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Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics

Program of Study

Language is one of the main tools used by human beings to create and perform cultural and social identities and practices. Linguistics is the scientific study of language and offers students the opportunity to inquire about both the structure and function of language. The field of linguistics draws on a wide area of inquiry, including the investigation of the ways that languages change over time, descriptions of the ways in which language functions as a part of cultures, considerations of the interrelatedness of language and thought, the examination of the process of language acquisition, and the analysis of the functioning of the brain and the vocal organs in the production and analysis of speech.

The Linguistics Major at CSUSM provides students with a comprehensive study of the core areas of linguistics and the opportunity to specialize in one of three areas: Language, Culture, and Society; Speech and Language Sciences; and Language Studies. The core curriculum is designed to give students a strong foundation in the general study of linguistics, while the specialization options allow students the opportunity to focus their linguistics study in an area that aligns with their interests as well as prepares them for future graduate work or careers.


Students who major in linguistics acquire valuable skills such as analytical reasoning, critical thinking, argumentation, and clarity of expression, all of which are sought out in a variety of careers. Depending on the concentration chosen, career options include technical writing; advertising, marketing, and naming and branding; machine language and human/machine interaction; government analyst and the Foreign Service; standardized test design; and the law.

A Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics also prepares students for further professional and graduate programs which can lead to careers in Teaching English as a Second Language; K-12 and collegiate teaching; Speech-Language Pathology; bilingual services, including translating and interpreting; lexicography; dialect or language coaching; and language documentation.

Admission Requirements

The Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics maintains the same general Undergraduate Admission and Graduation Requirements and/or Transfer policies/requirements described in the California State University San Marcos Catalog.

Major requirements at a glance:

  • General Education requirements
  • Lower division (9 units):
    • LING 101: Mysteries of Human Language: An Introduction to Linguistics
    • Another lower division LING course of your choice
    • Interdisciplinary social science course of your choice
  • Proficiency in a language other than English (met through a variety of ways: coursework; a score of 4 or higher on AP exam in a language other than English; proficiency exams, etc. Consult with Linguistics faculty to determine the best option for you.)
  • Core requirements (18 units):

    • LING 321:      Introduction to Syntax
    • LING 351:      Language Acquisition
    • LING 361:      Introduction to Morphology
    • LING 371:      Linguistic Anthropology
    • LING 391:      Phonetics and Phonology
    • LING 480:      Field Methods in Linguistics
  • Completion of one of the following concentrations (18 units):

    • Language, Culture, and Society. The Language, Culture, and Society Concentration provides students with a solid grounding in the core fields of linguistics, coupled with an exploration of the many ways in which language is implicated in the construction and practice of all cultures. Students deepen their understanding of the connection between language and culture through classes which offer a linguistic lens on these processes. Classes from related disciplines offer a wider range of perspectives from which to view and understand the interconnection of language, culture, and society. Language, Culture, and Society majors are encouraged to participate in CSUSM’s Study Abroad Program.
    • Speech and Language Sciences. The Speech and Language Sciences Concentration is designed for students who want to pursue careers in the field of speech-language pathology (SLP). The courses included in this concentration represent a subset of prerequisite courses that students must take in preparation for applying to the Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology at CSUSM*, or at other SLP programs. Students interested in applying to Master of Science programs at other institutions should consult with those programs about course equivalency.
    • Language Studies. The Language Studies Concentration provides students with a solid foundation in linguistics combined with the study of a language of choice. Students acquire general skills in linguistic analysis, which are in turn applied to the language of choice. Students deepen their knowledge of the language through literature classes and gain interdisciplinary perspectives from area studies classes in other departments focusing on the country or setting where the language is spoken. The languages available for study are Spanish, German, French. Students interested in studying other languages should speak to an advisor in the Linguistics Program to determine the language of focus and the appropriate coursework below. It is recommended that language studies majors participate in CSUSM’s Study Abroad Program.

Minor in Linguistics

The purpose of the Minor in Linguistics is to introduce students to the analysis of linguistic structures through the core courses of the minor, and then to provide students with the opportunity to pursue, through a range of course options, the direction of linguistic study that best complements their chosen major. The minor consists of 21 units of credit. 

View Linguistics Minor Worksheet.

College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral & Social Sciences (CHABSS)