Linguists study different aspects of human language, including the unconscious knowledge we have about language; how language is acquired and how it is structured; how languages differ but also how they are similar; how we use language to interact within or between social groups; and more.  The study of linguistics offers you excellent skills in critical problem-solving, an understanding of cross-cultural communication strategies, and a window into one of the most fundamental human characteristics:  language.  We offer a minor, a BA, and an MA in Applied Linguistics.

General Interest Area:

Our Undergraduate Program offers a general introduction to linguistic study, including a course in the traditional basic fields of linguistic study, phonology (the study of sounds), morphology (the study of how words are built), syntax (the study of how sentences are structured).  In addition, students have the option to become acquainted with some important specialized fields, including historical linguistics (the study of language change), semantics (the study of meaning), sociolinguistics (the study of language as it is used in social contexts), and language acquisition (the study of how language is learned).

Our Graduate Program is geared especially to people wishing to study applied linguistics.  Our program offers three areas of emphasis:  1) Second language acquisition, including both the acquisition of English as a second language and the acquisition of a foreign language or a Native Alaskan language, 2) Language Documentation and Description, with a focus especially on the Native Languages of Alaska, and 3) a teacher training program in second language acquisition, currently serving the Yup’ik speaking area.

High School Background:

A general high school education is required to begin to study in our undergraduate program.

Plan of Study:

In the introductory course, you will gain familiarity with the discipline and an understanding of the linguist’s approach to language study.  In the foundation courses, you will learn the major characteristics of each of the fields of linguistic study and practice problem-solving techniques.  These are indispensible for the more advanced, elective classes.  The program ends with a capstone class which will allow you to explore issues in linguistics of particular interest to you.  Majors take the introductory class LING 101; the core classes LING 318, LING 320, ENGL 320, either LING 420 or 430, and LING 482; and at least six other electives from a set of courses relevant to Linguistics.  In addition, majors are expected to develop some fluency in another language .

How to get Involved:

Contact the Linguistics Program or the Alaska Native Language Center.


Career and Graduate Possibilites:

Linguistics graduates often go on to graduate school.  With advanced degrees, linguists may specialize in applied linguistics (such as teaching English as a second language), medical aspects of linguistic study (such as speech pathology), artificial intelligence (such as computational linguistics), interpreting/translating, consulting (such as for industry or corporations, such as language issues in the workplace, or product naming, or for courts, such as forensic linguistics).  There are also many entry-level opportunities for people with BA degrees in various government agencies (such as the Foreign Service) or businesses (including technical writing, publishing, editing, etc.).  Linguists are valued for their critical thinking, problem solving, and research skills.


Related Websites:

UAF Linguistics Department
UAF catalog description
Linguistics degree worksheet (PDF)

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