Office: Margaret Jacks Hall, Building 460
Mail Code: 94305-2150
Phone: (650) 498-8720

Courses offered by the Department of Linguistics are listed under the subject code LINGUIST on the Stanford Bulletin's Explore Courses web site.

Linguistics is the study of language as a fundamental human activity. Linguists consider language as a cultural, social, and psychological phenomenon and seek to determine what is universal to all languages and what is specific to individual languages, how language varies across individuals and communities, how it is acquired, how it changes, and how it is processed by humans and machines.  Linguistics is an inherently interdisciplinary field that links the humanities, the social sciences, and the other cognitive sciences, as well as computer science, education, and hearing and speech sciences.

The department offers courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Some focus on analyzing structural patterns of sounds (phonetics and phonology), meanings (semantics and pragmatics), words (morphology), sentences (syntax). Others examine how these structures vary over time (historical linguistics), or over individuals and social groups (sociolinguistics), or how language is processed and learned by humans (psycholinguistics and language acquisition) or by computers (computational linguistics).

A variety of open forums provide for the discussion of linguistic issues, including colloquia and regularly scheduled workshops in computational linguistics, phonetics and phonology, psycholinguistics, semantics and pragmatics, sociolinguistics, and syntax and morphology.

Mission of the Undergraduate Program in Linguistics

The mission of the undergraduate program in Linguistics is to provide students with basic knowledge in the principal areas of linguistics (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and computational linguistics) and the skills to do more advanced work in these subfields. Courses in the major also involve interdisciplinary work with connections to other programs including anthropology, communication, computer science, education, foreign languages, psychology, and symbolic systems. The program provides students with excellent preparation for further study in graduate or professional schools as well as careers in business, government agencies, social services, and teaching.

Graduate Programs in Linguistics

The department offers an M.A., Ph.D., and Ph.D. minor in Linguistics. For admissions information, please see the Department of Linguistics admissions page. The GRE is not required.

Cognitive Science

Linguistics is participating with the departments of Philosophy and Psychology in an interdisciplinary program in Cognitive Science for doctoral students. The program is intended to provide an interdisciplinary education as well as a deeper concentration in linguistics. Students who complete the Linguistics and Cognitive Science requirements receive a special designation in Cognitive Science along with the Ph.D. in Linguistics.

To receive this designation, students must complete 30 units of approved course work.  The 30 units cannot include courses counted elsewhere towards the Ph.D.  Courses may be drawn from the participating departments, as well as from other departments, as long as their content is appropriate to the designation.  At least 18 of the 30 units must be from outside the student’s major department and must include course work in at least two other departments.  The majority of the courses taken towards the 30 units of coursework must be taken for a letter grade and should be completed with at least a 'B'.  Special topic seminars are excluded in favor of more foundational courses.  

Linguistics Course Catalog Numbering System

Courses numbered under 100 are designed primarily for pre-majors. Courses with 100-level numbers are designed for undergraduate majors and minors; a limited number of 100-level units may apply to a master's or Ph.D. minor. Those with numbers 200 and above are primarily for graduate students, but with consent of the instructor some of them may be taken for credit by qualified undergraduates. At all levels, the final two digits of the course number indicate a special area, as follows:

Linguistics Course Catalog Numbering System


Special Area












Semantics, Pragmatics, Discourse


Language Acquisition, Psycholinguistics


Sociolinguistics, Language Variation, Change


Language and Culture, Structure of a Language


Methods, Mathematical Linguistics, Statistics


Computational Linguistics


Directed Work, Theses, Dissertations


Emeriti: (Professors) Joan Bresnan, Eve V. Clark, Kenji Hakuta, Shirley Brice Heath, Philip L. Hubbard (Senior Lecturer, Language Center), Martin Kay, William R. Leben, Stanley Peters, John R. Rickford, Elizabeth C. Traugott, Thomas A. Wasow

Chair: Christopher Potts

Director of Graduate Studies/Graduate Studies Adviser: Vera Gribanova

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Robert Podesva

Professors: Cleo Condoravdi, Penelope Eckert (emerita in Winter), Daniel Jurafsky (on leave in Autumn), Paul Kiparsky (on leave in AY 2020-21), Beth Levin, Christopher Manning, Christopher Potts

Associate Professors: Arto Anttila (on leave in Spring), Vera Gribanova, Robert Podesva, Meghan Sumner

Assistant Professors: Judith Degen, Boris Harizanov, Daniel Lassiter

Courtesy Professors: Yoshiko Matsumoto, James McClelland, Chao Fen Sun

Courtesy Associate Professors: Michael C. Frank, Noah Goodman, Miyako Inoue, Jonathan Rosa

Lecturers: Katherine HiIlton

Adjunct Professors: Jared Bernstein, Ronald Kaplan, Lauri Karttunen, Paul Kay, Annie Zaenen, Arnold Zwicky

Graduate Advising

The department is committed to providing academic advising in support of each graduate student's scholarly and professional development. The advising relationship should entail collaborative engagement by both the adviser and the advisee. Faculty advisers guide students in key areas such as selecting courses, designing and conducting research, navigating degree requirements, exploring academic and professional opportunities, and preparing for their post-Ph.D. careers. Graduate students are active contributors to the advising relationship, proactively seeking academic and professional guidance and taking responsibility for informing themselves of policies and degree requirements for the Ph.D. program. An important part of the advisee-adviser relationship is that students learn to advocate for themselves; this includes discussing expectations for the adviser/advisee relationship with the adviser and revisiting these expectations periodically to ensure mutual understanding.

Advisers and Advising Meetings

A department faculty member serves as the Graduate Studies Adviser (GSA). Typically, the GSA keeps track of the general degree progress of all M.A. and Ph.D. students, offers advice on meeting department and University milestones, coordinates departmental advising and TA assignments, and approves special petitions.

Ph.D. Students 

Each student has an individual adviser (also referred to as a second adviser in the pre-candidacy stage), usually chosen based on shared research interests, who advises on coursework, training in research methodologies, research projects, and professional development. Entering students are assigned a second adviser for their first two quarters in the program. The second adviser helps first year students make the transition to graduate school and take the initial steps towards their long-term goals. Beginning with Spring Quarter of the first year, the student’s current Qualifying Paper Committee Chair serves as the second adviser. On completion of these papers, the student chooses a faculty member as Chair of their dissertation Reading Committee; this faculty member becomes the main adviser. Throughout their graduate career, students are also encouraged to consult with other faculty, including the members of their Qualifying Paper and Reading Committees.

In order to meet the department’s advising expectations, twice a year each student and their adviser meet for a holistic, structured discussion of the student’s recent progress, short-term plans, and longer-term academic and professional goals and to discuss the steps that the student should take to meet these objectives. The GSA usually joins the discussion with students in the earlier stages of the Ph.D. program. Students who receive department Summer funding are also expected to fill out a Summer Commitments Agreement that lays out their activities, priorities and goals for the summer, and to discuss these with their adviser.

Students are expected to meet regularly with their advisers and to keep them informed about their academic progress. Each student and their adviser should mutually agree on the frequency of these meetings when the advising relation begins and reassess their frequency at the start of every quarter.

M.A. Students 

At the start of graduate study, each student is assigned a faculty member as an M.A. program adviser, chosen based on shared research interests and the student’s proposed M.A. thesis area. Usually this faculty member serves in this role for the duration of the M.A. program. Besides advising the student on the M.A. thesis, the adviser provides guidance on the student’s overall path through the M.A. program. Students are expected to meet with their advisers at least once each quarter and to keep them informed about their academic progress.  The precise meeting frequency should be mutually agreed upon and reassessed quarterly; it depends on the student’s stage in the program.

Additional resources

The Department of Linguistics Ph.D. Handbook provides additional information. Students are also encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Policies and Best Practices for Advising Relationships at Stanford. Additional resources on advising are offered by VPGE. For a statement of University policy on graduate advising, see the Graduate Advising section of the Bulletin.