How to Apply

The application for admission in Fall 2024 is now closed.

General Information

General information on the graduate application process, including deadlines, can be obtained from the Graduate Division website.

NELC offers both a Master's Program and a PhD Program. You may apply directly to either program. It is not necessary to apply for the Master's Program before going on to the PhD.

There are no minimum requirements to apply. It is expected, however, that the applicant will have at least majored as an undergraduate in the field for which he/she is applying and so would have had a minimum of six semesters of their primary language, as well as some literature, history, or religion courses. Applicants not having this background may, in some circumstances, be admitted provisionally. Provisional courses do not count toward the graduate program and are taken at the student's expense regardless of fellowships awarded.

The fee to apply to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences is $90.00, payable by major credit card.

 A complete application consists of:

  • Application

  • Personal Statement

    In the personal statement, please describe how your background and academic experiences have influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree and led you to apply to Penn. Your essay should detail your specific research interests and intellectual goals within your chosen field. Please provide information about your educational trajectory, intellectual curiosity, and academic ambitions. If you have overcome adversity or experienced limited access to resources or opportunities in your field of study, please feel free to share how that has affected your course of education.  

    We are interested in your lived experiences and how your perspectives may contribute to the inclusive and dynamic learning community that Penn values and strives to create.  

    More specifically, in applying to the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, your statement should discuss your career goals and research interests; address how NELC's graduate program aligns with these interests; and identify the NELC faculty members with whom you propose to work. 

  • Three (3) Letters of Recommendation

    Unfortunately, letters submitted through Interfolio cannot be uploaded into the application at this time. If you wish to use Interfolio for your recommendation letters, Interfolio MUST email the letters to

  • All academic transcripts of undergraduate courses and graduate courses, if any.

    These may be unofficial until admitted.
  • TOEFL score or IELTS score for non-native speakers of English

    There is no minimum score to apply. However, most admitted students achieve an average score of 100 or above on the TOEFL exam and 6.0 on the IELTS. Applicants who have received a BA or MA degree in the United States are not required to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score. Scores should not be older than two years and tests should be taken by December 1. Report scores to Institution Code 2926; Department Code 57.
  • Writing Sample

    A writing sample is not required for any concentration but is strongly encouraged for all applicants. It may be of any length on any topic and should be indicative of your ability to research and write on a graduate level. Please submit only papers written in English.

Decisions are made without regard to the applicant's financial standing or need for support. Files accepted for admission are ranked in order for fellowships based on the strength of the application.