements for the M.A. degree are the following; they cannot be completed in less than three semesters of residence.

  1. Satisfactory completion of eleven approved semester courses, including one year each of phonology (Ling 530-531) and syntax (Ling 550-551). These courses must be at the 400 level or above.
  2. A thesis written under the supervision of a Graduate Group faculty committee. The thesis can be based on previous coursework. The committee consists of at least two faculty members, the adviser and a reader, who must also be a member of the graduate group.
  3. An oral examination based on the thesis. This consists of a private meeting with the committee, during which the student answers questions on the content of the thesis.

The written dissertation on which the Exam will be based should be provided to the committee members in time for them to read it carefully before the Exam; normally this will be at least a week, but the committee should be consulted for more specific deadlines.

Students who are already in the Ph.D. program at Penn have the option of receiving an M.A. on the way to the final degree, or if leaving the program without receiving a Ph.D. The requirements for this M.A. are the same as those outlined above.


Undergraduates who submatriculate are subject to the same requirements for the M.A. as are regular graduate students. A student interested in this program should meet with the undergraduate chair and then the graduate chair to discuss the requirements and the curriculum. Students must submit a paper application no later than the spring semester of the junior year. No GRE exam is required for submatriculants.

Be aware that, due to University rules, a student cannot earn graduate credit until he or she is actually enrolled in a graduate program. Any graduate-level course taken before that time can be counted toward an undergraduate degree, but not toward a graduate degree. For this reason, students intending to submatriculate should complete an application before the end of the first semester in which they take a graduate course.

Last Modified: 29 Oct 2013
Department of Linguistics
619 Williams Hall (campus map)
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305
Telephone: (215) 898-6046
Fax: (215) 573-2091
For more information, contact Amy Forsyth at