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Ball State’s master of arts in linguistics empowers you to understand the scientific study of human language.

An important focus of linguistics is identifying properties common to languages through the study of linguistic structure (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics), and on understanding how languages change, how they are used by communities, and how they are acquired. As such, linguistics provides insight into both the structural and communicative properties of human language.

In analyzing linguistic structure and identifying patterns of language use, students apply this knowledge in an effort to better understand language use and language learning.

Throughout the MA program, you are exposed to linguistic structure and language use patterns of languages from around the world.

What You Will Learn

Learning outcomes include:

  • a deep understanding of languages as an organized, interrelated system with multiple subsystems
  • the ability to apply linguistic methodologies to analyze language (English and other languages)
  • the skills to recognize and interpret differences across speech communities in language use
  • awareness of cross-cultural difference and respect for diversity
  • the ability to conduct a scientific research project and produce a quality research paper

Our Alumni

Learn more about what our graduate-program alumni do.

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What Can You Do with an English Major?

We’re asked this question all the time. Our answer: A lot. You will learn skills that transfer across hundreds of possible careers and industries—some of which may not even exist yet. Our graduates go on to work in marketing, publishing, non-profit fundraising, speechwriting, as well as in countless other fulfilling occupations.

Explore Careers

A student and a professor working together.

Program Benefits

You will learn directly from and collaborate with your faculty members, who offer diverse areas of expertise in linguistics and are actively conducting research in their fields, often with support from their students.

Faculty and student research has included work on:

  • the indigenous languages of the Americas
  • German
  • Hmong
  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Thai
  • Arabic
  • Polish
  • Romance languages
  • American Sign Language
  • African languages

Read our faculty bios:

You’ll produce published work and gain experience in the professional field through projects with your faculty, working as an assistant, presenting your work at conferences, and publishing journal articles.

Many of our graduate assistants work in Ball State’s Intensive English Institute, which provides English instruction to nonnative speakers. Through the work in the institute, the GAs receive ample practical training and can put into practice what they learn through their courses.

Explore more professional opportunities.

Major Requirements

The MA in linguistics includes core graduate-level linguistics coursework, directed electives, and a research or creative project.

Total Credits



A few of the classes you may take include:

  • Research in English Studies
  • Morphology and Syntax
  • Phonology and Phonetics

We also offer open-topic courses in linguistics and applied linguistics. Some of the courses offered are:

  • Linguistics and Digital Communication
  • Bilingualism and Language Contact
  • Language and Gender
  • Psycholinguistics

For a complete list of all the courses you will take and their descriptions, please see our Graduate Catalog.

View Catalog


Depending on the nature of your research, you may also be advised to take one or more courses in experimental design and statistics in addition to other course work.

Some research topics of the linguistics faculty and students include:

  • pragmatics
  • discourse analysis
  • psycholinguistics
  • second language reading and vocabulary acquisition
  • TESOL pedagogy
  • syntax
  • lexical semantics
  • sociolinguistics
  • language documentation and description
  • typology
  • historical linguistics

Paying for Your Education

Department Graduate Scholarships and Assistantships

A graduate assistantship is an excellent opportunity to gain meaningful professional experience while helping cover the costs of your degree. Learn more.

Ready to Apply?

The first step is to apply as a graduate student to Ball State University. You will also need to meet admission criteria and apply to the program itself.

More Information

If you would like to learn more about this program or about Ball State Graduate School in general, please complete our online form to request more information. Or if you’d like to speak with someone in our department directly by phone or email, please contact us.