“The job of the linguist, like that of the biologist or the botanist, is not to tell us how nature should behave, or what its creations should look like, but to describe those creations in all their messy glory and try to figure out what they can teach us about life, the world, and, especially in the case of linguistics, the workings of the human mind.” -Arika Okrent, American Linguist.
If you have already decided on getting a master’s degree in Linguistics abroad but do not know where, we have a list for you. From top universities for linguistics and their global ranking to the programs they offer — enjoy!
Here are some of the best master’s in linguistics in the world:
|University||Location||Global Ranking in Linguistics (QS)||Program/s|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)||United States||1||Graduate Program in Linguistics|
|University of Cambridge||United Kingdom||2||MPhil in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics by Advanced Study|
MPhil in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics by Thesis
|University of Oxford||United Kingdom||4||MSt in Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics|
|National University of Singapore (NUS)||Singapore||12||MA in English Language and Linguistics (Coursework)|
|University of Toronto||Canada||14||MA in Linguistics|
|The University of Melbourne||Australia||26||Master of Applied Linguistics|
|University of Amsterdam||Netherlands||29||Master’s program in General Linguistics|
Master’s program in Language and Society
|Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin||Germany||34||MA in Linguistics|
|University of Zurich||Switzerland||38||MA in Linguistics|
|University of Vienna||Austria||46||Master’s program in English Language and Linguistics|
Master’s program in Applied Linguistics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a prestigious private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. Founded in 1861, MIT is renowned for its focus on science, engineering, and technology, but it also has strong programs in other disciplines, such as linguistics, economics, and management.
MIT’s Department of Linguistics and Philosophy is widely recognized as one of the top linguistics programs globally, attracting talented students and faculty from around the world. The department has an outstanding faculty, including linguists such as Noam Chomsky, who has been a significant figure in linguistics for decades. Other notable faculty members specialize in various sub-disciplines, ensuring students have access to expertise across the field.
The MIT Graduate Program in Linguistics was established in 1961 and awarded its first PhDs in 1965. Since then, numerous MIT alums have joined prestigious linguistics departments worldwide. While MIT primarily offers a Ph.D. program in linguistics, prospective students do not need a Master’s degree to apply for this program; they can apply directly from their undergraduate studies.
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is an outstanding and historic institution located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Established in 1209, the university is renowned for its academic excellence, rigorous programs, and exceptional research output and has produced many notable alums, including scientists, politicians, and Nobel laureates.
The MPhil in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics by Advanced Study is designed for students who have a BA degree in Linguistics or have completed an undergraduate degree with a significant linguistics component. This program allows them to deepen their understanding of the subject by taking advanced courses in their preferred areas and engaging in independent research.
The MPhil in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics by Thesis is designed for students with extensive knowledge of linguistics and a clear vision of their research area for their thesis. This program enables students to conduct concentrated research on a specific topic, paving the way for a possible Ph.D. To qualify for the MPhil by Thesis, a student must have a background in linguistics, including expertise in one or more subfields and a well-defined concept of the area in which the thesis will be developed.
University of Oxford
Located in Oxford, United Kingdom, the University of Oxford is a highly esteemed and long-standing higher education institution. Established in the late 11th century, it is renowned for its outstanding academic offerings, pioneering research, and illustrious alums, including many Nobel Prize winners, prominent world leaders, and distinguished scholars.
The MSt in Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics is a nine-month program that provides various options for individuals seeking a graduate degree in language studies. This program focuses on general linguistics (including phonetics but excluding applied linguistics), historical and comparative linguistics, or the linguistics of a specific language, catering to students who wish to specialize in these areas.
National University of Singapore (NUS)
The National University of Singapore (NUS) is a leading research-intensive institution in Singapore. Established in 1905, NUS is known for its comprehensive academic programs, world-class research, and commitment to innovation.
The Master of Arts in English Language and Linguistics (Coursework) is an entirely taught program intended for completion in one year of rigorous full-time study or over an extended duration for part-time students. Part-time study is only available for locally domiciled individuals.
To earn a Master of Arts degree in English Language and Linguistics, candidates must complete a total of 40 Units or ten courses, with each course valued at four Units.
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is an excellent public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Founded in 1827, this university has consistently ranked among the top universities worldwide. The university’s commitment to academic excellence, innovation, and research impact has established it as a leading institution in higher education.
The Department of Linguistics provides Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs in three areas:
- Language Variation (sociolinguistics, dialectology, language variation and change).
- Psycholinguistics (comprehension and production, language acquisition).
- Theoretical Linguistics (generative grammar: phonology, morphology, syntax).
During The MA program in Linguistics, students undergo demanding coursework and research training in their chosen field of study. Upon graduation, they possess advanced data interpretation, analysis, and argumentation skills. The department provides both one- and two-year MA options, with the one-year MA option being the most common admission route for students.
The University of Melbourne
Situated in Melbourne, Australia, the University of Melbourne is a distinguished research university founded in 1853. The university consistently achieves high rankings in global university standings, drawing students from across the globe thanks to its dedication to academic excellence, innovative research, and lively campus atmosphere.
The Master of Applied Linguistics program at the University of Melbourne is a comprehensive course designed for both domestic and international students. Offered on-campus at the Parkville location or online, the program can be completed in two years of full-time study or four years of part-time study.
The Master of Applied Linguistics aims to advance your career by enhancing your professional knowledge and honing your vocational and career skills. Students can choose to specialize in one of three areas: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), Language Testing, or English Language, depending on their interests and career goals.
University of Amsterdam
The University of Amsterdam, located in Amsterdam, Netherlands, is a public research university founded in 1632. It is one of the largest and oldest universities in the country and consistently ranks highly in global university rankings, reflecting its commitment to quality education and research impact.
The one-year Master’s program in General Linguistics at the University of Amsterdam delves into the various aspects of human language. During the first semester, students examine and compare numerous language systems. In the second semester, they focus on one of four sub-areas: phonetics & phonology, syntax & semantics, language acquisition & disorders, or sign linguistics.
The Master’s program in Language and Society allows you to explore language usage within societal contexts while enhancing your spoken and written communication skills in both your target language and English.
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Humboldt University of Berlin is a renowned public research university in Berlin, Germany. Founded in 1810, it has a long-standing history of excellence. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin is known for its strong research focus and commitment to fostering critical thinking, attracting students and scholars worldwide.
The MA Linguistics program at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin is designed for graduates who have completed linguistic or philological bachelor’s degree courses. The program’s goal is to introduce students to international-level linguistic research.
With a flexible structure, the course allows students to select from a broad array of topics and further develop their interests by choosing one of four primary areas:
- German Linguistics (synchronous/diachronic)
- English Linguistics
- Theoretical Linguistics
- Language and Cognition
This approach allows students to tailor their studies to their specific interests and career goals.
University of Zurich
The University of Zurich, located in Zurich, Switzerland, is a leading public research university. Established in 1833, it is one of the largest universities in Switzerland. With over 28,000 students, the university provides a dynamic learning experience. UZH maintains partnerships with top-tier universities and research institutions worldwide.
The Master of Arts in Linguistics at the University of Zurich (UZH) is a 120-ECTS mono-master program, distinguished by its unique methodological training that equips students with up-to-date skills in collecting, processing, and analyzing digital linguistic data. Students can choose from nine focus areas, including four language-oriented and five thematic options, or they can opt for no specific focus area.
Designed for research-oriented students with diverse interests in linguistics, the available focus areas include Romance Linguistics, Slavic Linguistics, English Linguistics, Indo-European Studies, Digital Linguistics, Descriptive Linguistics, Psycholinguistics, Phonetics and Speech Sciences, Language – Interaction – Society, and a general Linguistics option without a specified focus area.
University of Vienna
The University of Vienna, located in Vienna, Austria, is a public research university with a long history dating back to its founding in 1365. As one of Europe’s oldest and largest universities, it offers a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs across various disciplines.
The English Language and Linguistics master’s program focuses on providing students with in-depth knowledge and research abilities in English linguistics. Students can choose from one of the specializations, such as Historical Linguistics, Functional and Cognitive Linguistics, or Applied Linguistics. As the program is taught entirely in English, students gain proficiency in addressing complex topics using the English language.
The master’s program in Applied Linguistics at the University of Vienna focuses on offering advanced education in various socially relevant fields of linguistic application. Students develop crucial skills in empirical text and discourse analysis, empowering them to independently address socially significant issues and generate new findings in areas such as language minority research, language policy, linguistic prejudice research, etc.
How to Choose a Master’s in Linguistics
Here are a few quick tips to remember when choosing a master’s program in linguistics:
- Identify your interests. Determine the specific area of linguistics you are most passionate about (e.g., theoretical linguistics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, or applied linguistics).
- Research universities. Look for universities with strong linguistics departments and reputable programs that align with your interests.
- Compare specializations. Review the specializations offered by each program and how well they match your desired focus area.
- Assess faculty expertise. Investigate the faculty members’ research interests and publications to ensure they align with your academic and research goals.
- Consider program structure. Evaluate whether the program is coursework-based, research-based, or a combination of both, and decide which approach suits you best.
- Check duration. Consider the length of the program and whether it fits your personal and professional timeline.
- See language requirements. Verify any language prerequisites, especially for programs taught in a language other than your native one.
- Evaluate funding opportunities. Look for scholarships, assistantships, or other financial aid options offered by the university or external organizations.
- Seek advice from alums or current students. Reach out to individuals who have completed or are currently enrolled in the program to gain insights into the program’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Research career prospects. Research the career outcomes of program graduates and how well they align with your own professional aspirations.
- Check Erudera. As an education search platform (backed by AI), Erudera can help you explore study opportunities, find the right programs, plan your study abroad journey, and apply to your dream university in no time. Give it a try!