Robert Grimm is a PhD candidate at Antwerp University

Profile picture Robert Grimm, Linguistics

"I came to Utrecht in order to study Linguistics from a psychologically and empirically informed perspective. The Research Master offered ample opportunity for this, as well as for exploring other aspects of language."


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"Through elective courses, individual assignments, and an internship, I developed into a more technical direction. For individual projects in particular, there was no shortage of friendly and interested potential supervisors.

By the time I was writing my Master’s thesis, I was applying for PhD positions. Eventually, about three months after graduating, I began a PhD on a project (bootstrapping) in Computational Psycholinguistics at the University of Antwerp.

I now find myself working in an environment that allows me to combine Machine Learning with data and insights from Psycholinguistics – combining, in effect, a predilection for programming and technical work with a cognitive perspective on language.

I get to use and build on many of the soft and hard skills I was able to pick up during the Master’s programme. Whether it is about critically evaluating a Psycholinguistic study, breaking into a new algorithm, or compressing months’ worth of work into a brief conference article: in all these tasks, I benefit from the preparation and education I received in Utrecht.

Looking back, I am very happy with my decision to go for the Linguistics Master – which, for me, presented a two-year-long opportunity to absorb as much as possible about language, linguistics, and neighboring disciplines. In my book, that’s time well spent!"

Arnold Kochari is a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam

Profile picture Arnold Kochari, Linguistics

"I primarily chose the Research Master’s programme in Linguistics, because I was interested in learning more about how language works in our mind and brain and wanted to try to become a researcher in this field. Another reason I chose Utrecht University was because it was offering scholarships suitable for me. I was very lucky to receive the Utrecht Excellence Scholarship which covered all my tuition fees and living expenses during the programme." 

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"Although I was always open to changing my mind during the Master’s, from the very beginning I wanted to pursue a PhD after graduation. I was lucky enough to actually be hired as a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam. My job is to develop and execute research projects. I am doing mostly experimental work, for me this consists roughly of the following steps: reviewing theoretical literature, developing an idea, coming up with an experiment design, collecting data, analysing data and making the results available to the scientific community for better theories. I am hired for doing research 80% of my time and I am devoting the other 20% to teaching bachelor and master’s students.

The research Master’s programme Linguistics is all about preparing the students to working as scientific researchers. As a graduate that is now working in research, I think that the programme fulfils this aim well. During the two years, I acquired both theoretical knowledge that is required and hands-on experience with data collection and analysis. Our teachers were always active in research themselves and discussed their projects with us. This already gave me a feeling of being part of the research community."

Anja Saric is a PhD candidate at Goethe University Frankfurt

Profile picture Anja Saric, Linguistics

"Everyone coming from countries which are not a part of the European Union know how challenging it is to finance your studies abroad. Had it not been for the Utrecht Excellence Scholarship, I would have never made it to where I am today."

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"I chose the Linguistics programme because it offers introductory courses in all linguistic fields in the first block. In my opinion this a very good thing since students come from different countries and with different (non)linguistic backgrounds and it is important that everyone gets equipped for the more advanced courses in the following blocks. The variety of courses also played a significant role – there is always a course that will be of interest to you, whether you opt for the syntactic track (as was the case with me), or semantic, or any other field of linguistics. And most importantly, if there is no official course that sooths your needs, you are able to create it yourself. This “one on one” work with a professor, on a topic of your own choosing, is probably one of the best ways you can learn how to do research and it is a good try-out for your thesis. 

In my job as a PhD candidate I read a lot, come up with my own questions and offer novel approaches to answering them. I attend classes, lectures, colloquia, seminars and conferences. The most challenging in my current job is to stay on topic. Namely, as you read through papers and hear a lot of interesting talks, you inevitably get ideas that are not necessarily related to your own topic.  

The Master’s programme equipped me for the independent research that I am conducting at the moment. Through various seminars, colloquia, individual assignments, my internship and finally my Master’s thesis, I learned to think critically, to challenge the state of the art in field, to propose novel approaches and analyses and to present my work in a scientific manner. The programme also gave me this unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a taste of what it feels like to be a researcher in linguistics. Having tasted it once, I think I’m stuck with it forever!"

Dominique Blok is a PhD candidate in linguistics at Utrecht University

Profile picture Dominique Blok, Linguistics

"I became interested in linguistics during my Bachelor in French language and culture. The Master was much more challenging and, for that reason, much more fun than the Bachelor. Most of my fellow students were also very motivated and passionate about linguistics, so we worked together a lot and helped each other whenever possible. As the workload was high, we worked hard and learned a lot in a short period of time."

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"Utrecht is known for its generative syntax and the syntax courses were especially good, but we were also introduced to other important areas in linguistics, both theoretical and experimental.

I chose semantics as my main track. To learn more about semantics I did a three-month research internship with a semanticist at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and I also took a couple of extra courses on semantics and logic at the ILLC (Institute for Logic, Language and Computation) in Amsterdam.

I now work as a PhD candidate at Utrecht University in the four-year project ROSE, about the semantics of modified numerals. My work involves reading many papers, thinking about and trying to solve semantic puzzles, organising and attending talks, writing conference abstracts and papers, and giving talks at conferences. I also spent some time teaching linguistics courses in the French department. The master definitely helped in preparing me for this job. It not only taught me about the most important issues in linguistics but it also helped me to understand the way linguists think and reason. After I finish my dissertation I hope to be able to stay in the academic world and continue working as a researcher."

Janna Brummel is an Associate IT Specialist at ING

Profile picture Janna Brummel, alumna Linguistics

“During my Bachelor’s in English Language and Culture I became very interested in linguistics. I applied for this research Master’s programme because I wanted to do a PhD in second language acquisition. Unfortunately, there were not many positions, so I started thinking outside the box and looking for other jobs."

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"I started applying for jobs early in the programme. Therefore, the day after my graduation ceremony I could already start my traineeship in software development at Ordina, an ICT company that operates in the Benelux. After two months of training I could start at ING Bank, where I now work in a permanent position.

During the Master’s programme, I learned to work with the Python programming language, which has been very helpful so far. In my job As associate IT Specialist at ING, I develop, test, and deploy software to be used by customers with debit cards. I also work on monitoring and automating the delivery of the software.

It is always challenging to create software that will serve all the customer’s needs and will not have any down time. Since I work at a bank, it is very important to not make any mistakes, since the consequences can be large and the bank’s reputation is easily endangered. The Linguistics Master’s programme has taught me to communicate very well and to word myself in a clear and comprehensible manner. Colleagues who have a background in IT have not been trained in speaking, presenting and writing as much as I have, so these skills certainly benefit me.

I am happy with my choice to work in IT after studying Linguistics, my job is very challenging. I learn something new every day!”

Lisa Verbeek is a student

Profile picture Lisa Verbeek, Linguistics

"During my BA programme, I took an internship in a speech therapist’s treatment center of pre-school children with language development disorders, but I experienced that the language and speech treatments did not satisfy my curiosity: I found myself wondering why these children needed this treatment, why their language skills weren’t developing normally and why the particular treatments would (or would not) help them. I wanted to know ‘how language works’ instead—so applying for a research Master’s programme seemed a good choice for me."

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"The RMA Linguistics allowed me to rediscover several subfields of Linguistics in the foundation courses and to then explore my personal interests, to do an internship ánd to do an in-depth individual research project. By getting to know all kinds of subfields, I feel able to evaluate all those parts and combine them in a way I like.

Other useful, motivational parts of the programme are the RMA rotation (getting students in touch with various researchers at UiL OTS), the LOT School (we had to attend both a Winter and a Summer School in which we followed linguistics courses at other universities) and the thesis fair (second year’s students presenting their theses to first year’s students).

As might be concluded from all these different activities that are part of the curriculum, the Master’s is very intense and challenging: I had to work hard but learned so much in just one year, which is very satisfying. I like the ambitious atmosphere amongst students, the approachable teachers, and the fact that with entering this programme, you immediately become part of the linguistics community of Utrecht. We also have the valuable opportunity to work in the basement (a room next to the UiL OTS labs at Janskerkhof), which became kind of a home for us all!"