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Prospective Students

Why study Linguistics?

Maybe you’ve asked yourself some of the following questions:

  • Why do young children sometimes say things that are wrong, like “I finded it!”, even though they’ve never heard their parents or other caregivers say this? (And why do they often persist in the same mistakes for a period of time, even if adults try to correct them?)
  • On the other hand, how do children learn to say completely new sentences that are grammatically flawless (e.g., “Maybe you can bend the elephant so he can sit in the car”, when playing with toys), when they’ve probably never heard anyone say something exactly like this before?
  • Why is it so hard to learn a new language as an adult? Are some languages more difficult to learn than others?
  • Do animals have language? Can computers learn language?
Computer from The Imitation Game
The Imitation Game. ​​
  • Is language the same as thought? Do we have to use words to be able to think about things? Does language influence the way we think?
  • Are certain ways of speaking “lazy” or “sloppy”? Are some accents “beautiful” or “ugly”? Can we really say that one way of speaking is inherently better or worse than another? And if not, why do people often think this is true?
  • Why does language change? Is change bad?

Almost everyone is interested in language in one way or another, because language is a fundamental part of what makes us human. A degree in Linguistics will provide you with a better understanding of how we produce and comprehend language, how children and adults acquire a language, how languages vary and change over time, and how speakers use language in different social situations and in different groups. You will learn how to describe and analyze language using different tools and methods.

Photo of actress Amy Adams in orange contamination suit holding up a sign that says HUMAN.

Studying linguistics is different from learning a lot of languages (you can be a professional linguist and only speak one language), but you will learn about different features of many languages and have the opportunity to apply your knowledge of languages that you have studied.

Linguistics has many different subfields, each focusing on a particular aspect of language. If you want to learn more, there are many resources available under the "What is linguistics?" section of the Linguistic Society of America website.

What is linguistics?

Studying linguistics will help you acquire valuable intellectual skills, such as analytical reasoning, critical thinking, argumentation, and the ability to express yourself clearly in writing. You’ll learn to make observations, formulate clear and testable hypotheses, generate predictions, draw conclusions, and communicate your findings to a broader audience.

Comparison of Klingon and Tibetan written language

Depending on the courses you take, you will also learn specific practical skills (using software to analyze, process, or model language; using statistical methods; conducting experiments; etc.).

Students with a degree in linguistics are therefore well equipped for a variety of careers and for graduate and professional degree programs. To learn more, follow the link below.

Careers for linguists

Declaring a major and degree requirements

There are no special entrance requirements for the A.B. degree in Linguistics. You can declare a major at any time in Athena

Our introductory linguistics course, LING 2100 The Study of Language, is a prerequisite for all other upper-division Linguistics courses. LING 2100 satisfies a Core Area VI requirement for the Linguistics major, as well as satisfying Core Area IV and Franklin College degree requirements.

The Linguistics major itself requires a total of 8 courses (24 hours) at the 3000- and 4000-level, which must include LING 3060 Phonetics and Phonology and LING 3150W Generative Syntax.

For more details, see the A.B. in Linguistics degree requirements.

Interdisciplinary opportunities for Linguistics majors

Because language is so central to human life, Linguistics intersects with many other disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and hard sciences, including:

  • Anthropology
  • Cognitive Science
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Communication Studies
  • Computer Science
  • Education
  • English, Classics, and modern foreign languages
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

You can easily combine a major in Linguistics with a second major in a related discipline. For some of these majors, LING courses can count towards the fulfillment of requirements for both degree programs; e.g., in Cognitive Science, Communication Sciences and Disorders, TESOL and World Language Education, English, Classics, and modern foreign languages.

Double Dawgs programs

You also have the opportunity to pursue a combined degree program where you can receive both an AB and MA in Linguistics or an AB in Linguistics and an MAT in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). For more information, follow the link below.

Double Dawgs degree programs

Last updated: 06/30/2024

Support Linguistics at UGA

Your donations to the Department of Linguistics will support research and travel opportunities for students and faculty and other initiatives to enhance students' education in linguistics. Please consider joining other friends and alumni who have shown their support by making a gift to our fund. We greatly appreciate your contributions to the success of our programs!