Linguistics is the science of language. It seeks to discover the psychological and motor mechanisms of human speech, the similarities and differences among languages, how languages change, and the way in which language is acquired. Because linguistics is largely independent of fields with which the student is likely to be familiar, no special background is required for students entering the major.

Linguistics interacts with a wide variety of fields, such as articulatory phonetics (biology), acoustic phonetics (physics), field methods (anthropology), language and culture (anthropology), sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, logic, the philosophy of language, and the study of particular languages (including their history). This interaction provides opportunities for students with varied interests and can give new perspectives to those in related disciplines.

Upon electing the linguistics major, and certainly no later than the middle of the sophomore year, a student should see the Director of the Linguistics Committee for advising.

The director can help students find a suitable advisor to file the necessary forms. In consultation with an advisor, a student plans a coherent program of specific courses to meet the requirements below. The student and the advisor must then submit a copy of the program to the full Committee on Linguistics for approval.

Students interested in the linguistics major should request from the committee director information concerning the many possible course programs. Many of them permit double majors, thus providing strong preparation for further study in two fields.

Program Director: Vrinda Chidambaram


  1. LING 020
  2. Twenty-four (24) upper-division units distributed as follows:
    1. LING 111, LING 121, LING 131, LING 141
    2. ANTH 123
    3. PHIL 132 or PSYC 135/HMDV 135
  3. At least 12 additional upper-division units of linguistic electives, to be chosen in consultation with the advisor and with the approval of the Linguistics Program director. (The additional courses may be in linguistics or in related fields. They may relate either to a particular field or specialization or to general linguistics.)
  4. Foreign language proficiency equivalent to six quarters (24 units) of study, including at least fourth-quarter proficiency in one language. (Students may arrange with the director to satisfy this requirement by examination.)

Honors Program in Linguistics

  1. Linguistics requirement: LING 020, LING 111, LING 121, LING 141, LING 190, LING 191
  2. Related courses requirement:
    1. ANTH 120, ANTH 123
    2. ENGL 112
    3. CS 008, CS 010, CS 012
    4. MATH 144
    5. PHIL 008 or PHIL 008H
    6. Additional courses as may be required by the Linguistics Committee
  3. Language Requirement — study in at least two language areas:
    1. Primary language: 24 units of foreign language instruction in a single language (this may include any courses taught in that language) plus courses in the structure, phonetics and history of the primary language, if available
    2. Secondary language: 16 units of a single language or at least 8 units in each of two languages (none of which may be members of the same subfamily of Indo-European as the primary language) plus at least 8 units in the structure, phonetics, or history of the language(s) chosen for the secondary area

In fulfilling the language requirement, students interested in earning a degree beyond the B.A. should take into account the foreign language requirements of the graduate schools to which they may apply.

Students must have at least a 3.00 GPA in courses required for the Honors Program.

Students may add variety and depth to their UCR linguistics major by attending a Summer Program in Linguistics (held in various places) or by participating in the Education Abroad Program (EAP). This is an excellent opportunity to become deeply familiar with another country and its culture while earning academic units towards graduation. Students should plan study abroad well in advance to ensure that the courses taken fit with their overall program at UCR. Consult the departmental student affairs officer for assistance. For further details visit UCR’s International Services Center at or call (951) 827-4113.

See Education Abroad Program under International Services Center in the Student Services section of this catalog. A list of participating countries is found under Education Abroad Program in the Curricula and Courses section.

Language Placement:

For information about placement exams contact Suzy Sharweed.

Committee in Charge

  • Vrinda Chidambaram, PhD., Director, Comparative Literature/Linguistics
  • Adalberto Aguirre, Ph.D. Sociology
  • Eugene Anderson, Ph.D. Anthropology
  • Curt Burgess, Ph.D. Psychology
  • Tenibac (T.S.) Harvey, Ph.D. Anthropology
  • Covadonga Lamar Prieto, Ph.D. Hispanic Studies
  • Larry Rosenblum, Ph.D. Psychology
  • Melanie Sperling, Ph.D. School of Education
  • Stanley Stewart, Ph.D. English
  • Heidi Waltz, Ph.D. Linguistics
  • Howard Wettstein, Ph.D. Philosophy
  • Daryle Williams, Ph.D., Dean, College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, ex officio