Language Sciences at UW–Madison is an interdiscplinary 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 consult the Requirements tab. Students must contact the Linguistics undergraduate advisor Rebecca Shields, email@example.com, 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 Language Sciences. 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|| |
* 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|| |
|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 86th 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. Please note that the following special degree programs are not considered majors so are not available to non-L&S-degree-seeking candidates:
- Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics (Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics)
- Journalism (Bachelor of Arts–Journalism; Bachelor of Science–Journalism)
- Music (Bachelor of Music)
- Social Work (Bachelor of Social Work)
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:
|Complete the following:|
|LINGUIS 101||Human Language||3|
|or LINGUIS/ANTHRO 301||Introduction to Linguistics: Descriptive and Theoretical|
|500-Level LINGUIS (1 course)||3|
|Structure of a Language|
|Field Methods I|
or LINGUIS 427
|Field Methods II|
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|
|American Indian Folklore|
|Language and Culture|
|Language in Japanese Society|
|Chinese Linguistics I|
|Chinese Linguistics II|
|Topics in East Asian Visual Cultures|
|Introduction to Japanese Linguistics|
|History of the Chinese Language|
|Introduction to Communicative Disorders|
|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|
|The Teaching of Reading|
|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 the Romance Languages|
|Introduction to German Linguistics|
|Topics in German Linguistics|
|History of the German Language|
|American Indian History|
|Introduction to Digital Information|
|Topics in Library and Information Studies (TLAM only)|
|Language & Immigration in Wisconsin|
|Language, History, and Society|
|Grammatical Variability of Language|
|Survey of North American Indian Languages|
|Topics in Linguistics|
|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|
|Introduction to Scandinavian Linguistics|
|Topics in Scandinavian Linguistics|
|Talk and Social Interaction|
|The Structure of Modern Spanish|
|Introduction to Spanish Linguistics|
|Spanish Applied Linguistics|
|Introduction to the Romance Languages|
|Topics in Spanish Linguistics|
|Contemporary Issues in Applied Spanish Linguistics|
|Structure of the Spanish Language: Morphology and Syntax|
|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 431||Chinese Linguistics I||3|
|ASIAN 432||Chinese Linguistics II||3|
|ASIAN 433||Topics in East Asian Visual Cultures||3|
|ASIAN 434||Introduction to Japanese Linguistics||3|
|ASIAN 631||History of the Chinese Language||3|
|CS&D 201||Speech Science||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/MEDIEVAL 520||Old English||3|
|ENGL 417||History of the English Language||3|
|ENGL 314||Structure of English||3|
|ENGL 516||English Grammar in Use||3|
|ENGL 514||English Syntax||3|
|ENGL 315||English Phonology||3|
|ENGL 316||English Language Variation in the U.S.||3|
|ENGL 414||Global Spread of English||3|
|ENGL 318||Second Language Acquisition||3|
|ENGL 416||English in Society||3|
|FRENCH/ITALIAN/PORTUG/SPANISH 429||Introduction to the Romance Languages||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|
|GERMAN/MEDIEVAL 651||Introduction to Middle High German||3|
|PHILOS 516||Language and Meaning||3|
|PSYCH/ZOOLOGY 550||Animal Communication and the Origins of Language||3|
|SCAND ST/MEDIEVAL 407||Old Norse||3|
|SCAND ST/MEDIEVAL 408||Intermediate Old Norse||3|
|SCAND ST 410||Introduction to Scandinavian Linguistics||3|
|SOC 535||Talk and Social Interaction||3|
|SPANISH/INTL BUS 329||Spanish for Business||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, LINGUIS 583 Senior Honors Tutorial, or LINGUIS 584 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.
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 or 301||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 426 or 427||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. An in person 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
SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students leverage the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, 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). In short, SuccessWorks helps students in the College of Letters & Science discover themselves, find opportunities, and develop the skills they need for success after graduation.
SuccessWorks can also assist students in career advising, résumé and cover letter writing, networking opportunities, and interview skills, as well as course offerings for undergraduates to begin their career exploration early in their undergraduate career.
Students should set up their profiles in Handshake to take care of everything they need to explore career events, manage their campus interviews, and apply to jobs and internships from 200,000+ employers around the country.
- Set up a career advising appointment
- INTER-LS 210 L&S Career Development: Taking Initiative (1 credit, targeted to first- and second-year students)—for more information, see Inter-LS 210: Career Development, Taking Initiative
- INTER-LS 215 Communicating About Careers (3 credits, fulfills Com B General Education Requirement)
- Learn how we’re transforming career preparation: L&S Career Initiative
Professors Ellis Weismer, Hutton, Kaushanskaya, Li, Louden, Macaulay, Macdonald, Purnell, Raimy, Saffron, Salmons, Seidenberg, Wanner; Associate Professors Armstrong, Lupyan, Rao, Tejedo-Herrero, Vieira; Assistant Professors Cho, Henke; Lecturer Shields