An Interdepartmental Program in the College of Arts and Science

Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It seeks to understand and explain the properties of language in a clear and formal manner. Linguists document understudied and endangered languages, explore the consequences of language contact, measure language variation and change, investigate the structure of language, and analyze the construction of meaning.

Some of the main subfields of linguistics are phonetics (the physical properties of sounds), phonology (the grammar of sounds), morphology (the structure of words), syntax (the organization of phrases and sentences), semantics (meaning), and sociolinguistics (the interaction of language and society).

A Bachelor of Arts with a major in linguistics is available (with an honors option) as is a linguistics minor, both involving coursework in the various subfields.

The study of linguistics prepares students for careers which utilize insight into the workings of language including language instruction, translation and interpreting, speech pathology, anthropology, the reconstruction of prehistory, and computational fields related to the interaction of language and technology. Academic careers of linguistic research and teaching are also possible after further training at the graduate level.

In addition, a major in linguistics offers students a liberal education and develops verbal and analytical skills that are valuable in a variety of less directly related careers such as journalism, literary study, and the law. 

The linguistics program is staffed by faculty from a number of MU departments. Supporting course work is offered in Anthropology, Black Studies, Classical Studies, Communication, Communication Science and Disorders, Computer Science, Education, English, German and Russian Studies, Psychology, Philosophy, Romance Languages and Literatures, and South Asian Studies.

Although specialists in the field commonly know one or more foreign languages, such knowledge is complementary rather than essential.