Admissions Procedures

Application Deadline

The MSU Second Language Studies Ph.D. Program accepts applications in the fall of the year prior to admissions. (See a summary of the steps here.) To be considered for the Fall 2020 cohort of students, your application must be complete and received in full (including letters of recommendations, test score(s), and official transcripts) by December 11, 2020. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all three letters of recommendation and official transcripts are received by December 11, 2020.

Basic Requirements to be Considered for Admission

To be admitted to the SLS program, you must have at least a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from a recognized educational institution in a field related to applied linguistics (linguistics, a foreign language, teaching English as a second language, language education, etc.). Most students entering the program have a Master’s Degree in a similar field, prior language-teaching experience, and experience conducting research in applied linguistics, foreign language education, or SLA. MA Programs at Michigan State University from which some of our Ph.D. students come are listed below. To see what degrees and backgrounds our current students have, please see the current students’ websites.

Steps in the Application Process

Submit a Graduate School application. You will attach (a) through (f) below. The SLS Graduate Study Major code is 5642.

  • a. Personal statement: Your personal statement should include information about how your background and life experiences, including social, economic, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges motivated you to pursue a doctorate in Second Language Studies at Michigan State University.
  • b. Academic statement: Please provide a concise academic statement of your plans for graduate study, your career goals, and how MSU’s graduate program will help you meet your career and educational objectives. Additionally, please discuss your research interests, with whom you would like to study in the program, or both.
  • c. Contacts for three (3) letters of recommendation: In the Grad Portal, provide the names and email addresses for recommenders who are familiar with your academic and professional accomplishments and potential for success. At least one recommendation letter must be from a former professor, academic advisor, or other individual familiar with your academic background and abilities. The letters of recommendation must be current and specifically for the SLS Ph.D. Program. After you submit your online application, the system will send an email to each of your references containing a link so they can upload their letters of recommendations directly into your application file. All recommendation letters are due by the application deadline. You may check your application status and to see if your recommenders have uploaded their letters in the GradPortal.
  • d. Resume: Under “File Uploads” in the grad portal, select Document Type “Resume” and upload your Resume (or CV, which is a curriculum vitae).
  • e. Academic Writing Sample: Under “File Uploads” in the grad portal, select Document Type “Writing Sample” and upload your Academic Writing Sample. This could be your MA thesis, a paper from your MA program, or a publication.
  • f. You may optionally submit under “File Uploads” an additional piece of evidence that you believe will help the admissions committee understand your unique strengths or promise as a graduate student in this program. Examples are: Foreign or second-language materials, course evaluations, syllabi, or examples of your prior work with technology (e.g., website link; link to an electronic portfolio, etc.). You can type the URL(s) and a short description of the website(s) in a Word document and submit that document under “Other.”

STEP 2. 
Submit GRE test scores, and also submit English-language-proficiency test scores (TOEFL or IELTS) if you are a non-native speaker of English.

  • a. GRE scores: Send in your GRE Scores (MSU institution code=1465). Information on sending in your GRE scores can be found here.
  • b. English-language test scores (TOEFL or IELTS): For non-native speakers of English: Send in your TOEFL score of 600 (250 CBT or 100 iBT) or higher or an IELTS score of 7.5 or higher (MSU institution code=1465). The TOEFL or IELTS test must have been taken within two years of the application. Your score report must be sent from the testing agency directly to the Office of Admissions at Michigan State University: Hannah Administration Building, 426 Auditorium Road, Room 250, East Lansing, MI, 48824-2604.

STEP 3. 
Request official transcripts from institutions from which you received a higher education degree. Have these institutions send them by mail directly to the Second Language Studies Program Coordinator (Mr. Benjamin Lampe), or, if your prior university sends electronic transcripts from their admissions office, ask them to send your e-transcript to Lucinda Low in the MSU Office of Admissions at this email address: If your transcript is from MSU, you do not need to submit it; we have access to it. If your transcript is from China, you must submit transcript verification from the CDGDC, as described below.

Additional Step for Applicants from China:

MSU requires an additional step to verify transcripts for applications for admission from students from China. Acceptance to MSU will depend upon request a verification report of your university academic records with the China Academic Degree and Graduate Education Development Center (CDGDC). The report must be mailed directly to Mr. Benjamin Lampe, the Program Coordinator the Second Language Studies Program (his address is below), by the CDGDC, rather than by you or any third party. If you are accepted into the program, before admittance, you will need to undergo this additional step.

China Academic Degree and Graduate Education Development Center
Verification Division

B-17, Tongfang Scientific Plaza 
No.1 Wangzhuang Road, Haidian District, Beijing, 100083, P.R. China 
Tel: +86-10-82379480 
Fax: +86-10-82378718 (24 hours) 

Application Summary Sheet

For a summary of the application steps, download the PDF of the SLS Admissions Procedures.

Contact Information & Mailing Address for Application Materials

Mr. Benjamin Lampe, SLS Program Secretary and SLS Application Coordinator
Second Language Studies Ph.D. Program
Michigan State University
B-331 Wells Hall, 619 Red Cedar Road 
East Lansing, MI 48824
Phone: 517-884-1517
Fax: 517-432-2736

Financial Aid/Graduate Assisstantships

Financial Aid and/or Graduate Assistantships are available from a number of sources.
The Second Language Studies program administers graduate assistantships. These awards include a stipend and a tuition waiver of up to 9 credits per semester. All applicants whose admissions’ files are submitted and complete by Friday, December 11th, 2020, will be considered for these awards. Currently graduate students in the program work as Graduate Teaching Assistants (teaching undergraduate applied linguistics courses and adult ESL courses in the ELC), Graduate Research Assistants (working on faculty-led and grant-funded research projects), Graduate Technical Assistants (creating SLA web-based curricular content and research applications), and as Graduate Assistants within CeLTA and the ELC testing office. Currently, several students hold positions as Graduate Editorial Research Assistants, assisting the editors of TESOL Quarterly (Peter DeCosta and Charlene Polio), Studies in Second Language Acquisition (Susan Gass), The Modern Language Journal(Shawn Loewen), and Language Testing (Paula Winke). 

In addition, teaching or research assistantships may be available through other language programs at Michigan State.

Assistantships may be available through other graduate programs at Michigan State.