Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to take Linguistics courses for a letter grade? No. Once you have completed our qualifying courses, there is no requirement that courses for the major be taken for a letter-grade. There is a campus-wide requirement that you need to be aware of and to keep track of (no more than 25% of all of your UCSC courses can be taken on a P/NP basis).

How do I declare a Linguistics or Language Studies major? Please look at the "Declaring a Major/Minor" section on this web site where all pertinent planning resources are available. In order to declare, students must attend a group declaration session, offered in the first month of each quarter. We encourage you to meet with a Peer Advisor before the session to work out your four-year academic plan.

How do I know when to take the major courses? The Peer Advisors can help you plan these courses, and you will create an academic plan when you declare the major. Peer Advisors are an excellent resource for answering questions pertaining to class scheduling, enrollment, and degree requirements.

What do I need to know about studying abroad? You can get started by creating a profile on the Global Learning website. Fall quarter is typically the best time to go abroad due to the quarter/semester difference. Students must declare their major before they submit their application to study abroad, and must complete four of the named courses (Ling 50, 53, 101 and 111 or 112) before going abroad. Exception: The Department places no restrictions on summer study abroad. Before you apply, please talk to your college advisor about the Senior Residence Requirement.

Can I get course credit for courses taken outside UCSC? Provided that your previous coursework is approved for transfer to UCSC, you will at least receive credits that count towards the 180 unit minimum required for graduation. If the courses in question were lower-division (e.g. all community college courses) they may satisfy general education requirements, but they will not satisfy upper division major requirements. If your previous courses were upper division and relevant to your major, you may petition for up to three substitutions towards the required upper division electives. The department is in general very cautious about accepting courses taken outside UCSC. If you wish to petition, begin by talking to a staff advisor about it.

How should I satisfy the senior comprehensive requirement? There are three ways to satisfy the UCSC Senior Comprehensive Requirement for the Linguistics and Language Studies majors. The first option is to take a linguistics course which is designated as an "exit" course. In order to count this course for the campus and major Comprehensive Requirement, you must be in senior standing when you take the course and also have previously completed all linguistics foundation courses. You enroll concurrently in a 2-unit senior research course, LING 190.  Each instance of LING 190 is taught concurrently with one of the upper-division electives offered in that quarter. This elective can also serve as one of the linguistics electives required for the major.

The second option is to write a senior thesis. This is suitable for students who have an exemplary record in their course-work and who have consulted with a faculty member well in advance about the suitability of this option and about appropriate topics. Students must submit a written thesis proposal at least three quarters before their planned graduation date.

The third option is to enroll and pass a linguistics graduate-level course during the senior year. Students must first obtain approval from the course instructor and undergraduate advisor before enrolling in this course for the Senior Comprehensive Requirement.

How do I ask a faculty member for a letter of recommendation?
Faculty members will in general be glad to write letters of recommendation on your behalf. However, they are in general very busy and get many such requests, usually in a cluster. So please bear that in mind when you approach them with your request.

  1. Ask at least one month before your deadline.
  2. Let the faculty member know what program you are applying to, why, and what your goals are in applying. Are there special selection or admission criteria for the program or scholarship that you are applying for?
  3. Provide, preferably in one package, whether electronic or hard copy:
    • Copy of your UCSC transcript, showing all linguistics courses taken
    • A copy of your draft statement of purpose, as well as your resume or curriculum vita
    • Make especially sure you've been clear and explicit about when the letter is needed and the address to which it should be sent.
  4. If the recommendation is to go on a pre-printed form, make sure you've completed your portion of that form.
  5. If you've been out of school for more than a couple of years, reconnect with the faculty member by phone, via email or in person: refresh their memory about who you are, then ask if they are willing to write a letter for you.
  6. Be prepared for the fact that some faculty members may ask you to visit them during office hours to discuss your application or letter.
  7. About confidentiality: You don't have to, but it is generally in your best interest to agree to the letter being confidential (it will have more weight with readers). If you are uncomfortable with this, or if you are worried that the letter might not be positive, discuss your concerns with the faculty member.

In general, please remember that:

  • It is in your best interest to provide your letter-writers with as much information as possible in as timely a manner as possible. The better informed your recommender is, and the more time they have in which to write the letter, the better their letter will be.
  • Bear in mind especially that the faculty member is doing you a favor in writing the letter; be considerate by supplying all the information you can in a timely way.

I'm hoping to graduate at the end of next quarter; what do I need to do? First check with your college that your general education and unit requirements will be complete.  Meet with the Linguistics Undergraduate Advisor, to make sure that you will have completed all major or minor requirements. Then apply to graduate online at your student portal (instructions on how to do that are available on the website of the Office of the Registrar) by the deadline for the quarter in which you want to graduate. Bear in mind that registering to walk in Commencement is a separate process, usually completed through your college Programs or Activities Office.

How do I get involved in research? There are a few ways that you could get involved in the work of labs and other research groups in the department. One way is to look at the list of these groups on the department website to see if anything interests you there, and then to contact the faculty affiliated with it. Another way is to talk to specific faculty that you would like to work with and ask them if they have anything for undergraduates to get involved with. You can also speak with your TAs, who may be involved with department research themselves.