Undergraduate Programs

What is Linguistics?

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. Students who major in linguistics use scientific principles–collecting data, making observations, and developing and testing hypotheses–to research the structure, acquisition and use of language.

Linguistics contrasts to other language-related disciplines in both its methods and its aims. Linguists work to describe the rule-governed structures of languages. They do research to determine the extent to which these structures are universal or language-particular. They consider how potential constraints on linguistic structures may explain why there is only a fairly narrow range of possible human languages.

Linguistics majors examine all different levels of linguistic structure, including sounds, signs, words, phrases, sentences, and discourse. As language is an intrinsically and exclusively human characteristic, work in linguistics cuts to the heart of human cognition and social interaction. The field links to many other disciplines, including psychology, anthropology, sociology, information and computer sciences, and more.

Why study Linguistics?

  • Build in-demand skills: The combination of analytical and communication skills our students gain through the scientific study of language prepares them to succeed as creative problem solvers in their careers.
  • Collaborate with faculty: Our undergraduate students are acknowledged–in the lab and in publications–as key contributors in our research. Opportunities in our labs include gathering linguistic samples via fieldwork, using specialized software to analyze speech, conducting statistical analysis, and programming, with support and training available in the department for many roles.
  • Uncover societal bias: By researching how people adapt their communication in different situations, and how society responds to different uses of language, you’ll help expose how linguistic prejudices affect individual and collective experiences.
  • Explore the heart of human activity: Because language touches nearly every part of human life, linguistics can enhance your understanding of both day-to-day interactions and larger societal forces that shape our world.

What programs do we offer for undergraduates?

How do you major in Linguistics?

Although the department prefers that prospective majors present a cumulative GPA of 2.50 or higher, it will accept students who meet the following minimum qualifications:

  1. Completion of at least one year of college course work in a foreign language or demonstration of first-year proficiency in a foreign language placement exam. Students must earn a minimum grade of 2.0 in the third-quarter language course used to satisfy this requirement.
  2. Completion of at least one writing (W) course, OR a second composition (C) course beyond the College of Arts and Sciences' minimum C requirement.
  3. Completion of an introductory linguistics course, such as LING 200 or LING 400.
  4. Completion of one additional quantitative and symbolic reasoning (Q/SR) course.
  5. A minimum grade of 2.0 in each and a cumulative GPA of 2.50 in the W, introductory, and QSR courses.

Applicants who do not meet the minimum qualifications may appeal and may submit materials in addition to transcripts clarifying any aspect of past coursework. See adviser for information on appeal procedure.

Once applicants complete all the admission requirements listed above, please schedule an appointment with the Humanities Academic Services Center for an advising meeting to complete the application process.

More information about admissions:

How do you meet with a Linguistics adviser?

To meet with an adviser, please contact the Humanities Academic Services Center.