Students communicating using sign language

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. The core disciplines — phonetics, phonology, syntax, semantics, and morphology — aim to uncover the underlying structures of language. The subfield of sociolinguistics investigates the interaction of language with social factors. Psycholinguistics studies cognitive components of language, including acquisition. Computational linguistics investigates language structure using programming tools.



Undergraduate majors


The department offers a range of undergraduate and graduate courses, from small research workshops and seminars to large omnibus introductory courses resulting in an average of 3,000 enrolled undergraduates per year. The more advanced courses, which count towards our major, are typically small (less than 30 students); many are attended by both advanced undergraduate and introductory-level graduate students. Cross-listed courses in eight departments attest to the interdisciplinary nature of the department’s offerings.

Undergraduate degrees offered:

  • BA in Linguistics (including an Honors option)
  • Minor in ASL
  • Minor in Linguistics

Graduate degrees offered:

  • PhD in Linguistics
  • PhD in Computational Linguistics
  • Professional MS in Computational Linguistics

The research-driven undergraduate curriculum in linguistics introduces students to theoretical concepts and research methods, and nurtures critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills that translate to careers inside and outside of academia. Many of our undergraduate students collaborate directly with faculty members, often in one of our research laboratories. Students in the undergraduate honors program take one graduate-level research seminar and complete a senior thesis based on their own original research under the direction of a Linguistics faculty member.

In our highly competitive PhD programs, graduate students are fully supported through a combination of teaching, grant-funded research, and fellowships. Our PhD students are encouraged to apply for their own research and education funding and have a high success rate. The MS in Computational Linguistics prepares students for careers in industry at the intersection of computer science and linguistics.



Seven 2019 PhD graduates in purple caps and gowns
2019 PhD graduates in Linguistics.

Autumn 2021

  • 168 Linguistics majors
  • 26 Linguistics minors
  • 27 ASL minors
  • 111 Professional Master of Science students
  • 28 PhD students

Degrees Awarded


  • 52 Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics
  • 14 Minors in Linguistics
  • 3 Minors in ASL
  • 51 Master of Science in Computational Linguistics
  • 5 PhD in Linguistics

Student Awards

Graduate Student Awards (since 2019)

  • 2 Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships
  • 1 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
  • 1 Chiang Ching-Kuo dissertation fellowship
  • 9 Graduate Research Excellence Awards
  • 6 MS in Computational Linguistics Scholarships
  • 3 Ryan Neale Cross Memorial Fellowships

Undergraduate Student Awards (2021)

  • 4 Phi Beta Kappa
  • 2 BA with Summa Cum Laude
  • 1 BA with Magna Cum Laude
  • 11 BA Cum Laude


Professor lecturing next to images displayed on classroom screen.
Professor Naja Ferjan Ramírez teaching Humanities 101: Health and Wealth.

Winter 2022

    Linguistics has 19 faculty members, with 36 additional adjunct or affiliate faculty, including:

    • 7 Professors
    • 5 Associate Professors
    • 5 Assistant Professors
    • 3 Associate Teaching Professors
    • 21 Adjunct Faculty from other campus departments
    • 15 Affiliate Faculty
    • 7 Emeritus Professors

    Recent faculty awards and leadership roles:

    • University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Award
    • Editor: Phonology
    • Editor: Journal of French Language Studies
    • Associate Editor: Language and Speech
    • Associate Editor: Journal of Slavic Linguistics
    • Mellon Fellowship for Emeritus Faculty
    • 2 NSF Career Awards
    • Presidents (2), Linguistics Society of America
    • Presidents (2), Washington ASL Teacher Association
    • Acoustical Society of America Fellow
    • Ken Hale Prize, Linguistic Society of America
    • Research funding from UW RRF, NSF, NIH, DARPA, IARPA, and private sources


    Five research/teaching laboratories in the department —phonetics, sociolinguistics, computational linguistics, language processing and acquisition, and neuroplasticity and language —support faculty, graduate and undergraduate research. The interdisciplinary nature of linguistics is reflected in the large number of collaborations between Linguistics and other departments. These include several research grants, the greatest number of which are with computer science, electrical engineering, bioinformatics, and speech and hearing sciences. Our research grants come predominantly from the National Science Foundation while the National Institutes of Health and private/corporate sources also make up a significant portion of the funding. UW-internal grants, such as the Royalty Research Fund and the department’s Linguistics Fund, make up a smaller portion of the funding. In the past 10 years our faculty have been PIs or Co-PIs on research grants totaling $8,871,181.

    Areas of Scholarship

    • Phonetics

    • Phonology

    • Morphology

    • Syntax

    • Semantics

    • Sociolinguistics

    • Historical Linguistics

    • Indigenous Languages

    • Psycholinguistics (Acquisition, Processing)

    • Computational Linguistics


    • Howard and Frances Nostrand Professorship
    • Endowed Graduate Fellowship


    The Linguistics Department encourages its faculty and students to bring the latest research findings to the public in order to address social, cultural, educational, and societal issues.

    • UW Linguistics is a local host for the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad, an international contest in which middle and high school students solve linguistics puzzles. Our local participants regularly go on to represent the United States in the International Linguistics Olympiad.
    • Graduate students in linguistics hold Software Carpentry workshops, which teach researchers the basics of reproducible scientific computing.
    • Our faculty are represented on the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Advisory group on Standards for World Languages.
    • UW Linguistics hosts a joint symposium series in computational linguistics with Microsoft.
    • Our ASL faculty work with ASL teachers at state and national levels.
    • Our faculty and students work to raise awareness in the general community of signed languages, Deaf culture, and cultural appropriation.


    Department of Linguistics
    Box 352425
    University of Washington
    Seattle, WA 98195
    (206) 543-2046


    last update: December 2021