College of Arts and Sciences

Linguistics is the study of language as a natural phenomenon. It focuses on grammar, the social context of language variation, the physics of speech sounds and the properties of language evolution. As language is an exclusively and intrinsically human characteristic, research on the structure, acquisition and use of language cuts to the heart of human cognition and the social world, linking linguistics to psychology, anthropology, information science and many other disciplines. The degree program in General Linguistics leads to a BA. Students study issues relating to any and all languages. General Linguistics students have a basic mastery of at least two languages from different language families. Graduates of this degree pursue careers in a variety of fields such as technology, policy, nonprofit, government, publishing and education.

Major category: Minimum requirements

Minor available

Curricular options: General Linguistics, Romance Linguistics

Topic: Arts

Applicant type


Freshmen can apply to the UW to begin autumn quarter or winter quarter (U.S. applicants only)

Linguistics is a minimum requirements major. You may declare this major after enrolling at the UW and completing the prerequisites. Visit the department website for more information.

Read more about applying to the UW as a freshman, including details for programs that provide high school students with college credit (like Running Start).


Preparation for the major is a factor in transfer admission. Use the information below to help you prepare for this degree

Department admission information

  • Departmental application deadline: Must enroll at the UW before applying to the major.
  • Please contact the department for details about the application process.

Suggested first- and second-year college courses:

  • LING 200 or LING 400 or other introductory course in linguistics
  • One year of a foreign language that belongs to a different family from the student’s native language
  • Completion of at least the third quarter, or equivalent, of a foreign language, with a minimum grade of 2.0

A minimum grade of 2.0 is required for Reasoning (RSN) and writing courses and a cumulative GPA of 2.50 in these three courses. The department accepts students who meet the minimum requirements, but recognizes that a GPA of 2.50 or higher is indicative of the motivation and academic skills needed for a reasonable probability of success in the program.

Courses required for the major:

  • Foreign Language, first-year college level
  • One writing course (W)
  • One Reasoning (RSN) course
  • Introductory linguistics course

Entering transfer information:

Total undergraduates: 110
Total from Washington community colleges: 13

Entering transfer GPA (from WA community colleges):

3.75 – 4.00: <5
3.50 – 3.74: <5
3.25 – 3.49: <5
3.00 – 3.24: <5
2.75 – 2.99: <5
2.50 – 2.74: <5
2.49 and below: <5

Career outcomes