Linguistics, Minor

Program Code: LING_UMNR

Program Description

This minor is designed for students in any major of the University who wish to supplement their knowledge in the area of linguistics. The minor consists of 18 credits. A certificate is awarded to students who complete the requirements of the minor.

For more information on the Linguistics Program, visit our website:

What is Linguistics?

Linguistics is the scientific study of language: how it is structured, how it is acquired, how it is used to convey information, and how it changes over time. While many linguists do speak more than one language--or at least know how to approach the study of other languages--linguistics is much more than this. Through courses and a wide variety of research opportunities, our students explore how languages are structured (sentence structure, sound patterns, meaning and more), and how those structures are processed by the human brain. Since language is integral to all societies, linguists are interested in how language affects culture, and how social factors (place of birth, social class, ethnicity, gender, age, etc.) impact language use. We approach language from a global perspective, investigating commonalities and differences across languages in order to increase our understanding of what makes human communication unique.

You Might Like This Program If...

  • You enjoy studying languages, particularly finding and applying grammatical patterns.
  • You are interested in communication, and learning more about the function of language(s) in society and how language structure and use varies depending on social context.
  • You like to think about how the human brain functions, and want to know more about language and cognition, language learning (by children or adults!), or how the brain handles multiple languages.
  • You like logic, computer programming, and/or abstract puzzles.

Program Requirements

Requirement Credits
Requirements for the Minor 18

Requirements for the Minor

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the minor, as specified by Senate Policy 59-10. In addition, at least six credits of the minor must be unique from the prescribed courses required by a student's major(s).

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
LING 402Syntax I3
LING 404Phonology I3
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
LING 1Language, Life and Society Keystone/General Education Course3
or LING 100 Foundations of Linguistics Keystone/General Education Course
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Supporting Courses and Related Areas: Require a grade of C or better
Select 9 credits from LING offerings9

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.


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

Career Paths

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: Linguistics training can provide tools to be applied in areas of speech recognition, text-to-speech synthesis, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, computer-mediated language learning, and other technological domains.

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. Other career paths would include those in the fields of advertising and publishing, law enforcement and intelligence, legal and forensic consultation, speech pathology, speech and hearing science, government services and NGO work.

Opportunities for Graduate Studies

A linguistics minor or major is useful to students wanting to pursue the following types of graduate studies: M.A. or Ph.D. in Linguistics M.A. or Ph.D. in a particular language, or language education M.A. (or Ph.D.) in communication sciences and disorders (speech pathology, audiology, etc.) M.A. or Ph.D. in Computer Science Law School (JD) At Penn State, the Linguistics program offers a Dual-Title Doctoral Degree in Language Science to graduate students enrolled in the doctoral programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders, German, Psychology, or Spanish. Dual-title degree students receive interdisciplinary training in the theoretical and methodological approaches of several disciplines (i.e., linguistics, psychology, speech-language pathology, and cognitive neuroscience).



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