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PhD Admissions

Overview of Admissions Requirements – Doctor of Philosophy in Second Language Studies

Applicants need to apply for admittance to both (1) the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Graduate Division (UHM Graduate Division) and (2) the Department of Second Language Studies.

Please use the checklist provided at the bottom of this page to verify that you have submitted the required documents to the correct units. If the deadline falls on a weekend or a holiday, then the next working day is the deadline.

Fall Admissions
Spring Admissions
UHM Graduate Division Online applications open September 1 Online applications open May 1
PhD in SLS January 1
September 1

The basic requirement for the PhD program is the completion of an MA in second language studies, applied linguistics, or second or foreign language education. We also welcome applicants with graduate degrees in related disciplines such as anthropology, education, modern languages, linguistics, and psychology, although some additional coursework may be needed. A degree in literature will not be suitable preparation for entry, however.

Applicants are encouraged to contact faculty member(s) whom they might wish to work with.


Each year, four years of guaranteed funding are offered to the four most qualified applicants to the PhD in SLS program, pending availability of funds. Financial assistance is in the form of a teaching and/or research graduate assistantship, as long as the enrolled student maintains a GPA of 3.5 or higher and takes 6 credits per semester (with the exception of those who have reached the dissertation writing stage, or ABD status). The graduate assistantship is a 0.50 FTE appointment that provides health plan benefits after a minimum of three months and 100% tuition exemption. The payment of student fees is not covered.

Applicants who are required to take the TOEFL or IELTS by Graduate Division must have the following minimum scores in order to work as a teaching graduate assistant (GA). Applicants who are exempt from the TOEFL or IELTS are also exempt from the minimum score requirements for GAship consideration.

Minimum Score for Eligibility as Teaching GA

TOEFL Paper-Based (PBT)


TOEFL Computer-Based (CBT)


TOEFL Internet-Based (iBT)

subtest scores: 25 listening, 25 speaking



Additional information regarding support can be found on the Financial Support for PhD Students and Funding pages.

Standardized Exams

Applicants should make arrangements to take the appropriate standardized exams several months prior to the admissions application deadline. Applicants may submit unofficial score reports while applying for admission. Official scores must be sent directly to UHM Graduate Division prior to the student’s enrollment. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) code for UHM is 4867.


The GRE is required for all PhD program applicants. There is no minimum score requirement for the GRE; however, the Department of Second Language Studies does set preferred minimum scores, shown in the following table. GRE scores cannot be more than five years old.


DSLS Preferred Minimum
Current Scale
(Tests Taken On or After 8/1/2011)

DSLS Preferred Minimum
Prior Scale
(Tests Taken Prior to 8/1/2011)

Analytical Writing



Quantitative Reasoning



Verbal Reasoning







Most applicants whose first language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or the IELTS. Please see the Standardized Exams policy set by UHM Graduate Division.

The Department of Second Language Studies has the following minimum score requirements for applicants taking the TOEFL or IELTS. TOEFL and IELTS scores cannot be more than two years old.

DSLS Minimum for Admissions

DSLS Preferred Minimum

TOEFL Paper-Based (PBT)



TOEFL Computer-Based (CBT)



TOEFL Internet-Based (iBT)






Note: Applicants who are required to take the TOEFL and wish to be considered for graduate assistantships must also meet subtest score requirements. See http://manoa.hawaii.edu/graduate/content/eligibility-criteria.

Application Materials for UHM Graduate Division

For admission to UHM Graduate Division, see How to Apply. We encourage applicants to apply online. Please address all inquiries regarding admission to UHM Graduate Division to: graduate.education@hawaii.edu.

Application Materials for the Department of Second Language Studies

For admission to the Department of Second Language Studies, please submit the following documents. Address any inquiries and questions regarding document requirements to the SLS Graduate Chair at: grdchr@hawaii.edu.

1. Statement of Purpose

In a maximum of 1,000 words, outline your academic and professional objectives and reasons for applying to the PhD in Second Language Studies. Describe your research interests, possible areas for dissertation research, which faculty member(s) you are interested in working with, and career plans.

2. Supplemental Information Form

You may need to download this file in order to use the fillable/savable PDF feature available for Adobe Reader.

3. Resume or CV

4. Transcript(s)

UHM Graduate Division requirements for the submission of transcripts can be found on their website about Documentation Requirements.
For the Department of Second Language Studies, also include a PDF file of your official or unofficial transcript(s) at the time of application.

5. Research Paper(s)

Please submit 1–3 writing samples that provide evidence of your ability to do independent scholarly research. They can include your MA thesis, publications in books or journals, or other research reports.

6. Three (3) Letters of Recommendation

Please request letters of recommendation from three academic references. The letters should be recent and help us predict how you will perform in the PhD in SLS program.
When you request your letters of recommendation, please email the signed UHM DSLS Waiver Form PhD to your references and ask them to include the form with the letter. Letters of recommendation (preferably as PDF files) should be addressed to the Graduate Chair of Second Language Studies and emailed directly to grdchr@hawaii.edu with your signed waiver. Because we often receive letters of recommendation first, please ask your references to include the program name and your name in the subject line of the email (e.g., “PhD Program Letter of Recommendation for Firstname Lastname”).

Application Email

We are not yet using the UHM Graduate Division website for uploading supplemental materials. 

Please attach the final version of your application materials as PDF files sent in one email to the Department of Second Language Studies Graduate Chair, at grdchr@hawaii.edu, with the following subject line:

PhD Application – LASTNAME, Firstname

Please use the following naming convention (including the numerals) for your application files:

3_LastnameFirstname_Resume.pdf or 3_LastnameFirstname_CV.pdf

PhD Application Checklist

Submitted to:
UHM Graduate Division
Address questions to: graduate.education@hawaii.edu
Submitted to:
Second Language Studies
Note. See Application Email instructions.
Address questions to: grdchr@hawaii.edu
Standardized Exam Score Report Sent Directly from ETS (UHM Code: 4867)
Graduate Admissions Application
Application Fee

Additional Documents:
__Residency Declaration Form
__Confidential Financial Statement Form for International Applicants

Statement of Purpose
Supplemental Information Form
Resume or CV
Transcript(s) – official or unofficial
Note. Be sure to also email your transcript(s) to graduate.education@hawaii.edu, including your name and, if available, your UH applicant ID number.
Transcript(s) – official or unofficial
Research Paper(s)
Letters of Recommendation (sent by references with signed UHM DSLS Waiver Form PhD)