With linguistics being one of the fastest-growing academic disciplines among the humanities, more and more high school students are seeking enrollment in Linguistics B.A. programs. As of now, the options of those prospective undergraduates in Pennsylvania are limited to a handful of private institutions — such as the University of Pennsylvania and Saint Joseph’s University — that charge elephantine sums for their programs. Luckily, West Chester University will probably soon “provide access to an affordable, high-quality [Linguistics B.A.] program,” both to aspiring undergraduates and to current students who are interested in a double major.
Since its introduction, WCU’s linguistics minor has become increasingly popular. With only three students in 2010, the program has grown to include 85 undergraduates as of the 2018 fall semester. 98.11 percent of WCU linguistics minors showed a “strong interest” in adding linguistics as their second major, according to a recent survey. It is thus unsurprising that in 2016, a “task force” consisting of English and languages & cultures professors began assembling a detailed proposal for a Linguistics B.A. program. The proposal is now complete, and is already recommended by College of Arts and Humanities dean Dr. Jen Bacon and Senior Vice Provost Dr. Jeffery Osgood. The departments of English and languages & cultures, between which the linguistics program is presently shared, will vote for the approval of the upcoming B.A. near the end of November and it almost seems guaranteed that the proposal will be approved. The proposal will later be sent to the office of the PASSHE chancellor.
The major will individually include 121 credits, and upwards of 127 credits if it is paired with a similar program, like English or communications. The Linguistics B.A. will mainly consist of 12 core courses, including the popular Introduction to Linguistics (ENG/LIN 230), 12 intermediate courses, six advanced courses and one capstone course. Several existing but rarely-taught classes — such as the Seminar in Linguistics (LIN 411) and the Structure of English (ENG 331) — will be revived. New courses will also be developed. Main Hall and Mitchell Hall will be able to house the Linguistics B.A. courses, so no new infrastructure is required. No faculty hires are proposed yet, either. Unfortunately, the Linguistics B.A. will not have a B.S.Ed counterpart because the subject is unpopular on the K-12 level.
Theoretically, numerous current students could graduate on time with a Linguistics B.A. or double major. The program is set to have a “soft launch” in the 2020 Spring semester and a “real launch” in the 2020 Fall semester. The plan is to offer the major for five years before deciding whether to keep it, depending on enrollment numbers, studies and widespread attitudes. However, studies strongly suggest that the Linguistics B.A. will be a success.
The task force is open to feedback and recommendations. You may contact Dr. Maria-Eirini Panagiotidou, Dr. Israel Sanz-Sánchez, Dr. Innhwa Park, Dr. Joshua Raclaw, Dr. Dominik Wolff or Dr. Jelena Colovic-Markovic with your suggestions.
If you are interested in learning about linguistics or would like to know whether the major would be a good fit for you, consider enrolling in WCU’s linguistics minor!
Chris is a third-year student majoring in English and minoring in creative writing and computer science. PS868710@wcupa.edu