How do children learn a language without formal instruction? How do people understand sentences they’ve never heard before? If you’ve asked yourself similar questions before, a linguistics major is right up your alley. Linguistics degree programs explore the structure of language and how it is learned, how language can be best taught and learned, social factors that affect language learners, how technology influences language learning, and more. As a linguistics student, you’ll study how language relates to culture, class, region, and gender. The field has wide-spread application; graduates may go on to work in education, policy, journalism, marketing, speech therapy, and more.
Why a Bachelor’s Degree?
Students considering a career in linguistics should expect to have at least a master’s degree. That’s because most careers in the field, such as academic research or therapy, require a master’s degree or Ph.D. In that light, a bachelor’s degree in linguistics can lay the foundation for advanced, rigorous academic study. Compared to other liberal arts degrees, a linguistics degree would provide students with an introduction to key concepts and principles of the field.
Getting Into a Bachelor’s Degree Program
Application requirements vary from school to school. But in general, to apply to an online linguistics bachelor’s degree program, you need:
- High school diploma or its equivalent
- Meet state-set minimum high school course requirements
- SAT or ACT score
- Letters of recommendation
Inside a Linguistics Bachelor’s Degree Program
Bachelor’s degrees are designed to take four years to complete. By the time they graduate, students will have studied the underlying principles of human languages, how it is learned, and how it is best taught. Linguistics touches on concepts in anthropology, psychology, speech pathology, and computer science, and courses are an amalgamation of those subjects. Typical required classes cover linguistics topics like phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics, as well as language and technology, meaning in language, the evolution of the English language, language development disorders, and computational linguistics.
In addition to their courses, students may be expected to complete a linguistics capstone. This would provide them the opportunity to conduct research in an area of linguistics and its potential applications to the industry. They would also be able to demonstrate their understanding of key linguistics theories.
What’s Next for Linguistics Bachelor’s Degree Holders?
There is no one path for graduates of bachelor’s degrees in linguistics. They might go on to work as teachers, such as for English as a Second Language classes; journalism; marketers; or translators, if they have fluent knowledge of a second language. Other potential careers include work in speech therapy, treating speech, language, and swallowing disorders, and audiology, treating hearing and balance problems in patients, though these titles would typically require more advanced degrees. Similarly, a career as an academic linguist would require a master’s or doctoral degree in linguistics, and could lead to work in research or teaching at a college or university, or even working for a technology company, helping develop language and linguistics software.
To that end, graduates may also choose to go on to continued study in a graduate program, with their bachelor’s degree preparing them for the academic rigors of a master’s or doctoral degree. As previously mentioned, potential careers include speech-language pathology, which requires at least a master’s degree to enter, and audiology, which requires a doctoral degree to enter the practice. Both fields are expected to have dramatic growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of speech-language pathologists is expected to increase by 23% through the end of the decade, while employment of audiologists is expected to grow by 37%.