Study how human language develops, how it functions, and how it impacts us.
Linguistics is the study of human language: its structure, use in communication, and role in psychology. Linguists are interested in language for its own sake, as a complex product of the human mind, how it develops in children, how it changes over time, and how it is used in human society.
UMass Amherst faculty members are at the forefront of the linguistics field, and our program is consistently ranked among the world's top programs. In particular, we are a major center for work in theoretical, experimental, and field linguistics.
Students are drawn to linguistics for diverse reasons. Some have always enjoyed studying foreign languages or are intrigued by the history of languages and the variations among them. Some are advocates for speakers of languages that have been discriminated against. Some are more analytical, enjoying the puzzle of how language is stored and computed in the human mind or the application of logic or mathematics to problems of human behavior.
A degree in linguistics prepares students for careers in academia, but can also be an invaluable asset in any career demanding sharp research skills, theoretical and observational powers, and analytical abilities.