Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It explores the unconscious knowledge that speakers have about language, in particular the relationship between sound and meaning, which is at the core of language as a system of communication. Linguists study the structure and representation of language at various levels: sounds (phonetics and phonology), words (morphology), phrases and sentences (syntax), and meaning (semantics). They also investigate questions about language universals and typology, the historical development and changes in language over time, the acquisition of language by children and adults, the processing of language in the mind/brain, the neuro-cognitive mechanisms of language, and communication disorders. Linguistics is an interdisciplinary field that investigates language from theoretical, descriptive and experimental perspectives.

SLaLS offers both a BA and BSc in Linguistics (more information). While the Linguistics requirements are similar in both programs, they have different admission and graduation requirements. For example, our BSc requires courses in natural sciences including math, biology, chemistry, anatomy, and neuroscience or psychology. In contrast, the BA has a breadth requirement that includes courses in culture and communication, humanities, social sciences, and science, engineering and design.

We offer two concentrations in the BA and BSc Honours programs: Linguistic Theory and Psycholinguistics & Communication Differences (previously Psycholinguistics & Communication Disorders). The Linguistic Theory concentration offers advanced courses in theoretical linguistics, as well as options such as language typology, historical linguistics and linguistic field methods. The Psycholinguistics & Communication Differences concentration focuses on language processing, language acquisition, speech and language disorders, experimental design, data analysis, and clinical applications of linguistic theory. Qualified students in the Psycholinguistics & Communication Differences concentration have the opportunity to take a practicum course that provides clinical experience in speech-language pathology.

SLaLS also offers graduate programs in linguistics. The MA in linguistics exposes students to the core foundations of the field while giving opportunities for interdisciplinary research. The PhD in linguistics, language documentation, and revitalization, offered jointly with Applied Linguistics and Discourse studies, brings together training in linguistics and related fields to train students in participatory, community-oriented work to preserve endangered and minority languages. The Graduate Diploma in Linguistics is a graduate minor for current Carleton graduate students in other fields who are doing language-related work. Please follow the links on the left for detailed information about admission and program requirements.

What can I do with a Linguistics degree?

Graduates from our Linguistics programs acquire valuable skills in analytic reasoning, argumentation, scientific research methods and communication. There are many career opportunities for Linguistics graduates, including speech-language pathologist, linguistic policy researcher, forensic linguist, translator/interpreter, lexicographer, ESL teacher, and language materials developer.

Check Carleton’s Career Centre for further information on careers in Linguistics.

Linguistics Information

Our excellent, innovative Linguistics programs are:

  • systematically structured to ensure a smooth transition from basic to advanced courses
  • exceptional in their combined areas of specialization: linguistic analysis, diverse theoretical and experimental frameworks, language documentationendangered languages
  • research-oriented, offering a variety of research-intensive courses (independent study, tutorial, honours thesis) and opportunities for research assistantships.

Learn more by visiting the BA in Linguistics and BSc in Linguistics pages or by contacting a Linguistics undergraduate advisor.