Michigan State University’s Linguistics program is ranked among the top places in the field for study, research, and employment by QS (Quacquarelli Symonds), a leading provider of services, analytics, and insight to the global higher education sector.
The Linguistics program offers B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees and two minors. It is housed inside the Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures (formerly the Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages), which is an interdisciplinary department, with 66 faculty and about 1,200 students, that focuses on linguistics, language learning and teaching, and cultural studies at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
The national and international recognition of MSU Linguistics is one example among many across all programs in our department. It is exciting and a joy to keep discovering excellence day-in and day-out.Yen-Hwei Lin, Professor and Department Chair
Yen-Hwei Lin, Professor and Chair of the Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures, said the 2021 QS World University Rankings on Linguistics reflect the program’s evolving reputation as a disciplinary stronghold. MSU’s Linguistics program made the list of top 50 worldwide for the first time, placing 47th among 303 ranked global institutions. Domestically, the program secured the 19th spot of U.S. universities. QS has surveyed and assessed Linguistics programs at United States and global universities since 2018.
“The recognition is like icing on the cake. The national and international recognition of MSU Linguistics is one example among many across all programs in our department. It is exciting and a joy to keep discovering excellence day-in and day-out,” Lin said. “This type of visibility also strengthens MSU’s broader reputation for excellence in language studies more generally. We have many other successful programs here in allied fields such as applied linguistics, language learning, and language pedagogy.”
Visible Excellence and Collaborations
Recognition by QS suggests that MSU Linguistics is getting the attention of its peers. That positive notoriety, according to Suzanne Wagner, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies for Linguistics, makes it more likely that academic and research institutions will recommend MSU to students for advanced degrees and faculty opportunities.
Faculty and students really benefit from the exchange of ideas and information with scholars who bring different perspectives and expertise.Suzanne Wagner, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies for Linguistics
Students at all levels receive solid training in both theory and experiments, and research opportunities abound in a range of linguistic areas through the program’s research labs and groups, as well as collaborations with faculty and labs in language studies, communicative sciences and disorders, psychology, and MSU’s Cognitive Science Program.
“Faculty and students really benefit from the exchange of ideas and information with scholars who bring different perspectives and expertise,” Wagner said. “Our students build good relationships with faculty and each other early on and get a lot of individualized feedback directly from experts in the field.”
Progress and the Future
Linguistics graduate students have been successful in landing academic or non-academic jobs, and many undergraduates progress to graduate programs, while a robust network of alumni outside academia has fostered career connections and placements at tech companies like Amazon and Apple.
More recently, four Assistant Professors have joined the thriving Linguistics program: Brian Buccola, Karthik Durvasula, Alan Hezao Ke, and Betsy Sneller. All are focused on increasing the visibility of the program through events, research, and publications in leading linguistics journals.
An important aspect of our program development of faculty and students has to do with the excellent mentoring, support, and camaraderie. We voice opinions in a friendly and healthy way, which has led to the development of interesting and productive ideas that have driven progress for faculty and students alike.Karthik Durvasula, Assistant Professor of Linguistics
Buccola’s scholarship and forthcoming lab explore the intersection of semantics and pragmatics with experimental psycholinguistics. Durvasula specializes in phonetics and phonology and is helping to drive the program’s stand-out research that blends formal theory with high-tech approaches to testing hypotheses. His new phonetics lab will accommodate a state-of-the-art EMA machine for teaching and research. Ke, who conducts research in syntax using computational methods, is to offer a new course in computational psycholinguistics. Sneller has been the driving force behind the MI Diaries project, which launched at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and has been documenting changes in the lives and language of Michiganders.
“An important aspect of our program development of faculty and students has to do with the excellent mentoring, support, and camaraderie,” Durvasula said. “We voice opinions in a friendly and healthy way, which has led to the development of interesting and productive ideas that have driven progress for faculty and students alike.”
All combined, Lin believes that MSU’s interdisciplinary linguistics enterprise is both on the rise and on solid footing as a center of excellence on national and international fronts.
“I am constantly amazed at the quantity and quality of what our diverse faculty, programs, students, and staff have accomplished,” Lin said. “Our hope is that the continued recognition and visibility will have a multiplying effect and contribute to MSU’s profile as a leader in the study and application of linguistics.”