Linguistics is the study of language—how it is represented in the human mind, how it is used by humans in daily interactions, and how it is acquired by children and adults. The Department offers programs leading to the Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics. The core of the programs is in phonology (sound systems), syntax (sentence structure), and language acquisition.

The B.A. and M.A. degrees provide a broad education in linguistics, which serves as a base for further study in linguistics or related disciplines. The B. A. in Linguistics with an emphasis in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) prepares students to teach nonnative speakers abroad. The M.A. with a TESL focus prepares students for a career in teaching English to nonnative speakers overseas and at colleges and universities in the United States. The Ph.D. degree is primarily a research degree with a basis in phonology, syntax, and language acquisition. Students may work with faculty who specialize in Slavic, Germanic, and Romance languages, and will have opportunities to develop expertise in the cognitive science of language and experimental and quantitative approaches to linguistic analysis.