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Degree: BA

Campus: Columbus

College: Arts and Sciences

A human language is an enormously intricate and highly structured communication system. All human languages share a striking number of properties that can be observed in their sound systems and grammars. Regularities can also be found, for example, in the ways languages change over time and in the steps by which children learn their native language. These facts about language call for scientific analysis and can be explained in terms of the human organs used to produce and listen to speech as well as with respect to specific cognitive abilities and limitations of the human mind. 

The goal of linguistics is to provide an objective and systematic study of these properties in human languages. Though linguistics is fundamentally a humanistic discipline because of its subject matter, it is scientific in its goals and methods and has much in common with social sciences, including psychology, anthropology and sociology. Linguistics as a discipline also has close ties to philosophy (logic and the philosophy of language), computer science (the processing of human languages by computer), communication and the study of individual foreign languages.

Upon admission to the university, students can declare a major in linguistics within the College of Arts and Sciences. Interested students should contact the undergraduate advisor in the Department of Linguistics and Arts and Sciences Advising.

The undergraduate major program in linguistics permits students to combine in a single field a broad spectrum of human­­istic and scientific interests and to develop analytic skills in depth. Students are encouraged to explore with faculty the many relationships of linguistics with other fields in order to discover the optimal program for their individual interests and goals.

Students majoring in linguistics must complete an introductory linguistics course, an advanced foreign language course, six core linguistic courses and four elective linguistic courses. These include: 

  • one course in general introductory linguistics
  • one advanced course in a foreign language beyond the college requirements or a linguistics field methods course
  • six linguistics courses that introduce students to the main subfields of linguistics from phonetics, syntax, phonology, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, field methods and semantics
  • four linguistics or related courses, to be chosen in consultation with a faculty advisor 

Additional electives and general education (GE) requirements (major courses + GE courses) totaling 121 hours are required by the College of Arts and Sciences for graduation.

The Department of Linguistics offers opportunities for students to learn about linguistics-related fields outside of the classroom. Students are encouraged to participate in two general types of internships for course credit: research internships and non-research internships. A research intern typically works with faculty and graduate students as a research assistant on an existing project in the Department of Linguistics. A non-research intern generally works at an organization or business off campus completing or assisting others in linguistic-related projects. Interns gain valuable work experience, learn about other languages and cultures, and are able to explore opportunities existing in the field. 

Topics in research-related internships have included studies on intonation in Spanish and Portuguese, dialect patterns in Ohio, vowel production in Canadian English, conversational analysis and computer-aided second language teaching. Non-research internships have been completed at the Columbus Literacy Council, the Department of Youth Services Legal Division, the Ohio Historical Society and the Deaf Services Center.

Ohio State boasts one of the best linguistics programs in the nation; many students of linguistics go on to pursue graduate degrees. Through its emphasis on critical thinking, analytic skills and language, a major in linguistics is designed to provide excellent preparation for graduate work in related disciplines such as cognitive psychology, anthropology, philosophy, speech pathology and computer science. The study of linguistics allows students to consider careers in fields such as scientific or scholarly research, computing, communications, law, teaching English as a second language, and foreign service.

Some Ohio State graduates with linguistics and related degrees have chosen jobs such as computer programmer at companies including Microsoft Corporation and OCLS Online Computer Library Center, Inc.; research scientists in private companies including Nuance Communications and Motorola; academic positions in universities in the United States and abroad; and language instructors in the private and public sectors including Language Training and Testing Center in Taipei, Taiwan and The Spoken English Program at Ohio State.

Students can explore career options by utilizing Career Connection as well as the Arts and Sciences Career Services Office. Providing complimentary services, Career Connection focuses on helping students establish a career direction, while the Arts and Sciences Career Services Office assists students with finding internships—experiences that are essential to testing out the suitability of career fields they are considering.

Dr. Julie McGory
Undergraduate Advisor
Department of Linguistics
223 Oxley Hall
1712 Neil Ave.
Columbus, OH 43210

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