Linguistics, B.A.

Program Code: LING_BA

Entrance to Major

In order to be eligible for entrance to this major, a student must:

  1. attain at least a C (2.00) cumulative grade-point average for all courses taken at the University; and
  2. have third-semester classification.


Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics, a minimum of 120 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 21
Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements 24
Requirements for the Major 33-34

3-4 credits of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 3-4 credits of GQ courses.

3 of the 24 credits for Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements are included in the Requirements for the Major, General Education, or Electives and 0-12 credits are included in Electives if foreign language proficiency is demonstrated by examination.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Knowledge Domains

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits

Integrative Studies (may also complete a Knowledge Domain requirement)

  • Inter-Domain or Approved Linked Courses: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement    

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

B.A. Degree Requirements

Foreign Language (0-12 credits): Student must attain 12th credit level of proficiency in one foreign language. See the Placement Policy for Penn State Foreign Language Courses.

B.A. Fields (9 credits): Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arts, Foreign Languages, Natural Sciences, Quantification (may not be taken in the area of the student's primary major; foreign language credits in this category must be in a second foreign language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the first language)

Other Cultures (0-3 credits): Select 3 credits from approved list. Students may count courses in this category in order to meet other major, minor, elective, or General Education requirements, except for the General Education US/IL requirement.​

Requirements for the Major

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the major. To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn at least a C grade in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
LING 100Foundations of Linguistics Keystone/General Education Course3
LING 402Syntax I 13
LING 404Phonology I 13
LING 449Semantics I3
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
STAT 200 or appropriate statistics course3-4
Select one of the following:3
Introduction to Historical Linguistics
Introduction to Language, Culture, and Social Interaction Keystone/General Education Course
Select one of the following:3
French Linguistics
French Phonology
French Syntax
French Semantics
Contrastive Analysis of Modern German and English
History of the German Language
History of Latin
Field Methods
Spanish Sounds
Spanish and Spanish-speakers in the U.S. Keystone/General Education Course
Building Words and Sentences in Spanish
The Evolution of Spanish
Select 6 additional credits in Linguistics at the 400 level (list kept in department)6
Select 6 additional credits from Linguistics courses and/or approved related fields6

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university’s academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee’s unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.


University Park

Liberal Arts Academic Advising
Use the Liberal Arts Majors and Minors web page to see the contact information for the specific adviser(s) of this program

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2020-21 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition (Note: the archive only contain suggested academic plans beginning with the 2018-19 edition of the Undergraduate Bulletin).

Linguistics, B.A. at University Park Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
ENGL 15, 30H, 137H, CAS 137H, or ESL 15 (GWS)3CAS 100, 100A, 100B, 100C, 138T, or ENGL 138T (GWS)3
LING 100 (IL/US)*3General Education Quantification (GQ)3
General Education Course3Linguistics Social Science Requirement*3
World Language Level 14World Language Level 24
 16 16
Second Year
LING 4043LING 402*3
General Education Course3STAT 200 (GQ)‡†4
General Education Course3BA Field Course3
World Language Level 34BA Field Course3
 16 16
Third Year
LING 449*3Non-English Linguistics Course*3
ENGL 2023General Education Course3
General Education Course3BA Field Course3
General Education Course3BA Other Cultures Course3
 15 15
Fourth Year
Any LING 4XX Course*3Any LING 4XX Course*3
Related Area Course*3Related Area Course*3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
General Education Course3Elective2
General Health and Wellness1.5General Health and Wellness1.5
 13.5 12.5
Total Credits 120

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and replace both ENGL 30H and CAS 100. Each course is 3 credits.

Bachelor of Arts Requirements:

Bachelor of Arts students must take 9 credits in Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Fields (Humanities; Social and Behavioral Sciences; Arts; World Languages [2nd language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the 1st]; Natural Sciences; Quantification). The B.A. Fields courses may not be taken in the area of the student’s primary major. See your adviser and the Degree Requirements section of this Bulletin.

Bachelor of Arts students must take 3 credits in Other Cultures.
See your adviser and the full list of courses approved as Other Cultures courses.

Career Paths

A linguistics major can help students in a variety of career paths. The critical thinking and language analysis skills gained by our students provide good preparation for careers in information science and technology (especially when combined with computer science courses), education (especially language teaching), speech pathology, or audiology. Linguistics also provides good preparation for legal studies, law enforcement and related careers, as well as fields requiring precise use of language, such as advertising, publishing, or journalism. Students interested in international business or global studies would also benefit from studying linguistics.


Courses in linguistics provide students the opportunity to practice and hone skills such as analytical reasoning, critical thinking, formulating hypotheses and argumentation, so linguistics students can easily pursue a variety of different career paths. The skills gained by our students provide good preparation for careers in information science and technology, education (especially language teaching), speech pathology, or audiology. Linguistics also provides good preparation for legal studies, law enforcement and related careers, as well as fields requiring precise use of language, such as advertising, publishing, or journalism. Students interested in international business or global studies would also benefit from studying linguistics.

Information Science and Technology
The analytical tools taught in linguistics have many parallels to the tools needed for programming and related IT skills. In addition, there are many job opportunities relating to helping computers understand language or using computers to analyze language.
Language Teaching
Students who study linguistics are uniquely positioned to understand language structures, particularly grammar and pronunciation. These skills transfer very well into the language classroom, whether teaching English as a Foreign Language, or helping English speakers learn another language.
Advertising and Publishing
The ability to understand language at a structural level, particularly regarding meaning, is useful in pursuing careers that require the creative use of language.
Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agencies
Agencies value employees with backgrounds in fields like linguistics that teach crucial analytical skills. Additionally, linguistics students gain skills that can help with learning languages quickly and training others in language learning, which is a crucial skill in a globalized world.
Legal and Forensic Consultation
An understanding of dialects, language variation, and speech analysis are often crucial in making legal arguments, and forensic linguistics is an important aspect of the field.
Speech Pathology/Speech and Hearing Science
Training in linguistics is a key to understanding speech, and thus majoring or minoring in linguistics is a useful complement to study in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.
Government Services and NGO Work
Course work in sociolinguistics and language variation are attractive qualifications for public sector jobs, and crucial for development projects around the world.


University Park

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University Park, PA 16802