Undergraduate Major in Linguistics (As of the Class of 2019)

For questions about the undergraduate linguistics program, please contact the Linguistics Undergraduate Chair, Prof. Florian Schwarz (ugrad-chair@ling.upenn.edu).

To declare a Linguistics major or minor, fill out this form (students outside of SAS should email the undergraduate chair, as the form is restricted to SAS accounts).

Starting Sep 9th, 2020, undergraduate linguistics office hours for both prospective and current major and minor students are held virtually via Zoom, Mondays from 4-5pm and Tuesdays from 1:30-2:30pm. Click here to attend: https://upenn.zoom.us/j/178622529  (If you can't make it during office hours, email the undergraduate chair to schedule another time.)

The rest of this page describes the requirements for the Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania starting with of the Class of 2019, as well as the degree with honors (see below).

Program Requirements

The undergraduate major in linguistics, leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree, requires a total of 14 course units.  There are four Required Linguistic Course units, six Elective Linguistic Course units, and four course units from either the Linguistic Electives, or from a Related area (see below).


Required Courses: (4 credits) 

LING 102 -- Introduction to Sociolinguistics 

LING 230 -- Sound Structure of Language

LING 250 -- Introduction to Syntax 

LING 300 -- Tutorial in Linguistics

Ling 300, is a small seminar-style course restricted to linguistics majors. Students gather and interpret linguistic data from primary sources and are introduced to practical aspects of linguistic research. Every linguistics major is required to take the course by the fall semester of the senior year.


Elective Linguistics Courses:  (6 credits) 

Six credits in linguistics must include at least three credits at the 200-level or higher:  Linguistics Course Register.


Related Courses:  (4 credits)  

The final four credits may be satisfied by any additional courses in the linguistics department, or by a wide variety of relevant courses from other departments. Two of these credits may be language courses. To some degree the qualifying courses will depend on the individual student’s plan of study. Majors should choose their courses in consultation with the undergraduate chair; without preapproval there is no guarantee that a course that “seems” related will qualify for the major. Related courses can be classified into three types; you are free to choose your related courses from any of these categories, or from other courses in LING; the only restriction is the maximum of two language courses.


   General linguistic topics. Allied fields such as anthropology and psychology offer courses that deal with language in general or some linguistic topic from various perspectives. Many language departments also have courses that discuss a specific language’s history or structure from a linguistic point of view.

    Computational and formal approaches.  Courses on the formal properties of human and other languages are available in several departments, including Philosophy, Mathematics, and Computer Science.

    Language courses. Up to two credits may be satisfied by language courses — i.e. instruction in speaking or reading a language. This category includes language courses offered under the LING label, such as American Sign Language and Irish Gaelic. The limit of two does not affect courses on the history or structure of a language; these fall under the general topics category. Courses used by the student to fulfill the College language requirement cannot be double-counted toward the major.


The following are among the courses that can be counted as "related" for the Linguistics major.

  • African Studies 225 African Languages and Culture; 484 Aspects of Kiswahili Language, History, and Culture
  • Africana Studies 225 African Languages and Cultures
  • Ancient History 510 Latin Historical Documents
  • Ancient Near Eastern Languages 246 The Land of Sumer: Writing, Language and Culture
  • Anthropology 255 Modern Southeast Asia; 280 Language and Culture 
  • Communications 360 Language in the Social Construction of Realities
  • Computer Science and Engineering 101 Introduction to Computer Science; 110 Introduction to Programming; 120-121 Programming Languages and Techniques; 262 Automata, Computability, and Complexity; 391 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence; 482 Logic in Computer Science
  • East Asian Languages and Civilizations 223 Language, Script and Society in China
  • Education 317/417 Reading/Language Arts in the Elementary School; 465 Sociology of Language; 527 Approaches to Teaching English and Other Modern Languages; 546 Sociolinguistics in Education; 572 Language and Gender
  • Electrical and Systems Engineering 531 Digital Signal Processing
  • English 018 Old English; 019 History of the English Language; 025 Chaucer; 319 Topics in the History of The English Language; 325 Topics in Chaucer
  • French 217 French Phonetics; 228 The French Languages: Past, Present and Future; 229 Le Francais dans le Monde
  • Greek 502 Historical Grammar of Greek
  • Latin 503 Historical Grammar of Latin; 510 Latin Historical Documents
  • Logic, Information, and Computation 010 Ideas in Logic and Computation; 220 Applied Mathematics of Information and Computation II; 310/320 Logic I, II
  • Mathematics 341 Discrete Mathematics II; 570-571 Introduction to Logic and Computability; 574/575 Mathematical Theory of Computation
  • Philosophy 005-006 Formal Logic; 244 Introduction to Philosophy of Mind; 344 Wittgenstein: Mind and Language; 405 Philosophy of Language; 416 Model Theory; 442 Origins of Analytic Philosophy; 443 Logical Positivism; 445 Modal Logic
  • Psychology 151 Language and Thought; 235 Pychology of Language;  335 Research Experience in Psycholinguistics; 435 Seminar: Psycholinguistics 
  • Slavic Languages 526 In Defiance of Babel: The Quest for a Universal Language
  • South Asia Studies 200 Language and Society in South Asia
  • Spanish 317 Spanish Phonetics and Morphology; 319 History of the Spanish Language
  • Women's Studies 572 Language and Gender

Some courses appear more than once since they are crosslisted, but crosslistings with Linguistics are not included here. There are also many graduate-level courses that can be counted toward the linguistics major; consult the undergraduate chair if you find one that you are interested in taking.


For a 14-credit major, the student needs 20 additional courses for a total of 34 credits to graduate. A grade of C- or better is required for any course counted toward the major.


Students who achieve a GPA of 3.0 overall and 3.5 in the major, and who satisfactorily complete a senior research project under the supervision of a faculty member, will be awarded a degree with honors. You should declare your intention to pursue the degree with honors before the start of your senior year. You should also begin to narrow your thesis topic, and find a faculty sponsor, by this time. Contact Amy Forsyth in order to register for LING 398: Senior Thesis if you would like course credit for work on the thesis.

Contact the undergraduate chair for more information.