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

Linguistics Major

View Linguistics Major Worksheets (requirements for each concentration).

The Linguistics Major offers three concentrations:

  • 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.

How to apply

Visit Cal State Apply to apply for admission to CSUSM. You will have to select one of the three concentrations listed above when you apply; however, core coursework is the same for all three in the first year, and you can switch anytime during your second year after you've explored your interests more. 

Program Coordinators

Jocelyn Ahlers, Professor of Linguistics
Nicoleta Bateman, Professor of Linguistics
Grant Muagututi'a, Assistant Professor of Linguistics

Linguistics Minor

The Linguistics Minor is a great complement to other majors and requires completion of twenty-one (21) units of credit, at least fifteen (15) of which must be at the upper-division level. Coursework applied to the minor may also be used to fulfill General Education requirements. Each course counted toward the minor must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better.

View Linguistics Minor Worksheet.

Career Opportunities

Linguistics prepares you for a variety of careers including:

  • Work in education
  • Speech-language pathology
  • Work in industry—training in linguistics equips you to work on speech recognition, artificial intelligence, computer-dedicated language learning, any field that requires data analysis
  • Teach English as a second language in the US or abroad
  • Work as translator or interpreter
  • Work on language documentation or conduct fieldwork
  • Work in publishing, as technical writer, editor, or journalist
  • Work with dictionaries
  • Become a consultant on language in professions such as law or medicine
  • Work for the government (Foreign Service, FBI, NSA, CIA, DOD, DOE)
  • … studying linguistics will give you skills you will use in your daily life

To learn more about what you can do with a linguistics major, and by extension to have some ideas about what you could do with a linguistics minor, read this article by the Linguistic Society of America.

The Linguistics Major and Minor are offered through the Liberal Studies Department.