Hons. Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics


Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description

Have you ever wondered how many languages are spoken in the world? Are you intrigued by how children begin to acquire language, or by how we can teach machines to understand human language? If so, you should think about studying linguistics.

Linguistics is the scientific study of human language – its structure, origin and evolution, and its uses in society. The discipline is organized around different areas such as phonetics – the study of speech sounds; phonology – the study of the patterning of sound; morphology – the study of word formation; syntax – the study of sentence formation; and semantics – the study of meaning.

Linguists investigate historical linguistics – how languages became the way they are; sociolinguistics – the relationship between language and society; typology – the universal properties of languages; psycholinguistics – how we understand, produce and acquire language; applied linguistics – language teaching and translation; forensic linguistics – language and the law; and computational linguistics – computer processing of human language.

By studying linguistics, you’ll come to understand how humans acquire language, how language and communication function, and how to teach and learn foreign languages more effectively. You’ll also improve your own skills of communication, as well as your ability to analyze information and think critically.

Students in the program may choose to concentrate on theoretical or applied linguistics. Those focusing on applied linguistics may take courses leading to certification in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) which includes a classroom practicum.

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This program is designed for students who are concentrating on the scientific study of language (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, etc.). Students should speak with the Departmental Counsellor for Linguistics to determine which linguistics electives are most appropriate for their academic and professional objectives.

Careers for majors in Linguistics and Cognitive Science of Language

Linguistics and the Cognitive Science of Language programs bring together the strengths of a Humanities education (critical, analytical, and problem-solving skills accompanied by strong communication skills) and the hands-on skills typical for Science (rigorous laboratory experience, programming experience, experimental and statistical skills). This cutting-edge skillset is accompanied by in-depth knowledge of language structures, their functioning, and their behavioral and neurological reflections. Such a unique package of skills lends itself to a wide variety of career opportunities, successfully explored by recent graduates.

Some examples include:

  • Speech and language pathology and audiology.
  • Teaching (teaching English as a second language, teaching, and learning of foreign languages, education, literacy).
  • Natural language processing/computing.
  • Software development for gaming, education, industry.
  • Translation/interpretation.
  • Foreign service/diplomacy.
  • Journalism.
  • Law.
  • Business.
  • Travel industry.
  • Intelligence service (CSE).
  • Psychological sciences.
  • Language preservation and linguistic fieldwork.

In short, our graduates are well prepared for a fast-changing and globalized world.

Last updated Jul 2020

About the School

McMaster University is located in the city of Hamilton, in the province of Ontario, Canada. We are one of the top 75 universities in the world (Times Higher Education World Rankings 2019), ranked 2nd ... Read More

McMaster University is located in the city of Hamilton, in the province of Ontario, Canada. We are one of the top 75 universities in the world (Times Higher Education World Rankings 2019), ranked 2nd in the world for global impact (Times Higher Education Impact ranking, based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations), and we are the #1 research intensive university in Canada. McMaster is known for our teaching model: a student-centered, problem-based, interdisciplinary approach to learning, a model that has been adopted world-wide. Read less