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Linguistics Department

Fitzgerald House F113
614 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-2175
Fax: (248) 370-3144

Degree Programs

Degree programs in the Department of Linguistics equip students with skills in technical writing, research, and collaboration while gaining knowledge relevant to fields of linguistics, speech language, pathology, language instruction, and beyond.

Undergraduate CatalogGraduate Catalog

Bachelor of Arts

Program Overview


For information on admission requirements for B.A. degrees, please consult the Undergraduate Catalog or Admissions in the University main pages.

Requirements for the degree of B.A. in Linguistics

To earn a liberal arts major in linguistics, students must complete the following program of study. Credits toward the major will only be allowed for courses completed with a grade of 2.0 or higher. A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required for courses included in the major.

  1. A minimum of 44 credits including:
    1. Required courses
      • LIN 2201 - Introduction to Linguistics (4) (with a grade of C or higher)
      • LIN 4303 - Introduction to Phonology (4)
      • LIN 4304 - Introduction to Syntax (4)
      • LIN 4403 - Phonological Theory (4) or LIN 4404 - Syntactic Theory (4)

        Plus two courses (8) from the following three options:

      • LIN 4302 - Historical Linguistics (4)
      • LIN 4305 - Phonetic Theory (4)
      • LIN 4307 - Introduction to Semantics (4)

    2. Capstone course
      • LIN 4470 - The History of Linguistics (4) (fulfills the university general education requirement for the capstone experience and for a writing intensive course in the major or general education).

    3. Sixteen additional credits of ALS or LIN courses, with at least 12 credits at the 3000-4000 level.

  2. Either one year’s study of a single foreign language, including American Sign Language, or LIN 4409.
  3. Only two ALS or LIN courses at the 1000 and 2000 level will be accepted for credit toward the major.
Requirements for the liberal arts minor in linguistics

To earn a liberal arts minor in linguistics, students must complete a minimum of 20 credits, to include:

  1. LIN 2201 (with a grade of 3.0 or higher), 4303, 4304, and either 4403 or 4404.
  2. At least 4 credits from 4000 level LIN or ALS courses.

Credits toward the minor will only be allowed for courses completed with a grade of 2.0 or higher. A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required for courses included in the minor.

Requirements for the modified major in Linguistics with a minor in Computer Science, B.A. Program

To earn the modified major, students must complete:

  1. A minimum of 24 credits in linguistics courses to include LIN 2201 (with a grade of 3.0 or higher), 4303, 4304, 4470, and either 4403 or 4404. LIN 4470 fulfills the university general education requirement for the capstone experience and for a writing intensive course in the major or general education.
  2. A minimum of 20 credits in CSE courses as follows:  CSE 120 and 130; and three courses chosen from CSE 220, 247, 248, 251, 230. At least 12 of these credits must be taken at Oakland University. An average grade of at least 2.0 is required in courses counted toward this minor. See requirements for the minor in computing in the School of Engineering and Computer Science.
  3. PHL 370
Requirements for a concentration in linguistics with modified majors in other departments

Students may elect a modified major in anthropology, communication, English, philosophy, psychology, or sociology, with a concentration in linguistics.

The core in linguistics requires 16 credits including LIN 2201 (with a grade of 3.0 or higher), 4303, 4304 and either 4403 or 4404. An additional 4 credits are required for the specific concentration as follows: ALS 4374 or 4375 (anthropology), LIN 4305 (communication), ENG 376 (english), LIN 4307 or 4407 (philosophy), ALS 4335 (psychology), and ALS 4376 (sociology).

For requirements in the modified majors, consult the appropriate department.
Departmental Honors

The Department of Linguistics offers departmental honors to students who achieve a grade point average of 3.6 or above in specified courses. In the case of the liberal arts major, the courses include the eight required LIN and ALS courses and the two courses in the cognate area. In the case of the modified major with a minor in computer science, the courses include the six required LIN and ALS courses, the five required CSE courses and PHL 370. The department also recommends honors for students who have modified majors in other departments with concentrations in linguistics.

Master of Arts

The Master of Arts degree in linguistics provides post-baccalaureate instruction in current linguistic theory and in applying general linguistics to teaching language arts or to teaching English to non-native speakers. The degree is intended to accommodate students who have done previous work in linguistics as well as those who have had little exposure to the subject.


Admission is selective. The department will consider applicants who hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and whose credentials, including transcripts and two letters of recommendation, give evidence of academic distinction. Applicants must explain, in a statement of purpose, their reasons for wishing to pursue graduate work in linguistics. Although an undergraduate major in linguistics is not a requirement for admission, applicants must demonstrate a knowledge of the basic principles of linguistics, as would be encountered in introductory linguistics courses.

A grade point average of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) in undergraduate work is ordinarily the minimum standard for admission. At its discretion, the department may admit students of superior promise but deficient preparation provided that such students correct their deficiencies before commencing graduate work. Students may be admitted during any semester or session of the university calendar. Applicants to the program must have all their credentials in to the Office of Graduate Study no later than six weeks before the beginning of their initial semester of registration. After that time, and until the beginning of classes, they may apply for admission as special graduate students. However, not more than 12 credits earned as a special graduate can be applied toward the degree; therefore, the application must be completed as soon as possible. Upon completion of 12 credits, students will be evaluated for admission to candidacy and will choose an area of specialization.

Requirements for the degree of M.A. in Linguistics

The Master of Arts degree in linguistics will be awarded to the student who earns 36 credits in nine courses as specified below. Upon admission to candidacy, the student will choose an area of specialization from among the following three: linguistic theory, teaching English to speakers of other languages, and teaching language arts. Non-native speakers of English who wish to specialize in teaching English as a Second Language must satisfactorily complete and oral and written examination in English. At least 16 credits (four courses) of work must be in the area of specialization.  All students must take the Core Program of 12 credits which includes LIN 6998 (Graduate Seminar in Linguistics) or LIN 6999 (The Master's Thesis). When graduate courses are cross listed with undergraduate courses, graduate students will be required to complete additional work at the graduate level.

General Requirements

  1. 9 courses (36 credits)
  2. no more than 8 credits in courses from other departments
  3. no more than 8 credits in 4000-level LIN or ALS courses
  4. either (a) two years of foreign language study, or (b) one year of foreign language study and LIN 4409; in either case, demonstrated first year proficiency in at least one foreign language is required.  First year proficiency can be demonstrated by satisfactory completion of a language course at the 1150 level.

Core Program
(12 credits)

  1. LIN 5503 Introduction to Phonology
  2. LIN 5504 Introduction to Syntax
  3. LIN 6998 Seminar in Linguistics or LIN 6999 The Master's Thesis

Linguistic Theory (24 credits)

  1. LIN 5603 Phonological Theory or LIN 5613 Advanced Phonology
  2. LIN 5604 Syntactic Theory or LIN 5614 Advanced Syntax
  3. LIN 5502 Historical Linguistics or LIN 5507 Introduction to Semantics
  4. One (1) of LIN 5505 (Introduction to Phonetics), 5507 (Introduction to Semantics), or 5557 (Cognitive Linguistics)
  5. Two (2) electives

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (24 credits)

  1. LIN 5505 Introduction to Phonetics
  2. ALS 5518 The Teaching of English as a Second Language
  3. ALS 5519 Practicum (4 credits)
  4. Two (2) of ALS 5535 (Psycholinguistics), ALS 5517 (Models of Second Language Acquisition), ALS 5574 (Cross-Cultural Communication)
  5. One (1) elective

Teaching Language Arts (24 credits)

  1. ALS 5520 Linguistics and Reading or ALS 538 Theory and Practice in Language Testing
  2. ALS 5534 Language Development in Children
  3. ALS 5535 Psycholinguistics or ALS 5518 The Teaching of English as a Second Language
  4. LIN 5604 Syntactic Theory or LIN 5614 Advanced Syntax
  5. Two (2) electives
Minor in TESL

The Linguistics Department offers a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language. All students interested in completing the minor in Teaching English as a Second Language must complete a minimum of 24 credits of course work. The courses are: LIN 2201, ALS 4317, ALS 4375, ALS 4418, ALS 4960, and ALS 4438. Credit toward the minor will only be allowed for courses with a grade of 2.0 or higher. Students must satisfy the eligibility requirement described under Practicum Eligibility to obtain the minor.

Please note that the Michigan Department of Education requires the following of Education majors working toward their K12 ESL endorsement:

  • Completion of core content area program in conjunction with or prior to adding the ESL endorsement
    • Completers must have completed a core content program in Elementary Education, Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, or Mathematics as a base for the ESL endorsement
  • Students must demonstrate English language proficiency by meeting Oakland University's English language proficiency requirement upon registration for the program
  • Students must also have documented experience learning a second language equivalent to two semesters’ worth of college-level study in order to gain an understanding and appreciation of the processes of learning an additional language

Required Coursework for the Undergraduate Minor in Teaching ESL:

LIN 2201 Introduction to Linguistics (4)

Introduction to the modern study of human language. Emphasis on the analysis of sound and structure, variation and change, and linguistic universals.

Commentary: This course introduces students to the modern study of human language and the fundamentals of modern linguistic theory emphasizing its contribution to our understanding of the structure of English and its application in the ESL classroom. The course will focus on teaching students about core areas of linguistic structure: phonetics and phonology (speech sounds and how to pattern them) morphology (word structure) syntax (phrase and sentence structure), semantics (meaning), language universals and historical change. In this course students learn linguistics by working out and handling numerous linguistic problems from a wide variety of world languages. These core areas will be discussed in three parts. The first part will be a description of the area from the point of modern linguistic theory, e.g., in the area of phonetics, a description of the classification of sounds in terms of articulatory phonetics. The second part will involve the application of the theory to an analysis of the structure of English, e.g., a presentation of the phonetic description of the sounds of modern English. The third part will explore ways in which this information can be useful in the elementary and secondary ESL classroom, e.g., demonstrating how an understanding of sound structure can help elementary and secondary ESL teachers deal with such matters as accent reduction. This course outlines concepts that focus on developing literacy skills such as: The importance of phoneme-grapheme patterns in reading instruction; the importance of understanding the purpose and function of structure words in reading mastery; the structure of language is revealed in sentence patterns.

ALS 4317 Models of Second Language Acquisition (4)

Development of second language ability among children and adults. Topics will include first language acquisition theory, the relationship of second language acquisition to linguistic theory, and a review and evaluation of competing models of second language development.

Commentary: This course adds a theoretical component to students’ preparation to work as TESOL specialists in a variety of contexts. The course will give students an overview of the current proposals concerning the acquisition of skill in second language and will provide an opportunity for students to do research on some aspect of L2 acquisition that is of interest to them. In this course, students will learn the theoretical foundations of first and second language acquisition. They will compare the various theories of first language acquisition including the behavioristic, nativist, and functional approaches. They will investigate how language works and develops in the brain as a reflection of the innateness hypothesis that emphasizes age as a major factor in successful acquisition of a first language. Students will study the taxonomies and models of second language acquisition emphasizing Stephen Krashen’s input hypothesis. The course will cover both affective principles of language acquisition (those that originate in the student as an individual and as a member of a native culture) and cognitive principles of language acquisition (those that uncover the process of language development in the brain for second language learners).

ALS 4375 Language and Culture (4)

Language viewed as cultural behavior: its system, acquisition and use; its relation to history, attitudes and behavior; and standard languages, social dialects, pidgins and creoles.

Commentary:  In this course, students will be exposed to various approaches to education in other countries something that can greatly affect a non-native speaking student’s adaptation to the American education system. We will focus on the cultures and sociological issues most commonly encountered in the metropolitan Detroit area. Students will learn about verbal and not-verbal behaviors, how different cultures view collaborative learning and the cultural influences on student motivation and performance in the elementary and secondary classroom, as well as the influence of factors in the home.

ALS 4418 The Teaching of English as a Second Language (4)

Approaches, methods and techniques of teaching listening, speaking, pronunciation, reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary. The use of language tests and laboratory techniques.
Prerequisite: LIN 2201

Commentary: In this course students will investigation current methods, approaches, and techniques for teaching K12 English learners or adult English learners. Students will focus on actual classroom practices and activities for teaching reading, writing, listening, pronunciation, conversation, grammar, and vocabulary as well as the integration of techniques to reflect authentic language use. Students will design lessons and activities for elementary and secondary ESL classrooms or adult ESL classrooms for each of the skill areas of language learning. They will design, evaluate, and select materials appropriate for second language learners consistent with current methodology in language teaching and learning. These lessons are often a shift in focus for K-12 teachers since the content is the focus in a standard classroom whereas the language is the focus in an ESL classroom, the medium through which the content is taught.  Students will learn how to combine these two approaches in the development of content-based instruction. Students will develop lesson plans that are appropriate for learners in elementary and secondary education or for those students not pursuing a degree in education, lesson development will focus on adult learners. All students will develop lesson plans in each of the skill areas of language acquisition (reading, writing, listening, pronunciation, conversation, grammar, vocabulary). They will focus on determining age-appropriate and proficiency-appropriate materials and learn to assess the effectiveness of the materials they choose and design. Students will also learn to modify existing materials and/or assigned curricula to meet the needs of their students and to promote the development of students’ critical thinking skills. Students will learn to design curricula to meet the needs of English learners consistent with theory-based expectations of language improvement. In addition, students will develop skills and intuition for appropriate correction and ways to attain improvement in proficiency by meeting both individual and group needs of elementary and secondary English Language Learners. Students develop a commitment to build professional skills that will help their students communicate and negotiate with others as well as develop critical thinking skills.Candidates focus on understanding and aligning the standards and benchmarks of the Michigan English Language Proficiency Standards, Michigan Curriculum Framework, and ESL Standards for Pre-K through secondary ESL students or adult English learners in curricular planning. Candidates learn that the foundation for instruction of content standards is the professional teaching standards that the teacher has internalized and learned through professional development.

ALS 4438 Theory and Practice in Language Testing (4)

A study of the different types of aptitude and achievement tests used in different language settings, including research and educational situations. Brief introduction to test statistics and computerized analysis of test scores. Practical aspects of testing: design, scoring and administration. It is recommended that this course be taken prior to or together with ALS 4418.
Prerequisite: ALS 4317

Commentary: In this course, students will learn to identify, assess, and place students in proficiency-appropriate classes and programs. A variety of ESL assessment tools used with K-12 student groups will be discussed. There will be an overview of the theoretical bases for assessment development, specifically, practicality, reliability, and validity. Students will learn to design assessment tools for everyday use in the elementary and secondary classroom. Students will investigate commercial language tests such as the ELPA and learn strategies for preparing English language learners for standardized tests such as the MEAP, ACT, SAT, IELTS, and TOEFL. Students will learn the legal implications of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act ensuring that LEP students have the same meaningful access to school programs as minority students, and how to conduct Lau compliance reviews requiring that English learners have access to the same curricula provided to their English-speaking peers. Candidates understand the principles of assessment and the teacher’s role as a resource to stakeholders of assessment. In addition, candidates recognize that assessment can promote student goal setting, self-evaluation, and autonomy. Candidates review guidelines for adapting assessments to accommodate the students’ cultural characteristics, prior knowledge, and educational experiences. In addition, candidates demonstrate the ability to adjust classroom instruction based on authentic assessment results. Classroom activities are used to assess areas that need further teaching.

ALS 4960 ESL Practicum (4)

Supervised experience in teaching English learners of various proficiency levels (beginning, intermediate, and advanced) and ages (K-12) or adult.
Prerequisite: ALS 4418 and permission of instructor

Commentary: Candidates teach classes in a program that is similar to an intensive English program (IEP) for children or adults. Children enrolled in the program come from schools within Oakland County while adult English learners are enrolled at Hispanic Outreach in Pontiac.

K12 Students are placed in classes according to their grade level. Within each grade level, students’ language proficiency is assessed. English as a second language learners then will work in groups at their proficiency level as well as in groups of multi-level proficiency. Children attend class from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday for 4 weeks in July. An experienced K-12 ESL teacher acts as a supervisor (the instructor of record) and is present during all class sessions to assist teachers with lesson plans, student placement, and classroom issues.

Non Education majors pursuing the TESL Minor work with adult students enrolled in classes at Hispanic Outreach. Adult ESL classes are in session Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6:00-7:47 or Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 10:00-11:47 in the fall and winter. During the seven week  spring term, student teachers teach both Monday and Wednesday evening sessions  and Tuesday and Thursday morning sessions. A trained ESL instructor acts as a supervisor (the instructor of record) and is present during all class sessions to assist teachers with lesson plans, student placement, and classroom issues.

In both the K12 and adult programs, the supervising teachers perform a minimum of three formal observations and evaluations of the practicum teachers. Candidates will demonstrate an understanding of typical behaviors of second language learners at various levels of proficiency during the natural process of language acquisition in the classroom by the creation of authentic language assessments and meaningful classroom activities. During the practicum experience candidates demonstrate an understanding of how to integrate and align the ESL Standards for the ESL Pre-K, elementary through secondary students, or adults. This understanding is demonstrated through the use of appropriate classroom strategies and techniques that support second language and academic learning. Candidates must demonstrate a high level of competency in teaching English language learners during the practicum experience. They must develop lessons that combine a variety of activities using content area subject matter to teach speaking, listening, reading and writing for social and academic purposes. Candidates are required to examine and interpret student progress through multiple assessments. In addition, candidates communicate these findings to stakeholders by holding parent-teacher conferences and providing parents and the students’ home school district with a final student performance evaluation. Teachers of adult ESL students also conference regularly with their students. During the practicum experience teachers continue to develop their professional expertise through peer coaching, team teaching, and collaborative curriculum development, and classroom based research. Candidates will use this developing knowledge to provide professional advice and assistance to parents, students, teachers and communities.

What Students Are Saying About the Program

"I am so fortunate that the ESL minor program was established the year I transferred to Oakland University.  Deciding to minor in ESL has made me a lot more aware of the diversity that we are immersed in throughout the United States. I have acquired a passion for teaching diverse students and enduring unique cultural experiences. I have learned about so many other cultures that are present in our country and also the difficulty of the English language. Not only do I enjoy teaching English to non-native speakers, but I also love that I learn about myself and broaden my own knowledge in doing so."
-Brittany Jakubik, ESL Minor, K-12 Certification

Minor in SLP

Empower your future success with the new speech language pathology (SLP) minor. Launching this fall, this program will prepare you for graduate studies in SLP.

Students interested in completing the SLP minor must complete a minimum of 24 credits of coursework. Credit toward the minor will only be allowed for courses completed with a grade of C or higher.

Required Coursework:
LIN 1182 – Language and the Brain (Fall and Summer)
LIN 2201 – Introduction to Linguistics (Fall and Winter)
LIN 4305 – Phonetic Theory (Winter)
LIN 4334 – Language Development in Children (Fall)
LIN 4340 – Language Related Disorders (Winter)
BIO 3006 – Head and Neck Anatomy (Fall)

Up to 12 credits of overlap are allowed between the major in linguistics and the minor in speech language pathology.