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Master of Science in Computational Linguistics


The UW Master of Science in Computational Linguistics is designed for those who want to pursue careers in computational linguistics or prepare for doctoral work in the field.

Our applicants come from backgrounds in computer science, linguistics and other fields. Some students come to the program straight from their undergraduate studies and others are returning to school mid-career. The department values the contribution that students with diverse backgrounds and life histories make to the intellectual and social environment of the program. Find out how you can prepare for the program.

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 the March 1 deadline will be given full consideration for admission to that year's cohort and for program scholarships. Applicants 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. 

  • 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

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 (note that Python is required for some core courses)
  • Completion of a college-level introductory course in linguistics or the equivalent
  • Background in math and probability, including:
    • Completion of an introductory probability and statistics course (equivalent to MATH/STAT 394 at the UW)
    • Some multivariable calculus (partial derivatives/gradients) and some linear algebra
  • 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 any remaining prerequisite courses in computer science, probability and math. 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; we advise that you take at least one or two programming courses before applying.

Required Application Materials

  • UW Graduate School online application and fee
  • Unofficial transcripts from each college or university attended
  • A statement of purpose (no more than 500 words)
  • A skills questionnaire (part of the online application). Preview the questions.
  • Two to three recommendations
  • A one-page resume (optional)
  • Proof of English language proficiency (if English is not your native language)

Note that GRE scores are not required and will not be taken into consideration if submitted.

Application Steps

To apply to the Master of Science in Computational Linguistics, you'll submit your application materials online through the UW Graduate School website. We recommend you begin your application early in order to complete all requirements on time.

Step One: Prepare to Apply

  • Get transcripts from each college or university previously attended. Download unofficial transcripts or scan printed copies. Transcripts must be submitted in PDF format.
  • Write your statement of purpose. The statement of purpose is your chance to tell us about how you have prepared for the program, what you expect to get out of it and what you expect to do with the training afterwards.  Also, if there is anything in your application that should be contextualized (e.g. grades affected by life circumstances), you are invited to provide that context. The statement of purpose should be no more than 500 words long. You'll receive a more detailed explanation of what's expected in the statement of purpose in the online application.
  • Identify two to three people who can recommend you to the program. Make sure to ask people who are familiar with your academic work, especially your work in computer science or linguistics courses.
  • You'll need the email addresses of your references for the Graduate School application. They'll each be sent an email directing them to a secure website where they'll submit their recommendations.

Step Two: Apply

1. Start your online application to the UW Graduate School. 

2. In the Program Selection tab, choose these options:

  • Select your application type: Graduate 
  • Narrow your search: By Degree 
  • Filter by degree: Master's 
  • Select your program: "Linguistics (MS – Computational Linguistics)"

3. Upload all required documents.

4. Pay the nonrefundable application fee and submit your application.

International Students

International applicants are welcome to apply to the program. You are considered an international applicant if you are not a U.S. citizen, immigrant or green card holder. International applicants must meet all admission requirements for the program.

International students must have a visa status that allows for academic study at the University of Washington. For more information, see the UW Graduate School's International Applicant Information page.

If your native language is not English, you must demonstrate English language proficiency. If required, please submit TOEFL scores. We only accept scores less than two years old at the time of the application deadline. You should have your scores sent directly to the UW by the Educational Testing Service using institution code 4854.

Placement Exam and Refresher Course (Admitted Students)

Before starting the computational linguistics core sequence, all admitted students must either pass a placement exam or take the UW Summer Quarter refresher course, Basics for Computational Linguistics. You can take the placement exam online as soon as you're admitted. Based on the results of the exam, we'll advise you on whether you're ready for the core sequence, if you need additional coursework in computer science and/or probability and statistics, or if you should take the summer refresher course.

You can take the summer refresher course 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.

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