Universiteit Leiden

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Linguistics (MA)

Career prospects

As a graduate of Linguistics (MA), you will have developed unique skills relevant to a career in academia, teaching, writing and communications, as well as a range of employment opportunities where a critical, curious, and academically-trained mind is essential.

Skills and competence acquired

A Linguistics master's degree from Leiden University is an excellent preparation for a wide variety of jobs. Our students graduate with valuable practical and theoretical skills, including strong skills in the interpretation of texts and the analysis and solution of conceptual problems, and the ability to independently conduct high-quality scientific research.


According to our survey, our graduates have gone on to pursue successful careers in a range of professions. Examples include:

  • Editor at a publishing company
  • Translator for the Dutch Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • PR advisor at at a marketing firm
  • Author of educational materials at a Dutch publisher
  • Project manager at a translation agency
  • Teacher
  • Consular officer at a ministry of foreign affairs
  • PhD candidate at various universities
  • Business consultant at a data management company
  • Content manager/editor
  • Advisor at an institute focusing on linguistic research and language teaching
  • Linguistics consultant in training at a non-profit organisation

Teacher qualification

If you are interested in a career in teaching, you can apply for the Dutch-taught teacher-training MA at the ICLON Graduate School of Education after graduating from the master’s programme. To be admitted, you need to have a master’s degree in the  relevant discipline. Fluency in Dutch is mandatory, and additional entry requirements may apply.

An academic career

Graduates interested in pursuing an academic career have gone on to do research internships or to pursue a PhD. If you are interested in pursuing an academic and research career, you can consider applying for the two-year Research Master's in Linguistics. Please keep in mind that this programme has additional admission requirements. You can explore the possibilities with the programme coordinator.

A Leiden University degree

Leiden University Master's graduates are sought-after employees at (inter)national organisations. Our graduates are known for their combination of robust academic training, in-depth and relevant knowledge, and critical, multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving.

Karola Woll

Graduated in Language and Communication (MA Linguistics)

Karola Woll

"Language and Communication at Leiden University was the perfect fusion of my bachelor’s studies in Media and Communication Studies as well as English and American Studies. That’s why I had chosen this specialisation of linguistics in communication."

An international environment

"Leiden University offered a very international environment. All languages were welcome for being subject of research. Classes consisted of people from all over Europe and even overseas, and this made studying very enriching and colourful. Especially because groups were small, and a personal supervision could be provided by the academic staff."

Work in different fields

"This programme suited me as being rather more of a generalist than an expert. I’m more than one, and my studies have smoothed the way to work in different fields. Currently, I am preparing my freelance work as being a business coach in communication, a copywriter and a writer."

Margaret den Besten

Graduated in Language Diversity of Africa, Asia and Native America (MA Linguistics)

Margaret den Besten

"I was always interested in investigating languages. I was looking for a master’s that not only provided theoretical knowledge, but also practical knowledge. And that is exactly what the master’s in Language Diversity of Africa, Asia and Native America does. This master’s programme offers a wide range of courses. Not only courses that focus on the descriptive side of linguistics, but also courses where you are forced to think beyond what you are used to. It makes you think about your own worldview and how language influences it."

Put all your theoretical knowledge into practice

"Another great thing about this programme is that it offers you the opportunity to do an internship. This way you can put all your theoretical knowledge into practice. With the help of a professor I got to do an awesome and educational internship at SIL Cameroon, researching and writing a phonology and orthography of an indigenous language."

Helping to prevent languages from dying out

"After my graduation I started working there! I work with several undocumented languages. I study those languages to eventually produce an alphabet and an orthography. This helps to prevent the languages from dying out and gives the language groups a way of expressing themselves not only through speaking, but also through writing. It is exciting to live and work in a completely different culture and to be able to study languages that haven't been studied before."

In which sector do our graduates find jobs?

The graphs below are based on alumni data from the MA Linguistics 2016-2020.

  • 29 % Education
  • 17 % Research
  • 12 % Communication and marketing
  • 6 % Business services
  • 5 % IT
  • 5 % Government and semi-government organisations
  • 5 % Publishing
  • 3 % Wholesale and retail
  • 3 % Information management
  • 2 % Non-profit
  • 13 % Other

How successful are our graduates in finding a job?

  • 71 % found a job within two months
  • 81 % found their first job at academic level

Career preparation

Find out how this programme exactly prepares you for your future career and check our career preparation activities.

Academic rigour is a principle characteristic of every programme at Leiden University. Our graduates share advanced academic skills in the interpretation of texts and the analysis of conceptual problems, and the ability to conduct high-quality scientific research. In class, we encourage every student to participate in discussions with fellow students and lecturers to develop their confidence articulating ideas. 

Based on your specialisation, you will graduate with solid knowledge of linguistic theory and develop academic and research skills ranging from data collection, analysis and reporting to applied language skills such as text analysis, translation and editing.

During your studies you have ample opportunity to gain experience studying, working, or conducting research at an organisation or institution. This experience is highly valued within international organisations. Many of our students choose to do an internship during their study. Internships are a great way to gain invaluable first-hand experience in your area of interest before you decide on making it a career.

In recent years, students from Linguistics (specialisation) have participated in internships at:

  • Leiden University Centre for Linguistics
  • Koninklijke Brill NV
  • Transnational Consulting S.L.
  • Taalmuseum Leiden
  • Meertens Instituut
  • Ambassade van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden Rome
  • Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken
  • KERN B.V. Vertaal- en Tolkservice
  • LiBC Babylab voor taalverwerving
  • Europees Parlement
  • Pro Comunidades Indigenas
  • Instituut voor Gebaren, Taal & Dovenstudies

Our staff can help you identify both the career that is right for you, and the necessary steps to get you there. Our team at Humanities Career Service provide all Leiden University humanities students with professional advice and guidance on everything from internships and career planning to job applications. Humanities Career Service also organises regular workshops on topics such as effective interview skills and creating a successful CV.

The Humanities Career Service offers you various (online) workshops, webinars and info sessions. Check our overview of career activities

The Leiden University Career Zone is an online career portal that helps you to prepare for the job market. Here you can find information, tools and tips to help you gain more personal insight, learn about the job market, develop your application skills, plan your academic and professional career, find job vacancies and discover what the Career Service can do for you.

Join the Mentor Network to contact alumni with experience on the labour market and ask them for advice. More than 1200 alumni are happy to help you!

Jelle on finding an internship via Leiden University's Mentor Network

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