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Linguistics

Linguistics is the scientific study of one of the most fundamental things that makes us human, our language.

Students will learn the structural properties of languages, how it is processed, how it has evolved through history and how it can be taught and preserved. At UBC, the Linguistics department is renowned for its work with First Nations languages, African languages and experimental linguistics. Upon graduation, students will have completed a highly interdisciplinary field which combines research methods from the humanities and the social, natural and mathematical sciences.

Get experience at UBC

Building your career takes more than attending academic lectures. Get involved with research and complement your studies with relevant research and applied experiences. Whether you choose one of the experiences listed below or one of the many other great opportunities available, you’ll learn new things, make new friends, network, and set yourself apart. It all counts.

Arts Tri-Mentoring

Connect with graduate students and alumni. Arts Tri-mentoring matches 1st and 2nd year students with a senior student and an alumnus to explore networking and the professional world.

Go Global 

Whether learning a new language or analyzing linguistic theory, studying abroad provides the unique opportunity to see, hear, speak and explore the field of linguistics from a different perspective.

Arts Co-op Program

Wondering how your analytical and writing skills might help you build a good career after graduation? Gaining paid, full-time, relevant experience through Arts Co-op will help you explore career options in fields such as non-profit (including social services), government, and the private sector across Canada and abroad. Graduate with at least 3, 4-month work terms, average cumulative earnings of $25,000, career skills and experience, and a network of professional contacts that will give you a competitive edge after graduation. 

Arts Internship Program

The Arts Internship Program gives you the opportunity to use the skills acquired through your studies to find what you are passionate about, explore industry opportunities, and gain valuable work experience through part-time unpaid work. Internships are available in the social service and non profit sector and will allow you to meet new people and learn new skills in a professional part-time setting.

Community experience

Community Based Experience and Learning Through community-based experimental learning, you can participate in projects driven by community priorities. Get involved in course-related volunteer projects, or create your own CSL arrangements. Make a positive difference in your community, and challenge yourself in new learning environments to better understand what work you would like to pursue.

Using your degree

The study of Linguistics will prepare graduates with a variety of skills, such as sound logical thinking, deep analysis, and strong research abilities, which support a wide range of occupations. Through presentations and field work, program grads will also develop strong communications skills and the ability to work in team situations with people from diverse professional, academic and cultural backgrounds.

Career possibilities

Emerging Trends

Linguistics experts help e-businesses improve customer service by building natural-language processing systems that can respond meaningfully to requests for help or information. With linguists developing the database or “lexicon,” a system can distinguish between multiple meanings of words, relate groups of words by concept, and narrow the scope of a search by asking questions of the site visitor.

Other Career Possibilities

Art/Music Therapist
Sign Language Interpreter
Rehabilitation Counsellor
Recreation Therapist
Remedial Literacy Tutoring
Public Relations
Audiologist
Speech/Language Coach
Literacy Program Coordinator
Technical Writer
E.S.L. Instructor/Tutor
Dialect Coach
Special Education Assistant
Education Coordinator
Linguist Policy Researcher
Research Assistant
Educational Clinician
Communications and Marketing
Speech Language Pathologist
Computational Linguist (speech recognition, artificial intelligence, text-to-speech synthesis, codes and code breaking)
Communications Coordinator
Editor
Journalist
Foreign Service
Translator/Interpreter

Academic possibilities

A Linguistics degree prepares students for further study in Linguistics as well as:

  • Speech Language Pathology
  • Speech Sciences
  • Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Business
  • Computer Science
  • Education
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Neurosciences

Alumni profiles

Linguistics students Clarissa Forbes and Michael Schwan spent much of 2012 working on the documentation and linguistic analysis of Gitxsan, an aboriginal language spoken in the northern interior of British Columbia. They worked directly with Gitxsan speakers to help document the language. 

Resources