LINGUIST List 9.703

Tue May 12 1998

Sum: Lang Requirement for Undergraduate Ling

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>


  1. Kuo-ming.Sung, Summary: lg requirement for undergrad ling

Message 1: Summary: lg requirement for undergrad ling

Date: Tue, 12 May 1998 13:32:03 +0000
From: Kuo-ming.Sung <>
Subject: Summary: lg requirement for undergrad ling

Dear Colleagues,

I posted a query a week ago on language requirement for undergraduate
linguistics major. I received 9 replies. I would like to thank the
following professors who took the time to provide information:

Joseph Goldberg
Lance Nathan
Suzanne E Kemmer
Larry Horn
Mike Flynn
Robert L. Trammel
Carland D. Bills
H Stephen Straight
John Bulger

In order of receipt of the messages, the language requirement is:

1. University of Chicago

My undergraduate program in linguistics, at the University of Chicago,
required 2 years of either French, German, or Russian (to read
linguistic writings of these cultures in the original) as well as 1
year of a language outside the Western branch of the Indo-European
family (this was the linguistic part of the requirement).

But if I were designing it I probably would've required more of the
latter language, and required that this be outside the Indo-European
family altogether, not just outside the Western branch.
2. Brown University

Well, for the record, Brown University's linguistics department does
not require any foreign language knowledge of undergraduates. Brown
is a little unusual, though, in that it doesn't have any distribution
or language requirements in general.

3. Rice University
The undergraduate Linguistics major at Rice requires a second-year
college language proficiency level, which can be satisfied by
completion of a language course at the 200 (second year) level or

The language specialization within the linguistics major requires not
only a second year competency level but also a third year language
proficiency in a different language.

For more information on our requirements, see our web site at under "Programs".

4. Yale University 

At Yale, undergraduate majors must take four semester courses of study
in one or two foreign languages at the intermediate level or above.
Literature courses conducted in the foreign language (not literature
in translation courses) count, as do structure-of courses. With
approval, students may substitute an advanced linguistics course for
one of the four semesters of language courses.

5. Florida Atlantic University

planning to propose three years of language courses.

6. University of New Mexico

The language requirement for the undergraduate major in linguistics at
the University of New Mexico is (the equivalent of) two years of
college level study of a second/foreign language.

7. SUNY at Binghamton

Binghamton's lx major requirements include one course in a language
other than the student's native language (with a focus on language
skill or language analysis) beyond the intermediate (fourth-semester)
level plus four additional semesters of language instruction in one or
more additional languages (four semesters of a third language or one
semester each of a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth language constitute
the extremes regarding how this latter requirement might be
fulfilled). We also, and this is even more important than a language
requirement per se, in my opinion, routinely require students to
employ their multilingual skills (for reading or as a source of
examples) in our upper-division courses in the major.


Allow me to quote from the 'UCLA General Catalog 1997-99', from the
Linguistics section, under 'preparation for the major, bachelor of
arts in linguistics' -- 'Required:...completion of the equivalent of
the sixth term in each of two foreign languages or the sixth term in
one foreign language and the third term in each of two other foreign
languages. Students who complete an advanced language course are
considered to have completed the equivalent of whatever courses are
prerequisite to that one (e.g., if students complete French 100, they
have automatically satisfied the requirement of the sixth term of work
in one language). Students are required to complete at least the
equivalent of the third term in a language other than those in the
Romance, Slavic, or Germanic families. This requirement may be
satisfied either as part of or in addition to the language requirement
described in the preceding paragraph.

I also received a message from Carleton College, which provides
student self-designed linguistics major. After checking their web
site, I was not sure whether they currently have a specific policy on
language requirement.

The linguistics program at Lawrence University would probably propose
a language requirement of either (i) two years of one foreign
language, (ii) one year each for two foreign languages, or (iii) four
quarters of a foreign language plus one additional term of an
off-campus language program.

Hope the above information was to your interest and thanks again.

Kuo-ming Sung
Lawrence University 
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