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What Are the Best Tips for Choosing a Linguistics Program?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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Individuals interested in linguistics, or the study of language, may wish to enroll in a linguistics program. With the large number of undergraduate and graduate linguistics programs offered at universities around the world, however, choosing the best one can be an overwhelming process. To simplify the process, it is often helpful to begin by considering one’s ultimate career goals. Then, the student can zero in on those programs which would best facilitate those goals. Program attributes which may provide students with superior preparation for a linguistics career include faculty member or departmental strength in their area of interest, opportunities for multidisciplinary study, opportunities for study in a foreign country, and provision of financial aid.

One of the most important factors to consider when selecting a linguistics program is whether one or more faculty members at a prospective university offer expertise in the applicant’s area of interest. If the applicant is primarily interested in the development of Slavic languages, for instance, she should consider only those programs which will offer the opportunity to study this area. Conversely, if the applicant wishes to be exposed to many different areas of linguistics, she might consider programs which cover a wide range of subtopics.

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Some individuals desire a career which requires additional skills to those gained from the study of linguistics. For instance, an individual who designs voice recognition software must have knowledge of both linguistics and software design. Those interested in a career which combines linguistics expertise with knowledge of some other area should seek a linguistics program which encourages multidisciplinary study. In other words, an aspiring voice recognition software designer should select a program which allows dual study of linguistics and software design, while an individual who wishes to become a dialect coach may wish to supplement her linguistics courses with drama studies.

For some, the best linguistics program may be one which offers opportunities for study in a foreign country. If an individual wishes to study the formation of sounds in the Sandawe language of Tanzania, for instance, she might find that spending time among native speakers of the language offers her the most thorough learning experience. Therefore, she may wish to consider linguistics programs which encourage international study and have established ties with universities or educational organizations abroad.

Finally, for many prospective students, availability of financial aid is an important consideration when selecting a linguistics program. Applicants might consider contacting a student adviser or faculty member in the linguistics department of a prospective university to determine whether any department-specific grants, scholarships, or fellowships are available. If the applicant will be studying at the graduate level, she may also wish to investigate undergraduate teaching opportunities.

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