When you pursue an applied linguistics major, you learn to analyze how language works and develop insights that can be applied to social issues. Using theory and research, you gain an understanding of the complexities of human languages including their structure, acquisition, role in culture and society, and relationships to literacy. This interdisciplinary field integrates many perspectives in the scientific study of language.

Career Paths

Knowing how languages work can be applied to a wide variety of jobs such as:

  • teaching English as a second language in the U.S.
  • teaching English as a foreign language overseas
  • teaching foreign languages
  • research in second language acquisition
  • speech pathology
  • language policy and planning in educational settings, government, business, and global non-governmental organizations
  • social advocacy, paralegal and legal careers relating to linguistic discrimination
  • marketing and branding
  • publishing and technical writing
  • language collection, documentation and corpus curation
  • revitalization of endangered languages
  • development of online language learning and assessment tools

This major also prepares you for advanced study in graduate school.

Featured Courses

Study of the forms and functions of human language including description and analysis of phonetic, phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic units.
Explore English grammar from both prescriptive and descriptive points of view. Issues related to language variation are contextualized for future teachers of both native and non-native speakers of English. Analyze Contemporary American English in terms of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.
Study the principles of teaching a second language and learn key insights from second language acquisition (SLA) research and study theoretical models of language acquisition based on this research.
Examine topics in psycholinguistics that focus on the contributions of both linguistics and psychology to the study of language behavior. The investigation of linguistic processing in the brain draws on evidence from language deficits as well as recent advances in brain imaging.
Learn about sociolinguistic variation, including both interpersonal (regional and ethnic dialects, gender and class differences, etc.) and intrapersonal (different registers and styles).
This intercultural examination of language and gender integrates linguistic, sociolinguistic, and anthropological approaches.

Student Opportunities

Study Abroad

Study Abroad

Study abroad is a natural attraction for students interested in the intricacies of language. Truman offers many opportunities for study abroad, and courses taken abroad may also count toward your major.

Truman's Undergraduate Research Conference


Work with a faculty mentor to practice your skills of collecting and examining data, identifying patterns, and creating and testing different hypotheses. You can share your results at the Student Research Conference held on campus each year.

Visiting Scholar

Visiting Scholars

Meet distinguished scholars brought to campus through the Ofstad Visiting Scholars Program which offers a range of masterclasses and workshops led by renowned scholars from around the world.