Language Studies

2017-18 General Catalog

Linguistics Department
241 and 243 Stevenson College
(831) 459-4988

Program Description

Language studies is an interdisciplinary major offered by the Linguistics Department. It is designed to equip students with competence in a foreign language and, at the same time, provide them with an understanding of the general nature of human language—its structure and use. Currently, majors may choose a concentration in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, or Spanish. Interested students should contact the Linguistics Department office early in their college career to obtain essential information about requirements.

Students interested in spending a portion of a year or a full year in study abroad should review the UCSC Programs Abroad website at A senior year abroad is approved only when all of the language proficiency requirements have been satisfied and when it is clear that any remaining courses can be satisfactorily completed abroad. Courses taken abroad may be used to satisfy major requirements only if approved by the undergraduate program director or a designated adviser.

Program Learning Outcomes

The program learning outcomes for this major are the following: (1) ability to write clearly and articulately; (2) understanding of the general properties of language; (3) exposure to linguistic theory and linguistic investigation; and (4) proficiency in a language other than English.

Requirements of the Language Studies Major

Early Declaration

Prospective students should declare the major as early as possible so that they can complete the language, linguistics, and context requirements within the allowed period of enrollment.

Students who wish to include a study abroad experience in their course of study will have to coordinate their choice of time abroad with the scheduling of UCSC courses. Transfer students who have not made significant progress with the language requirements before entering UCSC may find it difficult to include a time abroad before completion of graduation requirements.

Qualification Policy for the Language Studies Major

The Linguistics Department has adopted a major qualification policy for linguistics and language studies majors that is intended to encourage students to take their performance in the gateway courses seriously and to help them lay a solid foundation for further coursework in the major.

In order to declare the linguistics or language studies major, a student must pass each of the two gateway courses—Linguistics 50, Introduction to Linguistics; and Linguistics 53, Semantics I—with a grade of C+ or better.

Students who are informed that they are not eligible to declare the major may appeal the decision within 15 days from the date the notification was mailed. They should do this by submitting a formal letter, addressed to the department's undergraduate program director, to the Linguistics Department office (Stevenson 241 and 243). This letter should explain any extenuating circumstances that influenced performance in the gateway courses. Within 15 days of receipt of the appeal, the department will notify the student, the student's college, and the Office of the Registrar of the decision.


Language studies majors must satisfy course requirements in languages, linguistics, and cultural context.

Language component: Language studies majors must achieve a level equivalent to six quarters in the language of concentration. Additionally, one advanced language course after level 6 is required for students concentrating in French, German, Italian, or Spanish. Majors in Chinese and Japanese take two advanced language courses after level 6.

Linguistics component. The major requires four named courses in linguistics:

50, Introduction to Linguistics

53, Semantics 1

101, Phonology 1

111, Syntactic Structures; or 112, Syntax 1

 and two upper-division linguistics courses.

Cultural context or linguistics component. The major also requires five upper-division elective courses in linguistics or the cultural context of the language of concentration. Linguistics courses include any upper-division course offered by the Linguistics Department. Cultural context courses are to be selected from disciplines such as literature, history, and politics, subject to departmental approval. These courses are related to the language of concentration.

Senior exit requirement. In their senior year, language studies majors must satisfy the senior exit requirement in one of two ways:

Option 1. Successful completion of a capstone course—an appropriate upper-division linguistics course. Students must have senior standing and must have completed Linguistics 53, Semantics I; 101, Phonology I; and 111, Syntactic Structures or 112, Syntax I. This course can be one of the two linguistics electives required for the major.

Option 2. Senior thesis supervised by a faculty member. The proposal for a senior thesis must be submitted for approval by the department faculty at least three quarters prior to the quarter of graduation. Students enroll in Linguistics 195, Senior Thesis, with the approval of the faculty adviser. The senior thesis is an original investigation of the major language in some relevant way, such as the linguistic structure or history of the language or its historical, literary, cultural, sociological, ethnographic, or political context.

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

Students of every major must satisfy that major's upper-division Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement. The DC requirement in language studies is satisfied by completing courses 101 and either 111 or 112.

Requirements of the Minor

The minor requires completion of six quarters of language study, or demonstration of an equivalent level of ability, and eight additional linguistics and cultural context courses as follows:

  • 50, Introduction to Linguistics

  • 101, Phonology I

  • 111, Syntactic Structures; or 112, Syntax I

  • Two upper-division linguistics courses

  • Three electives in linguistics or in the cultural context of the language of concentration, to be selected from disciplines such as literature, history, and politics, subject to departmental approval. One of the courses taken must have a prerequisite of Level 6 in the student’s designated language.

There is no senior exit requirement for the minor.


Students who wish to be considered for honors should meet the deadline posted by the Office of the Registrar for declaring the intent to graduate. Determination of honors is based on the student’s grades and narrative evaluations for all courses relevant to the major and other factors relevant to an assessment of academic excellence, such as research papers of professional quality. Generally, honors in the major are awarded only to the top 10 percent of those graduating in the major. Only those students whose performance in coursework is excellent will qualify. Highest honors are rarely awarded, and then only to students whose performance in coursework is outstanding and who have completed an outstanding senior thesis.

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Revised: 09/01/17