Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree with a Major in Linguistics

Program Learning Outcomes for the BA Degree with a Major in Linguistics

Upon completing the BA degree with a major in Linguistics, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to perform independent research about languages and their speakers, including the ability to ethically complete field work, collect data, analyze data, utilize laboratory and computing technologies, draw meaningful conclusions from data, and convey research results effectively orally and in writing.
  2. Identify and define the main approaches for researching language structure and use at all levels (sounds, words, grammar, meaning, social/cultural interaction), as well as be able to evaluate critically and apply the primary concepts, vocabularies, methods and theories in their own work.
  3. Appreciate the diversity of language and the ways in which it changes over time. They will be able to analyze the diversity of sounds and grammar in the world’s languages. They will also understand the diversity of regionally-, socially-, and ethnically-defined varieties within a single language. Students will be able to explain why this diversity is relevant to everyday life and how it is crucial to fields both inside and outside of linguistics.
  4. Understand the systematic relationships between language structure and language use, and how these in turn relate to cognition, culture, identity, and society.

Requirements for the BA Degree with a Major in Linguistics

For general university requirements, see Graduation Requirements. Students pursuing the BA degree with a major in Linguistics must complete:

  • A minimum of 12 courses (36 credit hours) to satisfy major requirements.
  • A minimum of 120 credit hours to satisfy degree requirements.
  • A minimum of 9 courses (27 credit hours) taken at the 300-level or above.
  • A maximum of 4 courses (12 credit hours) from study abroad or transfer credit. For additional departmental guidelines regarding transfer credit, see the Policies tab.

Because human language is a multifaceted object of study, linguistics is, by its nature an interdisciplinary field. The undergraduate major provides both an in-depth grounding in the field as well as a cross-disciplinary breadth. Students beginning the linguistics major should take LING 200, which is a prerequisite for many upper-level courses in the department. All majors are required to take at least 9 courses (27 credit hours) in linguistics at the 300-level or above, including 5 core courses as specified below. 

The courses listed below satisfy the requirements for this major. In certain instances, courses not on this official list may be substituted upon approval of the major’s academic advisor, or where applicable, the department's Director of Undergraduate Studies. (Course substitutions must be formally applied and entered into Degree Works by the major's Official Certifier.) Students and their academic advisors should identify and clearly document the courses to be taken.


Total Credit Hours Required for the Major in Linguistics 36
Total Credit Hours Required for the BA Degree with a Major in Linguistics 120

Degree Requirements

Required Prerequisite
Core Requirements
Language Requirement 1
Select 2 courses in a foreign language:6
for European languages, 2 courses at the 200-level or above
for non-European languages, 2 courses at the 100-level or above
Elective Requirements
Select 4 elective courses from departmental (LING) course offerings at the 300-level or above 212
Total Credit Hours Required for the Major in Linguistics36
Additional Credit Hours to Complete Degree Requirements *53
University Graduation Requirements *31
Total Credit Hours120

Footnotes and Additional Information 

Policies for the BA Degree with a Major in Linguistics 

Transfer Credit 

For Rice University’s policy regarding transfer credit, see Transfer Credit. Some departments and programs have additional restrictions on transfer credit. The Office of Academic Advising maintains the university’s official list of transfer credit advisors on their website: Students are encouraged to meet with their academic program’s transfer credit advisor when considering transfer credit possibilities. 

Departmental Transfer Credit Guidelines

Students pursuing the major in Linguistics should be aware of the following departmental transfer credit guidelines:

  • No more than 4 courses (12 credit hours) of transfer credit from U.S. or international universities of similar standing as Rice may apply towards the major. Of the 4 courses (12 credit hours) allowed as transfer credit, a maximum of 2 of these courses (6 credit hours) may be Linguistics courses, and a maximum of 2 of these courses (6 credit hours) may be Language courses.
  • Requests for transfer credit will be considered by the program director (and/or the program’s official transfer credit advisor) on an individual case-by-case basis.

Additional Information 

For additional information, please see the Linguistics website:

Opportunities for the BA Degree with a Major in Linguistics 

Academic Honors

The university recognizes academic excellence achieved over an undergraduate’s academic history at Rice. For information on university honors, please see Latin Honors (summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude) and Distinction in Research and Creative Work. Some departments have department-specific Honors awards or designations.

Departmental Guidelines for Distinction in Research and Creative Work

To earn the Distinction in Research and Creative Work, in Linguistics, students must have done one of the following:

  • Written a senior honors thesis in the department that is based on original research and/or scholarship, and is judged to be exceptional; or 
  • Written a sole-authored scholarly paper that was (or will be) presented at a scholarly conference; or
  • Made a significant individual contribution to linguistic research, including research that has been published or presented in a public venue, and highlights the contributions that linguistics can make to other academic, scientific, community,  or societal spheres. 

By the end of the 14th week of the Spring semester, students applying should submit electronically to Nancy Niedzielski (department chair) at a portfolio consisting of:

  1. A two-page description of how their research effort meets the requirements of Distinction. This two-page document should also place the student's original contribution in broader scholarly linguistics research. 
  2. If a paper or thesis has been written to qualify, students should also submit the paper. 
  3. An application form including the endorsement of a faculty member available from the department office. 

The application should have the subject: Distinction in Research and Creative Work in Linguistics, should be submitted by the end of the 14th week of the Spring semester, and should be complete (all forms, copies, and documents should be submitted electronically). 

Departmental Honors Program in Linguistics

The Linguistics Honors Program provides selected undergraduate majors with the opportunity to conduct supervised research. Majors planning to pursue graduate training in Linguistics or a related field are strongly encouraged to apply, as well as others who wish to add the experience of an intensive, individualized research project to their undergraduate education.

Application to the Honors Program should be made in person to the undergraduate major advisor before the end of the student’s junior year. In support of the application, the student should prepare a brief description of the proposed project signed by the faculty member who is to supervise the work (the project supervisor). Acceptance into the program is by agreement of the linguistics faculty. On acceptance, the student will enroll in LING 482, with the supervising faculty member named as instructor.

The Honors Program framework is designed to facilitate the development of a mentoring relationship between student and faculty member. Students are thus expected to meet regularly with their project supervisor regarding their progress; the supervisor is responsible for providing research guidance and general support.

With the appropriate completion of major requirements and the honors project or thesis, the student will graduate with departmental honors.

Additional Information 

For additional information, please see the Linguistics website: