The Best Colleges For Linguistics

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a male linguistics teacher demonstrating in front of his class

The Best Colleges For Linguistics

In a world where communication bridges gaps and fosters understanding, the study of linguistics takes us on a captivating journey into the intricacies of language. Whether you’re intrigued by the structure of sentences, the evolution of languages, or the impact of speech on culture, the pursuit of linguistics offers an enlightening exploration of our most fundamental form of expression. This guide invites you to discover the best colleges for linguistics, where the art of deciphering language’s mysteries is a central endeavor.

What are the best colleges for linguistics?

What are the best colleges for linguistics, and why? A student who wants to work as a proofreader, an accent coach, or a lexicographer will typically need to have a background in linguistics before being able to take the first step toward achieving their career goals. Choosing to study linguistics is not only a valuable choice, but it is also typically a required first step.

The school that is considered to be the “best” overall may not be the school that is considered to be the “best” for each student. When choosing a school, there are a great many other considerations that should be made. Your preferences regarding where to go to college will almost certainly be affected by factors from the outside world, such as campus amenities, transportation services, and food options.

You can look through our complete listing of the best colleges for linguistics below.

Bucknell University

The Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics program at Bucknell University provides its students with a diverse educational experience. At Bucknell, they place a strong emphasis on learning through experience. This indicates that students participate in non-traditional study, seminars, advanced courses, and research during their time in the program as part of their education.

aerial view of Bucknell University

Some professors even incorporate opportunities for real-world experience into their more traditional teaching methods as part of the curriculum for their courses. The university’s emphasis on learning communities is one of the institution’s more intriguing features.

Housing options such as Affinity Housing and Residential Colleges are designed with the academic pursuits of their occupants in mind. Students can connect across disciplinary lines and learn in a more relaxed setting as a result of this.

University of Rochester

Both the undergraduate and graduate linguistics programs at the University of Rochester are considered to be among the best in the country. Graduate students have the option of pursuing a master’s degree in linguistics, a master’s degree in language documentation and description, a master’s degree in computational linguistics, or a doctoral degree through the university’s interdepartmental Ph.D. program.

University of Rochester front building

Undergraduate students have the option of pursuing either a minor or a major in linguistics. Students pursuing degrees in linguistics are provided with a faculty that is both supportive and knowledgeable. This faculty has made significant research contributions in the areas of experimental syntax, experimental semantics, language documentation, and neuroscience.

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is ranked highly among the best colleges for linguistics. The Department of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania is the nation’s oldest modern linguistics department. Zellig Harris established the department in 1947, making it the nation’s oldest. The school provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to pursue one of two minors, a major in linguistics or an accelerated degree program that can be completed in just four years and results in a master’s degree.

View of Upenn building at day time

Graduate students who are enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the university have the option of specializing in a variety of areas, some of which include American Sign Language, computational linguistics, and Semantics, amongst others. Both the Institute for Research in Cognitive Sciences and the Linguistics Data Consortium call the University of Pennsylvania home.

New York University

Linguistics students at New York University have access to a variety of resources and opportunities, the majority of which are open to both graduate and undergraduate students. This is especially true of the majority of the opportunities. Morphology, experimental phonology, and sociolinguistics are just a few of the fields that benefit from the cutting-edge research capabilities offered by the numerous high-tech labs housed at New York University.

New York University front entrance

Students have the opportunity to undertake internships, study programs in other countries, and attend events organized by the department. Students who are exceptional in their pursuit of a degree in linguistics have the opportunity to apply for the Honors Program, which provides opportunities for independent study as well as advanced classes.

Cornell University

Students pursuing degrees in linguistics at Cornell University, a large private research university and one of the best colleges for linguistics in the country, have access to a wide variety of exciting opportunities and resources of the highest possible caliber.

The linguistics department is relatively modest in size compared to the rest of the university. Students can take advantage of the benefits of smaller classes and individualized attention in this way without having to sacrifice the opportunities that come with attending a large university.

a building inside Cornell University

The department is home to several linguistics research labs, the most notable of which are the Language Documentation Lab, the Phonetics Lab, and the Computational Linguistics Lab. In addition to that, it is responsible for sponsoring an honors program, various student organizations, and an annual colloquium.

Georgetown University

The Department of Linguistics at Georgetown University offers some degree programs, including a Ph.D. in Linguistics, a Master of Science in Linguistics, and a combined Bachelor’s and Master’s degree program. The majority of degree programs offer concentrations or variations of the degree that can be tailored to accommodate specialization requirements.

Georgetown University gate with the university signage

Opportunities for research, fieldwork, and other research-related extracurricular activities are available to students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The Department of Linguistics plays host to several events regularly and financially supports two student organizations. These numerous opportunities not only keep students interested but also prepare them for work in the field as well as further academic pursuits.

Dartmouth College

The Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics program at Dartmouth College provides its students with an education that can be tailored to their specific interests, as well as several exciting opportunities to put what they have learned into practice before graduating.

As one of the best colleges for linguistics in the United States, students at Dartmouth can combine their linguistics major with any other major, and they can select courses that are tailored to their individual goals and areas of interest.

Front building of Dartmouth College surrounded by trees

Students have ample opportunities to participate in research thanks to programs such as presidential scholarships, research for honors theses, and research assistantships funded by grants. In addition, students regularly present the results of their research at conferences and seminars such as the Undergraduate Linguistics Colloquium held at Harvard University and the Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America.

Brown University

Linguistics is a field of study that can be pursued to the doctoral level at Brown University, which also has an undergraduate degree program in cognitive, linguistic, and psychological sciences with a concentration in linguistics. These programs make extensive use of interdisciplinary approaches, particularly in the research they conduct.

Front view of Brown University - one of the best marine biology colleges

Participation in research, even independent research, is open to students at all academic levels, including graduate and undergraduate levels. The department’s honors program, which is open to exceptionally talented students pursuing a degree in linguistics, makes it easier for students to conduct their independent research. Seminars and events that are sponsored by the department also provide additional opportunities for enrichment, which can be found here.

Rice University

Rice University is highly regarded as one of the best colleges for linguistics in the nation. Both a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Linguistics and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree can be earned through Rice University’s Department of Linguistics. Students enrolled in either of these programs have the opportunity to tailor their educational experience by selecting a specialization or concentration from among a wide variety of options. Some examples of these specializations and concentrations include cognitive science, laboratory phonology, language, culture, and society.

Rice University signage

Students have the option of taking part in extracurricular activities such as student organizations and departmental events when they are not in class. A series of weekly colloquia and a biennial symposium on language and linguistics are among the events that are part of this program.

Michigan State University

Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African languages are all taught at Michigan State University’s Department of Linguistics and Languages. In addition to a challenging academic curriculum, the department’s degree program in linguistics provides its students with a one-of-a-kind environment in which to study.

Michigan State University front building and signage

Instead of training students in applied linguistics, the primary focus of this program is on educating students in the fundamental areas of theoretical linguistics. Students who are only interested in researching or teaching linguistics will find this to be an ideal course. Students have many options for areas of concentration to choose from, and the majority of these concentrations have research groups and labs associated with them.

Carnegie Mellon University

The Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics program at Carnegie Mellon University, one of the best colleges for linguistics, is designed to accommodate students with a wide range of interests. It is frequently combined with a variety of other programs, including those in the fields of cognitive science, psychology, and creative writing. The program is also cross-departmental, which means that students can take classes taught by faculty members from other departments besides the one in which the program is housed.

Carnegie Mellon University banner

The Language Technology Institute, which is located in the School of Computer Science at this university, is one example of the other resources that are available to support the multidisciplinary nature of this program. Students also have the opportunity to gain experiential knowledge through activities such as research and studying in other countries.

Yale University

The Department of Linguistics at Yale University offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, with an emphasis on fields of study such as phonetics, phonology, syntax, historical linguistics, and many more. These programs can be found on both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergraduate students who are working toward a bachelor’s degree in linguistics frequently collaborate with teaching staff on research projects.

Yale University signage

These collaborations can take the form of paid positions, independent study, or assistantships. During the course of their five years in the Ph.D. program, students receive individualized attention from faculty members who are there to monitor their progress and ensure that they are making adequate progress. Additionally, students receive financial assistance from the university.

Stanford University

Stanford University, a well-known institution, is ranked highly among the best colleges for linguistics in the US. Students who are interested in pursuing a degree in linguistics can choose from several different degree options at Stanford University. In addition to a linguistics major and a linguistics minor for undergraduate students, the institution also provides a novel combined major in Computer Science and Linguistics.

Front view of Stanford University

Students who demonstrate an exceptional level of motivation may also apply for Stanford’s competitive Coterminal Master’s program. This program allows students to work toward both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts degree in linguistics at the same time. The university offers graduate students not only a doctoral program but also a Ph.D. minor, in addition to a stand-alone MA program and a doctoral program.

Harvard University

The Department of Linguistics at Harvard University takes great pride in the fact that it offers a diverse range of courses, despite its compact size, and in the unique opportunities it provides. Students who are working toward a degree in linguistics are strongly encouraged to combine linguistics with a field that is related to it or to take part in the Mind/Brain/Behavior program, which is an interdisciplinary program that provides students with the opportunity to take specialized classes, participate in research, and attend events.

A building inside the Harvard campus where legacy admission is still being practiced

Outside of the formalized special programs, there are a lot of other opportunities to participate in, such as department-sponsored workshops and seminars, as well as casual conversations between teachers and students.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The research conducted by the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is widely regarded as being of the highest caliber. Research conducted by students is the primary emphasis of the linguistics degree program offered by the department. There are some research assistantships available to undergraduate students; however, graduate students are given preference for those positions.

Aerial view of MIT campus

A significant portion of MIT’s linguistics research is carried out on campus at the Language Acquisition Lab, which collaborates with preschools and other establishments of a similar nature. In addition, the department is responsible for funding a wide variety of activities, such as fieldwork, colloquium series, and discussion groups. Hence, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is consistently among the best colleges for linguistics.

Is a major in linguistics worth it?

Is it worthwhile to get a degree in linguistics? Linguistics is a fascinating and rewarding field of study, but why should you pursue it, and what can you do with the knowledge you gain? Investigate the following five justifications to determine whether or not this is the best option for you.

Variety is the spice of life.

Because the study of linguistics encompasses such a wide range of topics and approaches, no two modules are ever the same. Phonetics, phonology, sociolinguistics, and morphology are all subfields of linguistics that concentrate on various aspects of language, and each demands a slightly distinct set of skills. On the other hand, the study of syntax calls for a more mathematical and scientific mindset, whereas classes in semantics call for a more philosophical frame of mind.

You can select modules that are tailored to your preferences, giving you the flexibility to focus on those aspects of linguistics that you find easiest or most interesting.

Options for higher education in other countries

Even though every country in the world makes use of speech, the vast majority of them do so through the medium of a language that is uniquely their own. Because not all languages have the same grammatical structure as English, you may already be aware of this fact if you have studied a language other than English in school. Verbs and pronouns, for example, can appear in a variety of orders, and the presentation of plural nouns can also take several different forms.

The number of possible linguistic permutations is practically infinite, and the variety and interest of languages extend far beyond the set of those learned in school. You can get hands-on experience with a second language by taking one of the many linguistics classes that are offered by one of the best colleges for linguistics mentioned above.

Exciting possibilities for one’s professional future

The list of potential careers that can be pursued with a degree in linguistics is significantly longer and more diverse than just teaching and writing, which are both excellent career paths in their own right. Forensic linguists, speech therapists, and social workers are examples of future careers that you might not have considered but that are viable options.

Transferable skills

Similar to the case with other degrees, there aren’t that many jobs that require applicants to have a degree in linguistics. However, the knowledge and abilities that are acquired during the course of a linguistics degree are extremely desirable to potential employers.

It should come as no surprise, given that linguistics is the study of language, that having a degree in the field will indicate to potential employers that you are a strong verbal and written communicator who has a solid understanding of how to make effective use of language. Studying linguistics will also teach you how to conduct research, evaluate data, and present the findings of that research.

Combined honors

Because the study of linguistics can be applied to the study of any language, it is an ideal candidate for a joint honors degree with a language course, whether that language course is in English or a foreign language.

Additionally, a joint honors degree in linguistics and other social sciences, like philosophy, is a common option for students interested in furthering their education.

Is linguistics the right career path for you?

Do you think a career in linguistics would be a good fit for you? Students who decide to major in linguistics gain valuable skills that put them at an advantage in the job market, regardless of whether or not they intend to work in fields that are directly related to the subject matter of their studies. Students who study linguistics develop skills such as critical thinking and the ability to reason analytically, both of which are transferable to a wide range of professions and fields.


In the rich tapestry of human experience, language is the fabric that weaves connections, fosters empathy, and conveys depth of thought and emotion. The journey through linguistics education transcends the boundaries of words and grammar, embarking on an exploration of culture, history, psychology, and more. The best colleges for linguistics stand as beacons of enlightenment, guiding students toward a nuanced understanding of language’s complexities.

As you contemplate your path and consider the linguistic horizons you wish to explore, remember that choosing an educational institution extends beyond its ranking. Each university’s ethos, resources, and approach shape the linguistic journey you’ll embark upon. Just as language bridges cultures, your choice of college bridges the gap between curiosity and expertise.

If you have always had an innate interest in language and the thought of honing that interest and making a living off of it appeals to you, then linguistics may very well be an option for you when considering potential careers.

If you’re set on getting into one of the best colleges for linguistics but aren’t sure how to make it happen, we can help! AdmissionSight is a leading college entrance expert with over a decade of experience helping students just like you get into the schools of their dreams.

At AdmissionSight, we focus on offering a wide range of services, all aimed at helping students perfect their applications to catch the attention of admissions officers. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about what we offer.





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