Linguistics Major

The Program offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics - LINGBA. Majors are exposed to a broad range of information in the study of language from the perspectives of physiology, cognition, meaning, society and culture.

After students have completed the Linguistics program, they will be able (minimally) to:

  • Think critically about language and linguistic research,
  • Describe and apply principles and methods in the field,
  • Communicate effectively orally and in writing according to standards in the field, and
  • Recognize situations in which ethical questions arise in Linguistics and apply appropriate standards.

Declaring the Major and Choosing an Advisor

To declare the major, complete the Declaration of Major/Minor form on the Office of Undergraduate Education website. After you submit your online form, you will hear from Darni Bolden in Linguistics about next steps. If you would like to select a particular faculty member as your advisor, you may do so at that point; otherwise, you will be assigned one.

Majors are assigned an academic advisor and should meet with that advisor on a regular basis to discuss courses to take to meet the requirements for the major. In addition, students should talk to their advisors about future career plans if they include graduate training, as there may be additional courses they should take for entrance to graduate school. Advisors will be available during pre-registration. Sign-up sheets are placed outside each advisor's office in the weeks before pre-registration. It is strongly advised that students sign up as early as possible for advising. However, advisors often have more time to spend with students at times other than pre-registration. Please take advantage of these times when scheduling appointments. Dr. Marjorie Pak is the Director of Undergraduate Studies and can also answer questions. She may be reached at: 727-8077or To change advisors, email a request to Ms. Darni Bolden at

Required Courses

The linguistics major consists of eleven courses, including two foreign language courses (normally at the 200 level or above), and three elective courses.

Completion of the major requires a minimum of a C average in the major. The S/U option may be exercised only in the elective component of the major, for a maximum of four credit hours. A maximum combined total of four hours of courses at the 490-499 level (Directed Study, Directed Research, Honors) may be applied toward the major. Courses completed in approved Linguistics study abroad programs can also be used to fulfill major requirements (with approval of the Program Director or designated faculty advisor).

I. Students are required to take three basic courses in the study of linguistics:

II. Students will also take three breadth courses on key approaches to the study of linguistics:

One course in Structural Approaches to Human Language:

  • LING 210.  Sounds of Human Language (Phonetics and Phonology)
  • LING 212 or 212W.  Structure of Human Language(Morphology and Syntax)
  • LING 214.  Meaning in Human Language (Semantics and Pragmatics)

One course in Cognitive Approaches to Human Language, including but not limited to:

  • LING 309.  Brain and Language
  • LING 316.  Language Acquisition
  • LING 317.  Psycholinguistics

One course in Sociocultural Approaches to Human Language, including but not limited to:

  • LING 240.  Language and Culture
  • LING 327.  Language & Symbols of Media
  • LING 328.  Historical Linguistics and Language Change
  • LING 333.  Language, Gender and Sexuality
  • LING 340.  Topics in Sociolinguistics
  • LING 344.  Bilingualism and Multilingualism
  • LING 350.  Health Communication

III. Students must take three electives, including any breadth course from the topics of structural, cognitive, or sociocultural approaches to human language OR courses such as:

  • LING 190.  First-year Seminar
  • LING 230.  Description and Analysis of Chinese Languages
  • LING 234.  Introduction to Japanese Linguistics
  • LING 235.  Chinese Writing Systems in Asia
  • LING 242.  Languages of the World (linguistic typology)
  • LING 285, 385, 485 & 585.  Special Topics Courses in Linguistics
  • LING 360.  The English Language
  • LING 363.  Old English Language and Literature
  • LING 495A. & LING 495B. Honors
  • LING 497R.  Directed Reading: comprehensive theoretical reading
  • LING 499R.  Directed Research: research based on original data collection or analysis
  • LING 505.  Problems in Foreign Language Teaching

IV. (as of Fall 2016) Students must take one course with a designated focus on research methods (min. 3 credit hrs.), including but not limited to:

  1. LING 316 Language Acquisition
  2. LING 317 Psycholinguistics
  3. LING 497R or LING 499R with DUS approval

NOTE: This course may also be counted toward the breadth (II) or elective (III) requirement for the major.
Students who declared the Linguistics Major before Fall 2016 are exempt from this requirement.

V. Students must take two foreign language courses.

  1. Two courses in one foreign language at the 200-level or above or
  2. Two courses in two different foreign languages at any level, with approval from the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

NOTE: Students participating in the Amsterdam Study Abroad Program may use introductory Dutch to satisfy one semester of this requirement.

Planning Your Major

General advising: Planning your major

  • LING 101 and LING 201 may be taken in either order. These are foundational courses that we recommend taking early in the major.  
  • LING 401W is a permission-only capstone senior seminar, intended for students who have completed most of the other major requirements. Permission to enroll is granted to seniors only, unless a compelling case can be made for taking it earlier.
    LING 401W is usually offered only in the spring. If you are planning to graduate early, you need to request permission to take this course the spring of your junior year.
  • The research-focused course (IV) is ideally taken sometime in the sophomore or junior year, after the foundational courses have been completed. Students who are interested in writing an honors thesis should take a research-focused course before their senior year, as preparation.
  • Students who are considering graduate school in Linguistics or a related field should meet with their advisers early on for guidance on additional recommended courses.
  • If you are an Oxford student and have not been able to take any linguistics during your first two years, it is still possible to complete the Linguistics major. Try to complete the Foreign Language requirement for the Linguistics major while you are at Oxford, and try to take LING 201 and at least one other linguistics course in your first semester on the main campus. Contact your faculty adviser in Linguistics and/or the Director of Undergraduate Studies for more guidance.


Course Descriptions

Independent Research Courses

To arrange in an independent research course (LINGs 497 & 499) , students should first identify a general topic area of interest and second, identify a potential faculty member with whom they would like to work. Students should contact a faculty member about arranging an independent study project towards the end of the semester BEFORE they plan to complete it.

Once a faculty member has agreed to supervise an independent research project, the faculty member and student will negotiate a project that both are interested in and that is a reasonable one for the student to complete within a semester’s time. Faculty member and student must complete the Directed Research/Study form and return it to Darni Bolden (202C Modern Languages) at least two days before Add/DropSwap ends.

Note that LING 497 and LING 499 do not automatically fulfill the Research-Focus requirement for the Linguistics Major. If you want your LING 497 or LING 499 to be considered for this designation, you must email your completed form, signed by you and your adviser, to the Director of Undergraduate Studies at the beginning of the semester.

AP Credit

There is no AP Examination in Linguistics.

Grade Dispute Policy

In the case of a grade dispute, the following steps must be taken:
  • The student will contact the instructor to discuss the grade and the assignment.
  • If the issue is not resolved, and the student wishes to pursue the dispute further, the student must contact the Program DUS or Director.
  • The DUS or Director will ask for both the student's and the instructor's perspectives on the issue and will recommend further action.
  • In case no satisfactory solution can be found at this level, then a College Dean will be asked to provide further recommendations for resolution of the dispute. Ultimately, it must be remembered that a) students have a right to know the reasons for which their grades are assigned and b) only course instructors can assign and change grades for a particular course.