Linguistics Major and Minor

Linguistics is an exact and structured discipline that examines human language. It has connections to many other fields in the humanities (philosophy, literature), the social sciences (anthropology, psychology, sociology), the natural sciences (biology, neuroscience, acoustics), computer science, computer engineering, and artificial intelligence.

The central areas of linguistics investigate the knowledge that speakers of a language acquire about its structure. Syntax is concerned with the rules that combine words into larger units of phrases and sentences. Semantics is the study of the meanings of linguistic units and how they are combined to form the meanings of sentences. Phonetics deals with the physical properties of language sounds. Phonology investigates the sound systems of particular languages. Morphology investigates the ways in which words are formed from prefixes, roots, and suffixes. Pragmatics is the study of language use. Psycholinguistics is concerned with the cognitive mechanisms by which language is put to use in producing and perceiving speech.

The faculty in the Linguistics Department have primary research and teaching interests in one or more of these areas. Other perspectives on language study represented include sociolinguistics, the study of poetic language, and the study of language change.

The programs offered by the Linguistics Department are designed to acquaint students with the central aspects of linguistic structure and the methodologies and perspectives of the field. The department offers two undergraduate majors, linguistics and language studies, and a graduate program in theoretical linguistics. The linguistics major leads to a bachelor of arts (B.A.) degree in linguistics; the language studies major leads to a B.A. degree in language studies (see Language Studies). The graduate program leads to the master of arts (M.A.) and doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in linguistics.

The department also offers a combined B.A./M.A. program which makes it possible for certain well-qualified, highly motivated students to complete the requirements for both degrees in five years rather than the usual six.

The undergraduate linguistics program at UC Santa Cruz is recognized as one of the best in North America. Our graduates are routinely admitted to top graduate programs. Undergraduate alumni/ae from this department are on the faculty at the University of Chicago, Rochester University, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, and the University of Michigan. A linguistics degree is excellent training for many careers. See the "Life After the Department" link to learn more about this.