Linguistics is the scientific study of language. Linguists study a great diversity of topics pertaining to language, including: the grammar, sound structure, and history of individual languages, and the patterns which apply universally to all languages; the role of language in society, both at the level of large groups and nations and in interpersonal interactions; the way language is learned by children and adults, and the way language is processed in the human mind; and applications of linguistic knowledge in language teaching, computer science, and other areas.
Linguistics naturally lends itself to interdisciplinary study, and majors may wish to pursue double majors or minors with such other programs as the individual language departments, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, or Anthropology. Linguistics majors are encouraged to meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies to discuss their academic interests and career goals.
Linguistics majors are required to take Introduction to Language (LING-001), four Tier II courses (LING-215, 224, 251, 283) providing an overview of linguistic theory and methods, and two Tier III courses (chosen from a list of qualified courses) to develop depth of understanding and research capabilities within one or more areas of linguistics. Beyond these, students select major electives from the many linguistics courses offered each semester, with the advice of the faculty advisor.
At least 60% of Linguistics major degree requirements (i.e. 6 courses out of 10) must be taken at Georgetown; that is, up to 4 courses may be transferred (from previous institutions or from study abroad) to satisfy major requirements. Any courses proposed for transfer credit of this kind must be reviewed and approved by the Linguistics Department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Requirements for the A.B. Degree in Linguistics
- LING-001 Introduction to Language
- Four Tier II Courses:
- LING-215 Sounds of Language
- LING-224 Grammatical Analysis
- LING-254 How Languages are Learned
- LING-283 Language & Society
- Two Tier III Courses:
- Choose two Linguistics courses numbered between 350 and 499. Any departmental course numbered in this range will meet the requirement, with the following exceptions: 400 (Honors Thesis Seminar) and 401, 410, 459, and 487 (courses limited to graduate students only).
- Three Linguistics Electives, or two Linguistics Electives plus the Senior Thesis Seminar [Note: Any given numbered course can fulfill only one elective in the major or minor. For example, while it is possible to enroll in LING 202 (Research-based Undergraduate Linguistic Experience) multiple times and earn up to 6 credits with this course number, only 3 will count towards an elective requirement]
Linguistics majors must complete 12 credits of ancient or modern language study beyond the College core requirement in language. Courses must be taught in the language or must be advanced courses about the structure of the language (i.e., linguistics courses), and may double count toward other major/minor requirements. Linguistic structure courses in other departments may count as Linguistics major electives with Department approval.
Integrated Writing Requirement
Linguistics majors fulfill the Integrated Writing requirement by the completion of two Tier III courses, as per the requirements for the major. These courses offer students an opportunity to explore a linguistic topic in great depth, and they are more challenging and advanced in scope than lower-numbered courses. Accordingly they integrate a variety of large-scale and/or continuous writing projects which allow students to hone their skills in linguistics writing.
Specifically, Tier III writing projects include one or more of the following components that are key to good linguistic writing: identifying and explaining original research questions, synthesizing a set of primary literature, organizing and reporting on complex data, and crafting a clear, convincing and well-structured analysis. Since linguistics has many subfields with different writing practices, specific Tier III courses vary in their particular writing requirements. However, the completion of two such courses will give students sufficient experience in working towards these goals of linguistic writing.
Five-Year Accelerated Bachelor/Master Degree Program
See the Accelerated Bachelor/Master Degree section on this topic in the Bulletin.
Requirements for the Linguistics Minor
Students pursuing the Linguistics minor must take the following courses:
- LING-001 Introduction to Language
- Two courses chosen from:
- LING-215, 224, 251, 283 (Sounds of Language, Grammatical Analysis, How Languages Are Learned, and Language and Society)
- Three linguistics electives
Cognitive Science Minor
The Linguistics Department participates in the Minor in Cognitive Science. Majors may gain a minor in Cognitive Science by completing courses in another participating department (such as Computer Science, Psychology, or Philosophy), taking special seminars during junior and senior years, and writing a senior thesis. See the Bulletin for information on the Cognitive Science minor.
(For course listings for Linguistics see Schedule of Classes)