Linguistics Scholarships for College Students

TESL or Save Endangered Languages

Linguistics is the study of language, the analysis of human speech and its components. Synchronic linguistics involves studying a language as it exists during a single period of time (for example, Attic Greek or 18th century English). Diachronic, or historical, linguistics traces the development of one language over time (for example, following the modern German language from Old High German circa 750 A.D. to the New High German spoken today).

Dead languages like Latin can be studied only in past forms, but the living languages continue to evolve on a daily basis. Recording how their structures change over time is a fascinating process, and if you’ve ever questioned the utility of learning basic structural forms like parts of speech a class in linguistics will explain why such knowledge is so very useful. As a linguistics major, you’ll master elements like semantics, morphology, phonetics, pragmatics, and syntax, and you’ll learn the fundamentals of human communication which generalize to any language.

One helpful feature of the modern job market is the global push to teach English to native speakers to other languages. There’s a great demand for professionally trained teachers, and consequently many linguistics majors seek degrees that will qualify them to teach English as a second language (referred to as TESOL). Another practical application for a linguistics degree is computational linguistics, in which computers are used to model natural language.

linguistics scholarships

College Scholarships

University of Texas (Arlington)

The University of Texas-Arlington has instituted a program of assistantships for new doctoral students in linguistics. If you qualify for the program, you can receive full tuition and a stipend of $15,300 (2012 funding level). On the department’s financial aid page, you will also find information on how to apply for monetary assistance if you are a continuing student. Criteria for selection include your preparation for graduate study, full-time enrollment in linguistics, and your potential for scholastic excellence in teaching and research.

University of Utah

The University of Utah’s Department of Linguistics offers its linguistics majors not only teaching assistantships and one professional development grant, for students at the graduate level, but also four other scholarships for linguistics majors. The scholarships are:

  • The Cathy Miller Horiuchi Scholarship, which is awarded to a student who may otherwise not be able to afford the tuition costs. Awards range up to $2,250.
  • The Linguistics Department Scholarship, which is for residents of Utah who are full-time students with a GPA of at least 3.5. Applicants must submit documentation including transcripts, certification of legal residency, and a statement of purpose with the application form, and the award pays full tuition.
  • The Linguistics Department Alumni Endowed Scholarship, which is a $500 award requiring the same application documents as the Linguistics Department Scholarship and is also merit-based.
  • The Wick R. Miller Endowed Scholarship, which goes to a linguistics major who wants to study indigenes of the Americas and their languages, with a view to preserving those languages. Preference goes to students who are descended from those indigenous populations, and applicants must attend school full-time. The scholarship brings $1,000.

New Mexico State University

The Department of Languages & Linguistics at New Mexico State University offers a departmental scholarship to juniors and seniors with majors or minors in either Languages or Linguistics. These $500 awards require a GPA of 3.0, and to apply you must submit a letter of recommendation from a faculty member and statement of your qualifications for the scholarship.

Oklahoma State University

Graduate students in the Department of English at Oklahoma State University, which offers graduate programs in applied linguistics, may compete for the TESL/Linguistics Scholarship, which pays $200 to the winner of an essay competition on either Teaching English as a Second Language or Linguistics. Essays must be between 10 and 40 pages double-spaced, and must be original, significant, and cogently argued.

University of Maryland

The University of Maryland’s Department of Linguistics offers two research scholarships as part of the Baggett Program, which provides students with an opportunity to apply linguistics theory in an experimental setting and work with other language scientists. You’ll explore fields like psycholinguistics and language acquisition in a strong collaborative environment, and participating in Baggett will greatly enhance your academic resume.

Here are details on the two awards:

  • Baggett Summer Scholarships go to undergraduates with prior training in linguistics or cognitive science who want to spend at least 8 weeks on linguistics research. Graduating seniors may also apply for the
  • Baggett Fellowships, which provide one year of intensive research before you move on to a graduate program in linguistics or cognitive science. Previous research in a related field is preferred.

Government Scholarships

The Fulbright Scholar Program provides financial support for foreign study, and it has several potential niches suited to linguistics graduates. Linguistics as part of anthropology is an eligible discipline for Fulbright study, and Applied Linguistics/TEFL is another. For example, one 2012 linguistics graduate of the University of California (Santa Cruz) earned a Fulbright to support a year’s work in Germany as a TEFL assistant, with the chance to study at a local university.


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