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Linguistics Program

Linguistics – the scientific study of language – is inherently interdisciplinary and at Binghamton University crosses all three divisions of Harpur College of Arts and Sciences: humanities, social sciences, and science and mathematics.

How is this possible?

  • Linguistics began as the historical study of the classical languages including Latin, Greek and, eventually, Sanskrit, so its strong ties to literary and philosophical studies as well as to the study of languages makes linguistics one of the humanities.
  • Early in the 20th century, linguistics established itself as a valuable tool in the study of the ways of life of non-literate peoples, becoming recognized as one of the four major subfields of anthropology and making linguistics one of the social sciences. 
  • Later in the 20th century, many linguists identified themselves as cognitive psychologists because linguistics is essential to an understanding of language as a human ability. Increasing study of the biological and neurological bases of language, and development of computational models of language processing, made the case for including linguistics in the Division of Science and Mathematics.

Language is an object with innumerable facets, and linguistics encompasses them all, using analytical methods, theoretical constructs and specific objects of study across disciplinary lines.  Binghamton University’s Linguistics Program provides a strong foundation in the principles of linguistic theory and method, as well as a wide variety of cross-disciplinary and sub-disciplinary offerings.  

Undergraduate study in linguistics

Undergraduate study in linguistics serves as excellent preparation for graduate and professional study in many fields including law, anthropology, education and counseling, as well as linguistics itself. Students planning to pursue graduate or professional study in any of these areas are strongly advised to keep these plans in mind as they select courses. For example, students interested in graduate work in linguistics are well advised to study at least two languages other than English, one a language of scholarship and the other a non-Western language. Students considering professional training in applied and clinical areas such as language teaching, speech/language pathology or audiology, deaf education or counseling are urged to consult appropriate pre-professional information sources no later than the beginning of their sophomore year.

Career possibilities for linguistics majors

Though post-graduation options for undergraduates who major in linguistics are varied and ever-changing, four general paths are most common:

  1. a professional career in academics
  2. some variation of teaching English abroad or teaching a foreign language here in the United States
  3. translation work in various settings, including the business world
  4. using the major as a distinguishing feature in applications to law schools

An updated course list is to be found in the University's online bulletin. Foreign language requirements can be found through the General Education website.

Last Updated: 8/16/18