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College of Arts and Letters | Michigan State University

About the Linguistics Section

The linguistics section of the department offers programs of study leading to BA, MA, and PhD degrees in linguistics, including both an undergraduate major and minor. Throughout our program, the focus is on developing a rigorous theoretical understanding what it is to know and use a language. We approach linguistics as a core element of the cognitive sciences. (We are not primarily devoted to the study of language teaching, which is centered in programs such as Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) and Second Language Studies.)

Our faculty have interests in the traditional core areas of linguistic theory, in experimental and field research, and in particular languages. Our undergraduate major equips students to think about language in a precise and scientific way, and many undergraduates become involved in research at an early stage. Some undergraduates and MA students have gone on to graduate programs at the most prominent linguistics programs in the world. Our own graduate students are extensively trained both as researchers and as teachers, and many graduate alumni have moved on to successful linguistic careers.

The linguistics section has close ties to many other units of the university that approach language from different perspectives. We are a core part of the Cognitive Science Program. Many of our students and faculty work with colleagues in psychology, speech language disorders, and the language programs, as well as in other areas broadly allied with linguistics, including computer science, philosophy, education, and the social sciences.