Major in Linguistics


Troi Carleton
Phone: 415-338-3156


The Linguistics program at SFSU offers B.A. and M.A. degrees which provide students with a solid grounding in the tools of language analysis. At the undergraduate level, students begin to explore the patterns of sounds, words, sentences and conversations in a variety of languages and speech communities. What similarities are found between English, Spanish, and Swahili, for example? What patterns do Turkish and Japanese share? How can you characterize the difference between “empty” and “hollow,” when the dictionary lists them as synonyms? How do conversations among teenagers in San Francisco differ from conversations among 40-year-olds?

Students interested in any field involving language analysis — including but not limited to law, education, anthropology, sociology, psychology and linguistics — benefit from preparation in examining language data with the rigorous methods of the discipline. Students who plan to teach language gain a valuable background in the structure of English along with a deeper understanding of how languages are acquired. Undergraduate majors are encouraged to take courses in other languages as well as courses investigating language from the perspectives of other fields, such as speech and communication, psychology, computer science and anthropology.


The following are requirements for a B.A. in English with concentration in Linguistics for students who declared their major during spring 2007 semester and after. Please note that if you declared your major during the fall 2006 semester, you have a choice between following the old or the new major requirements.


Lower-Division Prerequisites/Corequisites: 6 units

  • Lower-division coursework in literature in English (prerequisite or corequisite for ENG 480: Junior Seminar GWAR)

Core Requirements: 15 units

  • One upper-division course in Shakespeare, ENG 583 or ENG 584 (3 units)
  • ENG 480: Junior Seminar GWAR (3 units)
  • ENG 420: Introduction to the Study of Language (3 units)

Two Upper-Division Survey Courses (choose two of the three below): 6 units

  • ENG 460: Literature in English I: Beginnings to 17th Century
  • ENG 461: Literature in English II: 18th and 19th Centuries
  • ENG 462: Literature in English III: 20th Century

Concentration Courses: 24 units

  • ENG 421: Structure of English (3 units)
  • ENG 422: History of the English Language (3 units)
  • ENG 424: Phonology and Morphology (3 units)
  • ENG 425: Language in Context (3 units)
  • Electives: four courses chosen with approval of adviser (12 units)

Total for Major: 45 units

Please note: The minimum grade acceptable in a course for the major is a C- with the exception of ENG 480GW (Junior Seminar GWAR), which requires a minimum grade of a C. The minimum grade-point average for the major remains 2.0. If you have any questions, please see your faculty adviser.

Related Resources

Languages Offered at SFSU

  • American Sign Language (Special Education 688, 689 and 690)
  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • Filipino
  • French
  • German
  • Greek (Ancient)
  • Greek (Modern)
  • Hebrew (Modern)
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Latin
  • Lingala (Black Studies 260)
  • Russian
  • Sanskrit (independent study for students already familiar with Sanskrit only)
  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese (Asian American Studies 171 and 172)

Linguistics Electives (Graduate and Undergraduate)

A partial list of courses in other departments that students may find useful in selecting their electives. Check prerequisites and discuss your choices with your adviser before enrolling.

Fieldwork/Study Abroad in the Linguistics Program

The Language Studies program offers an exciting opportunity to be involved in a collaborative community-based research project involving the documentation and preservation of the oral tradition in the Zapotec dialect of Teotitlán del Valle, México.

Linguistics Resources and Forms

Professional organizations, catalogues and forms.

Spring 2017 Course Descriptions

Detailed Spring 2017 Course Descriptions

  • Undergraduate Writing Program Courses
  • English Education Program Courses
  • Composition Gradtuate Program Courses
  • Linguistics Program Courses
  • Literature Program Courses
  • MA TESOL Program Courses
  • Technical & Professional Writing Courses 

Current Class Schedule

See the department's class schedule for the semester.

  • Undergraduate Writing Program Courses
  • CMS Program Courses
  • English Education Program Courses
  • Composition Graduate Program Courses
  • Linguistics Program Courses
  • Literature Program Courses
  • MA TESOL Program Courses
  • Technical & Professional Writing Courses