Jul 15, 2024  
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog 
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog

Linguistics, BA

Location(s): WWU - Bellingham

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Department of Linguistics, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

60 credits


Linguistics is the scientific study of language, focusing on investigating the properties of individual languages as well as the characteristics of language as a whole. Linguists are interested in a wide range of questions about language: questions like what language is made of (its internal grammar), how language is processed and produced, how people use language in societies, how children and adults acquire language, and how languages change over time. The study of linguistics connects to the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences and complements interests in fields such as Anthropology, Computer Science, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Neuroscience, Sociology, Psychology, Biology, Philosophy, English, World Languages, and Education. 

Why Consider a Linguistics Major?

All linguistics majors are expected to acquire knowledge of the functions of language at various levels and knowledge of the techniques and methods used in language analysis. A student of linguistics will thereby significantly advance their appreciation of linguistic and cultural diversity. Students who major in linguistics acquire valuable intellectual skills, including analytic reasoning and argumentation, and learn how to study language scientifically. This means making insightful observations, formulating and testing clear hypotheses, making arguments and drawing conclusions, and communicating findings to a wider community. Linguistics majors are therefore well equipped for a variety of jobs and graduate-level programs.

 Contact Information

Linguistics Chair
Kristin Denham
Bond Hall 418G

Academic Department Manager
Sara Helms
Bond Hall 418D

 Sample Careers

Higher Education research and teaching: linguistics, philosophy, psychology, speech sciences, anthropology, computer science, English, languages, literatures and cultures | K-12 Teaching (World Languages, ESL, literacy) | Computer Industry (speech recognition, natural language processing, AI) | Translating and Interpreting | Language documentation and fieldwork | Publishing (editing, writing) | Lexicography (dictionary research and editing) | Law (forensic linguistics)

 Major/Career Resources


How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):

To declare, a student must be enrolled in or have completed:

  • LING 201 or ANTH 247 or HNRS 217 with a grade of “B-” or better (or permission of chair).
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of at least 2.5.

Students are advised to declare their major early in their academic career. Upper-division courses are restricted to declared majors. Students wishing to declare as a major or minor should contact the Linguistics Department Chair or Academic Department Manager.

Grade Requirements

A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s major or minor courses.


Major Core

Additional Upper Division

A minimum of three 300- and 400-level courses from the following list of courses (15 credits), at least one of which must be a 400-level. Under advisement, courses (up to 10 credits) from other departments can also count towards the linguistics major when students have met the appropriate prerequisites.

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