Below are answers to questions frequently asked by undergraduates who are considering majoring in linguistics.
The Linguistics major consists of 10 classes.
5 of these are specific courses that everyone takes; each of these 5 are offered every semester, but LING majors should try to take them as soon as they can!
- LING 1000: Introduction to Language: our sampler-platter of topics surveying the breadth of linguistic subfields we offer courses in at Georgetown, and the various approaches to studying language represented therein.
- LING 2010: The Sounds of Language: An introduction to phonetics and phonology, the linguistic subfields concerned with describing and explaining how speech sounds are made, used, heard, and mentally organized.
- LING 2020: Grammatical Analysis: An introduction to syntax, the subfield concerned with understanding how the meaning-bearing units of language are assembled into larger sense-making phrases
- LING 2030: Language and Society: An introduction to sociolinguistics, in which we learn how language use by the individual and in the community can be studied using quantitative and qualitative methods
- LING 2050: How Languages are Learned: An introduction to the central questions, theories, debates, and research findings in the areas of second language acquisition (SLA) and teaching,
The other 5 courses you can choose based on your interests:
- Two of these classes should be numbered between 4000-4999 (one exception: LING 4988, the Honors Thesis Seminar): these grad-level courses involve more advanced engagement with the literature in a specific area and often involve more writing (for that reason, they satisfy the College’s Integrated Writing Requirement). These courses might have prerequisites!
- The other 3 classes are any other LING course with any number. Often majors who study abroad will count some of that work towards LING electives (up to 2 for a semester-long program). LING 4988 (the thesis seminar) also counts here.
The Linguistics major also has a language requirement consisting of 12 credits of coursework on at least one ancient or modern language other than English. Such courses must be taught in the language or must be advanced courses about the structure of the language (i.e., linguistics courses). They may double count toward other major/minor requirements, and/or toward school-level or university-level language requirements. Linguistic structure courses in other departments may count with Department approval.
Yes, once you declare a Linguistics major, you will be assigned an academic advisor in the Linguistics Department by the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS). Your advisor, the DUS, and the Linguistics Advising Dean are all available to discuss questions you may have about your Linguistics major and academic trajectory in general.
There are many opportunities to get involved in Linguistics research during your time at Georgetown.
Enroll in LING 3930, Research-based Linguistics Undergraduate Research Experiences (RULE): this course provides undergraduate linguistics majors with hands-on research experience by pairing them with graduate student research mentors. The undergraduate serves as assistant and collaborator to the graduate student, directly contributing to the research outcome. This course is offered every semester for 1-3 credits (your choice), and you can take it multiple times. If you earn 3 credits for RULE (whether in one semester or over a few), this will count as 1 elective course for the major.
Work with professors: Read up on your professors’ research interests and projects on their personal websites (most have one linked through the dept site). If someone is doing work that excites you, make an appointment to chat and ask them if they have any research opportunities opening up.
Conduct your own research with College support: The College offers numerous fellowships to support undergraduate research over the academic year or in the summer. Click here for information on specific awards and deadlines.
Enroll in LING 4988 (the Senior Thesis seminar) and write an Honors Thesis.
GULLS (the Georgetown Undergraduate Languages and Linguistics Society) is a group of students interested in Linguistics and/or languages who hold regular fun events. Follow them on instagram @gulingsociety or email GULLS @georgetown.edu for more information or to receive their newsletter.
Yes, there are often internships for Linguistics students both in DC and elsewhere in the country. In DC, organizations like the Linguistic Society of America, the Center for Applied Linguistics, and Planet Word regularly offer internships. The Director of Undergraduate Studies sends every internship or job opportunity that comes her way to the list of Linguistics majors and minors.
Yes! Your linguistics major will help you build many skills that will open up myriad career opportunities, and indeed our graduates pursue a range of careers. You can start to explore these options by enrolling in PROSeminar, and attending our career series events. We even have a director for career development, Dr Alex Johnston, who can help you navigate your career path! Click here to learn more about careers for linguists.