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College of Letters & Science


Requirements for the Major
Honors in the Major

1168 Van Hise Hall, 1220 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1557; 608-262-2292; fax 608-265-3193; vanhise.lss.wisc.edu/ling

Professors Li, Macaulay, Macken, Raimy,Valentine

Undergraduate advisor in the major: Inquire in 1168 Van Hise Hall for office hours or call 608-262-2292. All students proposing to major in linguistics must consult the department's undergraduate advisor.

The linguistics major program can be enriched through linguistics-related courses offered in other departments such as the language departments, the departments of psychology, philosophy, and communicative disorders.

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. It investigates the common principles underlying all human languages, as well as the organization of particular languages. It is expected that undergraduates with a major in linguistics will be able to:

  • demonstrate a sound knowledge of the fields of phonetics (articulatory and acoustic properties of speech), phonology (the organization of the sound system of languages), morphology (the structure of words), syntax (the structure of sentences), and semantics (the interpretation of structures);
  • demonstrate that they are able to analyze data in all these areas of linguistics;
  • apply their linguistic training without prejudice, as expected in any science; and
  • apply their analytical abilities beyond the study of linguistics.

Requirements for the Major

30 credits in Department of Linguistics courses.

Language: All majors must complete a fourth semester or higher college-level course in a foreign language, or place out of the fourth semester college course in a foreign language based on UW–Madison language placement scores.

1. Linguistics courses (30 credits)
  1. Linguis 101 or 301; 310; 330; 322; 340.
  2. One 500-level elective course offered by the Department of Linguistics.
  3. One "capstone" course, Linguis 426 or 427. This will normally be taken in spring semester of the senior year, after completing the requirements in a. and b., above.
2. Nine additional elective credits

The nine additional elective credits may be satisfied through other courses offered in the Department of Linguistics or from a list of courses approved by the department.  Students should contact the Department of Linguistics for a list of courses that would satisfy the nine additional elective credits.   

All students must fulfill the L&S requirement of at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major completed in residence. Linguis 340 and 373; courses designated "D" (intermediate/advanced) or "A" (advanced); and appropriate courses from other departments defined as "upper level" count toward this requirement (see undergraduate advisor for more information).

Honors in the Major

Students wishing to take Honors in the Major must meet with the department honors advisor to apply for admission to the major for honors, and discuss a plan of study. This may be done at any time in the student's undergraduate career, provided the requirements below are met. Inquire in 1168 Van Hise Hall or call 262-2292 for information.

Students taking Honors in the Major are required to enroll in the thesis seminar for three (honors) credits in each semester of their senior year, leading to submission of an acceptable honors thesis. In addition, honors candidates must take at least two Department of Linguistics courses counting toward the major for honors (see below), and must have a grade point average of 3.5 in the substantive courses taken to satisfy the major requirements. Students must also have an overall GPA of at least 3.3 in all courses taken at UW–Madison at the time of graduation.

Honors credit in any linguistics course may be earned by concurrent enrollment, by consent of instructor, in an honors tutorial for one honors credit. How the tutorial credit is to be earned will be worked out on an individual basis with the professor of the substantive course.

In all other regards, the requirements for Honors in the Major are the same as the undergraduate major requirements, but note that tutorial credits (including the thesis seminars) do not count toward the 30 credits required for the major in linguistics.