MA Linguistics

The Master Program in Linguistics is a program in theoretical linguistics with English as the language of instruction. It is a 4-semester consecutive one-subject-study, which builds on and deepens the knowledge that the participant gained during their Bachelor’s qualification, by specializing in research-oriented study in three working and research fields of linguistics. The research fields of syntax, semantics, phonology, psycho- and neurolinguistics, language variation and change as well as constraint-based grammar are available. In addition to the Institute of Linguistics,  this MA program is designed and supported by the following institutes: Institut für England & Amerikastudien (IEAS), Institut für Psycholinguistik und Didaktik der deutschen Sprache, Institut für Romanische Sprachen und Literaturen.

The master’s program Linguistics qualifies students to make theoretically founded and empirically based statements about different aspects of “language” and to investigate them further in independent research-oriented work. To this end, the study expands and deepens the theoretical foundations and techniques of linguistic language description. In addition, the focus is on dealing with the current state of research and current research initiatives. The goal is to guide the students to independent conception and execution of research work.

What is meant by Theoretical Linguistics?

Theoretical linguistics as taught at Goethe University involves using logical and mathematical tools in the analysis of language, as is standard in theories like the Minimalist Program, Montague Grammar, Optimality Theory, or Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar.

Please note that the MA in linguistics from Goethe University is not a program in English linguistics. Therefore, a BA in theoretical linguistics as described below or an equivalent qualification is required to participate in the program. A BA in applied linguistics, in English language and/or literature, in teaching of English, or in English translation is not enough to ensure a successful application.

General prerequisites for the Master’s Program Linguistics are:

  1. a Bachelor’s degree in linguistics from the Goethe University or
  2. a degree in the same or a similar field of study from a German or foreign university, with a standard study period of at least six semesters, which is at least equivalent to the Bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Goethe University

Applicant Checklist

*The admissions committee is charged with assuring that each successful applicant meets the requirements for admission to the program. Therefore, before you send in an application, we kindly request that you ask yourself whether any of the statements below apply to you*

  1. You do not have a Bachelor’s degree in formal, theoretical linguistics that is equivalent to the Bachelor’s degree of linguistics at Goethe University.
  2. You have not taken at least one introductory and one advanced class in each of the following areas: 
    1. formal phonetics and/or phonology
    2. formal syntax
    3. formal semantics
  1. You cannot provide proof of your English skills in one of the following ways:
    1. a bachelor’s degree with English as the instruction language
    2. a standardized test completed no more than 2 years prior to the time of application – the following certifications are recognized:
      1. TOEFL (Internet: score of at least 85)
      2. IELTS (at least 6 in each section)
      3. Cambridge First, Advanced or Proficient (at least ‘good’ in each section)

If you are sure that none of these statements apply to you, then we would be very happy to receive an application from you!

However, if one or more of these statements apply to you (or you cannot support your achievements through official documents), then please do not submit an application to our program, because the admissions committee will not be able to approve your application! There are many Masters programs in linguistics. If ours is not the right one for you, then we encourage you to apply for admission elsewhere. We wish you good luck in your endeavors!

Current information concerning studying during COVID-19:

Starting in winter semester 2021/22, the university will strive to take a step towards normality. Due to the changing conditions, it is planned to offer more classes in presence again. The corresponding schedules of the individual courses can be found in the course catalog (or, in the Olat courses). Please check those sites regularly, as changes can always occur in the dynamic situation of the pandemic. I.e., formats of individual courses may be adjusted and/or changed. We will keep you up to date!

16.09.21: Preliminary information on in-person teaching in the winter semester 2021/22 can be found here.


For questions regarding the recognition of study achievements please contact Matthias Schulze-Bünte.

Deadline for applications

01.06. – 31.08. for the winter semester 
01.12. – 28.02. for the summer semester

Link to the application process