Guide to Graduate Study


Welcome to Linguistics at Cornell!

Matriculation through the graduate program in Linguistics requires the understanding of procedural guidelines and subsequent academic requirements such as exams, Teaching Assistantships, fellowship opportunities and program requirements. Here we have provided department-specific information and documents you will need throughout your course of study along with graduate school requirements and policies.

This guide has been prepared for the use of students and faculty in the Graduate Field of Linguistics at Cornell University and should be read in conjunction with the Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty, which sets forth the policies governing advanced degree programs throughout the University. Graduate study at Cornell requires each student to work out a program of study in consultation with a Special Committee selected by the student from the membership of the Graduate Faculty. This process takes the place of uniform course requirements and uniform departmental examinations. It is intended to create a close working relationship between faculty and students and to encourage freedom and flexibility in the design of individual students’ degree programs. Such a system places special demands on the energy and adaptability of both faculty and students, and it requires of each student a high degree of initiative and responsibility.

Student’s Responsibility

It is the responsibility of the candidate to become familiar with the various regulations that apply to their program and to satisfy them in the proper way. For the Ph.D. degree program there are three requirements imposed by the Graduate School: registration units; examinations; and the dissertation or thesis.

  1. Register for each semester, including the summer term, in one of the following status categories: full-time, part-time, in absentia, leave of absence, or withdrawal (full details of these status categories may be found in section V “Registration” of the Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty and in the Guide to Graduate Study).
  2. Familiarize themselves with Graduate School and University regulations, as published in the Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty, the Guide to Graduate Study, and University Policy 1.3: Graduate Assistantships: TA Policy
  3. Stay in regular communication with their special committee. Graduate students are expected to schedule a meeting of their full committee at least once a year. 
  4. Ensure they are in compliance with research regulations, especially those established by the Institutional Review Board for Human Participants and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

If you are struggling to meet any of the responsibilities above, please first see your committee chair or other members of your special committee. If that is not possible, for whatever reason, please see the DGS. If neither of these is an option, please approach the department chair. Also know that the Graduate Field Assistant is available to lead you to resources on campus.

PhD Progress Checklist

Students entering 2018 and later are required to give a colloquium-length presentation in the department at some point during their time at Cornell.

1st year:

  • Make significant inroads on completing the core courses
  • Have at least two meetings (one per semester) with your Advisory Committee
  • Apply for an NSF or other national fellowship in the fall semester, if eligible (usually only US citizens and resident aliens are eligible).
  • File academic plan with Graduate School describing anticipated summer academic activities and outcomes (due May 1, required for summer funding).

2nd year:

  • Select a Special Committee for your Q-Paper by September 1st
  • Submit a Q-paper proposal to your Special Committee by December 1st
  • Continue taking core courses, seminars
  • Complete any ancillary skills courses your committee requires (if any)
  • Take Research Workshop (LING 6603) in spring
  • The Q-Exam should be attempted before the end of the 4th semester. Summer funding for the second summer will be contingent on having attempted the Q-Exam by this deadline. To qualify for summer funding at the end of the fourth semester, it is essential that you schedule your Q-Exam no later than May 1st, and that the date of the exam be no later than May 14th.
  • File academic plan with Graduate School describing anticipated summer academic activities and outcomes (due May 1, required for summer funding).

3rd year:

  • Select a Special Committee for your A-Paper by September 1st
  • Register for Directed Research in the fall semester
  • Submit an A-paper proposal to your Special Committee by December 1st
  • Take Research Workshop (LING 6604) in spring semester
  • Take seminars to further research goals
  • Schedule A-Exam (form: Schedule A Examination and Research Compliance Form
  • Take A-Exam (report results - Results for Admission to Candidacy (A Exam), eligibility for 3rd summer funding is contingent on passing A-exam or filing a scheduling form by May 1 indicating an intention to take the exam by the start of the 7th semester)

N.B. The dissertation-year fellowship will be available only to students who attempted their A-exam prior to the seventh semester of enrollment (a requirement of the Code of Legislation), and have passed the A-exam. In addition, students seeking the dissertation-year fellowship must have written and submitted an external fellowship or grant proposal within their first four years of enrollment, to encourage all students to pursue external funding. (In exceptional cases for which there may be no logical external funding organization to which it would be appropriate to write a proposal, the student may write a proposal for an internal Cornell award such as a Graduate School or Einaudi travel grant or may petition for permission to complete an alternative professionalization activity.)

4th year:

  • A-exam should be done by the beginning of the 7th semester!
  • Select Special Committee for your dissertation by September 1st
  • Write your dissertation proposal (prospectus)
  • Take P-exam (defense of prospectus) by end of fall semester, committee reports results to GFA
  • Work on dissertation
  • Apply for dissertation year fellowships (usually done in fall) and other post-A-exam funding (such as East Asia Program fellowships)
  • 4th year summer funding is available by application only; students who have not passed their A-exam are not eligible. Applications for summer funding are due May 1 at the Graduate School. Students who have not passed their P-Exam are also ineligible for 4th year summer funding. Exams not completed by May 1st will result in funding being withheld.

5th year:

Advisory and Special Committee

During the first year in the program, students plan their schedules in consultation with an Advisory Committee.  This temporary arrangement is intended to give students time to get to know members of the faculty before selecting their own Special Committee.  After a general orientation, new students meet with their advisory committee members before the beginning of the fall and spring semesters to plan their course schedules. The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) will serve as the student’s main academic Provisional Chair during the first year of residence.

Beyond the first year Special Committees guide the student. At all points, the chair of the current Special Committee is regarded as the student’s advisor. At the beginning of the 3rd semester the student selects a Special Committee to guide in the writing of the Q-Exam paper. At the end of the third semester (by December 1st), 2nd year students should submit a Q-paper proposal to the committee. This paper is defended at the end of the 2nd year. At the beginning of the 3rd year, the Special Committee (and chair) for the A-exam paper is selected, and a proposal for the A-paper is required by December 1st. The paper is defended at the end of the 3rd year. Finally, at beginning of the 4th year, the chair and committee for the dissertation is selected. The dissertation prospectus must be defended by the end of the fall semester of the 4th year. The dissertation is defended at the B-Exam. The A-Exam and the B-Exam require scheduling and result forms to be filed with the Graduate School, the Q-Exam and P-Exam forms are filed department-internally only. 

Questions involving academic matters should be addressed to members of a student’s committee. One mistake many students make is consulting too narrowly – remember to involve all the members of your committee, not just your chair! Other faculty members may be useful resources as well.

Questions involving financial aid or Field and Graduate School policy should be addressed either to the Field Assistant or to the Director of Graduate Studies.  

PhD Requirements

The Ph.D. in Linguistics is awarded to students who have demonstrated the ability to conduct independent, original research in the field, and have acquired mastery of linguistic concepts, methods and data. Progress towards the degree is attained by: 
(1) completing the core course requirements
(2) passing the Qualifying Exam (Q-Exam), results reported to Field
(3) passing the Admission to Candidacy Exam (A-Exam), results reported to Grad School (Results for Admission to Candidacy (A Exam))
(4) defending the prospectus (P-Exam), results reported to Field
(5) completing and defending dissertation (B-Exam), results reported to Grad School (Results for Final Defense of Ph.D. Degree (B Exam))

Course Requirements

A. Core Courses

To assure that Ph.D. students receive an adequate grounding in all of the fundamental areas of linguistics, the field has defined a set of core requirements in the areas of Syntax, Phonology, Semantics, and Historical Linguistics. The general expectation is that all students will take all core courses. If a student requests an exemption on the basis of comparable graduate-level coursework at another institution, this exemption can only be granted after consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and the instructor of the relevant course. Beyond the core courses, Ph.D. students are expected to attend advanced linguistics courses (topics courses and seminars) not only in the areas in which they write their research papers and thesis, but in areas that will provide sufficient breadth as advised by the Special Committee.

Students are required to complete courses equivalent to the following:

  • Historical Linguistics (LING 6314)
  • Phonology I and II (LING 6401/6402)
  • Syntax I and II (LING 6403/6404)
  • Semantics I (LING 6421)
  • Research Workshop (LING 6603/6604): This course provides students with an opportunity to develop an original research paper through a number of revisions (the Q and A papers are the main focus of attention, in their respective semesters), some of which are presented to an audience of fellow students. The final version is presented at a semester-end mini-conference.
  • At least one course from the following subfields:  computational linguistics, historical linguistics (beyond Ling 6314), morphology, phonetics, semantics, and pragmatics. 
  •  Advanced courses: all students are required to take at least four (4) seminars or topics courses for credit. These are courses at the 6600-level or higher.

B. Ancillary skill sets

In the course of research, a student may need to master one or more ancillary skill sets. These might be familiarity with languages of scholarship, or training in statistics, logic, field methods or programming. The student, in consultation with his/her committee, is expected to determine which skills need to be acquired and how and when this should be done.

Additional Course Information

A regular course load for students without teaching appointments is four courses.  Students who are teaching normally take three courses. TAs (pre-A-exam) who fall below 12 credits in their course registration should “top-up” their credits by registering for Directed Research.  Students may exceptionally take more courses, if deemed appropriate by the Special Committee.  Aside from the Research Workshop, which is offered only as an S/U course, linguistics courses should be taken under the letter grade option. After the A-Exam, additional courses may not be taken for credit (unless required by your committee or fellowship), however, auditing courses is encouraged.

All full-time graduate students are required to be registered for at least 12 credits. All students must register on-line through the student center on-line system, Student CenterUnder no circumstances may a student drop below the 12 credit threshold and still be considered full-time.  Pre-A students will be enrolled in GRAD 9010 – Graduate-level Research and Post-A will be enrolled in GRAD 9011 – Doctoral Dissertation Research to meet the 12 credit requirement.

Incompletes for core courses are granted only in exceptional circumstances, and the incomplete must be made up by the beginning of the next semester. This deadline should be taken seriously. After one year, a grade of Incomplete becomes permanently frozen by the Graduate School. Q and A exams cannot be scheduled with any Incompletes still outstanding. 

A list of courses in linguistics and related information will be posted on the department bulletin board (by the lounge) and for each semester or you may look at the on-line course roster or courses of study Courses of Study.  Many of the advanced courses in the department take the form of one-time-only Linguistics seminars. It is also possible for students to arrange for independent study courses (Directed Research LING 7701-7702) on topics of mutual interest with faculty members. Any additions to your course schedule after the three week add period or seven week drop period requires a course enrollment petition (General Petition).

Department/CLC Colloquia

Students are expected to participate in the intellectual life of the department. Students are strongly urged to attend talks given by visiting and in-house speakers, and to participate in workshops and conferences organized by the department members.  Please check our website for updates,

Student Progress Review

At the end of the academic year, every graduate student is required to complete a student progress review to reflect on the progress made throughout the last year and goals for the upcoming year. The Special Committee chairperson is responsible for evaluating the student’s progress and approving the report.

Time to Degree

Doctoral degree candidates must complete six semesters before the degree is granted. Normally Ph.D. degree candidates take four to five years of full-time study to complete all degree requirements. All requirements for the doctoral degree must be completed within seven years of the first registration in the degree program; an extension may be obtained by petition. At least one-half of the minimum registration units for a master’s or Ph.D. degree must be earned from full-time, academic-year study on the Ithaca campus.


The Faculty in the Field of Linguistics have set up some guidelines for the submission of papers and dissertations for Q, A, P and B exams. These deadlines are to ensure that committees have time to read the materials and that students are not asked to revise up to the last minute. Deviations from these guidelines can, of course, be negotiated with the Special Committee when necessary.

Q and A-Exams:

  • 3 weeks before exam date: papers should be submitted to committee
  • 2 weeks before exam date: questions will be given to the student
  • 1 week before the exam date: written answers to the questions are due

Admission to candidacy in the field of Linguistics consists of writing two research papers, which are evaluated in two exams, the Q-exam and the A-exam. The Q-exam is taken by the end of the second year, and the A-exam is taken by the end of the third year. The “academic year” in each of these cases does not include summer or winter breaks. While exams are sometimes scheduled during summer, the availability of committee members during breaks is highly variable, and you should not assume that you will have this time for exams. Graduate School regulations require that all doctoral students must take the Examination for Admission to Candidacy before beginning their seventh semester of registration unless special permission is obtained from the Dean.   

The format of the Q and A exams varies from case to case, depending on the expectations of the Special Committee. The Field requires that the candidate submit to the committee in advance of the exam a research paper of high quality (see the deadlines above). The Special Committee for each exam will normally ask the candidate to prepare written answers to one to two questions. The papers for the two exams must be in two distinct subfields, with a distinct Special Committee devoted to each paper. Committees are considered distinct if they have different chairs. Questions concerning distinctness of committees should be addressed to the DGS.

Students should consult with members of their Special Committees well in advance of the examination date about the specific expectations. The Q-Exam is scheduled department internally using the Q-exam scheduling form (available from the GFA or the DGS), and the results are reported to the GFA on the results form. The Q-Exam should be attempted by the end of the 4th semester. Summer funding for the second summer will be contingent on having attempted the Q-Exam by this deadline. To qualify for summer funding at the end of the fourth semester, it is essential that you schedule your Q-Exam no later than May 1st, and that the date of the exam be no later than May 14th.

Scheduling of the A-Exam must be done through the Graduate School. You will need to file the schedule of exam (Schedule A Examination and Research Compliance Form) with the graduate school at least seven days prior to taking your exam. This form must be signed by all members of the student’s Special Committee, the DGS and the GFA. Please plan ahead to acquire the proper signatures. Please begin the online results of examination form the morning of your exam (Results for Admission to Candidacy (A Exam)). The A-exam must be attempted by the start of the 7th semester. Summer funding and the second year of Sage fellowship are contingent on meeting this deadline.

Outcomes of exams (Q or A) may be as follows:

  • Pass
  • Pass with revisions (minor or substantial, but no need to retake the exam)
  • Fail and reschedule (with a clear and firm deadline specified for the retake)
  • Fail

Your committee will clearly communicate to you and the DGS the result.

Candidates who pass the A-Exam may be awarded an M.A. without thesis at that time. This is not automatic. The required box must be checked and initialed by the DGS on the results form.

Following successful completion of the A-exam, a Special Committee for the dissertation is selected and the P-exam (defense of the prospectus) is undertaken by the end of the fall of the fourth year. Scheduling of this exam is done department-internally (with the GFA/DGS) and does not involve the Graduate School.

P-Exam submission guideline:

  • 2 weeks before the exam date the prospectus should be given to the committee
  • Results of the exam are reported to the GFA

The B-Exam (thesis defense) is taken after completion of the Ph.D. dissertation. The B-Exam includes a presentation of the highlights of the dissertation followed by questions from the committee and others in attendance. You will also need to file the schedule of exam form to take your B-exam.

B-Exam submission guideline:

  • 1 month before exam date: defensible draft should be given to the committee, AND a meeting with the committee (either actual or virtual) should be held.

Please check on-line for filing deadlines to submit your dissertation. Cornell has three conferral dates: January, May, and August,

Candidates submit their dissertation to The Graduate School online using the Proquest tool.  The Graduate School verifies that minimum formatting requirements are met and sends an electronic copy of the thesis document to the candidate's special committee for final approval.

Faculty Participation in Exams

All members of the special committee are expected to attend all examinations. At the discretion of the field demonstrated by permission from the DGS and with the agreement of all members of the committee when scheduling an exam, one or more committee members may participate from a remote off-campus location via appropriate, high-quality electronic audio and video conferencing. At least one committee member must be located on the University campus with the student during the exam.  

If the chair is participating in the exam from a remote location, they must designate one of the minor members with signature authority (not an ad hoc member) in attendance on campus to sign the Results of Examination Form on their behalf.* The special committee chair must inform the student, the Director of Graduate Studies of the student’s field, and the Graduate School of the arrangements.

While faculty may be available for exams during the summer, do not assume that they will be available. Scheduling of exams should be worked out well in advance, so that you can take into account the schedules of all your committee members.

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rules surrounding in-person exams has been adjusted. Please check with your Committee and the GFA if you have questions about how your exam should be presented. The B-Exam Results Form is now initiated by the student following the exam in an online format.

Faculty Signatures

It is your responsibility to stay in contact with your chair and members to make sure you get their signatures on the necessary forms before they go on leave or away for the summer. They scan the necessary forms to the department or GFA.

Certification of Enrollment and Degree

The Office of the University Registrar is responsible for certifying student enrollment and degrees. The University Registrar maintains both past and present student records, but cannot verify future enrollment.

Ordering Transcripts

The Office of the University Registrar provides official grade transcripts bearing the Cornell University seal and the signature of the University Registrar for graduate and professional school applications, employers, and scholarships. The University maintains a single transcript for all students reflecting all courses taken at Cornell, including summer, extramural, undergraduate and graduate courses.

If you wish to see your grades, you can view and print them by semester through Student Center.  Log-in:

Financial Support

We typically offer guaranteed 5-year full financial support to students we admit into the graduate program, regardless of the student's citizenship. Two of those years (SAGE Fellowship:  the first-year and the "dissertation year" in which students are not expected to work as a Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant) are through fellowships, and the other three years are through other sources of support, typically teaching assistantships or research assistantships. The five-year funding package covers: tuition and fees, student health insurance, and a nine-month stipend for living expenses. Funding is contingent on satisfactory academic performance, and beginning with the 2014-15 academic year, the Graduate School has instituted progress requirements for continued funding. These are outlined in the Ph.D. Progress Checklist above, and detailed below:

  • Students will be eligible for the first and second summers of funding only if they file with the Graduate School by May 1 of that year an academic plan describing the anticipated summer academic activities and outcomes. A form will be developed by the Graduate School for this purpose.
  • To be eligible for second summer funding, a student must have assembled the Special Committee before the end of the third semester of registration, as required by the Code of Legislation (and must file an academic plan by May 1 as above).
  • Students will be eligible for third-summer funding only if they have passed the A-exam or have filed an exam scheduling form by May 1 of that year that indicates they are scheduled to attempt the A-exam prior to the start of their seventh semester of enrollment, as required by the Code of Legislation, and if they have filed with the Graduate School by May 1 an academic plan describing anticipated summer academic activities and outcomes.
  • Students will be eligible for fourth-summer funding only after passing the A-exam, and only by application. A student must submit an application to the Graduate School for 4th summer of support by May 1 of that year, describing the scholarly work completed with the 3rd summer of support and stating the academic objectives to be undertaken during the 4th summer. Graduate School staff will review the applications. Students who have not passed their P-Exam are also ineligible for 4th year summer funding. Exams not completed by May 1st will result in funding being withheld.
  • The dissertation-year fellowship will be available only to students who attempted their A-exam prior to the seventh semester of enrollment (a requirement of the Code of Legislation), and have passed the A-exam. In addition, students seeking the dissertation-year fellowship must have written and submitted an external fellowship or grant proposal within their first four years of enrollment, to encourage all students to pursue external funding. (In exceptional cases for which there may be no logical external funding organization to which it would be appropriate to write a proposal, the student may write a proposal for an internal Cornell award such as a Graduate School or Einaudi travel grant or may petition for permission to complete an alternative professionalization activity.)
  • No portion of the dissertation-year fellowship may be used by the student later than the twelfth semester of enrollment, unless the student had secured external funding in an earlier term, in which case one or two semesters of dissertation-year fellowship may be used after the twelfth semester corresponding with the length of external funding (one semester if one semester external funding had been secured, or two semesters if at least two semesters of external funding had been secured). Exceptions to this requirement will be considered on an individual basis and requests should be directed to the Graduate School Associate Dean for Administration (General Petition).

Teaching/Research Assistantships

The studies of all graduate students are funded in part by Teaching Assistantships (TA). In the Department of Linguistics, most Teaching Assistantships involve helping a professor in an undergraduate course; responsibilities may include leading discussion sections, meeting with students, grading homeworks, and helping grade papers and exams. Every effort is made to match teaching assignments with graduate student interests and to make sure that each Teaching Assistant receives a variety of teaching experiences while at Cornell. Teaching assistants work on average 15 hours per week and do not usually exceed 20 hours in any given week.

A student holding a TAship may work a total of 20 hours per week as a combination of the TA responsibilities and employment elsewhere, either on- or off-campus.  Students holding a University fellowship, external fellowship, or GRA may also be employed on- or off-campus for no more than 8 hours per week, as long as this does not conflict with the terms of the external funding agreement.

A research assistantship (RA) entails work on a faculty research project not necessarily related to the student's dissertation. RAs work 15 to 20 hours per week. If the research project directly relates to the student's dissertation, then the appointment is a graduate research assistantship (GRA), in which case the time spent on research connected with the project is expected to be significant; hours spent on assignments are not tracked.

The John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines allots the Linguistics department TA-ships for our graduate students to teach First-Year Writing Seminars. This program emphasizes the humanities and social sciences and provides graduate students in all fields the opportunity to lead small undergraduate writing seminars. All graduate student instructors of First-Year Writing Seminars are required to take Writing 7100: Teaching Writing, a summer or fall semester one-credit course that provides a thorough pedagogical and experiential grounding in teaching. The Department of Linguistics has approved courses that are offered as a writing seminar. See Jenny for the list of seminars. Students who have taught an FWS before may submit a proposal for a new FWS, preferably in consultation with a faculty FWS supervisor. If you would like to propose a new writing seminar, you will need to fill out the pre-EPC form. See Jenny for the form. The Buttrick-Crippen Fellowship provides a full year of support during which the Fellow can devote him- or herself to the study and practice of teaching composition within and beyond the context of his or her discipline.  The Buttrick-Crippen Fellow will spend the fall semester preparing a new First-Year Writing Seminar for the John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines and will teach that seminar in the spring.

Students may serve as language instructors for their TA-ship.  These also involve 15 hours a week.  Students with appropriate language background who are given such assignments are required to fulfill the respective department’s training requirements, which may include taking a course in language pedagogy.

Cornell University Policy 1.3: Graduate Student Assistantships


The Graduate Field now requires all graduate students to apply for external funding at some point in their first four years. Students in the field of Linguistics are encouraged to apply for a variety of fellowships such as the National Science Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council Fellowships. Also, the area programs at Cornell (East Asian, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and European Studies) offer federally supported Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships to students whose research focuses on any of these areas.

Many of these non-Cornell sourced external fellowships are intended for students who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Applicants from foreign countries should seek aid from their own governments, universities, or corporations or from a U.S. agency operating abroad, such as the Institute for International Education or the Fulbright-Hays Program.

Under certain conditions, external funds can be used to extend the package of guaranteed support from the Field or used in place of the teaching assistantship or research apprenticeship to allow the recipient to focus on research. The Graduate School and Field policies on modifying the initial package are available from the Director of Graduate Studies. Currently, students who are awarded these fellowships receive the two "free" years of SAGE funding (i.e., the first year and the dissertation year), but not the University-funded RA or TA stipends in the years that are covered by the external fellowship.

The East Asian Program offers the following fellowships that have no citizenship restrictions. These typically provide tuition and stipend for one semester.

Einaudi Center Funding-East Asia Program Fellowships

  • Robert J. Smith Fellowships in Japanese Studies
  • Starr Fellowships
  • Lee Teng-hui Fellowships in World Affairs

Einaudi Center grants:

Cornell's Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS), Fulbright-Hayes Awards, Fulbright Program, International Research Travel Grants: The Mario Einaudi Center and its associated Programs offer a wide range of support and assistance to graduate students in search of funding for their international research, study, and scholarship. See website for deadlines, usually late January.

Graduate School Fellowship Database

A searchable database of fellowships of all kinds – well worth a look!

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSFGRFP):

The National Science Foundation funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. For US citizens and permanent residents, these are very competitive, but they provide a multi-year package of fellowship funding. College seniors, first and second-year students with no more than 12 months of graduate study (i.e. no MA/MS degree) are eligible. It is most advisable to apply in your first year, if you are eligible. Even if you feel you do not have much linguistics research experience, the experience of writing the proposal is worthwhile. You will also get feedback from the NSF Fellowship Panel, which you can incorporate into an improved application the following year, if you do not succeed the first time. If you wait until your final year of eligibility to apply, you cannot take a second chance. The Graduate School requires that you apply for external funding at some point; you may as well go for this one.

Social Science Research Council fellowships:

Most support from the Council goes to predissertation, dissertation, and postdoctoral fellowships, offered through annual, peer-reviewed competitions.

NSF dissertation improvement grants (DDRIG): these are for post-A-exam dissertation-writers. There is no US citizenship requirement. The grants supply up to $12,000 for research-related expenses. Deadlines are July 15th and January 15th of each year. The Principal Investigator should be the student's dissertation advisor, and the student should be the Co-Principal Investigator. It is expected that the student (Co-PI) will author the proposal, which will then be submitted through the university by the dissertation advisor (PI).

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships

Conferences/Research Opportunities/Travel

The achievement of an advanced degree in linguistics involves more than the successful completion of a certain number of courses; advanced students are expected to demonstrate an active involvement in the scholarship of the field, e.g., by presenting the results of their research at scholarly or professional meetings.  In the highly competitive academic job market, prospective employers place considerable weight on evidence of commitment to research.

The Graduate School supports graduate students for one conference per academic year. You will need to submit the Conference Grant Application 2022 (online) with all required signatures, brief statement of relevance of conference with research, one page abstract of presenting material & acceptance email from a conference agent. You should submit your application prior to the conference, however applications will be accepted up to 30 days after the START date of the conference. Please note that the deadlines for these awards are firm.  

Applications received after the deadline will be awarded a maximum of 1/2 the conference amount. 

Please submit completed applications online with the link above.

Eligibility -

  • Recipients must be enrolled full-time in a graduate degree program through the Graduate School and be a registered student during the term in which the conference takes place.
  • Students must be presenting a paper or poster at the conference for which funds are requested. In the event of dual authorship of a paper/poster accepted for presentation, only the presenting author may receive an award.
  • Only one award will be considered during the academic year, which is from July 1 through June 30.

The field also has an allotment of money to supplement the Graduate School funding for travel expenses. These funds may be requested in writing from the field assistant, Please include the title of your paper/poster and the notice of your conference acceptance with your request.

  • First request:      $250.00
  • Second request: $250.00

You may combine these two $250 awards for ONE lump sum award of $500.  You may not receive more than $500 from the department during the fiscal year, running from July 1-June 30.

*If you are attending virtual conferences, you may still apply for funding to cover registration costs. Please submit costs for consideration.

Research Travel

The Graduate School awards a small number of grants for research-related travel in the United States or overseas. Students may also apply to the Einaudi Center for additional funds for international travel.

Research travel grant applications are available on the grad school website under forms (Conference Grant Application). Students who have passed their A-exam prior to initiating their travel are eligible to apply. Forms are due October 1 for fall awards and February 1 for spring and summer awards. Awards are announced in December and March.

The Mario Einaudi Center and its associated Programs sponsor the International Research Travel Grants. These grants provide travel support for Cornell University graduate students conducting short-term research and/or fieldwork in countries outside the United States. The deadline is the first work day in February. See website for details,


In Absentia

In absentia status provides an opportunity for graduate students to engage in approved study in a location at least 100 miles away from the University’s Ithaca campus during the academic year while continuing to work under the guidance of the Special Committee. Provided the proposed arrangement enhances the student’s program of study, the student may earn registration units. Students studying in absentia are eligible for fellowships, assistantships, student health insurance, and educational loans. Please file the In Absentia petition (In Absentia Petition). Again, please plan ahead to obtain signatures. Failure to file this form with the graduate school by the deadline (June 15, fall or academic year/November 1, spring semester only) will accrue bursar charges for full tuition and health insurance.

Leave of Absence

A leave of absence can be granted for personal or medical reasons, but the process is different for each type of leave.  A health leave of absence requires filing with Cornell Health. More information is available at

The maximum number of years allowed for leave of absence is four. To register past the four-year limit, an individual first must apply for readmission. A student who takes a leave of absence relinquishes the access to campus facilities and personnel that normally accompanies student status. However, students are eligible to enroll in the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) for a period of up to 12 months by contacting the Student Insurance Office at (607) 255- 6363. Upon registration after a personal leave of absence, a student is not guaranteed continuation of the financial aid package offered at the time of original admission to the Graduate School. U.S. government regulations require that a student holding a non-immigrant visa who takes a personal leave of absence must either (1) leave the U.S. within 15 days or (2) apply for optional practical training before the effective leave of absence date. Before leaving Cornell, such a student taking a leave of absence should contact Graduate School Student Services and the International Students and Scholars Office for information on maintaining visa eligibility for re-entering the United States.

Active file fee: A doctoral candidate (a Ph.D. student who has passed the A exam) who has earned six or more registration units is required to pay an active file fee. The fee will be charged for each semester of leave, up to a maximum of six semesters. The active file fee is charged based on the date of the final dissertation submission, not the date of the final examination. The active file fee is not charged for summers. Consult the Graduate School regarding fees.

Leave upon completion of degree: Students who complete the degree prior to the end of the fall or spring semester can file for a leave upon completion; tuition will be prorated accordingly.

Candidate for degree only fee: A Master’s degree student who returns to the University from a leave to take a final examination must register for the day as a Candidate for Degree Only (CDO) and pay an administrative fee. Contact your Graduate Student Services Representative regarding registering for the day of your final exam.

Parental Accommodation

The University offers graduate students two forms of accommodation for childbirth, newborn care, adoption, foster care, and acute child health care needs. Students may select six-weeks paid accommodation (for fully funded graduate students only) or up to one year of reduced-load registered student status not counting toward time-to-degree limits (available to all students).

Summer Registration

Students who receive summer support must be actively pursuing their academic program over the summer months.  Students must register with the Graduate School for the summer in order to receive summer support. Beginning in 2014, students must submit an academic plan to receive summer funding. You may work an additional eight hours of work per week on a project with your advisor and/or another faculty member.

Cornell Linguistics Circle (CLC)

The Cornell Linguistics Circle (CLC) is the graduate student group of the Cornell Department of Linguistics.  Students from linguistics and related fields are welcome to attend CLC meetings and participate in planned activities. The CLC serves to promote exchange of ideas among graduate students in the field and to advocate for the graduate student body within the department. Throughout the course of the academic year the CLC invites a series of outside speakers from linguistics departments around the country and the world (mentioned above in the section on colloquia).  Speakers deliver talks attended by faculty and graduate students (followed by a CLC-sponsored reception, of course!) and are often available for one-on-one meetings with interested students.


Keys to the building and mail room are issued through the main office. Our Labs and lounges have combination locks; if you will need access, see the main office. The lounges on the second floor are open to all; we ask only that you keep them clean. When you take a leave of absence, you are no longer considered a registered graduate student, and, therefore, must return your keys to the main office.

Mailboxes for all departmental faculty, staff, and graduate students are located in 203 Morrill Hall.  Most department information is primarily sent by e-mail. Important notices are also posted on the Linguistics Field Board next to the 2nd floor elevator.  Conferences and calls for papers will be posted on the bulletin board by room 219. But most notices are sent by e-mail – it is your responsibility to check your mail regularly!

The Linguistics Department copier/scanner machines are for professional use and are located in 222 Morrill Hall. The color copier/scanner has a thumb drive which some of you might find useful.

All keys must be returned upon graduation.

Grad Student Offices

The department assigns graduate students with desk space. Students in their first five years of funding are given priority to desk space. Most of the grad desks are in the basement, often within one of the labs. There is a microwave and refrigerator in B08 or you may use the lounge on the second floor.

Linguistics Labs

There are several research labs in Morrill Hall. Details about the facilities available in each can be found by clicking on the links below.

The Computational Linguistics Lab, B07, contains an educational classroom for special events and space for computational linguistics research by grad students, undergraduate research projects, and grant research. The Lab is part of a larger Natural Language Processing group at Cornell, including faculty and students in Computer Science, Psychology, and Information Science. The Faculty of Computing and Information Science provides system administration support for the lab, and some computational work is done on hardware at the Department of Computer Science and the Center for Advanced Computing.

The Phonetics Lab, B09, provides an integrated environment for the experimental study of speech and language, including its production, perception, and acquisition. Its facilities include a variety of hardware and software for analyzing and editing speech, for running experiments, for synthesizing speech, and for developing and testing phonetic, phonological, and psycholinguistic models. There is a lab classroom, and there are regular lab and data analysis meetings.

The Language Documentation Lab, 226A, provides resources and laboratory space for research involving language documentation, description, and analysis, with an emphasis on understudied languages. Currently there are three portable field recorders as well as a few microphones, and other fieldwork equipment to be added later. Also, in the works is a workstation with various software packages for fieldwork and language documentation, such as ELAN.  A wiki has been created for the lab for general fieldwork information, tips, and to track equipment. The wiki will also contain a record of resources for fieldwork, including information on grants.

The Interface Lab, 103, Interface Research Group focuses on understanding the interfaces between phonology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. These include phenomena such as cliticization, focus and information structure, intonation, the syntax of the left periphery. Experimental studies and corpus-based research figure prominently in our work, utilizing the resources of the Cornell Phonetics Lab, as well as resources at our collaborating labs.

Linguistics Meaning Lab (LiME), B06, is hosted in the Department of Linguistics at Cornell University. At the LiMe Lab we investigate all facets of linguistic meaning, from its most deterministic aspects to the fleeting meanings that arise during conversation. To investigate this question, we use insights from multiple fields such as formal semantics, pragmatics, syntax, psycholinguistics and cognitive science more generally.

Contacts and Resources

Director of Graduate Studies (DGS)
Miloje Despic, 212 Morrill Hall, Check office door for office hours, appointments by e-mail; plan accordingly for DGS signature.

Graduate Field Assistant (GFA)

Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty

Graduate Student Services & Registrar

Thesis and Dissertation

Graduate School Forms