Linguistics Degree Requirements

Successful completion of the linguistics major leads to a BA degree in linguistics. The department also offers a minor in linguistics. Requirements for the completion of each program may be found below.

[ Linguistics Minor ]

The Linguistics Major

To graduate with a BA in Linguistics, students must complete three course components: Seven named courses in Linguistics, five Linguistics electives, and a senior exit requirement. In addition, students must demonstrate either foreign language or mathematics competency.

The Linguistics major provides a strong background in the central subdisciplines of Linguistics through the named courses, which all linguistics majors must complete. For the elective requirement, students who wish to pursue linguistic theory further are encouraged to take morphology and pragmatics, and/or seek permission to enroll in the graduate foundation sequence in phonology, syntax, or semantics.

The Linguistics Named Course Component: The Linguistics named course component provides both an introduction and advanced study on the nature of human language, linguistic structure, language use, and linguistic universals. Majors must take seven linguistics named courses.
  • LING 50  Introduction to Linguistics
  • LING 53  Semantics 1
  • LING 101 Phonology 1
  • LING 112 Syntax 1
  • LING 102 Phonology 2
  • LING 113 Syntax 2
  • LING 116 Semantics 2
The Five Linguistics Electives: Linguistics majors take five upper division electives in Linguistics. Students may take language or linguistics-based electives from the approved list as outside courses. They are allowed up to three outside courses; students are encouraged to review our policy on taking outside courses.

Senior Comprehensive Requirement: All students at UCSC must satisfy the Senior Comprehensive Requirement. Linguistics majors can satisfy this requirement in one three ways:

  • Option 1: Successful completion of an upper division UCSC linguistics "exit" course. Once a major has completed Linguistics 50, 53, 101, and 111 or 112 and have reached senior standing, successful completion of an exit course satisfies the UCSC Linguistics Department Senior Comprehensive Requirement. This exit course will also satisfy one upper division elective course for the major.

  • Option 2: Successful completion of a senior thesis supervised by a Linguistics department faculty member. Students must have done very good to excellent work in the major to be approved for this option. Students interested in completing a senior thesis should work with a faculty advisor to draft a senior thesis proposal, which must be submitted for departmental approval at least three quarters prior to the quarter of graduation. Students whose senior thesis proposal has been approved enroll in LING 195 (Senior Thesis) with their faculty advisor. Students submit final version of their thesis by the seventh week of their final quarter.

  • Option 3: Successful completion of a UCSC graduate course during their senior year. Students interested in taking a graduate level course for this option must first receive approval from the course instructor and the Undergraduate Program Director.

Foreign Language or Mathematics Competency: Linguistics majors must demonstrate either foreign language or mathematics competency:
Foreign language competency: Students must successfully complete five quarters of language study at UCSC or demonstrate an equivalent level of competence through a recognized language test, or evidence of credit from another institution. In cases where five quarters of instruction for a language are not offered at UCSC, students may opt to complete (or demonstrate an equivalent level of competence for) 3 quarters of one language and 3 quarters of a second language. For Latin and Greek, 2 quarters will be considered equivalent to 3 quarters.
Mathematics competency: Alternatively, students with a strong formal background can choose to satisfy the mathematics competency requirement by demonstrating sufficient preparation in mathematics for advanced formal work in Linguistics. This requirement is satisfied by passing two courses chosen from the following list: Applied Mathematics and Statistics 7 or 131; Computer Engineering 16; Computer Science 5C, 5J, 5P, 10, 11, 12A, 12B, 140, or 148; Mathematics 30, 100, 115, 160, or 161, Philosophy 9; or any course which has one of these courses as a prerequisite.

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement
Students of every major must satisfy that major's upper-division Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement. The DC requirement in linguistics is satisfied by completing courses 101 and 112.

Download the Linguistics Major worksheet (PDF)

The Linguistics Minor

A minor in linguistics may be advantageous to students majoring in psychology, anthropology, computer and information sciences, and other fields, who intend to go on to graduate work or certain specializations.
To graduate with a minor in linguistics, students must complete eight courses:
  • Introduction to Linguistics (LING 50)
  • Semantics I (LING 53)
  • Phonology I (LING 101)
  • Syntax I (LING 112)
  • Four additional upper division courses in linguistics (or approved substitutes).


There is no foreign language/mathematics requirement or senior exit requirement for the minor.

Download the Linguistics Minor worksheet (PDF)

See Also