The Linguistics program at SF State offers B.A. and M.A. degrees which provide students with a solid grounding in the tools of language analysis.

As a graduate student in our program, you join a vibrant intellectual and scholarly community devoted to the study of language and grammar. Our small seminars cover a variety of topics with contemporary linguistic theory, offering a dynamic learning environment for you to excel in the pursuit of your own research interests. We value collaborative and experiential learning and prepare our graduates for success within both their academic and professional lives. 

Dr. Jenny Lederer, M.A. Coordinator 

Program Contacts

Dr. Jenny Lederer, Linguistics Coordinator
Phone: (415) 338-7406
Office: Humanities Building, Room 430

Cynthia Losinsky, English Graduate Programs Coordinator
Phone:  (415) 338-2660
Building: Humanities, Room 490

Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics

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.

  • Core Requirements (24 Units)
    • Lower-Division (6 Units)
      • ENG 218 - Writing the First Year: The World, the Text, and You (3 units)
      • ENG 250 - Topics in Literature and Culture (3 units)
    • Upper-Division (18 Units)
      • ENG 402 - Introduction to Professional Writing and Rhetoric (3 units)
      • ENG 420 - Introduction to the Study of Language (3 units)
      • ENG 461 - Literature in English Since 1800 (3 units)
      • ENG 480GW - Junior Seminar - GWAR (3 units)
      • ENG 583 - Shakespeare: Representative Plays (3 units)
      • ENG 640 - Global Texts and Practices (3 units)
  • Concentration Requirements (21 Units)
    • Required Courses (9 units)
      • ENG 421 - Syntax (3 units)
      • ENG 424 - Phonology and Morphology (3 units)
      • ENG 425 - Language in Context (3 units)
    • Elective (9 units)
      • Three courses selected with approval of advisor.
    • Capstone Experience (3 units)
      • ENG 422 - History of the English Language

Elective Options for Undergraduate Linguistics Majors

All undergraduate linguistics majors are required to take 3 electives in the area of linguistics to complete their major. The following is a list of approved elective options. Any other elective courses need advisor’s approval.

  1. English Department
    • ENG 122 Language Evolution in the Digital Age
    • *ENG 423 Intro to TESOL
    • *ENG 426 (taken with a foreign language) (Fall only)
    • ENG 429 Stylistics
    • ENG 501 Age of Chaucer
    • *ENG 653 TESOL Pedagogical Grammar
    • *ENG 657 Grammar and Rhetoric of the Sentence
    • ENG 620 Intro to Computational Linguistics (Fall only)
    • ENG 680 Applied Computational Linguistics (Spring only) (ENG 620 pre-rec (or instructor approval))

      * recommended choices for students interested in applying to the M.A. TESOL program

  2. Foreign Language Classes:
    Students may count 1 introductory level language class as an elective if the language was not studied before taking at the university level. [Community college is fine.]
    Any 300-level or above language classes (except conversation classes) will count as electives provided the language is not a native language for the student. If it is a native language for the student, only the 300-level linguistics courses in that language will be counted.

    • FL 325 Linguistics and Foreign Languages
  3. Communication Studies
    • COMM 503 Gender and Communication
    • COMM 512 Non-Verbal Communication
    • COMM 541 or 542 Intercultural Communication
    • COMM 562 Discourse in Interaction
    • COMM: 563 Conversational Analysis
  4. Anthropology
    • ANTH 651 Ethnographic Field Methods
    • ANTH 652 Anthropological Statistics
  5. Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences (SLHS)(all classes)SLHS 300 recommended
  6. Computer Sciences
    Any 200-level or above classes. Python recommended for those interested in computational linguistics or natural language processing
  7. Philosophy
    • PHIL 205 Formal Logic
    • PHIL 630 Philosophy of Language
  8. Psychology
    • PSY 171 Quantitative Reasoning in Psychology or PSY 371
    • PSY 494 Cognitive Psychology
    • PSY 531 Psycholinguistics
  9. Sociology
    SOC 393 Quantitative Analysis of Social Data

Note on Statistics:

Statistics is an important skill in linguistics. Any statistics course taken above the 100-level counts as an elective (up to 4 units).

Master of Arts in Linguistics

The M.A. in Linguistics provides students with a solid grounding in the tools of language analysis. The course offerings in contemporary linguistic theory cover a broad spectrum of the components of linguistic structure: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, discourse analysis, cognitive linguistics and sociolinguistics. Students interested in any field involving language analysis — including but not limited to law, education, anthropology, sociology, psychology, computer science, and linguistics — benefit from preparation in examining language data with the rigorous methods of the discipline. Students who plan to teach or translate language gain a valuable background in the structure of English along with a deeper understanding of how grammar works in every language.

Since the program allows considerable choice in coursework beyond a basic set of core requirements, the student — in consultation with an adviser — can plan a program to suit individual interests and career requirements, including pathways that focus on computational and experimental linguistics in addition to cognitive linguistics. Teaching assistant opportunities enable students to apprentice with faculty who teach undergraduate language studies classes in order to gain knowledge, experience and the skills needed to teach linguistics concepts in the classroom.

The breadth of our faculty’s research and teaching provide multiple experiences for learning not offered in other M.A. Linguistics programs. These highlights include:

  • The Experimental and Computational Linguistics Ensemble Lab, dedicated to study linguistic phenomena that shed light on the question of grammar architecture and the relation between language and cognition. 
  • Multiple opportunities for collaborative, hands on research, publication and presentation with faculty.
  • Advanced curriculum in both cognitive linguistics, sociophonetics and raciolinguistics, and computational linguistics 
  • The opportunity to study in the heart of San Francisco, the epicenter of careers in linguistics and computation. 
  • Cross-disciplinary coursework and research with applied linguists and composition experts.


The M.A. in Linguistics prepares students for a variety of career pathways after graduation.  In addition to successfully entering Ph.D. programs, graduates of the M.A. Linguistics degree have begun careers in linguistics and tech, communications and advertising, second language teaching, and a variety of non-profit and education-related careers.

View words from our graduate alumni.

Additional Specialization

Graduate students may obtain additional specialization by adding one or more certificates to their degree program:

  • Certificate in Computational Linguistics 
  • Certificate in Teaching Composition 
  • Certificate in Teaching Post-Secondary Reading
  • Certificate in Immigrant Literacies 
  • Certificate in TESOL (undergraduate)
  • Certificate in Computational Linguistics

Post Fall 2019 Requirements & Courses

  • Core Requirements (15 Units)
    • ENG 702 - Introduction to Graduate Study of Composition, Linguistics, and TESOL
    • ENG 707 - Topics in Langauge Analysis
    • ENG 728 - Topics in Sociolinguistics
    • ENG 733 - Seminar in Student Teaching
    • Culminating Experience (Choose one):
      • ENG 895 - Field Study or Applied Research  Project
      • ENG 898 - Master's Thesis
  • Concentration Requirements (15 Units)
    • ENG 719- Seminar: Contemporary Semantic Theory (3 units)
    • ENG 821- Syntax (3 units)
    • ENG 824- Phonology and Morphology (3 units)
    • Electives selected with an advisor's approval (6 units)
      • ENG 433 - Introduction to Phonetics (3 units)
      • ENG 620 - Introduction to Computational Linguistics (3 units)
      • ENG 680 - Applied Computational Linguistics (3 units)
      • ENG 725 - Seminar in Discourse Analysis (3 units)
      • ENG 727 - Linguistics: Field Methods (3 units)
      • ENG 737 - Introduction to Corpus Linguistics (3 units)

Pre Fall 2019 Requirements

View requirements and guidelines in the SF State Bulletin.

Please review before applying:

The application process for the M.A. Linguistics program is as follows. If you have questions about the process, please contact:

  1. Complete the online application through Cal State ApplyCreate your account AND Complete your profile. 

    TIP: Students who will study on a F1/J1 visa must select Non-Resident for U.S. Citizenship Status under your Extended Profile.

    Please note: You will only see a list of programs that aligns with your academic degree objective.

  2. Submit the following online (A-C) by uploading on the Cal State Apply site’s “Program Materials” section:
    • A) 1 - 2 page, typed statement of purpose detailing why you are interested in the Linguistics concentration.
    • B) One recent 5 -10 page writing sample.
    • C) Please upload upload legible unofficial copies of transcripts from each college or university attended. Including study abroad coursework, or community college coursework, even if this coursework appears as transfer credit appears on your degree transcript. Full academic disclosure is required. Photographs or screenshots of transcripts will be rejected. An incomplete academic history will significantly delay review of your application. The Division of Graduate Studies may request official transcripts from you at any point during the application review process.  
  3. If selected for admission, you will be required to submit official transcripts to the Division of Graduate Studies in order to secure your offer of admission. Please note: if you previously attended SF State, you do not need to submit a SF State transcript.
    If selected for admission, please mail official transcripts to:
    Graduate Admissions Office, ADM 250
    San Francisco State University
    1600 Holloway Ave.
    San Francisco, CA 94132
  4. International applicants who are non-native speakers of English must also have official TOEFL scores sent (institution code: 4683, department code:14). IELTS scores are also accepted.
    International applicants who are non-native speakers of English must also submit a certified financial statement.
  5. Two letters of recommendation that speak to your academic potential. Use the Evaluations tab to manage submission of letters of recommendation. Letter writer email addresses should be from professional or academic organizations (ex., or, not personal email addresses. Cal State Apply instructions on how to submit letters of recommendation.


Applications for Fall admission: Accepted starting October 1 – early deadline February 1, regular deadline April 1, and final deadline July 31.

Applications for Spring admission: Accepted starting August 1 – early deadline November 15, regular deadline December 1.

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

International applicants should submit their materials by January 1 for fall admission or September 1 for spring admission. 


Lederer, Jenny
Jenny Lederer (She/Her/Hers)
Associate Professor
Linguistics Program Coordinator
(415) 338-7406
Pratt, Teresa
Teresa Pratt (She/Her/Hers)
Assistant Professor
(415) 338-3156
Smirnova, Anastasia
Anastasia Smirnova (She/Her/Hers)
Associate Professor
(415) 338-3102


Professional Resources

Current Students