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Department of English & Literature
English—Linguistics Concentration
Translated Bible text
Department of English & Literature

English—Linguistics Concentration

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Undergraduate

125 credits

required for program

125 credits

125 credits

required for program

Explore the intricacies of language, a major component of being made in the image of God. Apply these skills to learning from ancient texts or reaching out to those who speak contemporary languages. The English major with a concentration in linguistics prepares you to pursue graduate work in linguistics, as well as careers in fields such as intercultural studies, translation, anthropology, and comparative studies. Electives allow you to pursue sub-fields that interest you.


of seniors received relevant and appropriate preparation for their field


of seniors believe the faculty are genuinely interested in their welfare


of seniors grew in their relationship with God during their time at Northwestern

Why study English with a concentration in linguistics at Northwestern?

You will complete one summer of course work either with CanIL at Trinity Western University in Canada (CanIL-TWU) or with SIL at Summer Institute of Linguistics, the academic branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators, at the University of North Dakota (SIL-UND).

Northwestern partners with Best Semester to provide you with opportunities ranging from a semester in Uganda, Costa Rica, or the Middle East.

As an English major, you’ll be able to assist professors, tutor writing to students in the Writing Center, and participate in internships by writing promotional media for the department or with Northwestern’s grant writer. Off campus, students have interned with Bethany House Publishers, Minnesota Public Radio, and Redleaf Press.

Our alumni have been accepted into graduate programs across the country: Georgetown University, University of North Dakota, and Trinity-Western University, British Columbia.

If you enjoy reading and writing, have a passion for language, and are interested in a career in linguistics, this might be the right degree for you.

What will you learn?

You will learn to analyze, think critically, and develop effective written and verbal communication skills.

Some classes include:

  • Language, School, and Society
  • Theory of Second Language Acquisition
  • Advanced English Grammar: Syntax
  • Linguistics Research Methods
  • Phonetics at SIL
View Course Catalog
Probably the most satisfying work we did was in language analysis and Bible translation for a special people group of Brazil. These people did not speak any other language, so we had to learn their language monolingually while figuring out the sound system and grammar. In doing so, we had the joy of seeing God’s great creativity and diversity in the incredible complexities of languages and cultures. God not only displayed His creativity in this beautiful language, but He also shared his creativity with us, His children, allowing us to discover the intricacies of the language. It has a complex tonal system, with only 3 vowels and 8 consonants. The tones fluctuate across word and syllable boundaries. These things and others brought many truly profound 'aha' moments as we learned, with God’s help, how to speak the language and share Jesus with these dear friends. We learned a great deal spiritually in all of this as well, including wonderful lessons from the people themselves.
Steve Sheldon
Department of History & Related Fields - Class of 1961

Careers in linguistics

There are a variety of career and academic pathways that begin with a degree in English with a concentration in linguistics.

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Meet your professors

Professors at Northwestern are focused on their students first. Our faculty include experts in their respective fields who want to help you grow in your faith while you earn your degree.

Meet the entire department

Heather Walker Peterson, Ph.D.

Chair, Department of English and Literature
Associate Professor of...

Heather Walker Peterson is interested in the ways in which language, written and spoken, influence spiritual...

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Linda Humnick

Adjunct Instructor

Dr. Humnick, a member of SIL International, specializes in discourse analysis and field linguistics and also...

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Contact Information

Department of English & Literature

Nazareth Hall, N3128
3003 Snelling Avenue North
St. Paul, MN 55113

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