Language Sciences at UW–Madison is an interdisciplinary hub for research and collaboration that houses the Linguistics major.
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It investigates the common principles underlying all 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.
Our undergraduate major emphasizes strong foundational training in the core areas of theoretical linguistics. Students also have access to breadth courses in a wide variety of interdisciplinary areas, including first and second language acquisition, language disorders, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, neurolinguistics, philosophy of language, and language endangerment and revitalization. Coursework is also available in the linguistics of specific languages or language families, such as Germanic, Spanish and Romance, Chinese, Japanese, and Native American linguistics.
Undergraduate students wishing to major in Linguistics should make an appointment with the Linguistics Undergraduate Advisor. Current advisor contact information can be found on the Language Sciences Advising Page.
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|| |
* 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 Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
Students pursuing a bachelor of arts 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.
Bachelor of Arts degree requirements
|Mathematics||Complete the University General Education Requirements for Quantitative Reasoning A (QR-A) and Quantitative Reasoning B (QR-B) coursework.|
|Foreign Language|| |
|L&S Breadth|| |
|Liberal Arts and Science Coursework||Complete at least 108 credits.|
|Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work||Complete at least 60 credits at the intermediate or advanced level.|
|Major||Declare and complete at least one major.|
|Total Credits||Complete at least 120 credits.|
|UW-Madison Experience|| |
|Quality of Work|| |
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. They do not need to complete the L&S Degree Requirements above.
Requirements for the Major
|Complete the fourth unit or higher in a foreign language, by course or by examination||0-16|
Students pursuing the linguistics major must complete 30 credits as follows:
|Required foundational courses:|
|LINGUIS 101||Human Language||3|
|500-Level LINGUIS (Complete 1 of the following:)||3|
|Structure of a Language|
|Capstone in Linguistics|
|Electives (Complete 4 of the following:)||12|
any LINGUIS course 1
|Language and Society in Africa|
|African Linguistic Structures-Morphology and Syntax|
|Indians of North America|
|Survey of North American Indian Languages|
|Language and Culture|
|Language in Japanese Society|
|Chinese Linguistics II|
|Introduction to Japanese Linguistics|
|History of the Chinese Language|
|Studies in Chinese Linguistics|
|Introduction to Communicative Disorders|
|Anatomy and Physiology of Speech Production|
|Normal Aspects of Hearing|
|Neural Basis of Communication|
|Language Development in Children and Adolescents|
|Speech Acoustics and Perception|
|Phonetics and Phonological Development|
|Child Language Disorders, Assessment and Intervention|
|Neural Mechanisms of Speech, Hearing and Language|
|Natural Language and Computing|
|Structure of English|
|English Language Variation in the U.S.|
|Second Language Acquisition|
|Language, Race, and Identity|
|Linguistic Theory and Child Language|
|English Words: Grammar, Culture, Mind|
|Global Spread of English|
|Introduction to TESOL Methods|
|English in Society|
|History of the English Language|
|Topics in English Language and Linguistics|
|English Grammar in Use|
|Field Methods and the Public Presentation of Folklore|
|Digitally Documenting Everyday Communication|
|Structures of Italian|
|Introduction to German Linguistics|
|Topics in German Linguistics|
|History of the German Language|
|American Indian History|
|Introduction to Text Mining|
|Topics in Library and Information Studies (Tribal Libraries, Archives, & Museums topic only)|
|Global Language Issues|
|Language & Immigration in Wisconsin|
|Language, History, and Society|
|Grammatical Variability of Language|
|Survey of North American Indian Languages|
|Topics in Linguistics|
|Field Methods I|
|Field Methods II|
|Language and Culture|
|Topics in Phonological Theory|
|Language and Meaning|
|Psychology of Perception|
|Language, Mind, and Brain|
|How We Read: The Science of Reading and Its Educational Implications|
|The Structure of Human Thought: Concepts, Language and Culture|
|Talk and Social Interaction|
|The Structure of Modern Spanish|
|Introduction to Spanish Linguistics|
|Spanish Applied Linguistics|
|Introduction to the Romance Languages|
|Spanish in the United States|
|Topics in Spanish Linguistics|
|Topics in Hispanic Linguistics|
Residence and Quality of Work
- 2.000 GPA in all LINGUIS and all major courses
- 2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits, taken in residence2
- 15 credits in LINGUIS, taken on the UW–Madison campus
Electives from Other Subjects that are Upper-level in the Major
|AFRICAN 500||Language and Society in Africa||3-4|
|AFRICAN 501||Structure and Analysis of African Languages||3-4|
|ASIAN 358||Language in Japanese Society||3|
|ASIAN 432||Chinese Linguistics II||3|
|ASIAN 434||Introduction to Japanese Linguistics||3|
|ASIAN 631||History of the Chinese Language||3|
|CS&D 201||Anatomy and Physiology of Speech Production||3|
|CS&D 210||Neural Basis of Communication||3|
|CS&D 303||Speech Acoustics and Perception||3|
|CS&D 503||Neural Mechanisms of Speech, Hearing and Language||3|
|COMP SCI 545||Natural Language and Computing||3|
|ENGL 314||Structure of English||3|
|ENGL 316||English Language Variation in the U.S.||3|
|ENGL 318||Second Language Acquisition||3|
|ENGL 414||Global Spread of English||3|
|ENGL 416||English in Society||3|
|ENGL 417||History of the English Language||3|
|ENGL 516||English Grammar in Use||3|
|ENGL 514||English Syntax||3|
|GERMAN 351||Introduction to German Linguistics||3-4|
|GERMAN 352||Topics in German Linguistics||3-4|
|GERMAN 650||History of the German Language||3|
|PHILOS 516||Language and Meaning||3|
|SOC 535||Talk and Social Interaction||3|
|SPANISH/FRENCH/ITALIAN/PORTUG 429||Introduction to the Romance Languages||3|
|SPANISH 630||Topics in Hispanic Linguistics||3|
Honors in the Major
Students may declare Honors in the Major in consultation with the Linguistics Undergraduate Advisor.
Honors in the Linguistics Major: Requirements
To earn Honors in the Major, students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:
- Earn a 3.300 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, with concurrent 1-credit enrollment in LINGUIS 481 Junior Honors Tutorial, LINGUIS 482 Junior Honors Tutorial, or LINGUIS 583 Senior Honors Tutorial, for a total of 2 additional credits. A grade of B or better must be earned in each course taken for honors.
- 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.
Except LINGUIS 481, LINGUIS 482, LINGUIS 583, LINGUIS 681, LINGUIS 682.
Intermediate and Advanced level LINGUIS courses, LINGUIS 340, LINGUIS 373 and some elective courses from other subjects are upper-level in the major (see list).
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.|
- Familiarity with data from a wide range of languages from different language families.
- Ability to respond to biased views of language in their communities.
- Knowledge in all core areas of linguistics: Phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics.
- Sound grasp of linguistic concepts.
- Sound grasp of linguistic methodology.
Sample Four-Year Plan
This Sample Four-Year Plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it—along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools—to make their own four-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests. As students become involved in athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, volunteer experiences, and/or work, they might adjust the order of their courses to accommodate these experiences. Students will likely revise their own four-year plan several times during college.
|Communication A||3||Ethnic Studies||3|
|Quantitative Reasoning A||3||4th semester of Foreign Language (if needed)Linguistics majors are required to complete the 4th unit or higher of a foreign language, whether they are doing the BA or the BS degree.||3|
|3rd semester of Foreign Language (if needed)||3||LINGUIS 101||3|
|L&S BreadthLinguistics majors will have varying needs for L&S Breadth courses outside the major, depending on which Linguistics major electives they choose. Many Linguistics major electives are Humanities courses, but some are Social Science or Natural Sciences. Consult with your advisor to determine your individual needs.||3||I/A Math, Comp Sci, or Stat (if needed for BS)||3|
|L&S Breadth||3||L&S Breadth||3|
|Quantitative Reasoning B||3||Communication B||3|
|LINGUIS 310||3||LINGUIS 322||3|
|LINGUIS 330||3||Linguistics major elective #1||3|
|L&S Breadth||3||I/A Math, Comp Sci, or Stat (if needed for B.S.)||3|
|Linguistics 500-level course (take any time in years 3-4)||3||Linguistics major elective #3||3|
|Linguistics major elective #2||3||L&S Breadth||3|
|Linguistics major elective #4||3||LINGUIS 690||3|
|Total Credits 120|
Rebecca Shields, Undergraduate Advisor
1166 Van Hise Hall
Contact the undergraduate advisor via email or using the Starfish app to set up an appointment. The advisor is happy to meet with students who want to learn more about the major, careers in linguistics, linguistics course selection, and opportunities for participation in research in language sciences. A meeting with the advisor is required to declare the major.
Letters & Science Career Services
Language Sciences encourages our majors to begin working on their career exploration and preparation soon after declaring their major. Our career advisor also partners with SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science. L&S 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.
L&S career resources
Every L&S major opens a world of possibilities. SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students turn the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and other coursework into fulfilling lives after graduation, whether that means jobs, public service, graduate school or other career pursuits.
In addition to providing basic support like resume reviews and interview practice, SuccessWorks offers ways to explore interests and build career skills from their very first semester/term at UW all the way through graduation and beyond.
Students can explore careers in one-on-one advising, try out different career paths, complete internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and connect with supportive alumni and even employers in the fields that inspire them.
- Set up a career advising appointment
- Enroll in a Career Course - a great idea for first- and second-year students:
- INTER-LS 210 L&S Career Development: Taking Initiative (1 credit)
- INTER-LS 215 Communicating About Careers (3 credits, fulfills Comm B General Education Requirement)
- Learn about internships and internship funding
- Activate your Handshake account to apply for jobs and internships from 200,000+ employers recruiting UW-Madison students
- Learn about the impact SuccessWorks has on students' lives
Professors Ellis Weismer, Hutton, Kaushanskaya, Li, Louden, Lupyan, Macaulay, Macdonald, Purnell, Raimy, Saffron, Salmons, Seidenberg, Tejedo-Herrero, Wanner; Associate Professors Armstrong, Rao, Vieira; Assistant Professors Cho, Henke, Horton, Niziolek; Instructional Administrator Shields
For more detailed information about our faculty, please visit our website.