Careers & Alumni

What can I do with a Linguistics degree?

Linguists study language, and given how central language is to almost all human activity, it’s easy to appreciate the value of training in linguistics. Our students approach language as a complex problem and learn to explore it from various angles. They come to understand how language works on multiple levels both in terms of linguistic structure (sounds, words, sentences) and in terms of its role in people’s lives. They also develop skills that are broadly applicable to a number of careers. As a field, linguistics lies at the border between the humanities and the social sciences, and studying linguistics promotes a useful intellectual flexibility. Students gain proficiencies with both qualitative and quantitative data and hone skills in critical thinking and analytical reasoning. They know how to discover and weave together multiple strands of evidence in order to construct arguments. Their sensitivity to language also makes them excellent communicators.

Common career paths for linguistics majors include:

Computer technology:  Linguists are especially needed in fields such as speech recognition, natural language processing, artificial intelligence, etc.

Language instruction:  A background in linguistics has pedagogical advantages for teaching your native or another language in the US or abroad.

Translation and interpretation:  Combining in-depth knowledge of a particular language with general training in linguistic analysis enhances the profile of bilingual graduates who are sought after by government agencies and private companies with global interests.

Publishing and writing:  The careful attention to language that linguistics fosters is useful in editing and in technical and other forms of writing that involve translating complex subjects into accessible language.

Consulting:  Companies often look to linguists to improve the efficiency of their communication. Careful linguistic analysis is also a useful skill to bring to the fields of healthcare and the law.

A Bachelor’s degree in linguistics is excellent preparation for graduate and professional schools in fields such as communication, education, law, literature, speech pathology, as well as linguistics.

For more suggestions of careers in linguistics, see “Why Major in Linguistics (and what does a linguist do)?” from the Linguistic Society of America.

Alumni and Friends

We are proud of the hundreds of alumni of the Program in Linguistics, and we hope that you will keep in touch. Please check that your contact information is up-to-date with the Mizzou Alumni Association (You do not need to be a member of the Association to update your information). This will ensure that you receive periodic newsletters and other communications about the Program.

You can keep up with Program events and news by joining the Mizzou Linguistics group on Facebook.

We want to hear from you. If you have an item for our newsletter or would like to discuss anything about MU Linguistics, please contact the Program’s Director, Matthew Gordon ( or 114 Tate Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, 65211-1500).