Thank you for your interest in our degree programs. Admission to the PhD program in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) is handled jointly by Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS) and by the Department. All applicants must submit a formal application to the Graduate School, which collates all required materials and forwards the student’s dossier to the Department, where it is evaluated by the faculty. Final decisions on admissions are made by an Admissions Committee, made up by NELC faculty, in consultation with the GSAS dean. Notification of decisions is normally made in mid-March. Admitted students have approximately one month to accept or decline an offer.

NOTE: Online submission of applications is required. Please do NOT send any application materials to the department. Do not click on "submit application" until you have uploaded your writing sample and unofficial transcript. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and NELC cannot guarantee consideration of any material received after the application deadline.

The current application deadline for September 2023 admission is December 15, 2022. The following materials will be required of each applicant:

  • application form
  • statement of purpose
  • three letters of recommendation
  • writing sample (25 pp., 5000 words. max) 
  • official copies of transcripts from previous degree-granting institutions
  • official report of GRE scores
  • official report of TOEFL scores if a non-native English speaker (minimum 620 for the paper-based test, or 105 for the Internet-based test)

*If the applicant holds a B.A. degree (or equivalent degree) from an English-speaking university TOEFL is not required. 

Full details on the admissions process are available directly from the Graduate School.

The application process is completely electronic. You can begin your application for fall 2021 admission here.

Please note the research fields listed on our site are the current fields of study. Applicants must clearly identify their area of interests in their statement of purpose.

All doctoral applicants are expected to have foundational language skills needed for primary research in the area of specialization (Arabic, Akkadian, Sumerian, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, etc.) at the time of application. In addition, advanced reading knowledge of French or German is required before admission to the doctoral program.

For the Master of Arts (A.M.) program: Before seeking admission, applicants will normally have attained a basic knowledge of a Near Eastern language central to their field of concentration. Advanced reading knowledge of either French or German is required before admission


 Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the application dates?
The current application deadline for September 2021 admission is December 15, 2021.

2. Can students apply to begin in the Spring semester?
Offers of admission are made for the Fall semester only.

3. What is the minimum score required for the GRE/TOEFL?
The department does not have a minimum score requirement for the GRE. The minimum required score for the TOEFL is 105. Per the Admissions Office, students for whom English is a second language are only able to waive the TOEFL requirement if they hold a Bachelor's degree from a university where instruction is primarily in English.

4. How important is the GRE?
GRE scores are one among many factors in deciding whether or not to admit an applicant. The department considers GRE scores alongside the statement of purpose, academic record, writing sample, and letters of recommendation.

5. What should I write in my Statement of Purpose?
The statement of purpose is a key factor in deciding whether to admit a candidate. Your statement should be focused, informative, and convey your research interests and qualifications. You should provide a vivid picture of your intellectual profile: how you formulate research topics, how you pursue them, and how you articulate any interesting findings. It is important to emphasize how these experiences have influenced both your decision to undertake graduate study and your goals within the NELC graduate program.

6. What is the required length of the writing sample/statement of purpose?
There is no fixed length for either, though on average statements of purpose are1–3 pages, while writing samples are generally 20–25 pages, with 25 pages being the maximum acceptable length.

7. How should I choose my writing sample?
An ideal writing sample pertains to your desired area of focus and demonstrates your ability to use and cite both primary and secondary sources skillfully.

8. How competitive is admission to the programs?
Admission to NELC degree programs is very competitive. In the recent years, the Department has received around 60 applications for about 3-5 slots.

9. When will I learn whether I have been admitted to the program?
Notification of admissions decisions is typically issued in mid-March. You can check the status of your application online at any time.

10. How does financial aid work?
All admitted students receive the same financial aid: five years of tuition and fee assistance plus stipend, including summer stipends after years one through four, and one final year of a Dissertation Completion Fellowship. The stipend in years three and four is primarily underwritten by Teaching Fellowships. The last year of funding is intended for a student's final year in order to complete the dissertation. Click here for more information on funding for PhD students.


For questions regarding the application process please contact Office of Admissions at (617) 496-6100, from 2-5 p.m. EST or via email at


For financial aid related questions contact Office of Financial Aid at (617) 495-5396 or via email at

For questions specific to NELC’s degree programs please contact Eva Stathi Misho at 617-496-4960 or via email at