Linguistics, M.A.


Department of Linguistics

Brian Agbayani, Chair
Peters Business Building, Room 383

Degrees and Programs Offered

BA in Linguistics - Teaching English as a Second Language Option, B.A.
BA in Linguistics - Computational Linguistics Option, B.A.
BA in Linguistics - General Linguistics Option, B.A.
BA in Linguistics - Interdisciplinary Language Studies Option, B.A.
BS in Cognitive Science, B.S.
CERT in TESOL, Certificate of Adv. Study
MA in Linguistics, M.A.
MA in Linguistics - Teaching English as a Second Language Option, M.A.
MN in Linguistics, Minor
MN in Computational Linguistics, Minor
MN in Chinese, Minor
MN in Hmong, Minor
MN in Teaching English As A Second Language, Minor
MN in Cognitive Science, Minor
MN in Japanese, Minor

Courses Offered

Language is an essential part of our life. Nothing characterizes humanity more than the ability to use language. Linguists analyze sounds, words, sentences, and texts. Linguists also make valuable contributions to practical fields such as K-12 teaching, second and foreign language teaching, language planning, translation, computer science, forensic linguistics, and language disorders.

Computational applications of linguistics, such as speech synthesis, speech recognition, and machine-assisted translation, have also become increasingly important.

Our undergraduate and graduate programs develop intellectual skills that are essential to professional careers or advanced degrees. Our courses provide analytical tools that can be applied to virtually any subject. They also help enhance critical thinking, satisfy broad intellectual interest, and enrich personal knowledge.

Our majors can be applied directly to various professional fields. They also serve as excellent preparation for pursuing advanced degrees in linguistics and other fields such as English, anthropology, psychology, sociology, computer science, and foreign languages. TESL is an important part of our program and especially compatible with degrees in education and liberal studies. A Japanese minor can be profitably combined with majors in such areas as business, international relations, linguistics, and literature.

Minors in Chinese and Japanese are also available for students with plans to pursue careers in various areas, such as international business, marketing, economics, art and literature, etc., where a knowledge of language and culture would be useful. These two minors are NOT offered to native Chinese or Japanese speakers.

The B.A. Option in Computational Linguistics is for those students interested in text processing, forensic linguistics, software design, machine translation, and other professions dealing with the interface between computers and humans.


The Department of Linguistics has a computer lab for computer-assisted language learning (CALL), for language study, for the analysis of speech sounds, and for displaying the operation of the organs of speech. Computers are used for simulating speech and for mapping the geographical extent of language features, as well as for storing the data needed for the making of grammars and dictionaries. The Linguistics Department provides practical classroom teaching experience for qualified TESL students through employment in the American English Institute. For more, see American English Institute in the Special Programs section of this catalog. Also associated with the Linguistics Department is the Forensic Linguistics Institute (FLI). The FLI provides analyses in linguistic stylistics to extramural clients, thereby giving Fresno State linguistics majors opportunities for work, study, and research.


Graduate Program

The Department of Linguistics offers an M.A. in Linguistics and an M.A. in Linguistics with an option in Teaching English as a Second Language. At California State University, Fresno, students may also get a Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Computational Linguistics or Cognitive Science. Department faculty will assist students in planning such a program. For specific requirements, see Degree Requirements below; for general requirements see Division of Graduate Studies.

The Master of Arts degree program in Linguistics assumes a baccalaureate degree major in an appropriate field and at least three upper-division courses in linguistics as prerequisites. Graduate students are required to complete at least 30 units of courses with a minimum of 21 units of graduate level courses, and to pass a comprehensive examination or complete a thesis.

Graduate Level Writing Competence. Students who are conditionally classified may be required to take the Undergraduate Writing Exam as a condition for classification. California State University, Fresno requires that students have graduate level writing abilities before being advanced to candidacy for the M.A. Students demonstrate these abilities by passing the Qualifying Examination.

Qualifying Examination. The Department of Linguistics requires that students pass a qualifying examination on general linguistics before being advanced to candidacy for the M.A. The examination consists of essay questions on linguistic topics and is given once each semester. A student who does not pass on the first attempt may petition to receive a second opportunity, but this will only be granted in extraordinary circumstances.

(See also Admission to Graduate Standing, Advancement to Candidacy, and Program Requirements.)

Master of Arts Degree Requirements

Students who do not already have a sufficient background in linguistics need to take upper-division linguistics courses to attain classified standing in the department. These include LING 100, 139, 142, 143, 148, 165, (all students) and 141 and 171 (TESL students).

The graduate program consists of at least 30 units, 21 of which must be 200-level courses. Note the following requirements:

Core: LING 239, 242, 243, 248, 265 (15 units)
Required: LING 249 (3 units)
Electives: (6-12 units) Two to four additional courses, depending upon chosen culminating experience.

Highly recommended electives are LING 151 and LING 145 and LING 165. Highly recommended electives for TESL students are LING 132 and 148.

Upon examination of the student's record other courses will be specified to produce a coherent program.



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