How to apply for postgraduate studies in Linguistics

How to apply for postgraduate studies in Linguistics

There are two aspects involved in applying to study Linguistics at Rhodes University. One is to make contact with the department, which you can do by emailing our Postgraduate Coordinator, Kelly Kilian, at  You can ask questions and discuss your research interests with her, or she will refer you to a member of staff who specialises in your area. Before you contact the department, take a look at our home page and People page to see what kind of areas of study we offer and the research areas we specialise in. You can also have a look at the research topics of some of our current postgrads on the People page. Lastly, please check that you will meet the basic entry requirements for the degree you want to apply for.  You can find these in Section 11 of the PG Handbook . In your email to the Postgraduate Coordinator you should mention the degree you want to study towards and the research area you would like to focus on.  You do not have to have a research proposal fully worked out at this stage, but it would help if you have a general idea of what you would like to study, because normally we will only accept applications to study in areas in which our department has research strengths. This ensures that you have an expert researcher guiding you in your own project.

The other thing to do is to make a formal application through the administrative structures of the university.  Our academic year runs from January to December and involves mandatory attendance at coursework modules. Applications may be submitted between May and November of each year. If you go to

you will find links to important information for prospective postgraduates, including the Higher Degrees Guide as well as links to some forms. 

To fill in the application form for postgraduate studies at Rhodes University, visit The application fee is R100. 

The completion and submission of this form will alert the administration of the university that you want to study with us and they will ask us if we accept your application.  If we do, you can reserve your place with a small payment.  After that, you will need to formally register and pay your fees. This is usually done at the beginning of the academic year.  You will find all the information you need regarding fees under the various subsections on this webpage:


What happens once I register for my degree?

After registration, you will be allocated an advisor, who will help you choose modules so that they support your research project. The first, and compulsory, meeting for all new PG students in the department is the Postgraduate Orientation Week, at which various aspects of good academic citizenship are covered and students are guided towards designing their research project. This is timed to coincide with the Undergraduate Orientation Week, and is usually at the beginning of February. Once your research direction has been established, usually in March, you will be allocated a supervisor who will work with you on your proposal.  Once the department has approved the proposal, it is submitted to the Humanities Higher Degrees Committee. You will also need to apply for ethical clearance to the Rhodes University Ethical Standards Committee.  Approval from both committees is necessary before you start your research.   


Essential requirements

We have some essential requirements for students applying for our programme:

  • As part of the application process for students who have not done their previous degrees with us, we require the names and contact details of three academic referees who we may contact with regard to your academic profile. Please ensure that you supply the details of people who are well acquainted with your work (such as a past supervisor).
  • We also require from prospective students an undertaking to come to Makhanda (Grahamstown) for a number of visits during the course of their studies. These are essential for those students who will not be ‘in attendance’, i.e. students who stay outside Makhanda and do their degree by correspondence with us. These visits are mandatory and cannot be waived.  You will, for instance, need to come to Rhodes to do short, intense coursework modules on research methods and proposal writing, and to present your proposal to the department as mentioned above.  You will also be expected to come and present your work at various stages of the research (at least once a year) and consult with your supervisor.  We realize that this adds extra costs to your studies, but we know that these points of contact between you and us are essential to your academic success. 


Finding funding

You may find the following website useful as it supplies information on funding opportunities, although much of it is not available for non-South African students.

For more advice on how to find funding opportunities for linguistic study, look at our Funding your studies in Linguistics page.


English proficiency

The university requires all postgraduate students from outside South Africa to provide proof of a recently obtained academic English language proficiency score in band 7 of the IELTS test.  This proof must be submitted along with the initial application. See this webpage for details of the test and to find your nearest testing centre:




Postgraduate students, staff and guests at a department Postgraduate Welcome Party

Last Modified: Fri, 04 Feb 2022 14:46:55 SAST