Linguistics at UB

Students walking on North Campus.

Welcome to the University at Buffalo, North Campus

The University at Buffalo's Department of Linguistics offers a variety of courses and degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level. Our undergraduate programs allow for students to specialize in the study of particular languages or in particular subfields of linguistics, such as Applied Linguistics, and the department also offers minors in Linguistics as well as Chinese, Japanese, Korean and German. Our graduate programs include a PhD program in Linguistics and a number of master's-level options.

Our Strengths

We offer training in a broad range of subdisciplines of linguistics. Students benefit from the faculty’s research specializations in syntax, semantics, pragmatics, phonetics and phonology, as well as language typology, psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, sociolinguistics and historical linguistics. Areas of particular strength include:

  • Syntactic theory (non-movement-based models, especially Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar, Role and Reference Grammar, Construction Grammar, and Basic Linguistic Theory);
  • Semantics, including lexical/conceptual and formal approaches, and pragmatics;
  • Field-based language documentation and description (particularly of languages of the Americas, Africa, and New Guinea);
  • Syntactic and semantic typology;
  • Psycholinguistics (including corpus-based, experimental, and computational modeling research).

The department has long championed approaches to the study of language that are data-driven and informed by diverse theoretical perspectives. The origins of the department trace back to the Department of Linguistics and Anthropology, founded in 1956 under the chairmanship of Henry Lee Smith. In 1964, Linguistics became a separate program, and in 1969 it became an independent department, under David Hays. In 2001, a number of the University at Buffalo's language programs were brought into the Department of Linguistics, increasing the department's breadth in research and teaching.

Our Faculty

Our faculty focuses on the interface between language and cognition, empirically grounded linguistic theory, and both cross-linguistic studies and in-depth studies of individual languages other than English. Faculty conduct research all over the world on indigenous languages of North America, Papua New Guinea, and Africa, as well as Japanese, Korean, and German. Department faculty include internationally-recognized scholars and recipients of numerous external and internal awards such as Humboldt Research Fellowships, National Science Foundation grants, the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the UB Exceptional Scholar Award for Sustained achievement.

Our Impact

We have trained hundreds of students for careers in education, government and industry, and run an internship program with the Buffalo Public Schools that brings UB undergraduates into classrooms in order to engage and learn from local students and teachers. Faculty have active research collaborations with scholars throughout the world, and a number of our members are engaged in projects to support communities whose languages are endangered.