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Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics

The undergraduate major stresses the study of language both as a fundamental human faculty and as a changing social institution. At the core of the program is a set of departmental courses on the nature of human language; the major also draws on courses offered by other departments and programs.

The Linguistics major cuts across the humanities and the social and physical sciences. It provides a solid general education as a background for advanced studies in such disciplines as anthropology, cognitive science, communication, computer science, education (language, literacy, and culture), hearing and speech sciences, languages, law, linguistics, philosophy, and psychology.


Requirements for the B.A. include at least 50 units of course work in Linguistics and approved courses in related fields. Of the 50 units required for the major, no more than 12 may be below the 100 level. No more than two courses, neither of which can be a core course, may be taken on a credit/no credit basis. Students must receive a 'C-' or better in courses used towards the requirements.

Core Courses—The core courses are:

LINGUIST 1. Introduction to Linguistics

LINGUIST 110. Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology

LINGUIST 120. Introduction to Syntax

LINGUIST 130A. Introduction to Linguistic Meaning

or LINGUIST 130B. Introduction to Lexical Semantics

LINGUIST 150. Language in Society, which fulfills the Writing in the Major requirement (WIM)

LINGUIST 160. Introduction to Language Change, or, in advance consultation with the Linguistics undergraduate studies adviser, a course in historical linguistics or the history of a language.

All majors must complete at least five core courses, including LINGUIST 150, Language and Society.

Other Courses—Other courses counting toward the unit requirement should form a coherent program with emphases from among the areas of concentration listed below. Students should consult with the Linguistics undergraduate studies adviser when declaring the major, and maintain regular contact during the remainder of their Stanford career. Each student's major program must be approved by the Linguistics undergraduate studies adviser, or approved department adviser.

Students in the major must also take:

  1. At least two 200-level Linguistics courses, typically in their area of concentration.
  2. LINGUIST 197, Undergraduate Research Seminar, in the junior year. Special arrangements can be made for transfer students and others who start the major late.

Other Requirements—

  1. Foreign language: majors must have competence in at least one language other than English as part of their understanding of the field of linguistics and its study. This is usually demonstrated by the completion of six quarters of language study at Stanford or equivalent; level of proficiency is determined by the Language Center or the relevant language department.

    Students may petition to be exempted from the Language Requirement if they have grown up speaking a language other than English and can use it for everyday purposes and for linguistic analysis.

  2. Junior research paper: this requirement is typically fulfilled by providing an additional stage of revision on a research paper previously submitted in a Linguistics course. It must be approved by both the instructor of the course and the Linguistics undergraduate studies adviser by the end of the junior year.


Students select an area of concentration or develop one themselves in advance consultation with the Linguistics undergraduate studies adviser. These areas of concentration are not declared on Axess, and they do not appear on the transcript or diploma.


Students who wish to undertake a more intensive program of study, including independent research, should pursue departmental honors. Students should apply for honors by the end of Spring Quarter of their junior year. As part of the application, the student must write a research proposal describing the honors project which must be approved by the faculty adviser. Approval is given only to students who have maintained a grade point average (GPA) of 3.3 (B+) or better in the courses required for the major.

Honors students complete a total of 60 units including the 50 units for the major, plus 10 additional units of independent study and Honors Research. In addition, they must complete an honors thesis based on research conducted with a principal adviser who must be a member of the Linguistics faculty, and a secondary faculty adviser who may, with the approval of the Undergraduate Studies Committee, be a member of another department. In the Autumn Quarter of the senior year, honors students enroll in LINGUIST 199, Independent Study, to work closely with one of their advisers on the research project. In Winter and Spring quarters, honors students enroll in LINGUIST 198, Honors Research, with the student's principal adviser for close supervision of the honors thesis. The thesis must be submitted in final, acceptable, form by May 15. The thesis topic is presented orally at a department Honors Colloquium late in Spring Quarter.

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