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2020 Foreign Languages & Linguistics Degree Guide

There is roughly 311 different languages spoken in the United States alone, with more than 6,500 languages spoken in the world. Globalization and increasing communication with foreign countries has increased the need for bilingual speakers. By entering into the field of Foreign Languages and Linguistics, you will not only master a second language, you will become a more diverse and thoughtful person.

There are many different majors you can explore within this field. Some popular choices include African Languages, Germanic Languages, Romance Languages, Iranian and Persian, and American Sign Language.

While focusing on one of these majors, you will be instructed in the dialect, philology, literature, culture and history of the language. Some of the courses you will take include Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Languages, European History, Literature, and Religion.

Foreign Languages & Linguistics Degrees Remain Stable

In 2017-2018, foreign languages and linguistics was the 26th most popular major nationwide with 34,883 degrees awarded. This represents small change only 0.7% from the prior year's total of 34,634 foreign languages and linguistics degrees awarded.

There are 941 schools offering degrees in foreign languages and linguistics in the United States. Our 2020 Best Colleges for Foreign Languages & Linguistics ranking analyzes 341 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for foreign languages and linguistics students. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of foreign languages and linguistics programs later in this article.

Requirements for Getting a Degree in Foreign Languages & Linguistics

While learning a new language it is necessary to have patience and perseverance. Some of these dialects are complicated and require practice and focus. It helps to have an ear for language and great attention to detail. To prepare for this field, students are advised to take prior courses in Foreign Language, History, Politics, and Religion. Take any advantage to study abroad while in college. This will give you invaluable, first-hand experience with the language and culture of a foreign country.

Prior Education for a Foreign Languages & Linguistics Program

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for most foreign languages and linguistics degree programs and many students will need a minimum GPA and SAT/ACT score depending on the school. Once you obtain your degree, additional foreign languages and linguistics certifications required to pursue a career in this field.

Types of Foreign Languages & Linguistics Degree

There are many different foreign languages and linguistics degrees levels. Foreign Languages & Linguistics programs offered by schools range from a first year certificate to a professional practice doctorate, which is the highest foreign languages and linguistics degree you can get. The type of foreign languages and linguistics degree you choose will determine how long it takes to get your diploma.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to foreign languages and linguistics, with approximately 37.7% of workers getting one. People currently working in careers related to foreign languages and linguistics tend obtained the following education levels.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 37.2%
Doctoral Degree 27.1%
Master’s Degree 25.4%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate 4.2%
Post-Master’s Certificate 2.8%

Most workers in foreign languages and linguistics have at least a master's degree. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in foreign languages and linguistics careers have.


This of course varies depending on which foreign languages and linguistics career you choose.

Career Opportunities for A Degree In Foreign Languages & Linguistics Graduate

A graduate with a degree in this field can enter into many different occupations. You would be well prepared to teach Foreign Language, English, History, or Literature in High School or teach a Foreign Language to adults. You could also continue your education in order to become a University Professor. If education does not interest you, you can work for the government in international relations or become a Foreign Service Officer. Other students may choose to become Anthropologists or Archeologists, Librarians or Museum Curators. Finally, another career choice is to become a translator or interpreter. Well-trained translators and interpreters are in high demand because of growing communication between nations.

Solid Growth Projected for Foreign Languages & Linguistics Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your foreign languages and linguistics degree? Foreign Languages & Linguistics careers are expected to grow 8.5% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to foreign languages and linguistics.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
High School Teachers 1,095,500 7.5%
Professors 258,700 9.4%
English Language and Literature Professors 92,900 9.8%
Interpreters and Translators 80,300 17.7%
Social Scientists 44,900 6.7%

How Much Money Do Foreign Languages & Linguistics Grads Make?

Recently graduated foreign languages and linguistics students earned an average of $29,403 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $14,600 to as high as $58,200. As you might expect, salaries for foreign languages and linguistics graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


High Paying Careers for Foreign Languages & Linguistics Majors

Salaries for foreign languages and linguistics graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers foreign languages and linguistics grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Social Scientists $85,750
Foreign Language and Literature Professors $79,160
English Language and Literature Professors $78,150
Professors $76,990
High School Teachers $64,340

Getting Your Foreign Languages & Linguistics Degree

With over 7,659 different foreign languages and linguistics degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased foreign languages and linguistics school rankings to help you with this.

Foreign Languages & Linguistics Majors to Study

Major Annual Graduates
Romance Languages 16,242
Linguistics & Comparative Literature 8,641
American Sign Language 2,660
East Asian Languages 2,323
Classical Languages & Literature 1,633

View All Foreign Languages & Linguistics Related Majors >

Majors Similar to Foreign Languages & Linguistics

Related Major Annual Graduates
Liberal Arts / Sciences & Humanities 516,754
Visual & Performing Arts 154,258
English Language & Literature 57,989
Theology & Religious Vocations 31,559
Philosophy & Religious Studies 16,163

View All Foreign Languages & Linguistics Related Majors >


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