How do children learn language? How does language shape thought—and how does thought shape language? 

Linguistics—which studies the structure of language—scientifically examines how we create messages in our minds, and how we put together sounds and symbols to convey those messages in ways that create meaning and understanding for ourselves and others.

  • How language works, including syntax, phonetics, word origins, and grammar
  • Analyzing and studying how and why people use language the way they do
  • Experiencing and studying languages in different contexts, cultures, and countries
  • Diagramming sentences written in unfamiliar languages
Cognitive science
Computer science
• Languages: Chinese, Classics, French, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish
• Math-Computer Science
• Music performance


Life After Lawrence

Lawrentians can enjoy careers in...

Foreign service, speech language therapy, software engineering and technology (e.g., natural language processing, speech recognition), education (secondary and higher ed), consulting, business, government, law, medicine

Recent employers include...

Accenture, Epic Systems, French Cultural Embassy, Minneapolis Public Schools, UNISYS, Apple, Teach for America, Broadcast Interactive Media, VoiceBox Technologies, Waseda University, IBM, U.S. Department of Defense

Lawrentians can earn advanced degrees in...

Linguistics, Cognitive Science, Law, Physical science, English, Computer Science, Teaching English as a Second Language

Recent schools include...

Iowa, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Princeton, Wisconsin


Experience intentional interdisciplinarity

Our linguistics professors come from many academic disciplines—anthropology, education, philosophy, psychology and several language departments—giving you a broad and deep approach to the power of language, through courses like Language and Discrimination, Philosophy of Language, and Psycholinguistics.


Immerse yourself in linguistic diversity in London

Through the Lawrence London Centre, you can spend a term in one of the world’s great cities, which will be your laboratory to study how social forces influence language, and how languages influence social structure.


Read the "tea leaves"

Strengthen your bond with fellow linguistics students and faculty at our weekly Linguistics Tea, where you might be as likely to discuss linguistic theory as you may be to discuss the plot holes in the latest Netflix binge-watch.


Get a personal approach

After Introduction to Linguistics—a popular class at Lawrence that fulfills a general education requirement—class sizes are intentionally small (average size: 10), and tailored to the roughly 20 students who major in linguistics each year, assuring you excellent access to your professors.

Components of the Major

  • Introduction to Linguistics
  • Two of the following introductory courses: Lexical Semantics; Syntax; Phonology; or Morphology
Two of the following: Philosophy of Language; How to Do Things With Words; Topics in Logic; Cognitive Linguistics
  • Four electives from linguistics or computer science
  • Additional language study
  • Linguistics Senior Seminar

Course descriptions and more courses

The Chandler Senior Experience

For your Senior Experience, you will complete your senior seminar in linguistics along with an independent study that you can complete with a faculty advisor over one, two, or three terms (based largely on your research needs). Your linguistics Senior Experience will culminate in a research paper and oral presentation to faculty and students.  Linguistics majors with double-majors in other fields (e.g., language, anthropology or psychology), typically combine their interests into one Senior Experience. (One particularly creative student completed a project that served as his senior experience for three majors: music theory, Russian studies and linguistics.)

Recent Senior Experiences include:


Native and non-native perceptions of pre-velar /æ/-raising in Wisconsin English

English-Spanish Code-switching in Bilingual Blogs: Patterns among native English speakers living abroad

What Did You Call That? An Examination of English Names Transliterated into Chinese

Machine Translation in the Connectionist Framework

Dajare: A Linguistic Analysis of Japanese Wordplay

Conceptual Metaphor and Framing in the State of the Union and Republican Rebuttal

Shakespeare in Russian: Problems and Solutions in Cross-Cultural Translation

Courtroom Narratives: The Lawyers as Storytellers

Gender Differences in Scientific Writing