Admission to the Major
After passing Linguistics 211 and Linguistics 212 (or equivalent courses), the prospective Linguistics major must present a plan of study to the department for approval.
Requirements for the Major
- Our introductory series: LING211 and LING212.
- Five additional units in linguistics, not including Thesis. See FAQs regarding Linguistics coursework below.
- Language requirement: Evidence of academic study of two languages other than the student's native language(s), equivalent to at least second-year college-level proficiency in one language, and at least first-year college-level proficiency in the second. See FAQs regarding the language requirement below.
- A total of four units in an allied field. Courses used for the allied field may not be used to fulfill requirements 1, 2, or 3 above, but they may be cross-listed with Linguistics. See FAQs regarding the allied field below.
- Passing the take-home junior qualifying examination in either Grammatical Analysis (GA) or Research Design (RD), no earlier than enrolling in a fifth unit of linguistics. See FAQs regarding the qual below.
- Linguistics 470 (thesis), which may, as appropriate, be jointly supervised by faculty members from linguistics and an allied field.
- Further courses in the allied field and in Linguistics.
- At least one classical language or one non-Indo-European language as part of, or in addition to, the language requirement above. Additionally, more advanced competence in the languages used to meet that requirement.
- Courses in anthropology, psychology, literature, and/or philosophy, in addition to courses in the student’s chosen allied field, if it is not one of these. Students’ attention is particularly drawn to those courses dealing with poetry, prose style, and the grammars of individual languages, both modern and classical, in the Division of Literature and Languages; courses on logic and the philosophy of language; courses on semiotics and linguistic anthropology; and courses on cognition, mental representations, and psycholinguistics.
Group and Division Applicability
Linguistics courses fall under either Group B or Group D (or in cases marked with an asterisk below, can apply to either group), and are distributed as follows:
|Group B||Group D|
Note: Linguistics 211 and 212 cannot be taken together to fulfill a single group requirement.
If taken as Anthropology courses, the following courses count toward divisional requirements in History and Social Sciences: 334, 348, 411, and 440.
Courses without prerequisites
The following Linguistics courses can be taken without prerequisites:
- 211 Intro. to Ling. Analysis (offered every fall)
- 320 Phonetics (offered every spring)
- 323 Intro. Syntax (offered every spring)
- Some cross-listed courses in Psychology and Anthropology
Sample first- and second-year coursework plans
Courses Typically taken by a first year Linguistics major:
|Hum 110||Hum 110|
|Group or allied field course||Psych/Ling 296, or allied field course|
|Group C course||Group C course|
|Psych, Math, or foreign language||Psych, Math, or foreign language|
Note: First-year students are eligible to enroll in Linguistics 211 and 212 if there is space available in these courses.
Courses typically taken by a second year Linguistics major:
|Linguistics 211||Linguistics 212|
|Linguistics or allied field course||Linguistics 323, or other Linguistics or allied field course|
|Foreign language||Foreign language|
|Group or elective course||Group or elective course|
Off-campus study options: Majors interested in studying abroad are recommended to complete the study abroad program during the spring semester of sophomore or junior year. Potential majors should consult with a member of the Linguistics department as soon as possible for help in planning their course of study.
FAQs for Linguistics majors
Q: When should potential majors start taking Ling courses?
A: Sophomore year is the most typical year to start Ling courses. However, if space is available, students can take 211 in their first year. We strongly encourage majors to complete both 211 AND 212 by the end of their sophomore year.
Q: Which Ling courses can be taken before 211?
A: Very few: 320 (Phonetics), 323 (Intro Syntax), 290 (Language and Cognition), and courses in Psych and Anthro crosslisted in Linguistics. (Some other courses can be taken with instructor consent.)
Q: Which courses count towards the “five additional ling courses” required for the major?
A: Any course in Linguistics (including courses cross-listed in Linguistics), excluding 211, 212, and Thesis.
Q: Are the “five additional ling courses” counted as “five courses” or “five units”?
A: Five Reed units are required above and beyond LING 211 and 212 for this requirement. This does not include Thesis units.
Q: Can students apply transfer credit to cover 211 and 212?
A: This depends on specific circumstances. Transfer students can use an introductory linguistics course taken elsewhere to satisfy their 211 requirement, provided the course is sufficiently similar to 211 in terms of coverage. However, non-transfer students are strongly discouraged from petitioning to meet their 211 or 212 requirement with courses taken elsewhere.
Q: Can students apply transfer credit towards the “five additional courses”?
A: Yes, but students are discouraged from taking more than two of their five additional Linguistics courses elsewhere.
Q: Can a Linguistics course be taken pass/fail?
A: No. Students may not take any course in the major department for credit/no-credit.
Q: In what ways can the language requirement be filled?
A: Reed coursework, transfer credit, and placement exam results can all be used towards the requirement.
Q: Can a student use their native language towards this requirement? What if it is not English?
A: No, any language that the student acquired natively cannot be used towards this requrement. However, students who did not acquire English natively can use English to fulfill the 2-year language competency requirement.
Q: Can a “language-like” system be used to fulfill a language requirement?
A: No. Math, logic, programming languages, music theory, or other “language-like” systems do not count towards our language requirement.
Q: Can a particular language course count towards both our language requirement and an Allied Field of German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Classics, or Russian?
A: No, not if it’s the exact same course. However, language courses that are not used for the language requirement can count for an Allied Field of German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Classics, or Russian.
Q: How are courses of < 1 unit counted in the language requirement?
A: A course transferred in to Reed at 0.75 ≤ x ≤ 1 units or above rounds up to 1 unit towards the language requirement. Courses with x < 0.75 units will not be rounded up to 1 unit, but can be combined with other courses of x < 0.75 units to help add up to 1 or more units.
Q: Can a language course passed as “pass/fail” be used for the language requirement?
Q: Can courses in a regional variety of a language (e.g. Moroccan Arabic) be combined with courses in the standard variety (e.g. Modern Standard Arabic) towards fulfilling a single language requirement?
A: This depends on the languages/varieties in question. Talk to your advisor.
Q: What fields can count as an Allied Field for linguistics?
A: Typical options are Anthropology, Psychology, Mathematics, Computer Science, Philosophy, Sociology, Classics, General Literature, or a language (English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian), but talk to your adviser for other options.
Q: What does an Allied Field of “four courses in the Division of Literature and Languages” look like?
A: This is interpreted narrowly to mean four courses from a single department in this division.
Q: Can a particular language course count towards both the language requirement and an Allied Field of German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Classics, or Russian?
A: No, not if it’s the exact same course. But, language courses that are not used for the language requirement count for an Allied Field of German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Classics, or Russian.
Q: Can my Allied Field of German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Classics, or Russian be filled using only language courses?
A: Yes, although students are encouraged to fulfill a portion of their Allied Field with literature courses.
Q: Can “General Literature” be an Allied Field? If so, what courses count?
A: Yes, it can. A student can do General Literature as their allied field if they take four courses that are officially cross-listed in the catalog as General Literature, even if those courses are taught in different departments. These may include courses in the literatures of two or more different languages. English courses do not count as General Literature courses unless they are explicitly cross-listed as such.
Q: Can transfer credit be applied towards our Allied Field requirement?
A: Yes, but we discourage majors from fulfilling more than 50% of their allied field requirement with transfer credit.
Q: How are courses of < 1 unit counted in the Allied Field requirement?
A: A course transferred in to Reed at 0.75 ≤ x ≤ 1 units or above rounds up to 1 unit towards the Allied Field requirement. Courses with x < 0.75 units will not be rounded up to 1 unit, but can be combined with other courses of x < 0.75 units to help add up to 1 or more units.
Q: Can an Allied Field Course be taken credit/no-credit?
A: No. Students cannot use credit/no-credit courses to meet distribution, divisional or major requirements.
Q: When applying language courses towards the Allied Field requirement, does the student need to have taken 4 *units*, or 4 *courses*?
A: One must take 4 *units* towards the Allied Field requirement, so two yearlong language courses (e.g. first year + second year of Russian) would fulfill the requirement. Note that these courses cannot simultaneously be used towards the department’s language requirement.
Q: Can 211 and 212 be used to fulfill a Group requirement?
A: Only one of the two can be used. 212 can be used towards Group B, or 211 can be used towards Group D. But 211 and 212 cannot both be used by the same student towards the Group requirements.
Q: Can courses used towards the Linguistics coursework requirements also be used towards a Group Requirement?
A: Yes, two of the seven Linguistics courses may be used to fulfill either Group B or Group D, but not both. A student could use two linguistics courses to fill Group B, but would need non-linguistics courses to fill D, or vice versa.
Q: Can courses used towards the Allied Field requirement also be used towards a Group Requirement?
A: Yes, two Allied Field courses may be used to fulfill a group.
Q: Can courses used towards the language requirement also be used towards a Group Requirement?
A: Yes, any number of courses taken for the non-native language competency requirement can be applied to fulfill a group requirement (A, D, and/or X).
Q: Can a Group requirement be taken pass/fail?
A: No. Students cannot use credit/no-credit courses to meet distribution, divisional or major requirements.
Q: When is the qual taken?
A: The qual is normally completed in the second semester of junior year, but students doing study abroad during that semester have been permitted to take the qual the previous semester or over the summer prior to their senior year. In special circumstances, we have allowed students to complete the qual during a semester when they are not enrolled in Reed courses.
Q: What coursework must be completed before taking the qual?
A: A student must have completed, or be currently enrolled in, their fifth ling course (that includes 211 and 212) before they are eligible to attempt the qual. Students are also highly encouraged (but not required) to have taken MST prior to taking the Grammatical Analysis (GA) qual and/or MDA prior to taking the Research Design (RD) qual.
Q: Can a time-based accommodation be used for the qual?
A: Yes. Students who normally receive extra time on exams or other time-based tasks can get extra time on the qual. If requested and approved ahead of time, a student who normally receives time-and-a-half for exams can take 21 days to complete the qual instead of the usual 14.
Q: Is it advisable to do study abroad if majoring in Ling?
A: Yes, we encourage Linguistics majors to pursue study abroad, but only for a single semester--usually spring semester of the junior year, after the student has had time to take 211, 212, MST and/or MDA, and other upper-division courses. Studying abroad for an entire year is generally not feasible, unless the student has taken 211 and 212 their freshman year.
Q: What is the best year to do study abroad if majoring in Linguistics?
A: Any year is possible, provided that the student will have taken 211, 212, and three other Linguistics courses by the time they begin their junior year.
Q: Can courses from study abroad be applied towards 211/212?
A: No. While it's theoretically possible to take courses equivalent to 211/212 abroad, we are not aware of any study abroad programs that have courses sufficiently equivalent to our 211/212 sequence. With very few exceptions, these foundational courses must be taken at Reed.
Q: Can courses from study abroad be applied towards the “five additional courses”?
A: Yes, majors can apply up to two upper-division Ling courses taken abroad towards their 5-course minimum. We discourage students from taking these courses before taking 211 here.
Q: Can the qual be taken while abroad?
A: Yes, it can be taken while abroad or, alternatively, in the semester or summer prior to studying abroad.