Universiteit Leiden

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Linguistics (specialisation) (MA)

Career prospects

As a graduate of the MA Linguistics, with a specialisation in Linguistics, you will have developed a range of analytical and problem-solving skills that can be applied to many careers, in growing areas like speech technology, artificial intelligence, education, language documentation, language policy, intercultural communication, and management consulting.

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 a Canadian university
  • 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.

Inge Hindriks

Graduated in English Linguistics (MA Linguistics)

Inge Hindriks

“During my bachelor’s programme in English Language and Culture, I became interested in second language learning and teaching and I wanted to specialise myself in this field of interest. The master’s programme in English Linguistics offered relevant courses with regard to my interests and provided me with an opportunity to learn from and work with excellent researchers that are specialised in this field.”

Freedom of Choice                              

“The programme is very flexible in the sense that you have a lot of freedom in choosing courses you’d like to follow. As a student you’re also able to choose courses on linguistic subjects from different tracks or master’s programmes, which gives you the opportunity to customise your personal schedule based on your specific interest(s).”


“Currently, I’m a trainee at Eerst de Klas, which means that I teach English at a secondary school three days a week. During the rest of the week I follow an intensive master teacher training programme and I take part in a leadership programme designed by the most innovative and leading organisations in the Netherlands. During my Leiden master’s programme I’ve learned a lot about second language teaching and learning which I can put into practice every day.”

Sophie Kerstens

Graduated in French Language and Linguistics (MA Linguistics)

Sophie Kerstens

"During my BA in French Language and Culture, I became captivated by linguistics. I loved discovering the origins of Roman languages and I was fascinated by the development of languages. That is why I was motivated to pursue a master’s degree in French Language and Linguistics."

A broad variety of subjects

"Leiden University has a renowned reputation in this field and an equally prominent academic staff. The MA programme allowed me to choose from a broad variety of subjects, from business French to linguistics of Italian dialects (which I could compare with French). Moreover, I had the chance to study abroad at the University of Nantes (France). There, I could broaden the variety of my curriculum even more by choosing subjects such as neurolinguistics and second-language-apprehension."

Thinking 'out of the box'

"After finishing my MA, I was admitted to the ‘Eerst de Klas’ traineeship (the Dutch equivalent of ‘Teach First’ (UK) or ‘Teaching for America’ (US)), a combination of intensive graduate training in education and a business leadership programme. Part of the programme consisted of solving business cases for the Philips Company. The mind-set part of 'out of the box' thinking which I gradually learned during my MA and this traineeship is something which helps me most in my job."

Strong basis for continuous self-improvement

"My education at Leiden University allowed me to study a broad variety of topics. This offered me a strong basis for continuous self-improvement, and enabled me to achieve that which gives me most satisfaction on a daily basis. I can inspire my students to look at the world with a broad sense of interest and ambition; they can achieve anything as long as they are driven to investigate the world they live in. So, my Leiden MA did not just offer topical expertise but it nurtured the ability to pass on my skills, ambition and curiosity to the next generation."

Kim Groothuis

Graduated in Italian Language and Linguistics (MA) and Linguistics (Research Master)

Kim Groothuis

“My masters in Leiden have given me the opportunity to explore my interests in many ways: I combined the master in Italian with the Research Master in Linguistics in order to follow my interests in both Italian dialectology, and theoretical and historical syntax.”

A wide variety of courses

“Both programmes offer a wide variety of courses, which you can combine exactly as you see fit: whether you wish to dive into one specific subfield or combine various interests. All courses are taught by specialists in the field, who are not only very knowledgeable, but also extremely helpful and enthusiastic.”

An excellent preparation

“At the moment I am studying for my PhD in comparative Romance syntax at the University of Cambridge. Apart from doing research, I also teach undergraduates during supervisions (something comparable to small ‘werkcolleges’). My masters in Leiden have been an excellent preparation for this next step, because they combined theory with ongoing research – part of which you will have to do yourself, during the courses and later for your thesis. It is this aspect of the masters which in my opinion is the most valuable, especially if you wish to continue in academia.”

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

In which sector do students find jobs?

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

How successful are they 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
  • SIL Cameroon
  • International Court of Justice
  • Pro Comunidades Indigenas
  • Rijkswaterstaat
  • Wilhelminaschool
  • Meertens Instituut
  • DSM
  • Attached B.V.
  • LiBC Babylab voor taalverwerving
  • Koninklijke Brill NV
  • Laboratorio SQ - Lingüistas Forenses
  • 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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