Linguistics is the study of human language, intending to define its nature, establishing its relationship to human thought, discovering what distinguishes human language from other forms of communication (both human and nonhuman), understanding how children develop a language and acquire additional languages, understanding the ways in which languages may differ from one another, and describing how human beings use a language in context to express themselves. A master’s in linguistics degree provides students with a solid foundation in all the core areas of linguistics, including Phonetics, Lexicography, Phonology, Morphology, Grammar, Structuralism, Syntax, Morphology, Semantics, Pragmatics, Orthography, Phonemics, Functional Grammar, Dialectology, Typology, Stylistics, and Rhetoric.

Students of a master’s in Linguistics online can also seek doctoral degrees in various fields, including education, linguistics, and literacy study & research.

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

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Best Online Masters in Linguistics

Finding the best master’s in linguistics online is hard to do because so many universities offer it. To ease the burden of finding one, OMC has compiled a list of the best online masters in Linguistics programs based on characteristics such as program format and flexibility, teaching experience and quality, the reputation of the institute, accreditation, research facilities, career assistance, etc. Consequently, the following are some of the best universities for a graduate degree in linguistics online:

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
University of Georgia(oncampus)
Administration Building, Athens, Georgia 30602
University of California-Davis(oncampus)
One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616
University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
2624 Clifton Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45221
Georgetown University(oncampus)
37th and O St NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20057
Texas Tech University(oncampus)
Broadway and University Avenue, Lubbock, Texas 79409
Liberty University
1971 University Blvd, Lynchburg, Virginia 24515
Northern Arizona University
1900 S Knoles Dr, Babbitt Administrative Center, Room 200, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011
Eastern University
1300 Eagle Rd, Saint Davids, Pennsylvania 19087
University of New Mexico(oncampus)
1700 Lomas Blvd NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87106
National University
11255 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, California 92037
University of Massachusetts-Boston
100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, Massachusetts 02125
Texas A & M University-Commerce
2600 South Neal Street, Commerce, Texas 75428

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Masters in Linguistics Programs

The curriculum of a Masters in Linguistic online program is meant to equip students to teach and do research in applied linguistics by allowing them to grasp the variety of difficulties that arise in the study of language.  Students can do research, engage with community-based groups, or prepare to teach in a variety of settings in the United States and overseas, including public schools, K-12, adult education, and language schools. Apart from core coursework and elective courses, graduate students are sometimes required to submit a thorough graduate project to get their Linguistics degree. Typically, graduate students work on different parts of this project each semester and exhibit their work publicly during their final/graduating semester.

Workshops, field study experiences, case studies, guest lectures, and seminars are all part of the study plan, intending to hone the abilities of linguistic and sociolinguistic analysis.

Masters in Linguistics Degree Types

There are two ways of pursuing a Master’s in Linguistics online – the Master of Arts or MA, and the Master of Science, or MS. Both degree types cater to slightly different personal needs and career goals. Coursework and the program structure tend to be similar with both, and in most cases, schools generally offer a thesis and non-thesis option to choose from as well.

MA Linguistics

The MA Linguistics or Master of Arts in Linguistics approaches linguistics from a multi-disciplinary angle, touching upon various other subjects such as anthropology, psychology, sociology, etc. This degree type is more suited for those who prefer a broader understanding of linguistics, one that is spread across several disciplines. Knowledge of a foreign language is generally required to do an MA. 

MS Linguistics

The MS Linguistics or Master of Science in Linguistics approaches linguistics from scientific and technical viewpoints. This degree type involves more research and data and is also more focused on the core of linguistics. Knowledge of a foreign language is generally not required for an MS.

Specializations in Masters in Linguistics Programs

Concentrations and specializations are a sure-shot way of acquiring more profound knowledge in a specific sub-field of a subject, thereby ensuring better job prospects. They give students a competitive edge and make them readily employable. Masters in Linguistics online programs come in a variety of specializations and concentrations, some of which include:

  • Bilingual Education
  • Foreign Language Instruction
  • ESL Instruction for English Language Learners (ELLs)
  • Foreign Language Pedagogy
  • TESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Other Language)
  • Computational Linguistics
  • Language Documentation

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Masters in Linguistics Programs

There are three distinct areas in which psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics examine topics such as social psychology and linguistics: general theoretical linguistics, applied linguistics, and interdisciplinary studies. Together, these courses offer students a deep understanding of the many aspects of language acquisition and usage related to linguistic, cultural, and ideological aspects. Students can expect a wide variety of core courses, with electives to choose from as well. Here is a list of some of the best online linguistics graduate courses generally found in masters in Linguistics online programs:

Core Courses

  • Language, Culture, and Identity
  • Theories and Principles of Language Teaching
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Sociolinguistics Syntax
  • Semantics and Pragmatics
  • Seminar in Phonology
  • Seminar in Cognitive Linguistics
  • Methods and Materials in Foreign Language Education
  • Integrating Culture into the Language Curriculum
  • Linguistics
  • Language, Culture, and Identity
  • Seminar in Discourse Analysis
  • Seminar in Sociolinguistics
  • Research Methods for Linguistics
  • Seminar in Syntax
  • Linguistics
  • Teaching ESL: Methods and Approaches
  • Foundations of Bilingual/Multicultural Education
  • Testing in the Bilingual/ESL Classroom
  • Teaching Reading in the ESL Classroom
  • Technology in Language Education
  • Theories and Principles of Language Teaching
  • Methods and Materials in Foreign Language Instruction
  • Integrating Culture into the Language Curriculum
  • Foundations of Bilingual/Multicultural Education
  • Dual Language Pedagogy
  • Curriculum Development in Bilingual Education
  • Teaching ESL: Methods and Approaches
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Phonetics & Phonemics
  • The Structure of the English Language
  • Forensic Linguistics
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Critical Discourse Analysis
  • Foundational Concepts of Phonetics and Phonology
  • Foundational Concepts in Linguistics
  • Foundational Concepts of Language Development and Acquisition
  • Basic Theoretical Linguistics
  • Literacy & Culture
  • Ethnography
  • Historical Foundations of Critical Pedagogy
  • Immigration & Education
  • Writing Theories in Second Language Instruction
  • Usage-Based Linguistic Analysis
  • The Internet in the Language Classroom

Some universities require students to pick up to 6 electives throughout their master’s program. Here is a list of electives generally found in linguistics masters programs:


  • Language Arts Instruction and English Language Development
  • Research in Elementary Education
  • Literacy Instruction for English Learners K-12
  • Bilingual/Multilingual Teaching Strategies
  • Literary and Rhetorical Genre Theory
  • Advanced Topics in Rhetoric and Composition
  • Educational Statistics for Research and Measurement
  • Introduction to Morphology
  • Language and Social Interaction
  • Introduction to Historical Linguistics
  • Languages in Contact
  • Bilingualism in the U.S.
  • Computational Linguistics
  • Selected Topics in Linguistics
  • Seminar in Phonetics
  • Seminar in Research on Second Language Acquisition
  • Seminar in Cognitive Linguistics (3)
  • Seminar in Discourse Analysis
  • Survey of Applied Linguistics
  • Issues in ESL Reading and Writing
  • Issues in ESL Listening and Speaking
  • English Structures for ESL/EFL Teaching
  • Introduction to TESL
  • TESL Testing and Assessment
  • English for Specific Purposes
  • Introduction to Celtic Languages
  • Acoustic and Instrumental Phonetics
  • Computers in Instruction
  • Theory and Research in Teaching ESL in Multilingual Classrooms
  • Structure of the Spanish Language
  • Language and Culture
  • Spanish Phonetics
  • Comparative Structure of Spanish and English
  • Spanish Dialectology
  • History of the Spanish Language
  • Seminar in Romance Linguistics

Upon graduating from a master’s in Linguistics degree program, students will have some skills that include but are not limited to:

  • Undertake original research or apply current language theories to new data sets, analyze the data, and develop appropriate conclusions.
  • Use appropriate linguistic concepts and terminology to describe language.
  • Demonstrate appropriate language pedagogical knowledge.
  • Demonstrate a thorough understanding of linguistic theory, including phonetics, phonology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, language acquisition, and sociolinguistics.
  • Recognize cultural and sociopolitical dimensions of language.
  • Explain how linguistics is relevant in a variety of professional situations and in general.
  • Read, analyze, and critically assess linguistic research, displaying advanced critical thinking and problem-solving skills in relation to linguistic concerns.
  • Recognize psychological and social factors that influence language acquisition and development.
  • Master a variety of language teaching methods.
  • Communicate reflective and critical understanding about potential connections between language teaching and policies and increased social justice.­­­
  • Demonstrate specialist linguistic knowledge in at least three important subfields.

Accreditation for Masters in Linguistics Programs

When a program or institution receives accreditation, it signifies that it has met or exceeded the defined standards to which it must conform. It serves as a symbol of reliability, trustworthiness, and superiority. An accredited Masters in Linguistics online program is required for the degree to be accepted by the industry. While programmatic accreditation is available at certain schools, most are regionally accredited, making regional accreditation an equally viable option. Among the organizations that provide accreditation regionally are:

  1. New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  2. Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS)
  3. Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  4. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  5. Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  6. Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Graduate students in Linguists should always look for a program or school accredited by at least one accrediting body. More information on accreditation can be found in the Accreditation Guide.

Timeline For Graduating From Masters in Linguistics Programs

As with most other master’s degrees, a master’s in linguistics online requires approximately 2 years to complete, taking 30 to 36 credits. However, while some colleges will allow the student to earn their degree in 12 to 18 months or so, others allow students to extend their programs and finish in up to 5 years.

Admission Requirements For Masters in Linguistics Programs

Applicants must meet specific admissions criteria and requirements to be admitted to a master’s in linguistics program. Along with standard requirements, some schools and programs require students to meet additional requirements in some situations. Most masters in Linguistics online programs have the following criteria for admission:

  • A Bachelor’s Degree with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or more.
  • All Official Academic Transcripts.
  • Resume.
  • Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose.
  • Personal References (at least 2).
  • A Writing Sample or any Research Work.

In some instances, candidates for the Linguistics MA degree must be fluent in a language other than their native tongue. Some colleges require that native English speakers meet this requirement in one of three ways: (1) by enrolling in two semesters (of a minimum of 6 units total) of coursework in a language at an accredited community college, four-year college, or university after initial acceptance to the program; (2) by passing a departmental examination; or (3) by submitting a transcript showing that they hold a B.A with the department. Non-native English speakers may be excluded from this criterion if they have demonstrated proficiency in the language in their previous studies.

Free Linguistics Programs

By the word ‘linguistics’, it is easy to assume that it is a confined subject, but quite the opposite is true. Linguistics is a vast subject that encompasses a wide range of interdisciplinary topics and works in a variety of sectors and industries. Therefore, courses in a master’s of Linguists tend to cover a lot of ground, making this degree a unique one. For this very reason, finding free masters in linguistic online programs is impossible, although free courses are plenty. These free courses and programs can help master’s students and professionals enhance their knowledge and skills. Here are a few sites offering free content in linguistics:

  1. Coursera
    Coursera is a popular destination for students to learn more about their subject and enhance their understanding of specific topics. At the time of publishing, the site had some 81 courses related to linguistics, spread across four learning levels. Not all, however, are free to take.
  2. MIT OpenCourseWare
    MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity, and makes the materials used in the teaching of MIT’s subjects available on the Web. For linguistics students, the site has a rich offering of courses spread across several cores of the subject, such as phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and psycholinguistics.
  3. Class Central
    Class Central has a compilation of free online courses and MOOCs from Leiden University, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Autonomous University of Barcelona), St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University, Universidad de Palermo, and other top universities around the world.
  4. OpenLearn
    OpenLearn, by The Open University, has a separate section titled “Languages” that has introductory, intermediate, and advanced courses on linguistics-related courses. Topics range from ‘A brief history of communication: hieroglyphics to emojis’ to ‘How to be a critical reader’ and ‘Summarising text’  to ‘Understanding language and learning’, among others.

How to Pay for Masters in Linguistics Online Programs

The high cost of online education burdens most potential graduate students. An online master can cost up to $100,000, making them too expensive for most people. Fortunately, students have various financial aid options to choose from to help with the high expense of graduate education. Some of this type of financial assistance for a master in Linguistics online can take the form of:


Students who deserve them can get financial aid in the form of scholarships that lower or eliminate the cost of their education. When selecting a scholarship recipient, the institution looks at the student’s biography and background, including letters of recommendation, work experience, and in particular, academic records.


Students in need of financial support can apply for grants. Grants differ from scholarships in that they are based on financial need rather than academic performance. A student’s grades and test results are also considered by universities that offer need-based financial aid.

Graduate Assistantships

Teaching Assistantships– Tuition-free or discounted-fee teaching assistantships are available in exchange for providing services to the university. Working as an assistant to a professor could include helping with instructional requirements, working in a lab or workshop, or teaching and demonstrating to undergraduate students.

Student Loans

Students may be eligible for loans from the federal government, banks, or private lenders, all of which require them to make interest payments. It’s essential to keep in mind, too, that missed or delayed payments would almost surely lead to an increase in student debt.


Financial aid eligibility can be determined through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. More and exact information on FAFSA is available here.

To learn more about various funding mechanisms, read the best Financial Guide.

FAQs about Masters in Linguistics Online Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a linguistics degree?

Linguistics is the study of human language, intending to define its nature, establish its relationship to human thought, discover what distinguishes human language from other forms of communication, and much more. A linguistics degree provides students with a solid foundation in all the core areas of linguistics such as Phonetics, Lexicography, Phonology, Morphology, Grammar, Structuralism, Syntax, etc.

Where can I study linguistics?

Several colleges across the country offer linguistics studies. Some of the best ones are listed in this article.

How to get a linguistics degree online?

How long is a linguistics degree?

Is a background in linguistics necessary to apply for a master’s in linguistics online program?

Are research opportunities in linguistics available to graduate students?

Can I study linguistics online?

Is a master’s in linguistics degree worth it?

Careers and Salary Outlook For Masters in Linguistics Online Graduates

Many professional linguists specialize in a particular branch of linguistics and work in a variety of fields. Some people prefer to work in academia, conducting research and interacting with students. Others work in the technology sector, assisting large corporations with text and speech recognition, natural language processing, and other tasks. Linguists can also teach one or more foreign languages or work for the government. In general, Linguistics graduates go on to work in academia as foreign language teachers, psycholinguists, sociolinguists, diplomats, text-to-speech developers, machine translation professionals, language rights advocates, and other positions.

A linguistics degree might also be helpful in editing and proofreading. Popular books and works by prominent authors are being translated into English from their original languages. Accurate communication necessitates a thorough knowledge of both the target language and English as a second language, which is where a master’s in linguistics plays a considerable role.

Another field in which linguistics expertise is required is speech and language therapy. Before attempting to edit or improve another person’s vocabulary, one must have a thorough awareness of the intricacies of language. It is possible to overcome many linguistic issues, including dyslexia and stammering, by working with a qualified therapist.

Masters in Linguistics online degree holders with multi-linguistic skills are also needed by private businesses, international agencies, and non-profit organizations to facilitate efficient communication. Governments need communicators who can work with people at all levels of the organization, including multinationals. Due to the growing threat of terrorism around the world, interpreters are also helpful for security reasons. Trained linguists can discretely interpret cryptic data transmitted by communication and navigation systems.

Here are a few examples of job titles, salaries, and career prospects for linguistics graduates:

  1. Interpreters & Translators Annual Median Salary of $52,330 | Job Outlook 2020-30 is 24% (much faster than average)
  2. Speech-Language Pathologists Annual Median Salary of $80,480 | Job Outlook 2020-30 is 29% (much faster than average)
  3. Technical Writers Annual Median Salary of $74,650 | Job Outlook 2020-30 is 12% (much faster than average)
  4. Foreign Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary Annual Median Salary of $80,410 | Job Outlook 2020-30 is 12%* (much faster than average)

*for postsecondary teachers in general.

Certifications and Licensure For Masters in Linguistics Online Students

To put it in a nutshell, certification offers objective evidence that an individual possesses the knowledge and skills necessary to provide a quality service, such as interpretation, translation, teaching, etc. Depending on the career a master’s in linguistics online graduate wants to take up, a suitable certification will always provide a competitive edge and better job prospects. The National Center for State Courts (NCSC), for example, provides a certificate in interpretation that enables individuals to perform the three major types of court interpreting: sight translation, consecutive interpreting, and simultaneous interpreting. The ATA certification, offered by the American Translators Association (ATA), is one of the most well-respected credentials for translators in the industry. It is the sole commonly accepted indicator of translation proficiency in the United States.

Another respected certification is from Language Testing International (LTI), based on the ILR Scale. The ILR Scale is the way the US Federal Government defines and refers to language ability. It was developed by the Federal Government’s Inter-Agency Language Roundtable from basic definitions used by the Foreign Service Institute. The scale covers a wide variety of abilities, with six levels ranging from 0 (No Practical Proficiency) to 5 (Native or Bilingual Proficiency), with ‘plus’ levels at each stage. Apart from the ILR Scale, the LTI offers language certification for:

  • Bilingual Professionals – Speaking only
  • ACTFL Test of English Proficiency (TEP)
  • Bilingual Professionals – Multiple skills
  • WL & Bilingual Teacher Certification
  • Federal Government Contractors & Employees with ILR requirements
  • Programs with ACTFL requirements
  • General Proficiency ACTFL
  • Commercial-Individual and Government-Individual Organizations

Additional Resources For Masters in Linguistics Online Students

Languages are ever-evolving and develop into newer ways of expressing oneself. Understanding the nuances of a language, its meaning, interpretations, etc., is always crucial for a linguist. For graduate students and working professionals to make the most of their master’s in linguistics, they should meet with others, exchange views and ideas, network, research, and do much more to widen their horizons and deepen their knowledge of linguistics. Here are a few resources that are sure to be helpful in that pursuit for masters in Linguistics online students:

  1. American Translator’s Association (ATA) The American Translator’s Association (ATA) provides its members access to current industry resources and education to keep their competitive advantage in the global economy. The association hosts publications, conducts events, provides news, and student & client services.
  2. Linguistic Society of America (LSA) The primary goals of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) are to advance the mission of the Society via: scholarly communication, community building, professional development, and external relations. The programs of the LSA are focused on Publications, Meetings, and Institutes, Professional Resources and Recognition, Advocacy and Public Policy, and Public Education.
  3. SIL International SIL International is a global, faith-based non-profit that works with local communities worldwide to develop language solutions that expand possibilities for a better life. It is involved in approximately 1,350 active language projects in 104 countries. SIL has several resources such as English Language Lessons, Glossaries of Linguistic Terms, Language & Culture Archives, International Publications, and Software & Fonts.
  4. All Things Linguistic All Things Linguistic, as the title suggests, is a site that provides a wide range of resources for students, teachers, and professionals of linguistics. Primarily a blog, All Things Linguistic provides tips on careers, updates, and developments in the field of linguistics, podcasts, interviews, insights, and more.
  5. Linguist List The Linguist List is operated at Indiana University, Department of Linguistics. The list aims to provide a forum where academic linguists can discuss linguistic issues and exchange linguistic information. The site offers support to graduate students in linguistics and summer interns, who serve in return as editors of the list and help with the development and maintenance of the list server and website.

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