Forensic Linguistics

Master of Arts in Linguistics

Professor Leonard, Director of Linguistics Programs

Linguistics is the systematic, scientific study of language. "Forensic" linguistics refers to linguistics applied to any use of language with legal relevance. The MA in Linguistics: Forensic Linguistics is a 36 semester hour program designed to meet a growing demand for advanced training in scientific language analysis.

At Hofstra, a student trains first and foremost to become a linguist and learn the core tools and competencies—including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, discourse analysis, corpus linguistics, dialectology, and sociolinguistics—that serve as the base of linguistics. Unlike other linguistics programs, real life illustrations and teaching examples are, wherever possible, drawn from forensic applications—often from the extensive array of law cases originally consulted on by the Hofstra faculty.

Advanced courses explore the specific application of linguistic science to cases involving criminal activity of all kinds, including extortion, bribery, murder, espionage, weapons of mass destruction, as well as to civil cases of trademark protection, the meaning of contracts and statutes, and defamation. Students learn to critique common interrogation procedures from a linguistic point of view and learn how to perform analyses that investigate the authorship of different sets of documents. In short, while they learn the science of linguistics, they also learn how to apply it to a multiplicity of issues in the real world—in this case, the legal arena.

Press queries please contact Mrs. Mary Milana at tel (516) 463-3834.

Regarding the Forensic Linguistics Justice Project, please be aware that internships with the Project are reserved for enrolled internship students. We appreciate very much that people are kind enough to want to volunteer; however, we are unfortunately required to limit the spaces to enrolled Hofstra students.

Download MALFL Graduate Handbook & Program FAQ [PDF]Read About Forensic Linguistics and Dr. Rob Leonard in The New Yorker More information on our new Juris Doctor (JD) and Master of Linguistics: Forensic Linguistics (MALFL), Joint-Degree Program


Program Requirements

Candidates for the Master of Arts in Linguistics: Forensic Linguistics are considered on a rolling basis. Thus, there is no strict cut-off date for applying to be admitted in either spring or fall. We do, however, strongly recommend applying early and entering in the fall. Once an application and all supporting credentials are received, the application is reviewed by our Admissions Committee.

Academic & Career Paths

Forensic Linguistics Degrees

The program prepares students to continue on for a PhD in theoretical or applied linguistics (e.g., the new Hofstra University-Aston University collaborative PhD program in Forensic Linguistics) or a related field, or for public or private sector employment in the U.S. and internationally in careers relating to or associated with language, law, law enforcement, and the forensic sciences.

Forensic Linguistics Jobs

Graduates of the program are able to pursue employment in organizations that seek professionals with research and linguistic skills and in any field in which people work with language, including government and academic institutions, business, industry, and communications.

The program combines a broad-based academic experience with applied workshops and internship opportunities so that, upon graduation, students are prepared to bring to their workplace an array of skills and experiences in the analysis of language in legal and other real-world settings.

Contact the Program

Program Director

Robert A. Leonard, Ph.D.
Professor of Linguistics
309 Calkins Hall
Bio | WWW

Program Office

Mary Milana
Senior Departmental Secretary
322 Calkins Hall
Phone: 516-463-5434
Fax: 516-463-7082
Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Institute for Forensic Linguistics, Threat Assessment, & Strategic Analysis