Brown University's Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences (CLPS) is dedicated to the multidisciplinary study of mind, brain, behavior and language.

The department offers three Ph.D. programs: in Cognitive Science, Linguistics and Psychology. Ph.D. students are accepted by the department and formally choose one of the three programs. The department does not accept students interested in obtaining terminal master's degrees.

Linguistics focuses on the nature of human language: modeling human linguistic knowledge and its theoretical, behavioral, and biological bases. Brown University's graduate program in Linguistics is designed to prepare students for careers as scientists and teachers who will make contributions in academic or applied settings. Students will gain broad competence in the scientific issues using formal, theoretical, experimental, and/or computational methods relevant to modeling linguistic domains, and are expected to develop expertise in one or more research specializations. We especially encourage directions of study that bridge work in theoretical linguistics with experimental and/or computational methods. Programs of study are highly individualized. Decisions about research and coursework are made in close collaboration with a research advisor and graduate committee chosen by each student. Students may change areas and advisors as their interests develop. Students are also encouraged to collaborate with faculty members who are not their primary advisors.

Students accepted into the Linguistics Ph.D. program are guaranteed five years of financial support contingent on satisfactory progress toward the degree. In addition to the Graduate School's doctoral support, the department also typically provides a summer stipend for a fourth summer if the student continues to work on research over that period. Support normally comes in the form of teaching or research assistantships, and students are encouraged to apply for their own fellowships (e.g., NSF) before or after being admitted to the program.

Admission Requirements

  • Writing Sample: Required
  • In their statement of purpose, applicants should describe their background and interests as they relate to the preferred Ph.D. program (e.g., Linguistics) and to the research conducted by specific faculty who might serve as research advisors. To this end, we strongly recommend that applicants read the departmental website before applying, giving particular attention to the faculty research descriptions.
  • GRE General: Not required
  • GRE Subject: Not required

Application Deadline: December 1

Ph.D. Completion Requirements

Ten substantive courses (including at least one course in phonetics, one in phonology, one in syntax, one in semantics, and at least two courses drawn from the following areas: acquisition, computational linguistics, neurolinguistics, and/or psycholinguistics); first–year project (research and/or critical literature review and synthesis) and oral presentation; four semesters of teaching assistantships; major paper and oral defense; dissertation proposal and oral dissertation proposal meeting; dissertation and oral presentation. In addition, PhD candidates in linguistics must demonstrate a reading knowledge of one foreign language (usually French, German, or Russian) or knowledge of a foreign language to a level suitable for conducting linguistic research on that language. Non–native speakers of English may use English for their foreign language requirement.

Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences
Brown University
Box 1821
190 Thayer Street
[email protected]

Visit the Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences


Department Chair: Rebecca D Burwell

Director of Graduate Studies: David Badre