MA studies in Linguistics

Graduate Coordinator: Dr. Lior Laks (

General university guidelines for MA studies are available in this file and on the graduate school website.

Admission Requirements

In order to be accepted  to track A (with thesis), a student should hold a BA in linguistics with an average of at least 88, and for track B (without thesis) an average of at least 80. For candidates who do not hold a BA in linguistics, an average of 80 on related courses (when available) is required. Candidates who do not hold a BA in linguistics (and who do not meet the admissions requirements of the Linguistics in Clinical Research program) will be required to take additional courses (up to 10 credits) during their first year and get a grade of at least 80 in each of them to continue in a non-thesis track and at least 88 to be able to transition to a thesis track (track A) in the second year. These courses usually include: Introduction to Syntax and Semantics for Graduate Students (37-987); Psycholinguistics and Research Methods for Graduate Students (37-922); an advanced course in formal linguistics (changes yearly); a research seminar (changes yearly); and two 1-credit courses focusing on foundational skills (changes yearly). These courses are usually scheduled as one full day of studies (typically Wednesday yearly). It is recommended to contact the graduate coordinator before starting the application process for further information.

The policies, rules, and procedures established by the Bar Ilan Graduate School serve as the framework and set the minimum standards for the Department's Graduate Committee. See the current brochure of the Ph.D. and M.A. Committees for the general requirements for the degrees.

Degree Specializations

The Linguistics Division provides the students with a solid foundation in both theoretical and applied linguistics. Each student's program is constructed by the individual student and his/her supervisors. The program may include specialization in a combination of two or more of areas in linguistics, as well as in other fields such as brain sciences, psychology, or philosophy. Specializations can also involve research in the structure or use of a specific language or languages.

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Programs and Fields of Study

The M.A. programs are designed to be completed in two years. In exceptional cases, the student is granted a third year to complete a thesis. Part-time study programs are possible for the MA without thesis (Track B). The following table summarizes the three options for an M.A. in Linguistics in the Department of English Literature and Linguistics:

Program Prerequisites for Admission

Track A with thesis

B.A. in Linguistics or equivalent

Track B without thesis

B.A. in Linguistics or equivalent

Direct M.A.

Admission to Direct B.A./M.A. in Linguistics

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M.A. Track A (with thesis)

For research-oriented students who may want to continue to Ph.D.  Courses: 7 Seminars with research papers in 2 of them, M.A. thesis.

The full requirements for track A students are listed in this document.

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M.A. Track B (without thesis)

For students who want deepen their understanding of language and language processing. Courses: 8 seminars + 3 courses/seminars; students must write a research paper in at least 3 of the seminars.

The full requirements for track B students are listed in this document.

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M.A. Thesis

For Track A (thesis/research track), a thesis proposal is required by the end of first semester of the second year. The proposal is first approved by the thesis supervisor, and then is reviewed by another faculty member from the Department, and the University M.A. Committee. For a summary of the university guidelines for the thesis proposal, see p. 22 of this guide.

When the thesis is completed, and approved by the thesis supervisor, it is read and must be approved by two other readers. There is a final oral examination on the thesis. For further information, see p. 24 of this guide (the MA thesis guidelines are also available as  a separate file).

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Seminar Papers

Graduate students are expected to provide evidence of independent scholarship. The seminar paper is the primary medium towards this end. Each program (see above) requires a number of longer seminar papers. The student's thesis supervisor or the Linguistics Graduate Coordinator advises on which seminars to write these papers in. In graduate courses, the lecturer or professor determines the requirements and the grading criteria. According to University regulations, papers must be handed in before the beginning of the following academic year, unless an earlier time has been set by the lecturer/professor. Permission to submit late papers is granted in special circumstances by the University MA Committee. Students who wish to submit a late paper must fill out a request form to receive an extension (tofes pnia letoar sheni).

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Graduate Students in Undergraduate Courses

Graduate students in the M.A. Track B (without thesis) may take up to three advanced undergraduate courses in their program of studies. They have the same requirements as undergraduate students in these courses. M.A. Track A (with thesis) students need permission from the graduate coordinator and the head of the department in order to take an undergraduate seminar. In such cases, the course requirements will be equivalent to work at the graduate level.

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Final Examination for Track B Students (without thesis)

In the second (last) year of studies, students have an oral examination based on a set of readings agreed upon with a faculty member or on original research performed by the student. Both the reading list and the date of the examination are to be approved in advance. The Linguistics graduate coordinator should be consulted about the examination at the beginning of the second year of studies.

Instructions for preparing for the final track B examination in Linguistics:

  1. The student should choose a topic and get approval for it of a faculty member. The presentation may be on a set of articles on a new topic not discussed at length in any course taken by the student; on a topic they studied for a seminar paper but with some new research or new related papers not included in the seminar paper; a comparison between two papers that the student wrote; or a few other combinations. In no case can the student simply present a seminar paper.
  2. The student should prepare a short (at most 15 minutes) presentation on the chosen topic, using handouts or slides; simply reading from the handout is not appropriate.
  3. The objective is to raise questions that go beyond personal experience, showing that the articles have given the student original insights or that the student can integrate the material in the articles. Originality and creativity are desirable.
  4. The grade will depend on:
    • the extent that the student shows learning from the readings and studies in linguistics beyond simple repetition
    • the extent that the student can engage the examiners in discussion of linguistic issues

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Linguistics Colloquium

Advanced students in Linguistics are strongly encouraged to join the community of linguists by participating in scholarly meetings open to the public (colloquia and conferences).The departmental linguistics colloquium takes place about every two weeks on Tuesday afternoons and features speakers from the department and from other universities presenting research on a wide range of topics. You are encouraged to attend these meetings to broaden your understanding of linguistics and find out about all sorts of interesting topics and methods of research. Linguistics graduate students are required to attend the departmental linguistics colloquium for one full year during their graduate education in the department. All graduate students are encouraged to attend national and international conferences organized at the University. Some funding is available for graduate students giving papers at international conferences abroad.

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Pace of Work

The University requires M.A. degrees to be finished within 2 years. The Department appreciates that this pace is rather fast for students with other responsibilities. To meet this requirement, we suggest students take prerequisite courses before formally applying for admission. We invite prospective students to meet with a supervisor to discuss what prerequisites would be needed and when the student should appy for formal studies. We make an effort to schedule graduate courses on one or two days of the week. These days can then be kept open for coursework. Teachers entitled to sabbatical leave should usually take their sabbatical during the second year of the M.A. program. Course requirements and seminar papers should be completed when they are due.

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Continuing as a Graduate Student

According to University regulations, the minimum grade which can be counted towards a degree is 60%. Graduate students in the English Literature and Linguistics Department are expected to maintain an 80% average. The Department adheres to the University rules on plagiarism very strictly.

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Foreign Language Requirement

Graduate students studying in the department are exempt from the foreign language requirement.

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Scholarships and Financial Aid

There are a limited number of scholarships and grants administered by the University M.A. Scholarships Committee. Funding is allocated on the basis of merit as well as financial need. Sometimes, lecturers in the Department hire research assistants for their funded research.

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For all MA programs, applications should include:

  1. CV
  2. Scanned formal transcripts of prior studies (all of them), including all the course names, instructors and grades
  3. Scanned diploma(s)

The application should be sent by e-mail to the graduate program coordinator ( or to:

Graduate program in Linguistics

Department of English Literature and Linguistics

Bar-Ilan University

Ramat Gan 52900

  • Application deadline for the 2020-21 academic year: August 31, 2020

More information

See the Powerpoint slides from graduate student meeting, October 2015