What Can I Do With a Major In Linguistics?

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Joyce Halverson

Career Counselor

Major Information

Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Our courses explore:

  • the principles governing the structure of natural languages
  • how people use language in social interaction
  • how children and adults acquire languages
  • how languages change over time

You should major in linguistics if you enjoy learning about language. When you major in linguistics, you learn how to study language scientifically. You also develop skills that have general applications, including critical thinking, analytical reasoning, argumentation and effective communication.

The major in linguistics prepares you for a variety of careers by providing courses that require problem solving and data analysis; strong communication skills; independent, self motivated work ethic; critical reading and argumentation skills; and sensitivity to and the ability to work with culturally diverse individuals and groups.

All liberal arts degrees help CLA students develop their Core Career Competencies, and linguistics majors develop specific skills that are applicable to lots of different careers. These skills include:

  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Research, data management and analysis skills
  • Critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills
  • Expertise in semantics, syntax, grammar and the principles governing the structure of language
  • Ability to recognize trends and patterns
  • Ability to formulate clear and persuasive messages
  • Listening, clarifying, questioning and responding skills
  • Awareness of cultural diversity and the social cues encoded in language
  • Ability to work well independently and collaboratively    

Interest code: AIS


Internship & Job Search Websites

Professional Organizations

Graduate Programs in Linguistics

  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Maryland
  • UMass Amherst
  • MIT
  • UCLA
  • University of Texas
  • Texas A&M
  • University of Southern California
  • University of California at Berkeley
  • University of California at Santa Cruz
  • Ohio State University
  • Yale University
  • Harvard University
  • University of Hawaii
  • Oxford University
  • University of Edinburgh

Career Options

Below is a small sampling of what alumni with this major have pursued, organized by the most common career fields they go into (although keep in mind that there are Linguistics alumni in all eight of the career fields).  For more career information for Linguistics majors, utilize these additional resources:

  • What Can I Do With This Major - Find information about common career paths, employers, and strategies for how to build experience in different career fields
  • LinkedIn's Alumni Tool - Explore thousands of alumni career pathways
  • GoldPASS - Explore different job, internship, and volunteer opportunities as well as career events on campus
Note: *Asterisks denote that further education and/or training is often required
Business, Consulting, Marketing & Sales


  • Marketing Intern, Alliance Francaise de Minneapolis
  • Marketing Analyst Intern, Sysco Asian Foods
  • Intern, Groupon Malaysia
  • Project Management Intern, LUZ, Inc


  • Operations Analyst, Cargill
  • Global Human Resources Team, JSR Corporation
  • Loan Specialist 3, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage
  • Commissions Coordinator and Financing Specialist, Lutheran Brotherhood Securities
  • Consultant, ITI Scotland Limited
  • Marketing Assistant, Roy L. Nordenstrom & Sons
  • Technical Documentation Manager, Beckoff Automation
  • Customer Operations Specialist, General Mills
  • Group Manager, Fingerhut
  • Curriculum Developer, Digi International


  • Director of Global Customer Experience, eBay*
  • VP of Learning & Leadership Development, Prudential Financial*
  • Business Planning Analyst, General Mills


  • Intern, Duluth Library Foundation


  • Teaching Assistant, Metro North Adult Basic Educ
  • Student Services Specialist, U of MN
  • Program Associate, Learning Abroad Center, Univ of MN
  • Research Assistant, U of MN College of Pharmacy
  • Curriculum Assistant, Law School at Univ of MN


  • Librarian, Houston Public Library*
  • Adjunct Faculty, Century College*
  • Director of Institutional Relations & Diversity Initiatives at Learning Abroad Center, Univ of MN*
  • Sign Language Interpreter, Univ of MN
  • Professor, Stanford University*
  • Professor, University of California at Irvine*
  • President, Youth Music Education Foundation
  • Graduate Programs
  • M.Ed. in Second Language Education, University of Minnesota
Government, Law, Public Policy, & International Affairs


  • Legal Intern, Lehmann & Lutter, P.A.
  • Diversity Intern, Met Council


  • Claims Agent, U.S. Dept of Veteran Affairs
  • Records Management Assistant, MN Dept of Transportation


  • Child Support Enforcement Agent, Ramsey County Attorney's Office

Graduate Programs

  • JD, Mitchell Hamline
  • Master of International Management, Thunderbird School of Global Management
  • Master of Public Affairs, Humphrey School of Public Affairs