Joint Major in Psychology and Linguistics

The goal of this major is to introduce students to fundamental aspects of the study of psychology and linguistics, and in particular how these two perspectives on the study of language complement each other and inform human language usage. The major is particularly well suited for students interested in pursuing a graduate career in Cognitive Psychology, Linguistics, Communication, Cognitive Science, or Speech and Hearing Sciences.

Students completing the joint major (B.A. in Psychology and Linguistics) will be able to:

  • Think critically about psychology and linguistic research on language,
  • Describe and apply experimental designs and quantitative and qualitative methods in the fields of linguistics and psychology,
  • Communicate effectively orally and in writing according to standards in the field, and
  • Recognize situations in which ethical questions arise in psychology and linguistics, and apply appropriate standards.

For more info about the Psychology and Linguistics Major, contact:

Dr. Phillip Wolff (, Coordinator of the Joint Major
Dr. Marjorie Pak, (, Director of Undergraduate Studies
Ms. Darnishia Bolden (, Academic Degree Program Coordinator

Declaring the Joint Psychology & Linguistics Major

To declare the PSYCLING major, students must sign in to OPUS then select the Course Planning and Enrollment tile. Students declaring the joint major in Psychology and Linguistics will be required to maintain a “C” average (2.0) in their major and pass all courses with a “D” or better for them to count towards the major requirements. Courses taken to meet the requirements for the B.A. in Psychology and Linguistics may not be taken under the S/U option.

After the online DOM form is processed, students 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 in psychology, as there may be additional courses they should take for entrance to graduate school. Advisors will be available during pre-registration; however, advisors often have more time to spend with students at times other than pre-registration. We hope that students will take advantage of these times in scheduling appointments with their advisors.

Dr. Phillip Wolff is the coordinator of the joint major and can also answer questions. He may be reached at: 727-7140 or

Required Courses

The joint major, coordinated by the Department of Psychology and the Program in Linguistics, provides breadth and depth in the study of both of these fields. After acquiring basic knowledge of the subject matter and methodologies from each discipline, students will take elective courses which focus on specific issues in language and cognition. The major culminates in an independent research experience. Courses taken to meet the requirements for the B.A. in Psychology and Linguistics may not be taken under the S/U option.

I. Basic Psychology Requirements:

  • PSYC 110 Intro to Psych I: Psychobiology and Cognition, and
    PSYC 111 Intro to Psych II: Development, Social Behavior and Indiv. Diff.
    The student will be required to complete a two-semester sequence in Psychology: PSYC 110 (Introduction to Psychology: Biological Foundation and Cognitive Processes) and PSYC 111 (Introduction to Psychology: Development, Social Behavior, and Individual Differences). These courses will serve to provide all majors with a general orientation towards the methods, content areas, and central findings of Psychology. We recommend that they should be taken before any other Psychology course.
    Both PSYC 110 & 111 must be completed by the end of the junior year.
    *** Please refer to the note below on PSYC 110 & 111.
  • QTM 100 Introduction to Statistical Inference
    Because adequate understanding of original source material in Psychology is impossible without basic statistical literacy, students will be required to take a course in statistics. Majors must meet this requirement by taking QTM 100, the statistical inference course offered by the Institute for Quantitative Theory and Methods. The letter grade for QTM 100 must appear on the transcript; a grade of "S" is not acceptable.
  • PSYC 200W Laboratory Methods
    This course will provide students with a basic understanding of methods in Psychology through actual performance of experiments. Introduction to Statistical Inference (QTM 100) is a prerequisite and therefore must be taken prior to this course. We recommend that students take the sequence in Statistics and Laboratory Methods no later than their junior year in order to maximize the value they obtain from other Psychology courses. PSYC 200W must be completed by the end of the junior year; this course may not be taken in the senior year.

II. Basic Linguistics Requirements

  • LING 101 Language Diversity in the US (formerly History of the American Languages)
  • LING 201 Foundations of Linguistics
  • LING 401W Language, Mind and Society

III. Cognition Requirements:

  • PSYC 215 Cognition or PSYC 310 Cognitive Development
  • PSYC/LING 309 Brain and Language or PSYC/LING 316 Language Acquisition or PSYC/LING 317 Psycholinguistics

IV. Three electives (two linguistics, one psychology):

  • LING elective - Each semester, there are a number of courses cross-listed between Linguistics and both social science departments (e.g., Anthropology, Sociology) and humanities departments (e.g., English, Middle Eastern Studies, Spanish, French and Italian).
  • LING elective - Each semester, there are a number of courses cross-listed between Linguistics and both social science departments (e.g., Anthropology, Sociology) and humanities departments (e.g., English, Middle Eastern Studies, Spanish, French and Italian).
  • PSYC elective -note that there are many relevant Psychology courses offered regularly on such topics as animal communication, non-verbal communication, and emotion and communication.

V. Research experience (Directed Research {PSYC 494, PSYC 499, LING 499} OR designated 'Research-Focus' Linguistics course), 3-4 credit hours:

  • Students complete the major by engaging in a research project with a faculty supervisor (LING 499 or PSYC 494 or 499 Directed Research). This project involves research and analysis based on either original data collection or comprehensive theoretical reading. Alternatively, students may take a Linguistics course with a Research-Focus designation (this designation is indicated on the Linguistics course list circulated to majors every semester). If you choose this option, this course must be an additional course beyond those used to meet other requirements of the major (even if one or more of those were also Research-Focused courses). 
    • Examples of previously taught Research-Focused Linguistics courses:
      • *LING 316/PSYC 316: Language Acquisition
      • *LING 317/PSYC 317: Psycholinguistics
      • LING 340: Language Prejudice
      • LING 340W: Language Variation and Change
      • LING 350: Health Communication
      • LING 385: Corpus Linguistics
      • LING 385: Language and Culture
      • LING 485: CyberSpanish
      • LING 485: Field Methods in Linguistics
*Course 316 can be used to meet cognition or research but not both. If 316 is used to meet the research requirement then 309 or 317 must be used for cognition; if 317 is used for research then 309 or 316 must be used for cognition.

Note: Oddities in Intro Psych:
A/P Credit: Students who receive AP credit in Psychology will be granted an exemption from PSYC 111. The student will still be required to complete 13 courses total for the major, including the first half of the Introductory Requirement, PSYC 110. Students will need to take AN ADDITIONAL PSYCHOLOGY ELECTIVE to fulfill the major.

Transfer Credit: Students who took a one-semester Intro course at another college will probably receive credit for PSYC 111. The student will be required to take 12 additional courses in the major, including the first half of the Introductory Psychology Requirement, PSYC 110.

Course Descriptions

Independent Research

To arrange an independent study (LING 499 or PSYC 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.

Some of the questions that students may choose to investigate in their independent study project include (and there are many others):

  • What enables humans to produce and understand sentences that they have never heard before?
  • What are the basic building blocks of human languages?
  • How do children learn language?
  • How do people use language in multilingual contexts?
  • Are some varieties of language better than others?
  • How can problems with cross-cultural communication be alleviated?
  • How are patterns of thinking shaped by language?
  • Why do languages change over time?
  • How do meanings get attached to words?