Earn your Bachelor's in Linguistics at UM

The ability to use language is a unique and complex aspect of being human. When you earn your degree in linguistics at UM, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the nature of human language and linguistic analysis — while developing skills you can apply to diverse careers. 

Our program teaches you to think critically about language use, development, variation, and change. You’ll learn from faculty with wide-ranging interests that include Indigenous languages of North America, language development, and the documentation and description of linguistic form and function. You’ll also benefit from research opportunities and hands-on learning experiences that are built into the program. Small classes allow for meaningful interactions with instructors and personal support.

Our linguistics programs offer courses in-person and online. If you’re considering graduate education, we also offer a combined BA/MA degree in linguistics that allows you to complete both degrees in just five years.


UM linguistics majors receive individualized attention of award-winning faculty


years to earn a BA and MA in linguistics through UM’s combined degree program


university in Montana offering a degree in linguistics

Other Degree Options for Linguistics at UM

Combined BA/MA in Linguistics

Master of Arts in Linguistics

Minor in Linguistics

Certificate of Accomplishment in English as a Second Language 

What can you do with a degree in linguistics?

As a linguistics major, you’ll develop skills in critical thinking, data collection, analysis, and problem-solving. You’ll learn to make insightful observations, form clear and compelling arguments based on evidence and communicate your findings to a wider community. Linguistics is also a diverse field that intersects with disciplines such as anthropology, education, philosophy, speech pathology, language learning, psychology, and sociology. 

The result? A degree in linguistics will open the door to some of today’s top careers while providing the foundational skills you’ll need for long-term success. 

Linguistics jobs

Find out where a linguistics degree can take you. Examples of linguistics major careers include: 

  • Language interpreter
  • Language educator
  • ESL teacher
  • Lawyer
  • Web developer
  • Technical writer
  • Forensic linguist
  • Professor
  • Publisher
  • Software engineer
  • Consultant

Linguistics salaries

A wide variety of professions draw on skills gained through the study of linguistics. Salaries vary depending on your field, education, and experience. Here are a few examples, based on national averages from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, to give you an idea:

  • Interpreters and translators: $52,330
  • ESL teachers: $55,350
  • Technical writers: $74,650
  • Web developer: $77,200
  • Postsecondary teachers: $80,790
  • Lawyer: $127,990

Video: Understanding Similarities, Appreciating Differences

Dr. Leora Bar-el discusses how languages define what it means to be human by exposing patterns of difference and commonality.

Experiential learning in the linguistics major

Hands-on learning is an important part of our linguistics program. Our students engage in active learning as they put their new skills into practice by looking at data from across the world’s 7,000+ languages. Whether you’re conducting research in our fields method course, learning how to read a spectrogram (voice-print) in phonetics-phonology, or engaging in service learning in local schools as part of your student seminar, you’ll have a variety of unique opportunities to apply classroom lessons and gain experience in the discipline.

Undergraduate research in the linguistics program

Students have opportunities to engage in their own research in our courses. We encourage linguistics majors to participate in UM’s Conference on Undergraduate Research each spring. Past students have conducted their own research, supervised by a professor, and presented at the conference.

Supporting the Blackfoot language

Dr. Mizuki Miyashita leads the Blackfoot Language Group as they produce materials for linguistics research and language teaching for the endangered Blackfoot language indigenous to Montana. Learn more about the Blackfoot Language Group.

Connecting with tribal stakeholders

UM linguistics faculty and students are engaged in the Collaborative Language Planning Project (CLPP). CLPP offers meetings and workshops for language workers, activists, and stakeholders from the tribal colleges of Montana to discuss and share ideas to improve and enhance local language activities. Learn more about CLPP.

Career development in the linguistics major

When you earn your bachelor’s degree in linguistics at the University of Montana, you can count on getting support to help you succeed in your career, as well as the classroom.

Our award-winning professors work one-on-one with students and are closely involved in the linguistics club — one of our student organizations that offers great opportunities for career development, networking, and more. Many of our linguistics majors also develop professional skills and connect with potential job opportunities through research and other activities that are built into the coursework.

Institute on Collaborating Language Research

The UM linguistics program hosted the Institute on Collaborating Language Research (CoLang) 2022. More than 250 participants representing 70 different Indigenous communities attended the event. The institute offers cutting-edge workshops on language documentation and revitalization for community language activists, linguists, and students from Montana, the U.S., and around the world. Learn more about CoLang 2022.

Linguistics degree requirements

Required courses for the linguistics major cover topics such as linguistic ecology and language endangerment, bilingualism, language and culture, phonetics and phonology, syntax and morphology. The bachelor’s program also includes a required seminar course.

View all classes for the bachelor’s in linguistics degree at UM.