Majors and Minors

English, Linguistics, and Writing Studies


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B.S. in Linguistics

The B.S. in linguistics offers courses in the sound, structure, and meaning of language, and it teaches students the fundamental methods of scientific inquiry. The curriculum focuses on both the internal place of language in the human mind and brain, as well as the external role of language in communication and culture. Along the way, students consider topics such as syntactic structure of world languages, semantic and pragmatic meaning, language acquisition, language disorders, language evolution, dialects and sociolinguistic variation, language and gender, computational linguistics, and many others. Students are trained to form research questions, gather data, and make arguments based upon linguistic observations. They also gain experience working with a wide range of languages and diverse cultures. In addition, the program requires a background in science and mathematics consistent with a Bachelor of Science degree at UMD, which allows students a straightforward double major in many of the established science majors at the university. 

There is a diversity of employment opportunities for linguistics majors. The analytical skills and experience with language makes linguistic majors particularly appealing to computer and software companies, as writers and analysts of all types, in education, in projects such as speech recognition and machine translation, and as preparation for advanced study in all of the liberal arts, social sciences, and computer sciences disciplines. Finally, the United States Department of Homeland Security and federal law enforcement agencies routinely hire employees trained in linguistics. 

Linguistics Minor

This interdisciplinary minor develops the student's systematic understanding of the nature of language. It has numerous career applications, including professional writing, human relations, and the law. Linguistics has many subfields and can overlap with anthropology, communication, communication sciences and disorders, education, English, foreign languages, philosophy, psychology, and sociology. Students may choose to complement a major in Professional Writing or Journalism with a minor in linguistics.  A B.A. in English with an emphasis in linguistics and a designated minor for the M.A. in English are also offered.