Joint Major in Psychology and Linguistics

The Program in Linguistics, in conjunction with the Department of Psychology, offers a joint major in Linguistics and Psychology. The Department of Psychology offers a separate major but does NOT offer a minor. The Program in Linguistics offers a major since 2007.

For more information on these other programs, go to:

Declaring the Major

Students must declare their major at least three weeks prior to pre-advising and direct-enrollment periods. Students wishing to declare the joint major may do so by going to the Psychology Departmental office, Suite 270 in the Psychology and Interdisciplinary Sciences Building or the Linguistics Program Office, Modern Languages Building, Room 202, and completing the required paperwork. Declarations will not be accepted during the pre-advising and direct-enrollment periods. Students declaring the joint major in Psychology and Linguistics will be required to maintain a “C” average (2.0) in their major and pass all courses with a “D” or better for them to count towards the major requirements. Courses taken to meet the requirements for the B.A. in Psychology and Linguistics may not be taken under the S/U option.

Required Courses

Students are required to take four basic courses in the study of psychology. These course should be completed prior to first semester of senior year.

  • PSYC 110 Intro. to Psych I: Psychobiology and Cognition
  • PSYC 111 Intro to Psych II: Development, Social Behavior and Individual Differences

Oddities in Intro:

A/P Credit: Students who received a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Examination in Psychology will be granted an exemption from PSYC 111. The student will still be required to complete 10 additional courses in the major, including the first half of the Introductory Requirement, PSYC 110.

Transfer Credit: Students who took a one-semester Intro course at another college will probably receive credit for PSYC 111. The student will be required to take 9 additional courses in the major, including the first half of the Introductory Requirement, PSYC 110.

  • PSYC 200 Laboratory Methods
  • QTM 100 Introduction to Statistical Inference

Students will also take three core courses in the study of linguistics:

  • LING 101 History of the American Languages
  • LING 201 Foundations of Linguistics
  • LING 401 Language, Mind & Society

Students must take four additional elective courses including:

  • PSYC 215 or PSYC 310 Cognition or Cognitive Development
  • PSYC/LING 309 or PSYC/LING 316 Brain and Language or Language Acquisition

PSYC elective—note that there are many relevant Psychology courses offered regularly on such topics as animal communication, non-verbal communication, and emotion and communication.

2 LING Electives—note that each semester, there are a number of courses cross-listed between Linguistics and both social science departments (e.g., Anthropology) and humanities departments (e.g., English, Middle Eastern Studies, Russian) in addition to regularly offered Linguistics courses.

LING 499/PSYC 499 Directed Study—Students will complete the major by engaging in a Directed Study research project with a faculty supervisor. This project involves research and analysis based on either original data collection or comprehensive theoretical reading. PERMISSION IS REQUIRED FOR ENROLLMENT IN PSYC 498R OR 499R. Contracts are available in Room 270 of the Psychology Building, and must be completed prior to enrollment. To enroll in Ling 499, please contact the Linguistics office at 404-727-7904, or Students must enroll in four credit hours of 499 in a single semester. Students must register for these courses prior to the close of the schedule change period each term.


Each Psyc/Ling major is assigned an academic advisor and should meet with that advisor on a regular basis to discuss courses to take to meet the requirements for the major. In addition, students should talk to their advisors about future career plans if they include graduate training in psychology, as there may be additional courses they should take for entrance to graduate school. Advisors will be available during pre-advising; however, advisors often have more time to spend with students at times other than pre-advising session. We hope that students will take advantage of these times in scheduling appointments with their advisors.

Students unhappy with their advisors may come by suite 270 in the Psychology Building to fill out a request to change advisors. Students may also change advisors if their area of interest becomes more closely aligned with another faculty member’s area of expertise. STUDENTS MAY NOT CHANGE ADVISORS DURING THE PRE-ADVISING AND DIRECT-ENROLLMENT PERIODS.

Sign-up sheets will be placed outside each advisor’s office in the weeks before direct enrollment. It is strongly advised that students sign up as early as possible for advising.

Dr. Phillip Wolff is the coordinator of the joint major and can also answer questions. He may be reached at: 404-727-7140 or

Undergraduate Research

To arrange an independent study, students should first identify a general topic area of interest and second, identify a potential faculty member with whom they would like to work on that general topic. Students should contact a faculty member about arranging an independent study project towards the end of the semester BEFORE they plan to complete it. Students should keep in mind that faculty who agree to supervise an independent study project are agreeing to take on this additional obligation above their regular teaching load, so be respectful and appreciative when asking. Once a faculty member has agreed to supervise an independent study project, the faculty member and student will negotiate a project that both are interested in and that is a reasonable one for the student to complete within a semester’s time. Often faculty members already have projects ongoing in which students can become involved. Other times, faculty and students generate new project ideas together.

Some of the questions that students may choose to investigate in their independent study project include (and there are many others):

  • What enables humans to produce and understand sentences that they have never heard before?
  • What are the basic building blocks of human languages?
  • How do children learn language?
  • How do people use language in multilingual contexts?
  • Are some varieties of language better than others?
  • How can problems with cross-cultural communication be alleviated?
  • How are patterns of thinking shaped by language?
  • Why do languages change over time?
  • How do meanings get attached to words?

Additional Information for Joint Majors