Southern Illinois University - Linguistics.

Watch Your Language. Major in Linguistics.


Linguistics is the study of language and its use. There is something special about language. Complex language is one of the most important human achievements.

Think of all the ways you encounter language in a single day. You use a specialized language on social media, another when communicating verbally with friends. Families often develop their own vocabulary, and so do co-workers. The words you use may signal what region of a country you are from, or even your age or socio-economic status.

See what SIU can do for you

View Our Undergraduate Program

View Our Graduate Program

Accelerate Your MA in Linguistics!

Earn both your Bachelors and Masters degree in 5 Years!

With our 5-year accelerated MA programs undergraduates in linguistics who have maintained a 3.5 gpa can take advanced coursework and earn their MA with an additional year of study.

Accelerated Masters Program

Student Groups

Language helps us define our relationships with other people. How we talk to ourselves reinforces how we feel about ourselves. Help find the Language of Friendship in these groups at SIU.

Student Linguistic Association (SLing) holds social events and workshops, and recently brought Walt Wolfram, pioneer of the study of Black American dialects, to campus.

Be a Conversation Partner to someone learning English at the Center for English as a Second Language (CESL)

Join a foreign language “table” to improve fluency in a language you are learning or to study language use in conversation.


Linguistics majors are adventurers. A common career path is to become an English teacher in a foreign country. But there are many other options, particularly for those who pair Linguistics with another career-path major.

  • Teach English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • Artificial Intelligence – Smart technology text-to-speech synthesis
  • Speech recognition in technology
  • Foreign language instruction
  • Endangered language documentation
  • Language analysis for marketing
  • Language surveys for various research
  • Literacy program management or development
  • Editing and publishing
  • Testing agency – standardized test evaluation
  • Lexicographer / Dictionary development
  • Forensic linguist for FBI, law firm or other legal agency
  • Diction coach for actors
  • Government employment
  • Code breaking
  • Education
  • Graduate school

Fun Stuff

Research is fun stuff in this field. At SIU, you’ll enjoy small classes and a close-knit group of students while you are working with world-class faculty engaged in field-defining research. Here are a few things students and faculty are up to:

  • Documenting a language
  • Researching the intersection of gender, social/political power and language
  • Language acquisition in children
  • Immersive learning techniques for studying English or another language
  • Studying the pronunciation differences among different dialects and accents
  • Inventing a language

Create Your Language

Linguistics professor Jeffrey Punske is an expert in the invented languages of Middle Earth; and he teaches students about creating new languages of their own.

“J.R.R. Tolkien was an Oxford professor who specialized in the history of Indo-European languages… It was really his interest in language development that caused him to write The Lord of the Rings.”

Related Majors, Minors & Specializations

  • Computer Science
  • Communication Studies
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Foreign languages
  • Classics and more
SIU Linguistics Student

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