Jul 21, 2024  
2024-2025 Catalog 
2024-2025 Catalog

Linguistics, B.A.

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Program of Study

Language is one of the main tools used by human beings to create and perform cultural and social identities and practices. Linguistics is the scientific study of language and offers students the opportunity to inquire about both the structure and function of language. The field of linguistics draws on a wide area of inquiry, including the investigation of the ways that languages change over time, descriptions of the ways in which language functions as a part of cultures, considerations of the interrelatedness of language and thought, the examination of the process of language acquisition, and the analysis of the functioning of the brain and the vocal organs in the production and analysis of speech.

The Linguistics Major at CSUSM provides students with a comprehensive study of the core areas of linguistics and the opportunity to specialize in one of three areas: Language, Culture, and Society; Speech and Language Sciences; and Language Studies. The core curriculum is designed to give students a strong foundation in the general study of linguistics, while the specialization options allow students the opportunity to focus their linguistics study in an area that aligns with their interests as well as prepares them for future graduate work or careers.

Admission Requirements

The Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics maintains the same general Undergraduate Admission and Graduation Requirements and/or Transfer policies/requirements described in the California State University San Marcos Catalog.

Program Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Articulate how the tools of linguistic science aid in understanding language use in multiple contexts.
  2. Recognize that social judgments about language are proxies for other kinds of discrimination and injustice and are not founded in linguistic science, but rather in broader social processes.
  3. Apply linguistic research methods to primary and secondary linguistic data.
  4. Be proficient in a language other than English.


Students who major in linguistics acquire valuable skills such as analytical reasoning, critical thinking, argumentation, and clarity of expression, all of which are sought out in a variety of careers. Depending on the concentration chosen, career options include technical writing; advertising; marketing; market and user experience research, and naming and branding; machine language and human/machine interaction; government analyst and the Foreign Service; standardized test design; and the law.

A Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics also prepares students for further professional and graduate programs which can lead to careers in Teaching English as a Second Language; K-12 and collegiate teaching; Speech-Language Pathology; bilingual services, including translating and interpreting; lexicography; dialect or language coaching; and language documentation.

Special Conditions for the Linguistics Major

A grade of C (2.0) or better must be received in each course taken for the degree in linguistics or in Preparation for the Major. At least 18 units of the required upper-division courses for the degree must be taken at Cal State San Marcos.

General Education (48 Units)

General Education Requirements 

Preparation for the Major (6 units)

Language Requirement (0-12 units)

All Linguistics Majors must demonstrate proficiency in one language other than English

Language other than English proficiency can be accomplished by:

  • earning a grade of C (2.0) or higher in a fourth semester course in a language other than English (including signed languages), or 
  • passing a proficiency exam in a language other than English, or 
  • earning a score of 4 or higher on the Advanced Placement (AP) exam in a language other than English, or  
  • having been required to take the TOEFL or other CSUSM-approved English language exam as a condition for admission into the University; or
  • having completed at least three years full-time at a high-school or university where English was not the principal language of instruction.

There may be other ways to demonstrate proficiency. It is important for students to consult with the Linguistics faculty to determine the best option for fulfilling this requirement. The language proficiency requirement cannot be met with computer languages.

Breadth Requirement (3 Units)

Additional course in Upper Division Social Sciences (DD designated) outside the major. This requirement can also count as the DD requirement in Upper Division General Education, but it must be taken in a program other than Linguistics. Any course carrying the DD designation outside of Linguistics can be used to fulfill this requirement. If students choose to satisfy their UDGE DD with a course outside the major, the breadth requirement will become 3 free elective units. 

Interdisciplinary Social Science Requirement (3 units)

All Linguistics majors must meet an Interdisciplinary Social Science (IDSS) requirement. This is satisfied with an approved lower-division interdisciplinary social science course from one of the following departments or programs: American Indian Studies, Anthropology, Border Studies, Environmental Studies, Ethnic Studies, Geography, Global Studies, Social Sciences, and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.  The course taken to satisfy IDSS cannot double count with other major requirements and must be outside the student’s major discipline.

Check the Class Schedule or Degree Planner for the most up-to-date list of courses satisfying this requirement.

Major Requirements (36 Units)


The Linguistics Major offers three concentrations, as described below. All concentrations require the Preparation for the Major, Language Requirement, and Core Requirements as described above. Students must choose one of the concentrations.

Language, Culture, and Society Concentration (18 units)

The Language, Culture, and Society Concentration provides students with a solid grounding in the core fields of linguistics, coupled with an exploration of the many ways in which language is implicated in the construction and practice of all cultures. Students deepen their understanding of the connection between language and culture through classes which offer a linguistic lens on these processes. Classes from related disciplines offer a wider range of perspectives from which to view and understand the interconnection of language, culture, and society. Language, Culture, and Society majors are encouraged to participate in CSUSM’s Study Abroad Program.

Choose six (6) courses (at least three (3) courses, or nine (9) units must be LING):

Speech and Language Sciences Concentration (18 units)

The Speech and Language Sciences Concentration is designed for students who want to pursue careers in the field of speech-language pathology (SLP). The courses included in this concentration represent a subset of prerequisite courses that students must take in preparation for applying to the Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology at CSUSM*, or at other SLP programs. Students interested in applying to Master of Science programs at other institutions should consult with those programs about course equivalency.

Language Studies Concentration (18 units)

The Language Studies Concentration provides students with a solid foundation in linguistics combined with the study of a language of choice. Students acquire general skills in linguistic analysis, which are in turn applied to the language of choice. Students deepen their knowledge of the language through literature classes and gain interdisciplinary perspectives from area studies classes in other departments focusing on the country or setting where the language is spoken. The languages available for study at CSUSM are Spanish, German, French. Students interested in studying other languages should speak to an advisor in the Linguistics Program to determine the language of focus and the appropriate coursework. It is recommended that language studies majors participate in CSUSM’s Study Abroad Program.

Minimum Total (120 Units)

Students must take a sufficient number of elective units to bring the total to a minimum of 120, including at least 40 at the upper-division level.

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