About the Program
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Linguistics is the general study of language. It addresses features that all languages have in common, the ways in which languages may differ from one another, and the ways in which languages change over time. The undergraduate major in Linguistics introduces students to sounds and their patterns (phonetics and phonology), word structure (morphology), sentence structure (syntax), meaning (semantics), how languages evolve over time (comparative and historical linguistics), how language is processed (cognitive science and psycholinguistics), and how language is used in society (sociolinguistics).
Declaring the Major
To declare the Linguistics major, students must first to complete Linguistics 100 with a grade of "C" or better and then submit the Petition to Declare a Major. Most students who petition for the Linguistics major do so in their junior year.
With the approval of the major advisor, a student with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher, both overall and in the major, may apply for admission to the honors program. This consists of 2-4 units of LINGUIS H195A and LINGUIS H195B units per semester for at least two semesters. Under the direction of a faculty member, students carry out an approved program of independent study in which they attain a reasonable mastery of an appropriate linguistic topic. As evidence of this work, students must submit an acceptable thesis summarizing critically the material they have covered and are invited to give a brief synopsis of their research at the undergraduate honors colloquium held in early May each year.
Many students not majoring in Linguistics find it useful to take several courses in linguistics during their undergraduate careers to complement their major work. A minor in Linguistics gives students official recognition for having completed a Linguistics sub-specialization.
In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.
- All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for graded credit.
Linguistics 100 must be completed with a grade of "C" or better to declare. This course may not be repeated toward the major or the minor.
- Take 4 out of the 5 Core requirements: LINGUIS 110, LINGUIS 111, LINGUIS 115, LINGUIS 120, or LINGUIS 130.
- Core requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.
- No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
- A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.
For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.
|LINGUIS 100||Introduction to Linguistic Science||4|
Upper Division Requirements
|LINGUIS 130||Comparative and Historical Linguistics||4|
|Select three to four upper division courses, minimum of 10 units 1||10|
Five units must be selected from Linguistics department offerings 1
The other five units may be selected from outside of the department, the following preapproved list:
|AFRICAM 242||Special Topics in African Linguistics||4|
|AFRICAM 114||Introduction to African Linguistics||3|
|ANTHRO 166||Language, Culture, and Society||4|
|ANTHRO 169C||Research Theory and Methods in Linguistic Anthropology||4|
|CELTIC 102A||Elementary Breton||4|
|CELTIC 105A||Old and Middle Irish||4|
|CELTIC 161||Celtic Linguistics||4|
|CHINESE 161||Structure of the Chinese Language||4|
|CHINESE 165||History of the Chinese Language||4|
|CUNEIF 100A||Elementary Akkadian||5|
|CUNEIF 100B||Elementary Akkadian||5|
|CUNEIF 101A||Selected Readings in Akkadian||4|
|CUNEIF 101B||Selected Readings in Akkadian||4|
|CUNEIF 103A||Selected Readings in Sumerian||3|
|CUNEIF 103B||Selected Readings in Sumerian||3|
|DUTCH 107||The Structure of Modern Dutch||3|
|EGYPT 100A||Introduction to Egyptian Hieroglyphs||5|
|EGYPT 100B||Introduction to Egyptian Hieroglyphs||5|
|EGYPT 101A||Intermediate Egyptian||3|
|EGYPT 101B||Intermediate Egyptian||3|
|ENGLISH 101||The History of the English Language||4|
|ENGLISH 102||Topics in the English Language||4|
|ENGLISH 179||Literature and Linguistics||4|
|FRENCH 145||History of the French Language||4|
|FRENCH 146A||Introduction to French Linguistics||4|
|FRENCH 147||Special Topics in French Linguistics||4|
|FRENCH 148||Translation Methodology and Practice||4|
|GERMAN 103||Introduction to German Linguistics||4|
|GERMAN 105||Middle High German for Undergraduates||3|
|GERMAN 170||History of the German Language||3|
|GERMAN 173||The Phonetics and Phonology of Modern German||4|
|GERMAN 174||The Morphology and Syntax of Modern German||3|
|HEBREW 105B||The Structure of Modern Hebrew||3|
|INFO 159||Natural Language Processing||4|
|ISF 100C||Language and Identity||4|
|JAPAN 120||Introduction to Classical Japanese||4|
|JAPAN 160||Introduction to Japanese Linguistics: Grammar||4|
|JAPAN 161||Introduction to Japanese Linguistics: Usage||4|
|L & S 180B||Language and Power||4|
|PHILOS 133||Philosophy of Language||4|
|PHILOS 134||Form and Meaning||4|
|PHILOS 135||Theory of Meaning||4|
|PSYCH C143||Language Acquisition||3|
|SANSKR 100A||Elementary Sanskrit||5|
|SANSKR 100B||Elementary Sanskrit||5|
|SCANDIN 101A||Introduction to Old Norse I||4|
|SCANDIN 180||Special Topics in Scandinavian||4|
|SCANDIN 201A||Old Norse||4|
|SLAVIC C137||Introduction to Slavic Linguistics||4|
|SPANISH 100||Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics||4|
|SPANISH 161||Spanish Phonetics and Phonology||4|
|SPANISH 162||Spanish Morphology and Syntax||4|
|SPANISH 164||Spanish Dialectology and Sociolinguistic Variation||4|
|SPANISH 166||Foreign Language Acquisition and Pedagogy for Spanish Language Instruction||4|
|SPANISH 179||Course Not Available||3|
|UGIS 120||Introduction to Applied Language Studies||3|
Courses not on the preapproved list require the prior written consent of an undergraduate adviser to be counted in fulfillment of the major requirements.
Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements and are noted officially on the transcript in the memoranda section, but they are not noted on diplomas.
- All minors must be declared no later than one semester before a student's Expected Graduation Term (EGT). If the semester before EGT is fall or spring, the deadline is the last day of RRR week. If the semester before EGT is summer, the deadline is the final Friday of Summer Sessions. To declare a minor, contact the department advisor for information on requirements, and the declaration process.
- All courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements below must be taken for graded credit.
- A minimum of four of the upper division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.
- A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required for courses used to fulfill the minor requirements.
- Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.
- No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.
- All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which the student plans to graduate. If students cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, they should see a College of Letters & Science adviser.
- All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)
|LINGUIS 100||Introduction to Linguistic Science||4|
|Select two from the following:|
|Comparative and Historical Linguistics |
|Electives, select two upper division courses||10|
One course must be selected from the Linguistics department offerings
One course may be selected from outside of the department, from the following preapproved list:
|Language, Culture, and Society |
|Research Theory and Methods in Linguistic Anthropology |
|Elementary Breton |
|Old and Middle Irish |
|Celtic Linguistics |
|Structure of the Chinese Language |
|History of the Chinese Language |
|CUNEIF 100A||Elementary Akkadian||4|
|Elementary Akkadian |
|Selected Readings in Akkadian |
|Selected Readings in Akkadian |
|Selected Readings in Sumerian |
|Selected Readings in Sumerian |
|The Structure of Modern Dutch |
|Introduction to Egyptian Hieroglyphs |
|Introduction to Egyptian Hieroglyphs |
|Intermediate Egyptian |
|Intermediate Egyptian |
|The History of the English Language |
|Topics in the English Language |
|Literature and Linguistics |
|History of the French Language |
|Introduction to French Linguistics |
|Special Topics in French Linguistics |
|Translation Methodology and Practice |
|Linguistics and Literature |
|Introduction to German Linguistics |
|Middle High German for Undergraduates |
|History of the German Language |
|The Phonetics and Phonology of Modern German |
|The Morphology and Syntax of Modern German |
|The Structure of Modern Hebrew |
|Introduction to Classical Japanese |
|Introduction to Japanese Linguistics: Grammar |
|Introduction to Japanese Linguistics: Usage |
|Philosophy of Language |
|Theory of Meaning |
|Language Acquisition |
|Old Norse |
|Elementary Sanskrit |
|Elementary Sanskrit |
|Introduction to Slavic Linguistics |
|Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics |
|Spanish Phonetics and Phonology |
|Spanish Morphology and Syntax |
|Spanish Dialectology and Sociolinguistic Variation |
|Foreign Language Acquisition and Pedagogy for Spanish Language Instruction |
|Course Not Available |
|Introduction to Applied Language Studies |
Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.
For detailed lists of courses that fulfill college requirements, please review the College of Letters & Sciences page in this Guide. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages.
University of California Requirements
All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley.
The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that a US resident graduated from an American university, should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.
Berkeley Campus Requirement
All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.
College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements
The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.
The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work.
In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses by the end of their second semester and a second-level course by the end of their fourth semester.
College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements
The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.
120 total units
Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units
- Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.
Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.
Senior Residence Requirement
After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your BA degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.
You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.
Modified Senior Residence Requirement
Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.
Upper Division Residence Requirement
You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.
Summary of Modifications
L&S College Requirements: Reading & Composition, Quantitative Reasoning, and Foreign Language, which typically must be satisfied with a letter grade, can be satisfied with a Passed (P) grade during Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 if a student elects to take the course for P/NP. Note: This does not include Entry Level Writing (College Writing R1A).
Requirements within L&S majors and minors can be satisfied with Passed (P) grades during the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. This includes prerequisites for majors. Contact your intended or declared major/minor adviser for more details.
Departments may create alternative methods for admitting students into their majors.
L&S students will not be placed on academic probation automatically for taking all of their courses P/NP during Fall 2020 or Spring 2021.
Student Learning Goals
Learning Goals of the Major
In addition to attaining a basic mastery of the field of linguistics, linguistics majors develop skills in critical thinking, communication, and the use of research methodologies. The array of courses offered by the department includes both the required core courses in phonetics and phonology, syntax and semantics, morphology and historical linguistics, and a broad range of electives. The core courses allow linguistics majors to master the basics of the discipline, such as the nature of sounds and sound systems, the nature of word structures and syntactic structures, the interaction of syntax and semantics, and the nature of linguistic change, while the elective courses allow students to investigate areas of particular interest. Students learn to apply problem-solving skills in each of these areas. Perhaps more importantly, a linguistics major develops critical thinking skills. By graduation, linguistics majors can employ both theory and empirical evidence in order to evaluate different linguistic arguments, analyze complex linguistic patterns, and understand the role played by assumptions in argumentation. Furthermore, linguistics majors develop advanced verbal skills: they are able to communicate effectively in oral and written form about specific linguistic issues, and they can produce well-organized oral presentations and original written reports supported by empirical evidence. These skills do not disappear at graduation. No matter what profession a linguistics major decides to pursue, throughout a lifetime s/he will possess a working knowledge of sources of reliable information about languages and linguistics and will be able to understand and evaluate current linguistic issues in the world at large. Below is a list of more specific skills.
Critical Thinking Skills
- Apply linguistic analysis to evaluate specific theoretical proposals.
- Compare two or more arguments that have different conclusions to a specific issue or problem.
- Understand the role of assumptions in argumentation.
- Be able to analyze complex linguistic patterns.
Obtain and collect relevant data using specific qualitative and/or quantitative research methods. These goals are broken down further, and the classes in which they are reinforced are listed, below:
- Laboratory and experimental methods are introduced in Linguistics 110 and reinforced in several electives, including Linguistics 105, 113, 122 and 140.
- Quantitative analysis of linguistic data is introduced in Linguistics 100 and reinforced in Linguistics 106, 110, 113, 120, 122, 124, 139, 150, 151, and 181. Linguistics 160 is dedicated specifically to this learning goal.
- Fieldwork and linguistic data elicitation are introduced in Linguistics 110 and 115 and reinforced in electives Linguistics 113, 122, 170 and 181; Linguistics 140 is dedicated specifically to this learning goal.
Mastery of Linguistic Knowledge
Apply problem-solving skills to complex problems in a variety of subareas of linguistics.
- Acquire knowledge of traditional linguistic analysis in the core areas of linguistics.
- Acquire knowledge of language in its various contexts and interfaces.
Mastery of Communication Skills
Communicate knowledge effectively.
- Communicate effectively in oral form about specific linguistics issues.
- Communicate effectively in written form about specific linguistic issues.
- Produce a well-organized oral presentation supported by evidence.
- Produce an original written assignment (term paper or shorter squib) supported by evidence.
Lifetime Learning Skills
Acquire knowledge and analytical abilities that can transfer from the classroom to broader life during and after the university career.
- Possess a working knowledge of sources of reliable information about languages and linguistics.
- Understand and evaluate current linguistic issues in the world at large (social, political, educational, prescriptive).
Major Maps help undergraduate students discover academic, co-curricular, and discovery opportunities at UC Berkeley based on intended major or field of interest. Developed by the Division of Undergraduate Education in collaboration with academic departments, these experience maps will help you:
Explore your major and gain a better understanding of your field of study
Connect with people and programs that inspire and sustain your creativity, drive, curiosity and success
Discover opportunities for independent inquiry, enterprise, and creative expression
Engage locally and globally to broaden your perspectives and change the world
- Reflect on your academic career and prepare for life after Berkeley
Use the major map below as a guide to planning your undergraduate journey and designing your own unique Berkeley experience.
Linguistics Research Apprenticeship Practicum (LRAP)
The Linguistics Research Apprenticeship Practicum (LRAP) matches Linguistics graduate mentors with undergraduate research apprentices to work closely on a research project headed by the mentor. LRAP provides graduate students with research advising and mentoring experience and gives undergraduates the opportunity to participate in original linguistic research.
Faculty and Instructors
+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.
Gasper Begus, Assistant Professor. Phonology, phonetics, computational linguistics, historical linguistics, Indo-European.
Christine Beier, Assistant Adjunct Professor. Language endangerment, documentation, and revitalization, Amazonian languages.
Isaac L. Bleaman, Assistant Professor. Sociolinguistic variation, language contact, language maintenance, and language change.
Amy Rose Deal, Associate Professor. Syntax, semantics, fieldwork, Nez Perce.
Susanne Gahl, Professor. Psycholinguistics; language production and comprehension; aphasia.
+ Andrew Garrett, Professor. Historical linguistics; Indo-European; Karuk, Yurok, and California Indian languages.
Larry M. Hyman, Professor. Linguistics, phonological theory, typology, African languages, the Niger-Congo family, especially the comparative and historical study of the Bantu language family.
Sharon Inkelas, Professor. Morphology, phonology, reduplication, child phonology.
Peter S. E. Jenks, Associate Professor. Syntax, semantics, phonology, fieldwork; Moro and other Niger-Congo languages; Thai, Mandarin, and other East and Southeast Asian languages.
Keith Johnson, Professor. Linguistic phonetics, phonetic neuroscience, psycholinguistics.
Susan S. Lin, Assistant Professor. Articulatory phonetics, speech perception, sound change.
+ Lev D. Michael, Professor. Anthropological linguistics, language typology, Amazonian documentary, descriptive, and comparative linguistics, language contact, grammar and interaction, prosodic systems and verbal art, language endangerment and revitalization.
+ Line Mikkelsen, Associate Professor. Syntax, semantics, morphology, Danish and other Germanic languages, Karuk and other languages of California, philosophy of language.
Terry Regier, Professor. Language and cognition; semantic variation and universals; computational linguistics.
Richard Rhodes, Associate Professor. American Indian languages, lexical semantics, lexicography, Algonquian languages, Ojibwe, Mixe-Zoquean languages, mixed languages, Michif, Sayula Popoluca.
Hannah Sande, Assistant Professor. Phonology, morphology, and their interface; prosody; language documentation and description; African languages, especially languages of CÃ´te d'Ivoire.
Eve E. Sweetser, Professor. Semantics, syntax, historical linguistics, Celtic languages, speech act theory, metaphor theory, semantic change, grammaticalization, grammatical meaning, gesture.
Sherry L. Hicks, Lecturer. American Sign Language.
Leanne Hinton, Professor Emeritus. Language revitalization of Native American languages.
Paul Kay, Professor Emeritus. Linguistics, sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, pragmatics, syntax, semantics, lexicon, grammar, color naming, lexical semantics, grammatical variation, cross-language color naming, the encoding of contextual relations in rules of grammar.
George P. Lakoff, Professor Emeritus. Mathematics, literature, philosophy, cognitive linguistics, the neural theory of language, conceptual systems, conceptual metaphor, syntax-semantics-pragmatics, the application of cognitive linguistics to politics.
Robin T. Lakoff, Professor Emeritus. Linguistics, sociolinguistics, pragmatics, comparative syntax of Latin and English, the relation between linguistic form, social and psychological context, language gender, discourse strategies, discourse genres, politics of language.
Ian Maddieson, Professor Emeritus. Linguistics, phonetic and phonological universals, articulatory and acoustic phonetics, African, Austronesian, South-East Asian and Sino-Tibetan languages.
+ James A. Matisoff, Professor Emeritus. Linguistics, Japanese, Southeast Asian languages, Tibeto-Burman, Thai, Chinese, field linguistics, Yiddish studies, historical semantics, psychosemantics, language typology, areal linguistics.
William S-Y. Wang, Professor Emeritus. Evolution, psycholinguistics, language change, phonology, Chinese linguistics, language engineering, experimental phonetics.
Department of Linguistics
1203 Dwinelle Hall