linguistics

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. It investigates the common principles underlying all human languages, as well as the organization of particular languages. It is expected that undergraduates with a major in linguistics will be able to:

  • demonstrate a sound knowledge of the fields of phonetics (articulatory and acoustic properties of speech), phonology (the organization of the sound system of languages), morphology (the structure of words), syntax (the structure of sentences), and semantics (the interpretation of structures);
  • demonstrate that they are able to analyze data in all these areas of linguistics;
  • apply their linguistic training without prejudice, as expected in any science; and
  • apply their analytical abilities beyond the study of linguistics.

The linguistics major program can be enriched through linguistics-related courses offered in other departments such as the language departments, the departments of psychology, philosophy, and communicative disorders.

Undergraduate students wishing to major in linguistics should consult the Requirements tab. Students must contact the Linguistics undergraduate advisor Professor Monica Macaulay, mmacaula@wisc.edu, to declare linguistics as a major. Inquire in 1168 Van Hise Hall or call 608-262-2292 for the undergraduate advisor's office hours. All students proposing to major in linguistics must consult the department's undergraduate advisor.

Any exceptions to the departmental requirements must be approved by the Degree Programs Committee of the Department of Linguistics. Note that the undergraduate advisor of the department cannot authorize exceptions. Students requesting exceptions must prepare a written petition and submit it to the department administrator, who will then forward it to the Degree Programs Committee members.

The petition must justify the exception request by providing detailed information on the circumstances, and by including all relevant documents. The Degree Programs Committee considers each case individually on its merits. Approval is granted rarely, and only under extraordinary circumstances. Not having time to satisfy requirements before graduating is not a valid excuse.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of science degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.

Bachelor of Science DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

Mathematics Two (2) 3+ credits of intermediate/advanced level MATH, COMP SCI, STAT
Limit one each: COMP SCI, STAT
Foreign Language Complete the third unit of a foreign language
Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include 6 credits in biological science; and must include 6 credits in physical science
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 90th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S Students PURSUING AN L&S MAJOR

Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.

Requirements for the Major

30 credits are required for the major, to include the following:

Language
All majors must complete a fourth unit, or higher, in a foreign language, or place out of the fourth semester college course in a foreign language based on UW–Madison language placement scores.
Linguistics Courses15
Human Language
Introduction to Linguistics: Descriptive and Theoretical
Phonology
Syntax
Morphology
Semantics
Select one 500-level LINGUIS elective course3
Phonological Theories
Advanced Morphology
Syntactic Theories
Advanced Semantics
Introduction to Experimental Phonetics
Advanced Experimental Phonetics
Structure of a Language
Select one of the following "capstone" courses which will normally be taken in spring semester of the senior year, after completing the requirements above requirements:3
Field Methods I
Field Methods II
Electives
Select elective credits to reach 30 credit minimum for the major. At least three courses are required. See the list of approved electives below. In addition to the list below, other LINGUIS courses may be used as an elective. 19
Total Credits30
1

 Any other LINGUIS course may count toward elective credits for the major, except for: LINGUIS 236, LINGUIS 481, LINGUIS 482, LINGUIS 583, LINGUIS 584, LINGUIS 681, LINGUIS 682.

List of Approved Electives for the Linguistics Major

AFRICAN 301 Introduction to African Linguistics3
AFRICAN 500 Language and Society in Africa3-4
AFRICAN 503 African Linguistic Structures-Morphology and Syntax3-4
AMER IND/​ANTHRO  314 Indians of North America3
AMER IND/​LINGUIS  371 Survey of North American Indian Languages3
AMER IND/​ANTHRO/​FOLKLORE  431 American Indian Folklore3
ANTHRO/​LCA/​LINGUIS  430 Language and Culture3-4
CS&D 110 Introduction to Communicative Disorders3
CS&D 201 Speech Science3
CS&D 202 Normal Aspects of Hearing3
CS&D 210 Neural Basis of Communication3
CS&D 240 Language Development in Children and Adolescents3
CS&D 303 Speech Acoustics and Perception3
CS&D 315 Phonetics and Phonological Development3
CS&D 440 Child Language Disorders, Assessment and Intervention3
CS&D 503 Neural Mechanisms of Speech, Hearing and Language3
COMP SCI 545 Natural Language and Computing3
CURRIC 368 The Teaching of Reading3
E ASIAN 358 Language in Japanese Society3
E ASIAN 431 Introduction to Chinese Linguistics3
E ASIAN 432 Introduction to Chinese Linguistics3
E ASIAN 434 Introduction to Japanese Linguistics3
E ASIAN 631 History of the Chinese Language3
ENGL 314 Structure of English3
ENGL 315 English Phonology3
ENGL 316 English Language Variation in the U.S.3
ENGL 318 Second Language Acquisition3
ENGL 413 English Words: Grammar, Culture, Mind3
ENGL 414 Global Spread of English3
ENGL 415 Introduction to TESOL Methods3
ENGL 416 English in Society3
ENGL 417 History of the English Language3
ENGL/​GEN&WS  419 Gender and Language3
ENGL 420 Topics in English Language and Linguistics3
ENGL 514 English Syntax3
ENGL 516 English Grammar in Use3
FOLKLORE/​L I S  490 Field Methods and the Public Presentation of Folklore3
FOLKLORE/​COM ARTS  522 Digitally Documenting Everyday Communication3
ITALIAN 340 Structures of Italian3
ITALIAN/​FRENCH/​PORTUG/​SPANISH  429 Introduction to the Romance Languages3
GERMAN 351 Introduction to German Linguistics3-4
GERMAN 352 Topics in German Linguistics3-4
GERMAN 650 History of the German Language3
HISTORY/​AMER IND  490 American Indian History3-4
PHILOS 516 Language and Meaning3
PSYCH 406 Psychology of Perception3-4
PSYCH 413 Language, Mind, and Brain3
PSYCH 414 Cognitive Psychology3
PSYCH 520 How We Read: The Science of Reading and Its Educational Implications4
SCAND ST 410 Introduction to Scandinavian Linguistics3
SCAND ST 510 Topics in Scandinavian Linguistics3
L I S 351 Introduction to Digital Information3
L I S 640 Topics in Library and Information Studies (TLAM only)1-3
SOC 535 Talk and Social Interaction3
SPANISH 320 Spanish Phonetics3
SPANISH/​FRENCH/​ITALIAN/​PORTUG  429 Introduction to the Romance Languages3
SPANISH 446 Topics in Spanish Linguistics3
SPANISH 543 Spanish Phonology3
SPANISH 544 Contemporary Issues in Applied Spanish Linguistics3
SPANISH 548 Structure of the Spanish Language: Morphology and Syntax3
SPANISH 630 Topics in Hispanic Linguistics3

Residence and Quality of work

2.000 GPA in all LINGUIS and major courses

2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits, taken in residence1

15 credits in LINGUIS taken on the UW–Madison campus

1

  LINGUIS 340 Semantics and LINGUIS 373 Topics in Linguistics; any LINGUIS courses designated as intermediate or advanced; and appropriate courses from other departments defined as upper level count toward this requirement.

Courses from Other Departments Defined as Upper Level in the Linguistics Major

AFRICAN 500 Language and Society in Africa3-4
AFRICAN 501 Structure and Analysis of African Languages3-4
CS&D 201 Speech Science3
CS&D 210 Neural Basis of Communication3
CS&D 303 Speech Acoustics and Perception3
CS&D 503 Neural Mechanisms of Speech, Hearing and Language3
COMP SCI 545 Natural Language and Computing3
E ASIAN 358 Language in Japanese Society3
E ASIAN 431 Introduction to Chinese Linguistics3
E ASIAN 432 Introduction to Chinese Linguistics3
E ASIAN 434 Introduction to Japanese Linguistics3
E ASIAN 631 History of the Chinese Language3
E ASIAN 632 History of the Chinese Language3
ENGL/​MEDIEVAL  520 Old English3
ENGL/​MEDIEVAL  522 Middle English Language3
ENGL 417 History of the English Language3
ENGL 314 Structure of English3
ENGL 516 English Grammar in Use3
ENGL 514 English Syntax3
ENGL 315 English Phonology3
ENGL 316 English Language Variation in the U.S.3
ENGL 414 Global Spread of English3
ENGL 318 Second Language Acquisition3
ENGL 416 English in Society3
FRENCH/​ITALIAN/​PORTUG/​SPANISH  429 Introduction to the Romance Languages3
GERMAN 351 Introduction to German Linguistics3-4
GERMAN 352 Topics in German Linguistics3-4
GERMAN 650 History of the German Language3
GERMAN/​MEDIEVAL  651 Introduction to Middle High German3
LCA 441 Language and Society in Southeast Asia3
PHILOS 516 Language and Meaning3
PSYCH/​ZOOLOGY  550 Animal Communication and the Origins of Language3
SCAND ST/​MEDIEVAL  407 Old Norse3
SCAND ST/​MEDIEVAL  408 Old Norse3
SCAND ST 410 Introduction to Scandinavian Linguistics3
SCAND ST 414 History of the Scandinavian Languages I: Proto- to Common Scandinavian3
SOC 535 Talk and Social Interaction3
SPANISH/​INTL BUS  329 Spanish for Business3
SPANISH 630 Topics in Hispanic Linguistics3

Honors in the Major

Students may declare Honors in the Linguistics Major in consultation with the Linguistics chair.

Honors in the Linguistics Major Requirements

To earn a B.A. or B.S. with Honors in the Major in Linguistics students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 overall university GPA
  • Earn a 3.500 GPA for all LINGUIS courses, and all courses accepted in the major
  • Complete two LINGUIS courses, taken for Honors credit, with individual grades of B or better
  • Complete a two-semester Senior Honors Thesis in LINGUIS 681 Honors Seminar-Senior Thesis and LINGUIS 682 Honors Seminar-Senior Thesis, leading to submission of an acceptable paper, for a total of 6 credits. A grade of B or better must be earned in the thesis project.

Note that Honors tutorial credits and the Senior Honors Thesis do not count toward the 30 credits required for the major in linguistics.

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Familiarity with data from a wide range of languages from different language families.
  2. Ability to respond to biased views of language in their communities.
  3. Knowledge in all core areas of linguistics: Phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics.
  4. Sound grasp of linguistic concepts.
  5. Sound grasp of linguistic methodology.

UnderGraduate Advising

Professor Monica Macaulay, Undergraduate Advisor
mmacaula@wisc.edu

Inquire in 1168 Van Hise Hall or call 608-262-2292 for office hours and available meeting times.

Letters & Science Career Services

The Department of Linguistics encourages our majors to begin working on their career exploration and preparation soon after declaring their major. Our career advisor also partners with the L&S Career Services office to help you leverage the academic skills learned in your major and liberal arts degree, explore and try out different career paths, participate in internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and network with professionals in the field (alumni and employers).

Letters & Science graduates are in high demand by employers and graduate programs. It is important to us that our students are career ready at the time of graduation, and we are committed to your success.

Career Resources:

Professors Li, Macaulay, Raimy, Valentine