Linguistics : About The Program

About Our Degrees

The Applied Linguistics track focuses on the teaching of English as a second language, bilingual education, and foreign language teaching; the track features a teaching internship. The B.A. can be a terminal degree, or can prepare the student to enter M.A. programs in Education and certification programs in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Majors in this track receive a thorough grounding in the structure of English as well as surveying many other languages; they become knowledgeable about the function of language in society; and they receive practical teaching experience.

The Language, Society, and Communication track prepares students for careers in the media, public relations, business, editing, and industry. Majors explore the central role that language plays in society, social interaction, and communication. Required courses focus on basic issues of the structure and use of language. Electives focus on specific social and cultural contexts in America and other countries, and on methods for studying the use and interpretation of language in distinctive social contexts.

The Language and Cognition track prepares students for careers and advanced training in linguistics, cognitive science, language education, child development, and adult language disorders. It is designed for students interested in exploring the interface between language structure and use and other human cognitive processes. Courses focus on the acquisition of language, language production and comprehension, the construction and conveyance of meaning, and the representation of language in the brain.

Honors Tracks

The honors program involves a more intensive examination of current issues in linguistics, and requires an original honors thesis.

The Language Structure and Theory honors track prepares students for graduate study in linguistics, cognitive science, or the structure of particular languages. Majors become proficient at all levels of linguistic analysis, working with a wide range of languages, and gain an overview of theoretical issues.

The Language and Cognition honors track prepares students for graduate study in linguistics, cognitive science, or psychology of language. Majors are thoroughly immersed in issues of language structure, processing, acquisition, and representation, and gain an overview of current theoretical issues in these areas.

Acceptance Criteria

Minimum GPA of 2.0 overall.
Minimum GPA of 2.5 in LIN 205 and LIN 207.

Acceptance Information

Students are required to apply to the director of undergraduate studies for acceptance into the major. Students may apply to the major at any time, and are encouraged to discuss their academic plans with the director as early as possible. Students who have not completed the prerequisite courses may be accepted into the major on a provisional basis, pending successful completion of LIN 205 and LIN 207.

Degree Requirements

Please see Degrees and Policies.

About Our Courses

The Linguistics department offers a broad spectrum of courses, from large introductory survey courses such as LIN 106 Languages of the World and LIN 200 Language in Pluralistic America; through intermediate-level courses (designed for both majors and non-majors) such as LIN 275 Languages and Cultures of Native North America, LIN 320 Language and the Brain, and LIN 355 Child Language Development; to advanced courses for majors on specialized topics such as LIN 405 Bilingualism, LIN 431 Phonetics, LIN 415 Syntax 1, and LIN 425 Typology and Universals.

The typical class size for:

Freshman/introductory courses is: 40-100
Sophomore/intermediate courses is: 30-100
Upper level/advanced courses is: 20-40

In the Department of Linguistics, what do teaching assistants (TA's) do?

They either are instructors, or they assist instructors.

Suggested Introductory Courses

About Our Faculty

The Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Robert Hoeing, is available year-round for advisement. His office hours are regularly posted outside his office, 639 Baldy Hall (

The faculty of the Linguistics department includes internationally known and respected scholars, with diverse backgrounds and interests.

Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus Wolfgang Wölck is widely praised for his teaching and research on bilingualism, dialectology, and language planning. Karin Michelson, who specializes in phonology, morphology, and field studies, has completed a dictionary of Oneida in conjunction with the Native American community. Robert D. Van Valin Jr. is the author of Syntax: Structure, Meaning and Function, a book that explores the universal and language-specific aspects of the structure and function of grammatical systems. Jeri Jaeger works in the areas of phonetics, psycholinguistics, and neurolinguistics, and has completed a book on how young children's speech errors serve as a window to language acquisition; in 2006, she received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. David Zubin's research focuses on the structure of narratives, and the semantics of noun categories cross-linguistically, particularly German, Korean, and Mandarin. Matthew Dryer has created the world's largest database of language structure, and uses it to answer questions about word order patterns and grammatical relations; he received the 2009 SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities. Jean-Pierre Koenig is a leading researcher in computational linguistics, syntax, and semantics, and the mental representation of words. Juergen Bohnemeyer's research explores cross-linguistic semantics, with a focus on Mayan languages, as well as the relationship between language and culture. Doug Roland specializes in computational linguistics and psycholinguistics, focusing on how differing contexts of language use affect both computational application and human language comprehension. Jeff Good specializes in morphology, syntax, and language description, with a particular focus on languages of Subsaharan Africa. Rui Chaves specializes in syntax, constraint-based grammar, human language processing, formal semantics, underspecification, and grammar implementation.

Robert Hoeing, in the German program, teaches everything from syntax to Grimm's Fairy Tales. David Fertig specializes in historical linguistics and sociolinguistics. His interests range from the runes of the Germanic tribes to the rights of linguistic minorities; in 2010 he received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Mitsuaki Shimojo, in the Japanese program, looks into the function of syntax in discourse, with a focus on Japanese syntax. Tsan Huang's research focuses on phonetics, in particular the perception of tone languages. EunHee Lee's research centers on formal semantic theories with an emphasis on tense and aspect in Korean.

See a list of our Undergraduate Faculty.

Practical Experience and Special Academic Opportunities

The Linguistics department offers a teaching internship, where interns are placed in the Buffalo public schools as teacher's aides or tutors; venues include Spanish-English bilingual schools, urban elementary schools, and international schools. Interns can also work with Literacy Volunteers, or as ESL tutors in the Linguistics department.

Honors, Awards, and Scholarships
Each year the department presents the Wolfgang W&oumllck Award to a graduating senior with outstanding academic accomplishments and service to the department.

Extracurricular Activities

Undergraduate Linguistics Association; for more information, call (716) 645-2177.

See the UB Student Association.

Complementary Programs and Courses

Minors that Complement Linguistics

Majors that Complement Linguistics

Links to Further Information About this Program

Updated: 13 Nov 2012 06:01:33 EST