I’m very interested in taking up the fields of Linguistics and Psychology in university, but I’m not sure how to, and where I should take them. I’m not very familiar with the tertiary education system, so can anyone help me? I’m not exactly sure how to do a double major, how long it will take for me to complete it, and all the prerequisites needed. Can I also get any help on the best universities to take up these particular majors, and what kind of job prospects and future I will have if I take them up?
Depends on where you are really. Here in Aus, most of the major universities will offer both linguistics AND psych in their Arts faculties (so you can do a double major that will take around 5 years full-time). Or you can do them as part of a BSc/Arts combined degree that will also take around 5 years.
As far as the rest of the world is concerned, I wouldn’t have the foggiest clue I’m afraid.
Speaking as an American…
In general, you’d take 4-5 classes per semester. So that’s 32-40 classes over the course of college. Figure most colleges require about 12 or so classes for general education requirements. That leaves 20-28 classes leftover. Generally, a major requires something like 8-10 classes, so for a double major, you’re looking at 16-20 classes. That leaves 0-12 classes left over for whatever else.
Now, those numbers are a little off, because the classes in your major will generally fulfill some of the general education requirements, and there’ll probably be some overlap between linguistics and psychology. And some universities offer programs in cognitive science, where you can study both in one major.
Any way you slice it, four years is more than enough time to do something like this.
Nobody really cares where you do your undergraduate education as long as it’s an accredited university. Where you go to grad school can matter if you’re looking at a career in academia, but otherwise, it’s the degrees that matter, not where you got them from.
As far as job prospects go, I’ll let someone else speak at length. It’s pretty unlikely you could get a job in either field without a graduate degree of some kind.
You may want to look into a neuropsychology program where the faculty does research on language. I know that the University of Windsor (Ontario, Canada) has a program like this, although it is graduate level.
Just wanted to add that while psychology departments are a dime a dozen (or at least at American colleges), not every institution has a linguistics department. This would probably be worth verifying when you’re looking for places to apply.
Having sat on the admissions committee for a graduate program (in physics), I can state that this is not true. It wasn’t a huge factor, but it did make a difference whether someone did their undergrad work at Stanford compared to, say, the University of Western Florida.
Start by looking for universities that have undergraduate degrees in linguistics. On the Linguistic Society of America website, there’s a webpage with a list of universities in North America with linguistics departments. Nearly every university has an undergraduate program in psychology, so it’s no problem finding places with them. There are then three things you want to balance off:
How good is the linguistics program at the university?
How good is the psychology program at the university?
How good is the university overall for undergraduates?
It certainly helps to get into a graduate program if you’re a graduate of a well-regarded undergraduate program with good grades. You’re not going to be doing any specialization, though, as an undergraduate. All you need to show a grad school is that you’ve done well in linguistics and psychology (and had good grades overall) in your undergraduate courses. I don’t know exactly what you think you’re going to do with linguistics and psychology, but you’re going to need to do graduate work.
Some colleges will let you make your own special majors. I know that at least one person at Swarthmore College was majoring in psycholinguistics, even though that isn’t a normal major listed in the course catalog. You could do this without taking any more than the 32 courses required to graduate from Swat, and there are no prereqs other than getting into the school.
As far as job prospects go, I’m not really sure. I only minored in ling at Swat and I’m not pursueing the field further. I know that voice recognition is a pretty hot field these days, but I don’t know how well your pysch interests fit in with that.
Here are links to the ling, psych, and cogsci requirements at Swat, in case you want some examples. I don’t know how well they represent requirements at other schools in the US or elsewhere.
I’ll add that while psych departments are indeed readily available, it is worth asking some questions about the focus of the department. I majored in psychology, and chose the major with general thoughts of someday “helping people with their problems.” It turns out the university I went to had a strictly experimental focus, with absolutely no clinically focused classes. I wound up learning lots of really interesting stuff, including learning about myself that I’m am not the type of person to “help people with their problems” as my career, so it all turned out OK. But I could have would up having to switch schools for a rather embarassing reason if I’d been dead set on my original direction.
Speech therapy (available as a major at North Carolina State University) is one thing I believe you could do with a 4 year degree combining psych and linguistics. Another option with a 4-year degree might be corporate communications. As others have indicated, options are limited in psych and linguistics without a graduate degree. Both fascinating fields, though.
Speaking as someone with an MA in linguistics, I think the best field for a career using the major is speech pathology (but you would need an MA). If you also get a degree in psychology, you might consider something along the lines of working with those who have brain injuries that involve the loss of speech (disphasia, IIRC).
As for where to go, you are going to be more limited by the linguistics than the psych, so start with that. Speech pathology may be its own major (not called linguistics in that case.) If you can tell us where you are in the world, it might help people recommned schools. My undergrad alma mater in NJ has a good speech pathology dept and an ok psych; they do not have linguistics per say. It may be similar in other schools.
I can’t offer anything specific as far as your fields go (although SUNY at Buffalo, my alma mater, had a huge psych department and a linguistics department full of very nice folks I didn’t get the chance to work under), but I just graduated with a double major from two departments that didn’t actively work together. Granted, political science and philosophy were complimentary, but the departments didn’t have standing agreements or anything.
I graduated with 125 credits (a shade over the required 120) in the standard four years. I didn’t get much variance in the courses I took - it was mostly poli sci, or philosophy, or a general ed requirement - but that would have been more of an issue if the fields weren’t interesting to me. I believe I did have the potential for at least one totally elective course each semester, though.
Hmm, I’m a Singaporean, so I’m not really acquainted with the American education system, but I do want to go to a university there. I’m not sure if I may want to have a career in speech pathology or something like that, but I do want to work maybe as a researcher, studying language as it is and its various aspects. Since I’m a native speaker of Malay, an Austronesian language, I think I may specialise in it, seeing that the history of the languages and the peoples are not as detailed and researched upon as the other language families. The problem is, I’m not sure how to go about doing this, so I need help in this area, such as what majors I should take, and where are the places where I can find such a job.
Don’t bother me writes:
> Since I’m a native speaker of Malay, an Austronesian language, I think I may
> specialise in it, seeing that the history of the languages and the peoples are
> not as detailed and researched upon as the other language families.
You know, I wish that people would start by telling us where they live when they post. It’s often important in answering their questions, and this is a perfect example. I think that a double major in linguistics and anthropology would make much more sense in your case, Don’t bother me. Most work in psycholinguistics is done in major languages, and knowing a somewhat exotic one is irrelevant. You would be in good shape to do anthropological linguistics. You would also be in good shape to do historical linguistics about the Austronesian family. I don’t see though that doing psycholinguistics about Malay would be very easy.
It’s good to think ahead and to check and be sure that the majors you’re interested in are offered at schools you apply to, but it’s probably too soon for you to decide for sure what major you want, much less that you want to do a double. It was my experience in college that most people who attempt a double major wind up dropping one (although I myself was an exception). And many people (myself included) graduate with a degree in a field other than the one they planned on when they entered school. Until you’re actually in college it’s difficult to get the information and experience you need to make the decision.
QUOTE]You know, I wish that people would start by telling us where they live when they post. It’s often important in answering their questions, and this is a perfect example. I think that a double major in linguistics and anthropology would make much more sense in your case, Don’t bother me. Most work in psycholinguistics is done in major languages, and knowing a somewhat exotic one is irrelevant. You would be in good shape to do anthropological linguistics. You would also be in good shape to do historical linguistics about the Austronesian family. I don’t see though that doing psycholinguistics about Malay would be very easy.
Oh, I’m very sorry, I should have done that earlier, I was just so wrapped up in posting the op that I forgot.
That seems more in line with what I would want to do, but I’ve got so many interests in the field of psychology too. So, can I do a double major in anthropology and linguistics, with a minor in psychology, or would that be too much of a workload for me?
EEKS! What happened above?
I second what Ruken wrote. I have what was at the time called a “special major” in linguistics and psychology from Swarthmore, as did about 8 of my friends. Many of our courses were cross-listed in both departments. I also took a reasonable number of English classes and an anthropology class or two (cross-liosted with linguistics, conveniently enough). Some of us went on to graduate study in linguistics (with or without taking time off to work), others to psychology, others to the rest of life. I went on to a master’s in writing, then returned to school for applied psychology degrees and am now a psychologist.
I’m not sure what Swarthmore offers now. More important is the point where “what do you want to do next in your life?” and “what would you enjoy doing now?” intersect.
I was once a psych major, but dropped it down to a minor. I am now a Ph.D. student in linguistics, with my M.A. also in linguistics (B.A. in English lit, B.S. in neurobiology, certificate in natural language processing). My experience with psychology was that after the first three classes, I never heard anything new; whether this is a reflection on the field or on my university’s psychology program is up for grabs. I find linguistics to be a much more workable field–it’s much easier to scrap together publications without ever having gone through the Human Subjects gymnastics or chilling, beheading, pithing, gutting, and castrating small animals… or trying to remove a leech’s nervous system intact.
I have to tell you, if you follow through with this, get yourself some kind of creds either in speech pathology or in second language acquisition. The market for historical/anthropological linguists is basically restricted to academia, where you need to be both smart and lucky. I’m not saying you aren’t/won’t be, but having backup options is part of being smart. If your interest in your particular language group continues, peer into sociolinguistics too.
Sorry to double post… it depends on your university and its requirements, and also the degree to which you’re willing to punish yourself. I once calculated that at my university (Purdue), it is possible to get four liberal arts majors in four years without ever taking more than 18 hours a semester. I got two separate and largely incompatible degrees, plus a minor and a certificate, plus laboratory experience and six publications, in five years, and I am not a particularly hard worker.
Two liberal arts majors plus a minor does not sound like too much. What eats up time is when people change majors.
How did we get three Swatties in this thread at the same time? (Class of '01, Physics major, but I did take a class each from Kari, Ted, and Donna Jo.)