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).

Spring 2023 office hours are at 1pm on Wednesdays, but meetings can be arranged at other times by contacting the Undergraduate Chair at the email address given above.

Students who would like to declare a Linguistics major or minor should submit a request via the relevant PATH form (as described here); you will then be contacted by the Undergraduate Chair to arrange a brief meeting. You are also very welcome to meet with the Undergraduate Chair in advance of submitting the form.

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).


New 4-digit numbering system begins Fall 2022. Old number in parenthesis.


Required Courses: (4 credits) 

LING 0600 (102) -- Introduction to Sociolinguistics 

LING 2300 (230) -- Sound Structure of Language

LING 2500 (250) -- Introduction to Syntax 

LING 4000 (300) -- Tutorial in Linguistics

Ling 4000, 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 in 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 in American Sign Language within the Linguistics department. The limit of two does not affect courses on the history or structure of a language; these fall under the general topics category. 

The following are examples of courses that are often counted as "related" for the Linguistics major. These are simply examples, however. For a full list of offerings already counted as related courses, you can search for the relevant attribute on PATH. For courses that do not already have the appropriate attribute, please contact the Undergraduate Chair.

  • African Studies  2250 (225) African Languages and Culture
  • Africana Studies 2250 (225) African Languages and Cultures
  • Anthropology 2550 (255) Modern Southeast Asia
  • Computer Science and Engineering 1100 (110) Introduction to Programming; 1200-1210 (120-121) Programming Languages and Techniques; 2620 (262) Automata, Computability, and Complexity
  • East Asian Languages and Civilizations 1623 Language, Script and Society in China
  • Education 6210 (546) Sociolinguistics in Education; 5240 (572) Language and Gender
  • Electrical and Systems Engineering 5310 (531) Digital Signal Processing
  • English 1010 Old English; 1013 Chaucer
  • French 2170 French Phonetics; 3290 French in the World
  • Logic, Information,& Computation  3100 Logic Computability I; 3200 Logic Computability II
  • Mathematics 3400 Discrete Mathematics I; 3410 Discrete Mathematics II
  • Philosophy 5710 Introduction to Logic; 4723 Introduction to Mathematical Logic; 
  • 2640 Introduction to Philosophy of Mind; 3200 20th Century Philosophy; 4660 Philosophy of Language; 4600 Origins of Analytic Philosophy
  • Psychology 1310 Language and Thought; 2310 Psychology of Language; 3310 Seminar: Psycholinguistics 
  • Spanish 3110 Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics; 3120 History of the Spanish Language

Some courses appear more than once since they are crosslisted, but crosslistings with Linguistics are not included here (any cross-listed course, i.e. a course for which there is a LING course number in addition to listings in other programs, can count as a LING course regardless of the subject label under which it was taken). 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. Once you have confirmed your topic and faculty sponsor, you should email this information to the undergraduate chair. Contact Colin Bonner in order to register for LING 4098 (398): Senior Thesis if you would like course credit for work on the thesis.

Contact the undergraduate chair for more information.