Area of Focus
  • Behavioral & Social Sciences
  • Humanities
Degrees Offered
  • B.A.
  • M.A.
  • Ph.D.
  • Undergraduate Minor
Academic Division
  • Humanities
  • Linguistics

Program overview

The linguistics major is designed to acquaint students with the central aspects of linguistic structure and the methodologies and perspectives of the field. Areas of study include:

  • Syntax, the rules that combine words into larger units of phrases and sentences
  • Phonology and phonetics, the sound systems of particular languages and the physical properties of language sounds
  • Semantics, the study of the meanings of linguistic units and how they are combined to form the meanings of sentences or conversations
  • Psycholinguistics, the cognitive mechanisms used in producing and perceiving language

Learning Experience

Study and Research Opportunities

First-Year (Freshman) Requirements

High school students who plan to major in linguistics at UC Santa Cruz are not required to have any special background in linguistics. However, they will find it useful to begin study of a foreign language in high school and complete more than the minimum courses in science and mathematics.

Students in class

Transfer Requirements

This is a non-screening major. Transfer students who intend to major in linguistics should complete two collegiate years of one foreign language or two math courses at the calculus level or beyond. In addition, students will find it helpful to have completed general education requirements.

While it is not a condition of admission, students from California community colleges may complete the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) in preparation for transfer to UC Santa Cruz.


Learning Outcomes

Linguistics courses build scientific skills in data analysis and humanistic skills in logical argumentation and clear writing, providing an excellent foundation for a wide range of careers.

Students attain a sophisticated understanding of how human languages work, and of the theories that explain language structure and use.

Students learn:

• to analyze data and discover patterns in it,

• to propose and test hypotheses to explain those patterns,

• to build and modify theories about how language works.

Finally, students learn to express their thinking in writing that is clear, precise, and logically organized.

For more information about learning outcomes, see

Students laughing

Internships and Career Opportunities

  • Language engineering
  • Information processing: computer science and computer technology, information sciences, library science
  • Data analytics
  • Speech technology: speech synthesis and speech recognition
  • Advanced study in linguistics or in related fields
    (such as experimental psychology or language or child development)
  • Education: educational research, bilingual education
  • Teaching: English, English as a second language, other languages
  • Speech-language pathology
  • Law
  • Translation and Interpretation
  • Writing and editing
  • These are only samples of the field’s many possibilities.

Program Contact



apartment Stevenson 241
phone (831) 459-4988 

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