Major & Minor Requirements

Major Requirements

All majors are required to take:

  • all the courses listed under Group A below
  • at least 6 units from Group B
  • Inclusive of the above requirements, students must take at least 30 units from Groups A through C, of which at least 18 units must be in upper-level courses (those numbered 300 or higher).

All classes applied to Group A–C requirements must be taken for a letter grade, and you must get a C− or better to apply it to your Linguistics major. If you take a course pass/fail you cannot apply it to Linguistics, even if the professor swears you would have got a C−.

Majors are also required to take at least two classes in a language or languages other than English, or demonstrate competency equivalent to the successful completion of one year of study at the college level. Exceptions can be made for students desiring to pursue more extensive coursework needed for cross-disciplinary fields such as psycholinguistics or computational linguistics.

Primary majors must complete a capstone project. This will normally be done during the senior year while taking Ling 495 (Senior Seminar), 499 (Study for Honors), or 500 (Independent Work). Students wishing to count Ling 500 for their capstone need to have their independent studies approved in advance by the director of the Linguistics Program.

Group A (Required Courses)

  • Ling 170D Introduction to Linguistics
  • Ling 309 Syntactic Analysis
  • Ling 313 Phonological Analysis
  • Ling 317 Introduction to Computational Linguistics

Group B (Other Core Courses)

  • Ling 306G (Phil 306G) Philosophy of Language
  • Ling 311 Introduction to Semantics
  • Ling 312 Phonetics
  • Ling 315 Morphology
  • Ling 320 Historical Linguistics
  • Ling 339 Introduction to Sociolinguistics
  • Ling 358 (Pscyh 358) Language Acquisition
  • Ling 408 (Psych 433) Psychology of Language

Group C (Other Linguistics)

  • Ling 148 First-Year Seminar: The Linguistics of Constructed Languages
  • Ling 225D (Classics 225D) Latin & Greek in Current English
  • Ling 234 (PACS 234) Introduction to Speech and Hearing Sciences and Disorders
  • Ling 258 Methods in Linguistic Research
  • Ling 301G (Phil 301G) Symbolic Logic
  • Ling 340 Linguistic Pragmatics
  • Ling 341 Linguistic Diversity in the United States
  • Ling 3701 (Span 370) Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics
  • Ling 396 Linguistics Seminar
  • Ling 4012 (PACS 401) Anatomy and Physiology of Speech and Hearing
  • Ling 411 (Span 411) Advanced Grammar and Syntax
  • Ling 427 Computation and Learnability in Linguistic Theory
  • Ling 4341 (PACS 434) Normal Language Development
  • LIng 4171 (Span 417) Spanish Phonetics, Phonology, and Dialectology
  • Ling 466 Second Language Acquisition
  • Ling 467 (Span 467) Grammar and Vocabulary Acquisition 
  • Ling 495 Senior Seminar in Linguistics
  • Ling 499 Study for Honors
  • Ling 500 Independent Work in Linguistics
  • AFAS 210 The Linguistic Legacy of the African Slave Trade in Interdisciplinary Perspective
  • Anthro 3386 Language, Culture and Society
  • PACS 433 Acoustical Phonetics and Speech Perception

On a semester-by-semester basis, other courses may be included in Group C. Normally this is done only for occasional seminars and topics courses. Students requiring other courses to support a specific line of linguistics study or research may petition to have such courses counted as a Group C course. Click here to view linguistics and linguistics-related courses being offered this semester.

Interaction With Minors and Other Majors

If you wish to fulfill a Linguistics major, you may in addition have up to two minors, or one minor and another major. If you choose to have two majors, you will need to decide whether Linguistics is your primary or your secondary major. The differences are small. If you are a primary Linguistics major, the College will consider your Linguistics advisor to be your main Major advisor, with the responsibility of authorizing your registration each semester. Also, you will be expected to do a capstone experience in Linguistics in your senior year. Students who wish to write a senior honors thesis do so in their primary major.

Whether your Linguistics Major is primary or secondary, it must include 18 units of classes that fulfill these requirements:

  • They count toward Group A–C requirements.
  • They are numbered 300 or above.
  • They are not counted toward any other major or minor.

Thus if you have other majors or minors, it is important that your Linguistics advisor knows what classes you intend to apply to them, so that this third requirement is not violated. Note, however, that these rules mean that Linguistics will let you count some courses toward both Linguistics and another major or minor. For example, you can double-count, as they say:

  • classes that fulfill the foreign language requirement
  • classes numbered below 300
  • upper-level classes beyond the 18-unit requirement

Some planning and cooperation between departments will be necessary to make sure that the double counting fulfills all the rules. Be advised that just because Linguistics would let you double-count a course toward a Sudoku major does not mean that the Sudoku department has to let you do that.

Credits Acquired in Other WU Schools

Each semester, classes applicable toward the Linguistics major or minor are posted on the Program’s Web site. The majority of such classes are taught in the College of Arts & Sciences, but some may be taught in other Wash U schools. Any course listed as fulfilling the “Ling” requirement may be applied toward a Linguistics major, regardless of what school offers it. In addition, students may petition to have other courses counted. Students in the College of Arts & Sciences should be aware, however, that the College imposes limits on how many courses you may take in other schools in Washington University. For example, you cannot apply more than 30 units outside A&S during your whole undergraduate career, of which no more than 12 units may be taken during your freshman and sophomore years together. Of these, no more than one course per semester may be in University College. These limits rarely hamper a student who is simply working on a Linguistics major, but if you are also taking classes from other colleges for other reasons, it is conceivable you will run into one of these limits. For example, taking several PACS courses for Linguistics may then cause a problem, because the PACS department is in the Medical School. Be sure to confer with your 4-year advisor about the A&S rules.

Credits Acquired at Other Universities

It is often useful for the developing scholar to study at other universities. But it must be kept in mind that graduation with a Washington University Linguistics major means that you have satisfactorily completed a course of linguistics study at Washington University. The College imposes general limits on how much work you may apply from other universities, which the Linguistics Program implements as follows:

  • You must get explicit official permission from the Linguistics Program to apply any course toward any Linguistics requirement.
  • Normally you may apply no more than 4 classes, or 12 units, toward your Linguistics major (Group A through C). In rare cases, e.g. for late transfer students, an absolute maximum of 15 units may be counted.
  • No more than 9 units may be applied toward the count of required upper-level units in Linguistics.
  • No more than 2 classes, or 6 units, may be applied toward Group A and B requirements together.
  • No more than 1 class may be applied toward Group A requirements for required upper-level classes.
  • You may not study at other universities during your senior year. More precisely, a class taken at another university will not count unless you subsequently take at least 30 units at Washington University.
  • You must take the course for a letter grade and get C- or better, even though the grade will not appear on your Washington University transcript.

Courses taken for the foreign language requirement stand outside these restrictions and may be freely taken at other institutions.

In addition, well documented experience at another university may occasionally be taken into account if you petition to replace a Group A requirement with another class. For example, if you can prove you have a strong knowledge of Syntax, you may, at the Program’s discretion, be permitted to take some other class instead of Ling 309.

If you are planning to study abroad, our best advice is that you do so during the summer after your sophomore year and look upon that primarily as a way of gaining experience with a foreign language. If you wish to apply summer or junior-year-abroad classes toward Group A–C requirements, you should work this out in advance with your Linguistics advisor and the Overseas Study Office. It is up to you to show that the class in question covers the appropriate material at the right level. You may also need to demonstrate how many classroom hours there are; as a rule of thumb, about 14 hours of classroom corresponds to 1 unit at Wash U.

Miscellanea

Normally, independent study classes such as Ling 500 or Ling 499 are taken for 3 units, like the majority of other classes. You are expected to put in about 125 hours of work for a 3-unit class. Independent study should result in substantial, assessable output, typically a research paper or a poster that you present at a conference or research fair. If you sign up for 3 units but do less work, your grade will be lowered substantially. If you will be doing a smaller project, consider signing up for 2 or even 1 unit. Only in very exceptional circumstances should an independent study be more than 3 units an hour.

  • You may  count a maximum of 6 units of Ling 500 towards your major.
  • If your senior capstone consists entirely of Ling 500, it should be 3 units.

Overall, you may not take more than 6 units of independent study in any one semester, nor more than 18 units in toto across your undergraduate career; these limits include all your independent studies, not just Linguistics.

Minor Requirements

All minors are required to take:

  • Ling 170D Introduction to Linguistics

6 units of Theory classes, selected from this list of 3-unit classes:

  • Ling 309 Syntactic Analysis
  • Ling 311 Introduction to Semantics
  • Ling 312 Phonetics
  • Ling 313 Phonological Analysis
  • Ling 315 Morphology
  • Ling 317 Introduction to Computational Linguistics
  • Ling 320 Historical Linguistics
  • Ling 339 Introduction to Sociolinguistics

Students must take two more courses, at least one of which must be numbered 300 or higher. These courses may be drawn from the above list of Theory classes, or from any of the following courses:

  • Ling 148 First-Year Seminar: The Linguistics of Constructed Languages
  • Ling 225D (Classics 225D) Latin & Greek in Current English
  • Ling 234 (PACS 234)  Introduction to Speech and Hearing Sciences and Disorders
  • Ling 263 Linguistics for Legal Purposes
  • Ling 301G (Phil 301G) Symbolic Logic
  • Ling 306G (Phil 306G) Philosophy of Language
  • Ling 341 Linguistic Diversity in the United States
  • Ling 358 (Psych 358) Language Acquisition
  • LIng 3701 (Span 370) Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics
  • Ling 396 Linguistics Seminar
  • Ling 4012 (PACS 401) Anatomy and Physiology of Speech and Hearing
  • Ling 408 (Psych 433) Psychology of Language
  • Ling 411 (Span 411) Advanced Grammar and Syntax
  • Ling 4171 (Span 4171) Spanish Phonetics, Phonology, and Dialectology
  • Ling 427 Computation and Learnability in Linguistic Theory
  • LIng 4341 (PACS 434) Normal Language Development
  • Ling 466 Second Language Acquisition
  • Ling 467 (Span 467) Grammar and Vocabulary Acquisition 
  • Ling 495 Senior Seminar in Linguistics
  • Ling 500 Independent Work in Linguistics
  • AFAS 210 The Linguistic Legacy of the African Slave Trade in Interdisciplinary Perspective
  • Anthro 3386 Language, Culture and Society
  • PACS 433 Acoustical Phonetics and Speech Perception

All classes must be taken for a letter grade, and you must get a C− or better to apply it to your Linguistics minor. If you take a course pass/fail you cannot apply it to Linguistics, even if the professor swears you would have got a C−. Click here to view the list of linguistics and linguistics-related courses being offered this semester.

Credits Acquired in Other WU Schools

Each semester, classes applicable toward the Linguistics major or minor are posted on the Program’s Web site. The majority of such classes are taught in the College of Arts & Sciences, but some may be taught in other Wash U schools. Any course listed as fulfilling the “Ling” requirement may be applied toward a Linguistics major, regardless of what school offers it. In addition, students may petition to have other courses counted. Students in the College of Arts & Sciences should be aware, however, that the College imposes limits on how many courses you may take in other schools in Washington University. For example, you cannot apply more than 30 units outside A&S during your whole undergraduate career, of which no more than 12 units may be taken during your freshman and sophomore years together. Of these, no more than one course per semester may be in University College. These limits rarely hamper a student who is simply working on a Linguistics major, but if you are also taking classes from other colleges for other reasons, it is conceivable you will run into one of these limits. For example, taking several PACS courses for Linguistics may then cause a problem, because the PACS department is in the Medical School. Be sure to confer with your 4-year advisor about the A&S rules.

Credits Acquired at Other Universities

  • You must get explicit official permission from the Linguistics Program to apply any course toward a Linguistics minor.
  • Normally you may apply no more than 2 outside classes, or 6 units, toward your Linguistics minor.
  • Of those, no more than 3 units may be applied toward the count of required upper-level units in Linguistics.
  • You must take the course for a letter grade and get C− or better, even though the grade will not appear on your Washington University transcript.

Interaction With Majors and Other Minors

If you wish to fulfill a Linguistics minor, you will in addition have a major and perhaps another minor. If the requirements for these other areas overlap with your Linguistics minor, the question arises as to whether they can double-count.

Your Linguistics Minor must include 12 units of classes that are not counted toward any other major or minor. Thus it is important that your Linguistics advisor knows what classes you intend to apply to them, so that this requirement is not violated. Note, however, that these rules mean that Linguistics will let you count one 3-unit class toward both Linguistics and a major or another minor. But be advised that just because Linguistics would let you double-count a course toward a Psychohistory major does not mean that the Psychohistory department has to let you do that.

What Counts Towards Your Linguistics GPA

The Linguistics GPA is computed across all courses that you apply to your Linguistics major under Groups A, B, or C. This includes:

  • introductory classes, such as Ling 170D, as well as advanced courses
  • classes that are offered by other departments, such as Psychology or Philosophy, or other Washington University schools such as Medicine (PACS)
  • classes that double count for other majors or minors

The Linguistics GPA does not include any of the following:

  • classes that do not appear on your Washington University transcript
  • classes for which the official grade on your transcript is CR, NCR, I, W, R, L, Z, or N
  • classes taken at another university
  • classes applied only toward fulfillment of the foreign language requirement
  • classes that you do not apply toward your Linguistics major, even if they are listed under Linguistics (L44)

These exclusions are inflexible. For example, we cannot count a grade from another university even if you show us a transcript from that university, or even if it is part of a study abroad program sanctioned by Wash U.