University of California, Berkeley

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.

Honors Program

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.

Minor Program

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.

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Major Requirements

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.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for graded credit.
  2. 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.

  3. Take 4 out of the 5 Core requirements: LINGUIS 110, LINGUIS 111, LINGUIS 115, LINGUIS 120, or LINGUIS 130.
  4. Core requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 100Introduction to Linguistic Science4

Upper Division Requirements

Core Requirements
LINGUIS 110Phonetics4
LINGUIS 111Phonology4
LINGUIS 115Morphology4
LINGUIS 120Syntax4
LINGUIS 130Comparative and Historical Linguistics4
Select three to four upper division courses, minimum of 10 units 110
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 242Special Topics in African Linguistics4
AFRICAM 114Introduction to African Linguistics3
ANTHRO 166Language, Culture, and Society4
ANTHRO 169CResearch Theory and Methods in Linguistic Anthropology4
CELTIC 102AElementary Breton4
CELTIC 105AOld and Middle Irish4
CELTIC 161Celtic Linguistics4
CHINESE 161Structure of the Chinese Language4
CHINESE 165History of the Chinese Language4
CUNEIF 100AElementary Akkadian4
CUNEIF 100BElementary Akkadian4
CUNEIF 101ASelected Readings in Akkadian4
CUNEIF 101BSelected Readings in Akkadian4
CUNEIF 103ASelected Readings in Sumerian3
CUNEIF 103BSelected Readings in Sumerian3
DUTCH 107The Structure of Modern Dutch3
EGYPT 100AIntroduction to Egyptian Hieroglyphs4
EGYPT 100BIntroduction to Egyptian Hieroglyphs4
EGYPT 101AIntermediate Egyptian3
EGYPT 101BIntermediate Egyptian3
ENGLISH 101The History of the English Language4
ENGLISH 102Topics in the English Language4
ENGLISH 179Literature and Linguistics4
FRENCH 145History of the French Language4
FRENCH 146AIntroduction to French Linguistics4
FRENCH 147Special Topics in French Linguistics4
FRENCH 148Translation Methodology and Practice4
GERMAN 103Introduction to German Linguistics4
GERMAN 105Middle High German for Undergraduates4
GERMAN 170History of the German Language3
GERMAN 173The Phonetics and Phonology of Modern German4
GERMAN 174The Morphology and Syntax of Modern German3
HEBREW 105BThe Structure of Modern Hebrew3
INFO 159Natural Language Processing4
ISF 100CLanguage and Identity4
JAPAN 120Introduction to Classical Japanese4
JAPAN 160Introduction to Japanese Linguistics: Grammar4
JAPAN 161Introduction to Japanese Linguistics: Usage4
L & S 180BLanguage and Power4
PHILOS 133Philosophy of Language4
PHILOS 134Form and Meaning4
PHILOS 135Theory of Meaning4
PSYCH C143Language Acquisition3
SANSKR 100AElementary Sanskrit5
SANSKR 100BElementary Sanskrit5
SCANDIN 101AIntroduction to Old Norse I4
SCANDIN 180Special Topics in Scandinavian4
SCANDIN 201AOld Norse4
SEMITIC 100BAramaic3
SLAVIC C137Introduction to Slavic Linguistics4
SPANISH 100Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics4
SPANISH 161Spanish Phonetics and Phonology4
SPANISH 162Spanish Morphology and Syntax4
SPANISH 164Spanish Dialectology and Sociolinguistic Variation4
SPANISH 166Foreign Language Acquisition and Pedagogy for Spanish Language Instruction4
SPANISH 179Topics in Hispanic Linguistics3
UGIS 120Introduction to Applied Language Studies3

Minor 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.

General Guidelines

  1. 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.
  2. All courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements below must be taken for graded credit.
  3. A minimum of four of the upper division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.
  4. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required for courses used to fulfill the minor requirements.
  5. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.
  6. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.
  7. 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.
  8. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)


LINGUIS 100Introduction to Linguistic Science4
Upper Division
Select two from the following:
Phonetics [4]
Phonology [4]
Morphology [4]
Syntax [4]
Comparative and Historical Linguistics [4]
Electives, select two upper division courses10
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 [4]
Research Theory and Methods in Linguistic Anthropology [4]
Elementary Breton [4]
Old and Middle Irish [4]
Celtic Linguistics [4]
Structure of the Chinese Language [4]
History of the Chinese Language [4]
Elementary Akkadian [4]
Elementary Akkadian [4]
Selected Readings in Akkadian [4]
Selected Readings in Akkadian [4]
Selected Readings in Sumerian [3]
Selected Readings in Sumerian [3]
The Structure of Modern Dutch [3]
Introduction to Egyptian Hieroglyphs [4]
Introduction to Egyptian Hieroglyphs [4]
Intermediate Egyptian [3]
Intermediate Egyptian [3]
The History of the English Language [4]
Topics in the English Language [4]
Literature and Linguistics [4]
History of the French Language [4]
Introduction to French Linguistics [4]
Special Topics in French Linguistics [4]
Translation Methodology and Practice [4]
Linguistics and Literature [4]
Introduction to German Linguistics [4]
Middle High German for Undergraduates [4]
History of the German Language [3]
The Phonetics and Phonology of Modern German [4]
The Morphology and Syntax of Modern German [3]
The Structure of Modern Hebrew [3]
Introduction to Classical Japanese [4]
Introduction to Japanese Linguistics: Grammar [4]
Introduction to Japanese Linguistics: Usage [4]
Philosophy of Language [4]
Theory of Meaning [4]
Language Acquisition [3]
Old Norse [4]
Elementary Sanskrit [5]
Elementary Sanskrit [5]
Aramaic [3]
Introduction to Slavic Linguistics [4]
Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics [4]
Spanish Phonetics and Phonology [4]
Spanish Morphology and Syntax [4]
Spanish Dialectology and Sociolinguistic Variation [4]
Foreign Language Acquisition and Pedagogy for Spanish Language Instruction [4]
Topics in Hispanic Linguistics [3]
Introduction to Applied Language Studies [3]

College Requirements

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

Entry Level Writing

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. 

American History and American Institutions

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

American Cultures

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

Quantitative Reasoning

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.

Foreign Language

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.

Reading and Composition

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

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.

Unit Requirements

  • 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
Residence Requirements

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.

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.

Research Methodologies

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 Map

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.

View the Linguistics Major Map PDF.

Academic Opportunities

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.
Research Profile

Amy Rose Deal, Associate Professor. Syntax, semantics, fieldwork, Nez Perce.
Research Profile

Susanne Gahl, Professor. Psycholinguistics; language production and comprehension; aphasia.
Research Profile

+ Andrew Garrett, Professor. Historical linguistics; Indo-European; Karuk, Yurok, and California Indian languages.
Research Profile

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.
Research Profile

Sharon Inkelas, Professor. Morphology, phonology, reduplication, child phonology.
Research Profile

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.
Research Profile

Keith Johnson, Professor. Linguistic phonetics, phonetic neuroscience, psycholinguistics.
Research Profile

Susan S. Lin, Assistant Professor. Articulatory phonetics, speech perception, sound change.
Research Profile

+ 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.
Research Profile

+ Line Mikkelsen, Associate Professor. Syntax, semantics, morphology, Danish and other Germanic languages, Karuk and other languages of California, philosophy of language.
Research Profile

Terry Regier, Professor. Language and cognition; semantic variation and universals; computational linguistics.
Research Profile

Richard Rhodes, Associate Professor. American Indian languages, lexical semantics, lexicography, Algonquian languages, Ojibwe, Mixe-Zoquean languages, mixed languages, Michif, Sayula Popoluca.
Research Profile

Hannah Sande, Assistant Professor. Phonology, morphology, and their interface; prosody; language documentation and description; African languages, especially languages of Côte d'Ivoire.

Eve E. Sweetser, Professor. Semantics, syntax, historical linguistics, Celtic languages, speech act theory, metaphor theory, semantic change, grammaticalization, grammatical meaning, gesture.
Research Profile


Sherry L. Hicks, Lecturer. American Sign Language.

Emeritus Faculty

Leanne Hinton, Professor Emeritus. Language revitalization of Native American languages.
Research Profile

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.
Research Profile

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.
Research Profile

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.
Research Profile

Ian Maddieson, Professor Emeritus. Linguistics, phonetic and phonological universals, articulatory and acoustic phonetics, African, Austronesian, South-East Asian and Sino-Tibetan languages.
Research Profile

+ 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.
Research Profile

William S-Y. Wang, Professor Emeritus. Evolution, psycholinguistics, language change, phonology, Chinese linguistics, language engineering, experimental phonetics.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Department of Linguistics

1203 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-2757

Fax: 510-643-5688

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Keith Johnson, PhD

1218 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-664-4087

Undergraduate Advisor

Martine Alexander, MA

1205 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-2757

Fax: 510-643-5688

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