Experiential learning at Rochester

The Linguistics Major focuses on 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 structure of human language, including formal tools for collecting, describing, and analyzing linguistic data. The major also draws on courses offered by other departments and programs within the college, cutting across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. 


Course work in Linguistics at every level involves student participation in projects through which students develop knowledge and skills from working directly with the collection and analysis of natural language. Through these projects students become actively engaged in the intellectual and social issues surrounding the human language capacity and gain experience in critical analysis, collaborative work, and the organization and handling of complex linguistic data.

BA in Linguistics

Majors in linguistics do fundamental coursework in the core areas of formal linguistics: syntax, semantics and pragmatics, phonetics and phonology.  Students may then broaden their competence in specific areas by taking second level courses in phonology, syntax and semantics, historical linguistics, psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, and descriptive linguistics of specific languages. Majors may take independent studies focused on areas of faculty research, or work in the Department’s research labs or on research projects of faculty. They may chose to do a senior honors thesis during their senior year. Opportunities may arise for summer employment in the Department or affiliated labs. 

LIN220 Grammatical systems

Requirements for the Major

The Linguistics major requires a total of ten courses. All majors must take the basic five core courses. Students must also take five additional electives, at least three of which must be at the 200-level or above. Four of these electives must fit into either a pre-approved track or a specialized track arranged with the undergraduate advisor.

Core courses*

  • LIN 110 (ANT 110) - Introduction to Linguistic Analysis
  • LIN 210/410 - Introduction to Language Sound Systems
  • LIN 220/420 - Introduction to Grammatical Systems
  • LIN 225/425 - Introduction to Semantic Analysis
  • LIN 389 - Senior Seminar

The core courses provide a solid understanding of the study of natural language. The two 100-level introductory courses (101, 110) provide students with the basic stock of knowledge, both factual and methodological, common to the many areas of Linguistics. The two courses in sound structure and grammatical structure ground students in the main core areas of linguistic analysis and theory. The overall thrust of the major is a "hands-on" experience where students gain a sense of what it is like to actively participate in the creation of knowledge.

From the basic core, students may then follow a number of different tracks depending on their interests.

Suggested Tracks

  1. Linguistic Theory
    • LIN 227/427 - Topics in Phonetics and Phonology
    • LIN 260/460 - Syntactic Theory or LIN 261/461 - Phrase Structure Grammars or LIN 262/462 - Topics in Experimental Syntax
    • LIN 266/466 - Formal Pragmatics or LIN 265/465 - Formal Semantics
    • Choose one:
      • LIN 102 - Language and Social Identity in the U.S.
      • LIN 103 - Language and Sexuality
      • LIN 105 - Language and Advertising
      • LIN 106 - Language and Law
  2. Psycholinguistics
    • LIN 217 (BCS 152; PSY 152; ASL 260) - Language and Psycholinguistics
    • LIN 208 (BCS 259; PSY 259) - Language Development
    • Choose three:
      • LIN 227/427 - Topics in Phonology and Phonetics
      • LIN 260/460 - Syntactic Theory
      • LIN 262/462 - Topics in Experimental Syntax or LIN 261/461 - Phrase Structure Grammars
      • LIN 265/465 - Formal Semantics or LIN 266/466 - Formal Pragmatics
    • Recommended elective:
      • BCS 200 - Experimental Design and Analysis
  3. Language and Computation
    • LIN 265/465 - Formal Semantics
    • LIN 260/460 - Syntactic Theory
    • LIN 247/447 (CSC 247/447; BCS 235/534) - Natural Language Processing
    • Choose one:
      • LIN 261/461 - Phrase Structure Grammars or LIN 262/462 - Topics in Experimental Syntax
      • LIN 266/466 - Formal Pragmatics
  4. Speech
    • LIN 217 (BCS 152; PSY 152; ASL 260) - Language and Psycholinguistics
    • LIN 227/427 - Topics in Phonetics and Phonology
    • BCS 110 (PSY 110; CVS 110) - Neural Foundations of Behavior
    • BCS 151 (PSY 151; CVS 151) - Perception and Action
    • Other relevant electives:
      • BCS 221 (PSY 221; NSC 221) - Audition
      • BCS 245 (CVS 245; NSC 245) - Sensory Systems
  5. Language and The Mind
    • LIN 217 (BCS 152; PSY 152; ASL 260) - Language and Psycholinguistics
    • LIN 265/465 - Formal Semantics
    • LIN 266/466 - Formal Pragmatics
    • PHL 244/444 - Philosophy of Mind
    • PHL 247/447 - Philosophy of Language
    • BCS 111 - Foundations of Cognitive Science

Students may also construct their own track with the consultation and approval of the undergraduate advisor.

The undergraduate student advisor is Solveiga Armoskaite.

The undergraduate peer advisor is Octavia Rhim.