Speaking. Signing. Understanding. It's all part of linguistics, a program designed for people who love words and languagesand want to use science to study how we communicate with each other. For example, are you curious why "the small brown dog" sounds right, but "the brown small dog" sounds wrong? Find out at UB, where you can also choose to specialize in some of the world’s most widely spoken languages, like Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

What will I learn?

How do children actually learn how to speak? How do people produce sounds? How are concepts like race and gender reflected in language? How do computers process human language? From phonetics and phonology to semantics and syntax, these are just a few of the topics you can explore as a linguistics major. Here, you'll study the structure, function and meaning of language—including the option to concentrate on a specific language and take advanced courses in that subject area.

What can I do outside of class?

There's simply no substitute for real-world experience and practicing your skills.

  • Studying abroad lets you immerse yourself in another culture as you learn about linguistics and language by living among native speakers.
  • Internships are another popular choice for students, who are typically placed in a local public school or service agency such as the International Institute of Buffalo or Literacy Volunteers.
  • UB also has hundreds of student groups, including groups for students who are interested in specific languages and cultures.
Study Abroad
Student Clubs

What can I do with a linguistics degree?

Whether you specialize in linguistics or a language, you'll find opportunities available in schools, research labs, government agencies, media companies and other organizations around the world. Common career paths include:

  • Industry, research and consultation. Work on speech recognition, artificial intelligence, how people gain language skills, how languages evolve, language disorders, endangered languages and other critical areas.
  • Academia and education. Teach at schools and universities in the U.S. or abroad, or help develop educational materials.
  • Publishing and translation: Become a translator, announcer, interpreter, technical writer, journalist or publisher.

Many students continue their education in graduate school—often for an advanced degree in linguistics, teaching English as a second language, cognitive science or a related field, although some students have also gone to law school, medical school and other programs.

Want to be a teacher?

Be prepared to teach grades 5-12 by getting your bachelor's and master's in just five years through our UB Teach program.

  • Save time and money.
  • No need to apply to graduate school.
  • Be eligible for New York State professional teaching certification.

Visit the department website (at the top of this page) for more details, or see the UB Teach website for a list of all available majors.

Who will I learn from?

Our faculty members have earned Humboldt Research Fellowships, National Science Foundation grants, UB’s Exceptional Scholar Award and many other honors. They conduct research on some of the world's most spoken (and least spoken) languages, collaborate with scholars around the globe on data-driven linguistics research, have helped lead professional organizations such as the Linguistic Society of America, and support the study and survival of endangered languages. They are authors, conference presenters and journal editors who are widely recognized for their expertise.

In addition, our faculty are exceptional teachers and have earned the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. As a student here, you'll appreciate the small classes and access to faculty as you get to know some of the leading scholars and mentors in the field.