About Linguistics

Our Program and Courses

Discover a field as rich and varied as the languages spoken around the globe. There are several ways linguistics at F&M can add richness and depth to your academic path. You can earn a certificate in linguistics, take linguistics courses to enrich your chosen major or minor, or you can design your own major by combining linguistics with two other disciplines. This offers you a distinctive opportunity to craft a major that is customized to your learning goals. Examples include:

  • Linguistics, Psychology, and Philosophy 
  • Linguistics, Spanish, and Anthropology 
  • Linguistics, Japanese, and Psychology

Studying linguistics is an important first step in understanding the world around us. Why are words so powerful? Where does meaning come from? Why does pronunciation change from place to place? As a field of study that touches on many others, you will explore philosophy, psychology, anthropology, and much more in your journey to better understand the power of language. By diving into linguistics and exploring its connections to other disciplines, you will fine tune your experience and learn about language as more than just how we talk to each other, but as a complex tool for communication that involves spoken word, written script, and movements of the body. 

By the time you graduate, you will have: 

  • An understanding of language in the mind and how it relates to other cognitive skills and abilities
  • A comprehensive understanding of how language and culture are connected and influenced by one another.
  • The skill to explain language trends and experiences in everyday life.
  • The knowledge to understand and identify the deep social and political importance that weaves through language and communication.
  • The confidence to communicate complex linguistic concepts to others.
  • All the skills needed to collaborate effectively with others and bridge gaps of understanding between disciplines.

Wondering what linguistics courses are like? Take a look at our course catalog to explore what classes you can expect to sample.

Our Faculty and Staff

Kimberly Armstrong
Professor of Spanish & Linguistics

Jessica G. Cox
Associate Professor of Spanish and Linguistics, Department Chair of Spanish

Learning Outside the Classroom

As you will learn, the experience of language changes according to where you are and to whom  you’re speaking. That’s why it’s important to expand your linguistics journey to outside the classroom and into other areas where language is used. 

Summer Fieldwork & Independent Study

Some of our faculty work with undergraduate research assistants during the academic year and research scholars in the summer. Through our connections with other departments, you are also able to engage in independent study and fieldwork related to your interests in linguistics. From studying the effects of brain injury on language use to exploring if bilingualism enhances a person’s perspective-taking abilities, linguistics students have the full range of F&M’s faculty and expertise at their disposal. Furthermore, thanks to a generous donor fund, many F&M students are able to obtain financial assistance in order to attend these programs as well.
Explore research at F&M

Off-Campus Study

With countless languages and cultures spanning the world, off-campus study is strongly encouraged. F&M students have studied abroad in Italy, Spain, Austria, Australia, England, Ireland, and many more places.
Explore off-campus study at F&M

Success Beyond F&M

Linguistics will be an important and relevant part of your post-undergraduate career whether you pursue a related field or not. The writing, analytical, critical thinking, and creative skills you gain by studying linguistics alongside your chosen major and minor at F&M can broaden your post-college opportunities. 

Graduate School

It’s not uncommon for F&M students to study in graduate programs in the U.S. and abroad. Students who have studied linguistics at F&M have gone on to pursue advanced degrees in speech language pathology, second language acquisition, and more.

Career Paths

Including linguistics in their F&M journey have prepared graduates for a wide array of careers. By enhancing their major and minor with an understanding of how language works, graduates are distinctly positioned for roles that require empathy, understanding of differences, and collaboration. They hold positions such as: 

  • Professor
  • Speech Pathologist
  • Business Analyst
  • Marketing Analyst
  • English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher
  • Neuroscientist
  • Computer Engineer
  • AI Developer
  • SEO Analyst
  • Medical Doctor

Alumni Spotlight

Researching Linguistics and Bilingualism

Inspired by her connection to language learning and her own bilingualism, Lauren Chen '23 joined a bilingualism lab run by Associate Professor of Spanish and Linguistics Jessica Cox. Chen spent a summer researching COVID-19 and its impact on adult English language learners' interest in taking an online English class in the future. "Over 30% of people indicated they were interested in taking online English classes after COVID," she said. "There were some barriers and variables that impact this level of interest. The main thing I'm looking at is how internet access and physical location do impact these learners' interest."
Read More »

Fields of Study


Encounter world cultures, examine the human experience, and gain new perspectives to help guide you through the field and in life. By studying anthropology at F&M, you’ll explore humanity through anthropological theory and research, inspecting questions like the natural roles of parents, the meaning of work, the function of ritual, and more.


Read the past. Write the future. Whether you are drawn to the latest graphic novels, medieval tales, Jane Austen’s marriage plots, experimental poetry, or texts you have yet to discover, the English major offers wide-ranging explorations of language and ideas.


Embark on a journey of the mind and learn all about why we do the things we do. From non-human animal behavior to language development and neurological impairment, your time spent studying psychology at F&M will unlock a whole new world of understanding of how the brain works.

F&M Linguistics in the Spotlight

October 14, 2021

Research Fair: Learning English Online During the Pandemic

Franklin & Marshall College junior Lauren Chen was coding survey results for a lab when a particular aspect of her work caught her eye. Neuroscience major researches COVID-19 and its impact on adult English language learners' interest in taking an online English class in the future.

December 7, 2020

Language's Power in Students' Lives

Telling stories via video about a time when language was important in their lives gave a group of Franklin & Marshall first-year students some unexpected personal insights. Franklin & Marshall College offers students a hands-on education that emphasizes close relationships with faculty. Students flourish in a supportive community that treats them as an individual, and their successes continue long after F&M. The College is a national leader in launching students and alumni to opportunities where they make a difference in the community and the world.

February 7, 2020

Speaker Argues for Dual Language Education So No Child Is Left Monolingual

Although 31 states have declared English as their native tongue, and roughly 21 percent of the population is, at various degrees, bilingual, the United States has no official language. Meanwhile, 75 percent of the world's 7.7 billion people do not speak English. That, according to Kimberly Potowski, professor of Spanish linguistics in the Department of Hispanic & Italian Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, reflects a problem with American education policy, particularly considering an estimated 60 percent of the world's population is bilingual or multilingual.