Department of Linguistics

BA in Linguistics

The general linguistics major serves students who have an interest in language as an aspect of human nature or who wish to pursue graduate education in language-related areas. For more information, click here.

Required Coursework

LIN 185 Language, Mind, and Society: An Introduction to Linguistics
LIN 311 Phonetics
LIN 312 Phonology and Morphology
LIN 313 Syntax
LIN 314 Semantics
LIN 315 Field Methods
LIN 490 Introduction to Language Research

One three-credit LIN course (excluding courses focused on interpreting and excluding LIN 498) or one of the language-based courses offered by the English Department (ENG 230, 330, 331, 332, 336, 337, 338, 431)

One 300- or 400-level three-credit LIN course (excluding courses focused on interpreting and excluding LIN 498) or ASL 416

Two three-credit 400-level LIN courses (excluding courses focused on interpreting and excluding LIN 498)

Four semesters of language study (number of credits varies depending on courses)

Total number of credits: 45 credits minimum (the number varies depending on the choice of language courses)

Note on Language Component

Students pursuing the general linguistics major must complete four semesters of a language or languages other than their native language. Students may choose to take four semesters of the same language or to divide the four courses among two or more different languages. The language courses may be waived on a case-by-case basis for students who demonstrate the equivalent degree of competency in a language or languages. In such cases, students replace the language course credits with other linguistics courses (or possibly with linguistics-related courses in other areas). The substitutions are made in consultation with the student's advisor. 

Note on grade requirement for LIN 185

Students must receive a grade of B or higher in LIN 185 before enrolling in certain upper-level LIN courses, including LIN 311-314. LIN 185 may be repeated at most one time. (Students for whom American Sign Language is their first language may consult with the department about alternative pathways for satisfying this requirement.)

Honors in Linguistics

Linguistics majors who do outstanding work in the major can graduate with honors in linguistics. The requirements for Honors for students majoring in general linguistics are the following:

  • Achieve a G.P.A. of at least 3.7 in LIN courses.
  • Earn a grade of B or higher in all language courses that count toward the major.
  • Submit a portfolio of linguistic activities approved by the Department. (The portfolio documents linguistic activities outside of required coursework. Examples of such activities include independent study and research internship courses, tutoring, and attendance at linguistics conferences. Students who plan to submit a portfolio should discuss the details with their advisor.)
  • Complete a senior thesis (LIN 498) and earn a grade of A.
Notes on General Education Requirements

In addition to completing a major, students must satisfy USM's General Education (Core Curriculum) requirements and earn a total of at least 120 credits to graduate. The following information outlines General Education requirements that overlap with the major in general Linguistics or General Education courses recommended for students majoring in general Linguistics.

Quantitative Reasoning: Students should fulfill this requirement by taking a statistics course (MAT 120 or PSY 201). One of the LIN requirements, LIN 490, has a statistics course as a prerequisite.

Cultural Interpretation: Second level (and higher) language courses fulfill this requirement, so the language requirement for the major (as long as it includes a course beyond the first level) will also fulfill this General Education requirement.

Socio-Cultural Analysis: LIN 185 meets this requirement.

Science Exploration: LIN 185 meets this requirement if LIN 186 (the one-credit lab associated with LIN 185) is taken as well.

Diversity: LIN 185 also meets this requirement (and can be used to fulfill both requirements).

Capstone: LIN 490 is a capstone course.

Three linguistics courses that are not required for the major fulfill General Education requirements:

International: LIN 112 The Birth of a Language

Diversity and Socio-Cultural Analysis: LIN 203 Introduction to the Deaf World (Note that this course is required for the Deaf Studies minor.)

Ethical Inquiry: LIN 410 Ethical Decision Making in ASL/English Interpreting (Note: Students who have not taken ASL or interpreting courses can request permission from the Department to take this course, if they demonstrate experience in an area involving ethical reasoning.)

Suggested four-year plan for general Linguistics Majors

There are many possible paths through the major. The listings below are suggestions that may or may not be appropriate for individual students. Courses do not have to be taken in the order shown here so long as the prerequisites for each course are met before it is taken.

See the course list for course prerequisites. Note especially that students must earn a grade of B or higher in LIN 185 before enrolling in LIN 311, 312, 313, 314, or 315, and that LIN 185 may be repeated at most one time.

Note that many of the suggested semester schedules listed here do not make up a full course load. These semesters would need to include general education courses, electives, a minor, or possibly a second major.

  • Fall 1: Language 1
  • Spring 1: LIN 185, MAT 120 (or PSY 201), Language 2
  • Fall 2: LIN 313, LIN 314, Language 3
  • Spring 2: LIN 312, LIN 315, Language 4
  • Fall 3: LIN 1xx/2xx/3xx/4xx, LIN 311
  • Spring 3: LIN 490, LIN 4xx
  • Fall 4: LIN 3xx/4xx, LIN 498 thesis (if doing honors)
  • Spring 4: LIN 4xx