Admission to the Graduate Program is based on the following criteria:

1. Availability of supervisor

Note that a potential supervisor need not be secured in order to apply.

2. Linguistic background (see below)

3. GPA - see Graduate Admissions regulations 1.3.3 and 1.3.4

4. Strength of reference letters

  • We require at least three (3) reference letters.
  • Referees should include a combination of academic and professional references.
  • Referees are to indicate the applicant's ability to undertake advanced study in Linguistics.

Guidelines for Reference Letters (please send to referees):

  • A frank appraisal of the ability of the applicant to undertake a rigorous program of graduate study.
  • Comment on the applicant’s scholarly competence and academic ability to undertake advanced studies in Linguistics.
  • Personal qualities that you deem relevant to the applicant’s ability to engage in graduate work.
  • Length of time and the context in which you have known the applicant.

5. Quality of writing sample

This should preferably be a thesis, project, or paper written for a Linguistics course. Students should not submit co-authored papers.

The writing sample must illustrate an applicant’s ability to:

  • Express ideas in clear and appropriate language
  • Sustain an argument and develop a logical conclusion.

6. Quality and appropriateness of statement of research interests

Under "DOCUMENTS" on the online application system, applicants must upload a brief statement (one to two pages), stating their background, motivation, research interests and career goals. The proposal does not have to be specific, but it does have to show a general direction for research, which can be refined later on.

7. Availability of funding

For admission to the MA program, students must be able to demonstrate an adequate background in linguistics. Students having little or no academic preparation in linguistics will not be admitted to the program. In most cases, we require applicants to have completed significant course work covering core areas in linguistics. These requirements include an introductory course in linguistics, courses in phonetics, phonology, syntax, morphology and semantics.

In exceptional circumstances, it may be possible to admit students who do not meet the above requirements. We understand that courses like the above may not be available at all universities. In this case, the admissions committee may stipulate a number of courses that must be taken by the student beyond the basic requirements for the degree. Students admitted under such circumstances should expect to take an additional year or two to complete their programs.

Admission to the PhD program presupposes the above plus an MA degree in linguistics. Students are expected to have taken graduate-level courses in phonology and syntax as well as to have developed an area of specialization as demonstrated by a thesis, project, or extended course work.

For the university admissions guidelines, please visit the prospective students page, prepared by the Dean of Graduate Studies Office.

How To Apply

Download the Application Process for detailed information about the required supporting documents.

The online application as well as all supporting documents must be received by the department by January 15.

Please note that applications for the following September are accepted between October and January  (for example, the application system is open from October 22, 2019 to January 15, 2020 for a September, 2020, start). Between January 15 and October (specific date tba) of every year, the system is unavailable.

1. See the Dean of Graduate Studies for the online application process.

At the end of the online application process, applicants will be asked to pay an application fee of $90 CAN (students with Canadian transcripts) or $125 CAN (students with international transcripts) by credit card (MasterCard or Visa).

2. Once the fee is paid, applicants can go through GoSFU and see which documents are required to support their application. Most documents can be uploaded along with the online application, however for some types of documents, hard copies are still required.

Note: You will not be able to upload any documents until the fee is paid. 

Applicants who are coming from institutions in countries where the primary language is not English must also take an English Language Proficiency Test (TOEFL or IELTS) and meet the university requirements. This test must include a writing component.

  • Note that test results must be sent directly to Simon Fraser University Graduate Studies from the original source. Test scores are valid for two years from test date. However, photocopies of test results can be uploaded if you have them.

Please send your official university transcripts to the attention of:

Graduate Studies Program
Department of Linguistics
8888 University Dr.
Burnaby, BC
V5A 1S6