Skip to content

Linguistics Major Guide for 2015-2016

What is Linguistics?

Language is the medium by which every fact, opinion, or belief is conveyed. Each language is a unique system for communicating such information.

Linguistics is the systematic study of human language systems, both as the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication and as a specific instance of such a system of complex communication, that is a particular language – such as English, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, American Sign Language, etc.  A language may be spoken, written, or signed.

The Program in Linguistics at The University of Tennessee is an Interdisci­plinary Program (IDP) in the College of Arts and Sciences. Faculty are located in Departments in The College of  Arts & Sciences and in The College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.

The Linguistics concentration offers a broad exposure to the various areas of linguistics (including historical, descriptive, applied, and theoretical linguistics) and offers opportunities to study fields where linguistics overlaps with other disciplines such as psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, neurolinguistics, pragmatics, speech pathology, and forensic linguistics. It is designed to prepare a student for graduate work in linguistics or related areas, or to serve as an enrichment to the study of a particular language. It provides the additional possibility of emphasizing the teaching of English as a second language for the student interested in employment at the B.A. level.

Annual activities of the Program include invited speakers and participation in area, national, and international conferences. Past speakers include John Baugh, Washington University, “Linguistic Diversity and Discrimination in American Schools and Society”; Stephen D. Krashen, University of Southern California, “Free, Voluntary Reading: It Will Help First Language Acquisition, Second Language Acquisition, Make You Smarter, and Help You Sleep at Night”;  Aleka A. Blackwell, Middle Tennessee State University, “Early Lexical Development: Input, Semantic Transparency, or Cognitive Biases?”; Jeanette Allsopp, University of the West Indies, “An Introduction to Caribbean Languages”; Jeffrey Davis, University of Tennessee, “Native American Sign Language: A Historical and Linguistic Account”; Oleg Tarnopolsky, Dnipropetrovsk University of Economics and Law, “Creative Writing in EFL: Why and How?”; Phil Harrison, Georgia State University, “Voice IDs, forensic phonetics, and John Lennon”; Robert Fischer, Texas State University, “Is There a Place for Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) in Foreign Language Departments?”; and most recently, William A. Kretzschmar, Jr., University of Georgia, “Complexity Theory in Language Study: Corpus Linguistics, Lexicogrammar, and Variation” (April 2012).

Faculty and student participation in recent conferences includes presentations at the Linguistic Society of America, the American Dialect Society, NWAV (New Ways of Analyzing Variation), the American Association for Applied Linguistics, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, GURT (Georgetown University Roundtable on Linguistics), the Law & Society Association, and the SouthEastern Conference on Linguistics.

Career Opportunities in Linguistics

Graduates of our program are well prepared to pursue advanced study in linguistics. Past graduates of our program have entered a variety of language-related and applied professional fields (translation, audiology, speech pathology, and language teaching), as well as linguistics itself as an academic discipline.

How to Major in Linguistics

Students should consult a program advisor early in planning a Linguistics major or minor. Linguistics 200 (Language, Linguistics, and Society) is highly recommended. Other 300-level courses should, if possible, be completed before 400-level courses are begun. See the Program Chair for additional information.

Requirements for Linguistics



Language Corequisite

Completion of a third year of foreign language study (upper-division courses) – either Indo-European or non-Indo-European – plus a two-semester sequence of another language chosen so that both one Indo-European and one non-Indo-European language are studied to fulfill this corequisite.

Non-Indo-European languages may be selected from the following:

  • ASL 111 – Elementary American Sign Language I
  • ASL 112 – Elementary American Sign Language II


  • ARAB 121 – Elementary Modern Standard Arabic I
  • ARAB 122 – Elementary Modern Standard Arabic Ii


  • ASST 141 – Elementary Modern Hebrew I
  • ASST 142 – Elementary Modern Hebrew II


  • CHIN 131 – Elementary Chinese I
  • CHIN 132 – Elementary Chinese II


  • JAPA 151 – Elementary Japanese I
  • JAPA 152 – Elementary Japanese II


  • REST 121 – Elementary Biblical Hebrew I
  • REST 122 – Elementary Biblical Hebrew II

or other non-Indo-European languages approved by the Linguistics Committee.

Statistics Corequisite

Completion of one semester of statistics. This requirement may be met by completing either STAT 201* or STAT 207*, either of which will also help meet the Quantitative Analysis requirement of the College. Other appropriate statistics courses may be taken if approved by the Linguistics Committee.

Concentration Requirements (30 credit hours)

Select one course:

  • AUSP 305 – Phonetics
  • AUSP 320 – Speech and Language Development
  • FREN 421 – Phonetics
  • SPAN 421 – Phonetics

Or other phonetics course approved by the Linguistics Committee


  • ENGL 371 – Foundations of the English Language
  • ENGL 372 – The Structure of Modern English
  • ENGL 471 – Sociolinguistics
  • GERM 426 – Methods of Historical Linguistics
  • LING 423 – The Development of Diachronic and Synchronic Linguistics
  • LING 425 – Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics

Select 9 hours (in consultation with a linguistics advisor):

  • ANTH 411 – Linguistic Anthropology
  • AUSP 302 – Acoustics and Perception
  • AUSP 320 – Speech and Language Development
  • CHIN 471 – Introduction to Chinese Linguistics
  • CMST 412 – Close Relationships
  • FREN 421 – Phonetics
  • FREN 422 – Advanced Grammar
  • LING 321 – Introduction to Old English
  • LING 400 – Topics in Linguistics
  • LING 431 – Topics in Hispanic Linguistics
  • LING 435 – Structure of the German Language
  • LING 436 – History of the German Language
  • LING 472 – American English
  • LING 474 – Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language I
  • LING 476 – Second Language Acquisition
  • LING 477 – Pedagogical Grammar for ESL Teachers
  • LING 485 – Special Topics in Language
  • LING 490 – Language and Law
  • LING 491 – Foreign Study
  • LING 492 – Off-Campus Study
  • LING 493 – Independent Study
  • PSYC 400 – Advanced Cognitive Psychology
  • SPAN 420 – Applied Linguistics
  • SPAN 421 – Phonetics
  • SPAN 422 – Advanced Grammar and Translation
  • SPAN 430 – Topics in Hispanic Linguistics
  • THEA 326 – Voice and Speech for the Stage Actor
  • WLEL 455 – Teaching of World Languages
  • WLEL 476 – Teaching English as a Second Language


18 credit hours composed of:

12 hours

Audiology & Speech Pathology 305 Phonetics (or an appropriate substitute)

English/Linguistics 371 Foundations of the English Language


English/Linguistics 372 The Structure of Modern English

Linguistics 423 The Development of Diachronic and Synchronic Linguistics

Linguistics 425 Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics (cross-listed with French/Spanish/ German/Russian 425)


Linguistics 426 Methods of Historical Linguistics (cross-listed with French/Spanish/ German/Russian 426)

6 additional hours selected in consultation with a Linguistics advisor from this list:

Anthropology 411 Linguistic Anthropology

Audiology & Speech Pathology 302 Acoustic and Perception

Audiology & Speech Pathology 320 Speech and Language Development

CMST 412 Close Relationships

English/Linguistics 471 Sociolinguistics

FLED 455 Teaching of Foreign Language, Grades 7-12

French 421 Phonetics

French 422 Advanced Grammar

English/Linguistics 321 Introduction to Old English

Linguistics 400 Topics in Linguistics

Linguistics 431 Topics in Hispanic Linguistics (cross-listed with Spanish 430)

Linguistics 435 Structure of the German Language

Linguistics 436 History of the German Language

English/Linguistics 472 American English

English/Linguistics 474 Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language

English/Linguistics 476 Second Language Acquisition

Linguistics 477 Pedagogical Grammar for ESL Teachers

Linguistics 485 Special Topics in Language

English/Linguistics 490 Language and Law

Linguistics 491 Foreign Study

Linguistics 492 Off-Campus Study

Linguistics 493 Independent Study

Psychology 400 Cognitive Psychology: Language and Symbolic Processes

Spanish 421 Phonetics

Spanish 422 Advanced Grammar and Translation

Theatre 326 Advanced Voice and Speech

Ready for the World logo

“Ready for the World” is part of a long-range plan to transform the UTK campus into a culture of diversity that best prepares students for working and competing in the 21st century.  Thus students are encouraged to actively participate in the diverse cultural programs offered on campus.  Some of these events include the guest lecture series, cultural nights at the International House, and international film screenings.  Visit the Center for International Education web site ( or the Ready for the World web site ( for more information on upcoming cultural programs and activities. Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Students are also encouraged to develop a global perspective within their academic program through study abroad. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. Program lengths vary from mini-term trips to the entire academic year, and students may choose to fulfill general education requirements, study a foreign language, or take courses within their majors. In addition, UTK offers students opportunities for international internships.

Students are highly encouraged to begin planning early in their academic career and to consult with an academic advisor about the best time to study abroad as well as what courses to take abroad. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. For first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, please visit the undergraduate catalog.

For More Information

Bethany K. Dumas
Department of English
The University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-0430


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.

Report an accessibility barrier