Prospective and Incoming Students

What is Linguistics?

Linguistics, the science of language, is an interdisciplinary field which relates to the diversity of the cultures and languages of the world. It is an integral part of most serious pursuits dealing with aspects of language study and/or analysis. As the boundaries of the world change, an understanding of individual languages and cultures becomes increasingly more important. Communication in this complex society requires knowledge of the workings of languages as well as their interrelationship with their respective cultures. All linguistics majors are expected to acquire a rudimentary knowledge of the functions of language at various levels and knowledge of the techniques/methods used in language analysis. A student of linguistics will thereby significantly advance their appreciation of linguistic and cultural diversity.

Why Consider a Linguistics Major?

All Linguistics majors are expected to acquire knowledge of the functions of language at various levels and knowledge of the techniques and methods used in language analysis. A student of Linguistics will thereby significantly advance their appreciation of linguistic and cultural diversity. Students who major in linguistics acquire valuable intellectual skills, including analytic reasoning and argumentation, and learn how to study language scientifically. This means making insightful observations, formulating and testing clear hypotheses, making arguments and drawing conclusions, and communicating findings to a wider community. Linguistics majors are therefore well equipped for a variety of jobs and graduate-level programs.

More Reasons to Study Linguistics

Why you should come to Western

Now you know you want to study linguistics, but why should you choose Western?

Great Faculty Focused on Undergraduates

We are here because we want to focus on undergraduates. Our courses are taught by linguistics faculty who are all actively engaged in exciting research- research you can be a part of!

Our core faculty includes syntacticians, phonologists, semanticists, cognitive scientists, field workers, and all around great folks!

We also have affiliated faculty, linguists with expertise in Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Lahu, Chabacano, and Ket, and who are sociolinguists, anthropological linguists, morphosyntacticians, discourse analysts, creolists…

Opportunity to engage in research

Language and Neural Systems Lab

Students are investigating the effects of musical training on phonetic perception

Sounds and Letters in Perception and Production Lab

Students are examining the effects of spelling on the perception and production of sounds

Field Methods

Students are involved in doing elicitation with speakers of a lesser-studied language, a new language each time the course is offered

Sociolinguistic Fieldwork

Students learn about conducting ethical research and then do their own, out in communities

Morphosyntactic Analysis

Students are involved in analyzing the structure of a variety of languages

Linguistics in Education

Students are involved in working with middle and high school students, doing linguistics!

and lots more!

Conferences, Scholarships, REUs

  • Academic conferences
  • Scholarships
  • Fellowships

Our students are creators and doers and have lots of fun

Linguistics Club

The Podling podcast

Follow us on Instagram

More Reasons to Choose Western

Applying for Admission to Western

For information about applying for admission to Western, contact the Admissions Office. If you're thinking about transferring to Western and you're wondering what courses will apply toward the major in Linguistics, contact the Linguistics Department Manager Sara Helms, helmss@wwu.edu, or see our section for Transfer Students. For advice about General University Requirements (GURs), contact the Academic Advising Center.

How to Declare the Major

To declare, a student should have completed the following requirements:

  • LING 201 or ENGL 370 or TESL 401 or ANTH 247 or HNRS 217 with a grade of “B-” or better
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of at least 2.5 
    • If there are extenuating circumstances, we are happy to discuss this with you. Don’t let a GPA below 2.5 stop you from talking with a linguistics advisor about the major.

If you have not yet completed LING 201 but are very interested in a Linguistics major or minor, you may contact Sara or Kristin about the possibility of enrolling in LING 310.

When you are ready to declare, fill out section one of the Major Declaration and Change Web Form and email it to linguistics@wwu.edu.

We will work with you through email to complete a linguistics Major Checklist.

How to Declare the Minor

When you are ready to declare, fill out section one of the Minor Declaration and Change Web Form and email it to linguistics@wwu.edu.

We will work with you through email to complete a linguistics Minor Checklist.