compling admissions

If you are interested in applying to the UW Master of Science in Computational Linguistics, please review the following requirements and deadlines.

Application Deadlines

A new program cohort starts every fall. Applications open on December 1, and the deadline for applications is March 1. All applications received by this date will be given full consideration for admission to that year's cohort and for program scholarships. Applicants who meet the deadline will be notified of an admissions decision by April 1.

Minimum Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet minimum admission requirements set by the UW Graduate School. These include:

  • A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university in the United States or its equivalent from a foreign institution
  • A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher over the last 90 quarter hours (60 semester hours) of undergraduate work
  • Demonstrated English language proficiency for applicants whose native language is not English

See the UW Graduate School admissions page for more details about these and related requirements.

Program Admission Requirements and Prerequisites

This degree program also has additional requirements, prerequisites and recommended skills. These include:

  • The ability to program, including:
    • Knowledge of data structures and algorithms (equivalent to CSE 373 at the UW)
    • Broad familiarity with C++ and Java (expertise in one of these is required)
    • Knowledge of Perl and/or Python (recommended)
  • Completion of a college-level introductory course in linguistics or the equivalent
  • Completion of an introductory probability and statistics course (equivalent to MATH/STAT 394 at the UW)
  • Some knowledge of a language or languages other than English (strongly encouraged)

Pathway for Students With Linguistics Backgrounds

Individuals coming from a primarily linguistics or languages background are welcome to apply to the program. If admitted, these students should expect to complete the degree over a two-year, full-time schedule.

In the first year, students will complete the linguistics requirements along with prerequisite courses in computer science and statistics. They will then complete the computational linguistics core sequence in the second year. Students applying with this path in mind must still submit evidence of aptitude for computer science; taking at least one or two programming courses before applying is advised.

Placement Exam and Refresher Course

Before enrolling in the computational linguistics core sequence, all students must either pass a placement exam or take the UW Summer Quarter fundamentals refresher course, Basics for Computational Linguistics. The placement exam may be taken online as soon as a student is admitted. Based on the results of the exam, we will advise students on whether they are ready for the core sequence, if they need additional coursework in computer science and/or probability and statistics, or if they should take the summer refresher course.

The summer refresher course may be taken online or in person at the UW. This course covers key concepts in probability and statistics, formal grammars and formal languages, finite-state automata and transducers, algorithms and data structures, and UNIX and server cluster usage.

Students taking the program over two years, with the computational linguistics core sequence during the second year, may postpone taking the placement exam and the summer refresher course (if necessary) until the end of their first year.

Required Application Materials

The following materials are required to apply to the Master of Science in Computational Linguistics program:

  • UW Graduate School online application and fee
  • A one- to two-page statement of purpose
  • Unofficial transcripts from each college or university attended
  • A skills questionnaire (part of the online application). Preview the questions.
  • Two to three letters of recommendation
  • A sample of your academic work, such as a coding project, thesis or term paper*

*A sample of academic work is required for applicants who have completed a degree within the past two years; other applicants are also encouraged to provide a work sample.

Standardized test scores are not required and will not be taken into consideration if submitted, with the exception of TOEFL scores for international students – see details below.

Application Steps

Applications to the Master of Science in Computational Linguistics program need to be submitted online through the UW Graduate School. We recommend you begin your application early, because multiple steps are required.

Step One: Prepare to Apply

Get transcripts from each college or university previously attended. Download unofficial transcripts or scan copies of your official transcripts. Transcripts must be submitted in PDF format.

Identify people who would be willing to write letters of recommendation for you. Three letters of recommendation are needed to apply to the program. Letters from people familiar with your academic work are preferred, especially your work in computer science or linguistics courses. You will need email addresses for each person recommending you in order to complete the Graduate School application. Please keep in mind that all letters of recommendation are due to the Graduate School the same day as the rest of your application.

Begin writing your statement of purpose. You will need to submit this as part of your Graduate School application; it is not required that you complete this essay before beginning Step Two.

Step Two: Apply

Start your online application to the UW Graduate School. Create an applicant profile. Your login and password will allow you to save your application and return to it later, if necessary.

For Program, select "Linguistics" with the track "Computational Linguistics."

Upload all required documents.

Designate the people who have agreed to write letters of recommendation for you. Your designees will be sent an email directing them to a secure website to submit their letters.

Pay the nonrefundable application fee. After you've submitted your application, you can check on its status at any time by logging into the application page.

Single Course Enrollment

If you aren't sure yet whether you want to pursue the master's in computational linguistics, you might consider enrolling in an individual class through single course enrollment. This allows you to experience a small portion of the program curriculum and become familiar with our faculty and students.

If you are considering pursuing an advanced degree at a later point, you may want to apply to become a graduate nonmatriculated student before you take a course. By securing GNM status, you will be eligible to apply course credits toward a degree if you later decide to pursue one. Although GNM status does not guarantee admission to the master's in computational linguistics program, you may apply up to 12 course credits toward degree requirements if you are admitted to the program. To apply to be a GNM student, you must submit an online application through the Graduate School site during the regular program application period.

International Students

International applicants must meet all application requirements for the program. You are considered an international applicant if you are not a U.S. citizen, immigrant or green card holder. International students must have a visa status that allows academic study at the University of Washington. For more information, see the UW Graduate School's International Applicant Information page.

Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English language proficiency. If required, please submit TOEFL scores. Only scores less than two years old at the time of the application deadline will be accepted. Scores must be sent directly to the UW by the Educational Testing Service using institution code 4854.


September 28, 2016
Classes Begin

March 1, 2017
Application Deadline