Why Linguistics?

What is Linguistics and why should I study it?

Linguistics is the study of human language. It provides tools for understanding how we acquire and produce distinctive sounds, words, phrases and sentences. It also helps us understand how people in different cultures use language to interact and express meaning. At UAF you can learn about the variety of human languages in the world and you can focus on a particular language, either from the Foreign Languages offerings or from the Alaska Native Language program. If you are interested in a career of language teaching or speech pathology, a B.A. in Linguistics is good preparation.

As a linguistics major, you’ll develop analytical reasoning, critical thinking and communication skills you can apply to a variety of careers. Many of our bachelor’s program graduates also go on to graduate school in linguistics or related fields. Here’s a quick look at what some of our recent majors in linguistics have gone on to do.

Linguistics is the study of language and covers a variety of subjects from theories of grammar and how we produce language to applications of linguistic knowledge in areas such as language teaching. Linguists study different aspects of human language, including the unconscious knowledge we have about language, how language is acquired and how it is structured, how languages differ but also how they are similar, how we use language to interact within or between social groups and more. The study of linguistics offers you excellent skills in critical problem-solving, an understanding of cross-cultural communication strategies and a window into one of the most fundamental human characteristics: language.

What can you do with a Linguistics degree?

A degree in linguistics is excellent preparation for careers in language teaching and speech pathology, or if you plan to pursue graduate study. Many of our linguistics majors choose to minor in Alaska Native languages or foreign languages. Linguistics graduates often go on to graduate school. With advanced degrees, linguists may specialize in one of a wide number of fields, including theoretical linguistics, teaching English as a second language, speech pathology, computational linguistics, interpreting/translating and consulting. There are also many entry-level opportunities for people with BA degrees in various government agencies and businesses. Linguists are valued for their critical thinking, problem solving and research skills.

Linguistics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

The linguistics degree at UAF is the only program of its kind in the state of Alaska. With a strong focus on student research and presentation skills, the bachelor’s in linguistics provides unique opportunities to prepare for careers and graduate study. You’ll also benefit from an exceptional level of personalized advising and support. Linguistics majors at the University of Alaska Fairbanks benefit from the variety of language studies available, a strong research emphasis and personalized advising. Here are more reasons to major in linguistics at UAF:

Study Alaska Native languages and more

Whether you’re interested in learning Alaska Native languages or other languages from around the world, you’ll find your passion at UAF. The languages we teach are. Here are more reasons to major in linguistics at UAF:

  • Asian: Chinese, Japanese
  • Alaskan: Yup'ik, Inupiaq, Gwich'in, Koyukon (and others by independent study)
  • European: French, German, Greek, Latin, Russian, Spanish

Develop your research and presentation skills

  • Our linguistics program features a strong emphasis on student research and presentation through the undergraduate capstone course. You’ll have even more opportunities to practice your research and presentation skills through our annual Language and Linguistics Student Conference.

Work closely with expert faculty and advisors

  • Our faculty have broad expertise in linguistics, linguistic anthropology, language documentation, language revitalization and language acquisition. You’ll also have access to a dedicated advising team who are here to support and guide you throughout the program.

Access unique resources and knowledge

  • Our Alaska Native Language Center is internationally recognized as the major center in the United States for the study of Eskimo and Northern Athabascan languages. Our Rasmuson Library is also home to the Alaska Native Language Archive, one of the most comprehensive indigenous languages resources in the world.