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Have you ever wondered how the word 'like' became, like, a thing people say all the time? Or why Siri doesn't always understand what you're asking?

The search for answers to questions like this is part of a field called linguistics - the systematic, scientific analysis of human language. Majoring in Linguistics can take you down any number of career paths, among them computer and artificial intelligence-related fields, translation, publishing, editing, anthropology, education, speech therapy, and law.

In Hofstra's Linguistics program you will learn:

  • How and why communication happens, or fails to happen.
  • How language supports and creates communities.
  • How language is processed and stored, and what causes it to change over time..

Hofstra's Linguistics faculty are internationally recognized experts in the field, including program director Robert Leonard, who is a pioneer in the emerging field of forensic linguistics - the application of linguistic analysis to the law.

Linguistics has many subfields, including the history and relationship among languages, the study of meaning, grammar and context, the sound patterns of language, the interplay between language and society, the role of language and cognition in human evolution, and the importance of language in interpersonal and intergroup communication.

In the New York region, graduates with a bachelor's degree in Linguistic earn an average annual salary of $40,511, and job growth for this major is expected to rise by more than 34% by 2026, according to New York area labor market data retrieved in July 2018 by Burning Glass Technologies.


Required courses for a degree in linguistics include Introduction to Linguistics; Phonetics and Phonology (the study of speech sounds and patterns of sound in different languages); Morphology and Syntax (the analysis of sentence structure and grammar); and a course in sociolinguistics, which explores how language is used in society.

Electives include courses such as:

  • Linguistics of Asian Writing Systems
  • Forensic Linguistics
  • The Classical Roots of English Words; Origins of Medical Terminology
  • Culture and Communication
  • Language and Society in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Up-to-date information about required classes and more is available in the Hofstra Bulletin.

BA in Linguistics Requirements

Language-related electives also are found throughout the University, and include classes in departments such as Anthropology, English, Rhetoric, Speech Communication, and Psychology.

While Linguistics students are not required to be proficient in a language other than English, many choose to combine the studies of a foreign language with their linguistics major. Linguistics also pairs well with the Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences; Criminology; and Computer Science, as well as the Classics.

Hofstra also offers a minor in linguistics and a dual degree - a BA/MA in Linguistics: Forensic Linguistics - that can be completed in five years as opposed to six. Hofstra's Forensic Linguistics program was the first of its kind in the nation in a field that is increasingly used as a tool of legal professionals, law enforcement, and the intelligence community around the world.

Recent Alumni Outcomes

Linguistics intersects with many areas such as anthropology, computer science, engineering, foreign language study, neurology, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and speech & hearing science, among others. So a degree in linguistics is a great foundation for many careers, and graduate programs.

Recent alumni of Hofstra's linguistic program have gone on to careers with:

  • Burma Task Force USA
  • Duck Creek Technologies
  • EBSCO Information Services
  • Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership
  • John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (Wiley)
  • Macmillan Learning
  • Peace Corps
  • St. Martin's Press
  • U.S. Army
  • World Class Language Solutions

They are pursuing advanced studies at:

  • Adelphi University
  • College of William and Mary
  • Columbia University
  • Hofstra University
  • Long Island University
  • Pace University
  • SUNY Farmingdale State College
  • University of Alabama
  • Wayne State University
92% are employed, grad school or both
100% accept a position within six months
$49K median salary*
Get More Info on Program Outcomes
*Represents median salary for the first year following graduation



Hands-on experience is key when job seeking, which is why 64% of our students complete internships - usually more than one - during their time at Hofstra.

Top Internships:

  • Area Health Education Center
  • CITYarts, Inc.
  • Donadio and Olson Literary Agency
  • Innocence Project
  • Macmillan Learning
  • Messenger Post Media
  • Northwell Health
  • South Shore Bank
  • Web Media 151
  • Westbury School District



Dr. Robert Leonard is director Linguistics Programs and of the Graduate Program in Linguistics: Forensic Linguistics. Described by The New Yorker magazine as "one of the foremost language detectives in the country," Dr. Leonard has consulted for the FBI and many police, counter-terrorism, and intelligence agencies in the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom. His testimony has been pivotal in several high profile criminal cases, including the JonBenet Ramsey murder. Recently he was interviewed by multiple media outlets, about using forensic linguistics to help identify the author of the unsigned The New York Times op-ed who claimed to be part of a secret "resistance" inside the White House.

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