45 Cheapest Linguistics Degree Programs

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Whether you want to be a language teacher or an anthropologist, a computer programmer or an academic researcher, or some combination of those and many more things, your interest in linguistics can be immensely useful. Language is a fundamental part of human existence, and it is something many people take for granted. Linguists don’t take language for granted. They’re fascinated by the way it shapes our thoughts and lives. The study of linguistics is different than just the ordinary study of a language for the sake of learning it. A linguistics degree will teach you the fundamental principles language is based on. You’ll study everything from why words are pronounced certain ways, how and why some languages make use of certain sounds while others don’t, and how a language’s vocabulary can shape the thoughts of its speakers and writers. College can be expensive, and people who pursue a degree in linguistics often wish to pursue study at the graduate and even Ph.D. levels, so it’s not a bad idea to start out at one of the more affordable linguistics programs available. That’s where our ranking of the top 45 most affordable linguistics degrees comes in. These affordable linguistics degrees are all ranked by only one factor: cost. Public universities use their out-of-state tuition to ensure everybody reading this ranking knows what to expect as far as tuition costs go. However, if you’re in the same state as any of the public universities in our ranking, you can expect the program to be much cheaper! One way to make your linguistics degree more immediately valuable would be to minor or double major in a language. For example, there are many things you can do with a Spanish degree, or degree in another language.

Ranking the Most Affordable Linguistics Degree Programs Available

#1. Brigham Young University-Provo

BYU-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


The department of linguistics at BYU offers a BA in linguistics and minors in editing, editing and publishing, English language, linguistic computing, and teaching English as a second language. Students in the program can expect to take upper level courses like discourse analysis, phonetics, phonology, introduction to historical-comparative linguistics, and introduction to sociolinguistics.

Featured Programs

  • Tuition: $5,790

#2. Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


The undergraduate linguistics degree at Eastern Michigan University requires students to choose a minor. Some minors that pair well with a linguistics degree include anthropology, communication, computer science, English language, foreign language (of choice), philosophy, sociology, mathematics, or international affairs. Undergraduate students studying linguistics at EMU will have opportunities to pursue linguistics research on a topic of their choosing while being mentored by a faculty member.

  • Tuition: $13,758

#3. Truman State University

Truman University-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


Linguistics students at Truman State have become lawyers, copywriters, ESL teachers, media editors, network engineers, web applications developers, software engineers, and joined the Peace Corps. As a linguistics student you will take courses like symbolic logic, semantics and pragmatics, syntax, principles of second language teaching, sociolinguistics, language and mind, and electives like phonology and advanced grammar or topics in Hispanic linguistics.

  • Tuition: $15,314

#4. Cleveland State University

Cleveland State-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


Graduates from Cleveland State’s linguistics program have worked as translators, interpreters, FBI, CIA, military personnel, teachers, and in the tech industry. Students in the program have the option to take a second major or a minor in areas like anthropology, communication, education, and French or Spanish. These minor/double major options have a lot of courses that overlap and can double count for the additional major.

  • Tuition: $15,370

#5. CUNY Lehman College

CUNY Lehman-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


The interdisciplinary program in linguistics at CUNY Lehman features contributions from many areas of study throughout the university including Africana studies, English, journalism and media studies, languages and literatures, middle and high school education, philosophy, speech-language-hearing sciences, and women’s studies. The interdisciplinary approach allows students to understand not just the mechanics of language, but the fundamentally influential nature of language and its impact across society.

  • Tuition: $15,360

#6. CUNY Brooklyn College

Brooklyn College-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


The linguistics program at CUNY Brooklyn prepares students for careers in fields like education, translation and interpretation, language and speech-related technology, international business, publishing, and foreign service. Students will take courses like anthropology of language, sex, and gender; data structures; philosophical issues in cognitive science; thought and language; morphology; and sociolinguistics.

  • Tuition: $15,390

#7. CUNY Queens College

CUNY Queens-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


CUNY Queens points out that New York City may be the best place in the world to study languages, given, according to Business Insider, there are as many 800 languages spoken in New York City. Queens specifically has the greatest diversity of language in the world. Students in this program will take courses like advanced English syntax, language and social diversity, phonology, languages of the world, and linguistic field methods and endangered languages in Queens.

  • Tuition: $15,488

#8. Mid-Atlantic Christian University

Mid-Atlantic University-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


Mid-Atlantic Christian University offers a bachelor of arts in applied linguistics. The focus of an applied linguistics degree is on teaching students how to tackle real-world problems related to language, communication, psychology, and anthropology. As a Christian university, Mid-Atlantic also applies linguistics to the problems of translating and interpreting the Christian Bible and early Christian writings.

  • Tuition: $15,810

#9. University of Central Arkansas

University of Central Arkansas-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


The University of Central Arkansas linguistics students have formed a recognized student organization called the UCA Linguistics Society. The organization is a place where students engage in issues related to linguistics like cognitive science, English dialectology, and endangered language documentation. Students can choose between tracks focusing on language, or on teaching English as a second language. The languages available for the language-focused track are French, German, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish.

  • Tuition: $15,998

#10. Gallaudet University

Gallaudet University-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


Gallaudet’s department of linguistics focuses on both spoken and signed language. ASL is the primary signed language of focus, but the faculty and students are engaged in research with the goal of advancing the effectiveness of signed languages around the world. At the undergraduate level the linguistics program is designed to be added as a minor to those studying in American Sign Language, deaf studies, interpretation, or education.

  • Tuition: $17,038

#11. Florida Atlantic University

FAU-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


Students majoring in linguistics at FAU can elect to earn a certificate in teaching English as a second language. Undergraduate linguistics students will take courses like patterns of language, global perspectives on language, African-American vernacular English, normal processes of speech and language development, psychology of language, and morphology and syntax.

  • Tuition: $17,324

#12. California State University-Fresno

Fresno State-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


The linguistics program at CSU Fresno offers areas of study in general linguistics, teaching English to speakers of other languages/second language acquisition and teaching, computational linguistics, and interdisciplinary language studies. There are also minors available in Chinese, Hmong, and Japanese. The computational linguistics minor requires a strong background in computer science and so is primarily open to computer science majors.

  • Tuition: $18,469

#13. SUNY Oswego

SUNY Oswego-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


SUNY Oswego’s linguistics degree takes an interdisciplinary approach, utilizing a core of five linguistics courses, supplemented by related courses from other disciplines. Students will take classes like phonetics, phonology, and morphology, theories of linguistic analysis, investigation language: an applied capstone course, semiotics and the study of meaning, introduction to cognitive science, computer models of language representation and processing, and philosophy of language.

  • Tuition: $18,627

#14. California State University-Long Beach

California State University Long Beach-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


The department of linguistics at CSU-Long Beach offers a major and minor in linguistics and a major and minor in American Sign Language. Students will take courses like academic and technical English vocabulary acquisition: a linguistic approach, linguistics for crosscultural academic development (in secondary school settings), modern English grammar, the languages of Africa, and laboratory phonetics.

  • Tuition: $18,714

#15. California State University-Fullerton

CSU-Fullerton-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


Linguistics students at CSU Fullerton are required to take either two semesters in a row of each of any two languages, or four semesters in a row of any one language. Students will take courses like introduction to linguistic phonetics and phonology, descriptive linguistics, historical linguistics, human growth and development, history of the English language, and first course in symbolic logic.

  • Tuition: $18,804

#16. California State University-Northridge



While CSU Northridge does require linguistics majors to take two semesters of a language other than English, this requirement can be bypassed by taking an examination if the student is already bilingual. Students will be able to choose elective courses like bilingualism in the African-American community, language in culture: anthropological linguistics, language and society: chicanas/os and other minority children, concepts of programming languages, and introduction to artificial intelligence.

  • Tuition: $18,857

#17. University of Minnesota-Duluth

UM-Duluth-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


Linguistics students at the University of Minnesota-Duluth must take four semesters or the equivalent of a second language. The linguistics program offers courses like invented languages, language and society, field research in spoken language, and language development and communication. There’s also an honors writing intensive offered that covers courses like language, culture, and power and languages of the world.

  • Tuition: $18,880

#18. San Jose State University

San Jose State University-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


Linguistics students interested in the computer science applications of the discipline will be interested in the certificate of computational linguistics offered by SJSU’s linguistics department. The main linguistics major offers courses like psycholinguistics: introduction to natural language processing; sociolinguistics: cross-cultural communication; and introduction to second language development, teaching, and assessment.

  • Tuition: $19,732

#19. Montclair State University

Montclair State University-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


Linguistics students at Montclair State University can choose between concentrations in American Sign Language/English interpreting, and language engineering. Montclair also offers minors in both linguistics and American Sign Language. The linguistics major offers some interesting electives including courses like language of food, language of propaganda, language and gender, introduction to cognitive science, and comparative and historical linguistics.

  • Tuition: $21,033

#20. University of Hawaii at Hilo

University of Hawaii at Hilo


Graduates from the linguistics program at Hawaii’s Hilo campus have worked in the fields of computer programming, artificial intelligence, education, translation and interpretation, language documentation and fieldwork on indigenous and minority languages, and more. Students will take courses like pidgins and creoles, language and gender, second language acquisition, and culture revitalization movements.

  • Tuition: $20,752

#21. University of North Texas

University of North Texas-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


Students must either take 3-12 hours of a language other than English or demonstrate they are already adequately proficient in a non-English language. Students can study languages like Chinese, Arabic, French, Japanese, Latin, Russian, Italian, and German. Linguistics courses include phonetics and phonology: the sound patterns of language, discourse analysis: talking and telling, forensic linguistics, and the politics of language.

  • Tuition: $21,172

#22. Metropolitan State University

Metropolitan State University-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


There is a high level of customization available in Metropolitan State’s linguistics programs. There are only four required courses (six if you count the language requirement). The rest of the program can be tailored based on the student’s goals and interests through the use of electives. Students have access to electives like old Norse, old English, perspectives in linguistics: variable topics, anthropological linguistics, historical linguistics, and psycholinguistics. There are also a host of interdisciplinary electives which allow students to take courses from other departments.

  • Tuition: $21,728

#23. University of Southern Maine

University of Southern Main-Cheapest Linguistics Degrees


The bachelor of arts in linguistics program at the University of Southern Maine offers concentrations in American Sign Language linguistics, ASL/English interpreting, French linguistics, Spanish linguistics, and speech and language science. Students can also minor in deaf studies, French language, linguistics, and Spanish language.

  • Tuition: $22,050

#24. Ohio University-Main Campus


The linguistics major at Ohio University requires six core courses covering topics like grammar in language learning and teaching, introduction to phonology and morphology, and syntactic description of English. Aside from the six core courses students can use electives to customize their study of the subject. Electives include courses like computers in language teaching, methods and materials in TEFL, historical linguistics, and audio, video, and multimedia in language learning.

  • Tuition: $22,406

#25. University of New Mexico-Main Campus

New Mexico State University-Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


Students majoring in linguistics at UNM can apply to the school’s master of arts in linguistics degree in their junior year of college. This allows students to take graduate courses in their senior year, speeding up the rate at which they can earn their master’s degree. The undergraduate linguistics degree features courses like psychology of language, American Indian languages, linguistic field methods, discourse analysis, language and culture, and grammatical analysis.

  • Tuition: $23,292

#26. Iowa State University

Iowa State University-Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


The interdisciplinary linguistics bachelor’s degree at Iowa State is offered through the department of English. Students will take core courses like computers and language, introduction to linguistics, descriptive English grammar, phonetics and phonology, and grammatical analysis. Electives are available in a variety of categories including communication disorders, computers and linguistics, second language studies, sociolinguistics and language, and Spanish linguistics.

  • Tuition: $24,508

#27. Georgia State University

Georgia State University-Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


Georgia State offers a dual B.A./M.A. in applied linguistics to qualifying students. Enrolling in graduate level courses during junior and senior year can cut as much as a year off earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in the subject. Students will take courses like bilingualism, semantics and pragmatics, communication across cultures, language in society, and understanding miscommunication.

  • Tuition: $24,517

#28. The University of Texas at El Paso

University of Texas at El Paso


The BA in linguistics at UT El Paso is one of the qualifying programs for students who want to pursue a master of science degree in speech-language pathology. Students will take courses like the academic vocabulary of English, teaching English speakers of other languages, and pedagogical issues in Spanish. Students must take some foreign language courses and may choose between French, Chinese, German, Arabic, Portuguese, and Spanish.

  • Tuition: $24,524

#29. Western Washington University

Western Washington University-Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


Graduates from the undergraduate linguistics program at Western Washington often pursue graduate level study and careers in higher education where they can both teach and conduct research. Because linguistics is applicable in so many fields, you can find linguists teaching in a variety of areas including philosophy, psychology, speech sciences, and modern and classical languages.

  • Tuition: $24,690

#30. Oakland University (Rochester Hills, MI)

Oakland University-Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


Students at Oakland University can choose to minor in computer science. Core linguistics courses include introduction to phonology, phonological theory, introduction to syntax, and historical linguistics. The history of linguistics course is the capstone of the undergraduate program. Students must also complete two years’ study in a foreign language or American Sign Language, and one year’s study in another foreign language.

  • Tuition: $24,710

#31. University of Mississippi

University of Mississippi-Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


The linguistics degree at University of Mississippi places a great emphasis on interdisciplinary learning. Because of this, the degree has faculty from multiple other departments including communication science and disorders, English, and modern languages. The modern languages faculty have a wide range of specialties including languages in contract, sociolinguistics, speech disorders, and discourse analysis.

  • Tuition: $25,100

#32. Washington State University

Washington State University-Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


Students at Washington State University can take linguistics either as a minor through the English department or as their area of focus in for their humanities degree. Students can take courses like descriptive linguistics, topics in sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics, introduction to syntax and semantics, history of the English language, and special problems in anthropology.

  • Tuition: $26,419

#33. University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus

Oklahoma University-Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


All majors at the University of Oklahoma Norman Campus have study abroad options but linguistics students are particularly well positioned to take advantage of this opportunity. Students can study abroad in South Africa, Mexico (both Puebla and Verano Pablano), Brazil, Uganda, and Bhutan. Students will take courses like philosophy of language, morphology, lesser studied languages, and language contact, loss, and revitalization.

  • Tuition: $27,144

#34. University of Utah

University of Utah-Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


The linguistics faculty at the University of Utah specialize in the areas of theoretical syntax and semantics, theoretical phonology, second language acquisition, and second language phonology. The school offers undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. programs in linguistics. Students majoring in linguistics will take courses like bad words and taboo terms, introduction to the study of language, intro to phonetics/phonology, and intro to syntax.

  • Tuition: $27,220

#35. Stony Brook University

Stony Brook-Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


Stony Brook University offers three five-year BA-MAT programs for linguistics majors who want to teach another language. The three programs are in French, Italian, and Spanish. The BA program itself features an honors program, TESOL specialization, and speech language pathology specialization. Students will take courses in human language, phonetics, phonology, syntax, and writing in linguistics.

  • Tuition: $27,845

#36. Binghamton University

Binghamton University-Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


Binghamton University offers a major, minor, and honors program in linguistics. There is also a dual bachelor’s-master’s 4+1 program where students earn a bachelor’s in linguistics and a master’s in anthropology. Students can take courses like American Sign Language (1, 2, & 3), structure of (language of choice), language and the sit-com, topics in linguistics, introduction to linguistic anthropology, psycholinguistics, language and identity, and transnational life of language.

  • Tuition: $27,791

#37. University of Kansas


Kansas University allows linguistics students to pair their degree with a research experience certification, making this program a great choice for students who want to gain valuable research experience at the undergraduate level. Linguistics students will take courses like neurolinguistics, bilingualism, North American Indian Languages, language and mind, and first (or second) language acquisition.

  • Tuition: $28,034

#38. University of Texas at Arlington

University of Texas at Arlington-Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


The linguistics faculty at UTA have published linguistic works on languages like English, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Tohono O’odham, Bai, Chinese, Tagalog, Dinka, Hausa, Ngas, and Somali. This linguistics degree puts a heavy emphasis on language learning, requiring students to take three years of a single language in order to complete the degree. Students who wish to earn an undergraduate certificate in TESOL have enough electives to do so without interrupting their program of study.

  • Tuition: $28,129

#39. University at Buffalo

University at Buffalo-Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


The University at Buffalo offers concentrations in applied linguistics, cognition, and language, society, and communication. The applied linguistics concentration is specifically for linguistics students who plan to teach language, whether TESOL or another form of second language acquisition instruction. The language and cognition concentration for students who want to pursue a career at the intersection of linguistics, cognitive science, child development, adult language disorders, and language education. The language, society, and communication concentration is for students interested in working in media, public relations, business, or government.

  • Tuition: $28,194

#40. University of Missouri-Columbia

University of Missouri--Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


The linguistics degree at University of Missouri offers interdepartmental supporting coursework in the areas of anthropology, classical studies, communication science and disorders, computer science, education, English, Black studies, classical studies, German and Russian studies, philosophy, and romance languages and literatures – all of this in addition to the core courses in areas like semantics, sociolinguistics, phonetics, and syntax.

  • Tuition: $28,348

#41. Portland State University

Portland State-Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


Graduates from the linguistics major at Portland State College have become dialect coaches, TESOL instructors, interpreters, translators, technical writers, computational linguists, electronic lexicographers, linguistics researchers, and cultural anthropologists. The bachelor’s degree is in applied linguistics, meaning students will be studying the origins, implications, and development of languages with an eye for using this knowledge to solve problems in our modern world.

  • Tuition: $28,410

#42. University of Florida

University of Florida-Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


The University of Florida is one of the top universities in the United States. Students in the linguistics program will take core courses like sounds of human language, structure of human language, and introduction to linguistics. Linguistics electives include modern English structure, survey of sociolinguistics, gender and language, psycholinguistics, and brain and language. There are also electives offered by other departments, including language and power, Arabic sociolinguistics, language in African society, and revolving topics in linguistics and culture.

  • Tuition: $28,659

#43. Purdue University-Main Campus

Purdue-Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


It is possible to earn Purdue’s linguistics degree in just three years by taking 9 credits during the summer years one and two, and maxing out sophomore and junior year credits (18 credits per semester). Additionally, AP courses and testing out of certain requirements can lighten the course load. Students will take courses like fundamentals of phonology and morphology, sound and form in language, phonetics of foreign languages, and foundations of syntax and semantics.

  • Tuition: $28,794

#44. Carson-Newman University

Carson Newman University-Most Affordable Linguistics Degrees


Carson-Newman University is a Christian university. There are numerous applications for linguistics within the Christian world. They can be useful for students who wish to engage in missions or otherwise serve in international contexts. The study of historical linguistics is a fantastic foundation for further study in ancient religious traditions and texts, and there are many organizations devoted to translating the Christian scriptures and ancient writings into many languages.

  • Tuition: $28,900

#45. Southern Illinois University-Carbondale


The linguistics program at SIU is offered through the college of liberal arts. This allows students within the program to take courses and work with students and professors in the areas of psychology, anthropology, sociology, foreign languages and literatures, English, and history. The sheer variety of areas of study within the college of liberal arts allows students to develop a holistic understanding of the essential nature of language across all countries and cultures past and present.

  • Tuition: $29,360

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m interested in studying a specific language. Should I consider a linguistics degree?

Linguistics is the study of human language generally. One of the things that makes linguistics great if you’re planning to study another language, or multiple languages, is that it grounds you in the fundamental concepts and factors that underlie the development of all languages. All linguistics degrees have a language learning requirement. So there is great synergy there if learning a specific language is your goal. What’s more, linguistics degrees are incredibly flexible, with lots of electives. This means you can use your electives to dive deep into your language of interest, or to learn another language at the same time. Linguistics holds the keys to fast and efficient language acquisition.

Learning a language during your linguistics degree will give you concrete examples of the concepts you’re studying. And learning linguistics while learning a language will give you even more tools to enhance your acquisition of the language. You’ll be better able to understand the logic and structures of the language you’re studying. You will understand language acquisition better as well because classes on that topic are available in most linguistics departments. It’s a perfect feedback loop that will result in a complete understanding of the language you want to study. You will understand not only how the language works, but why it works that way.

What will a linguistics degree do for me?

Linguistics tends to be a liberal arts discipline. That means linguistics degrees are more about developing a way to better understand and think about the world than job training. Liberal arts degrees aren’t as much of a guarantee that you will just find any job upon graduation as more career-focused degrees. But this doesn’t make them any less powerful. The key to becoming successful with a liberal arts degree all lies in how you apply the knowledge and skills you acquire.

Degrees in subjects like linguistics are highly flexible, and have broad implications across society. The degree will give you the critical thinking and analytical skills you need to pursue a career in any number of broad range of fields. And if you choose to go into academia the potentials for areas of research and investigation are endless. While the degree won’t train you for a specific career, it does prepare you to follow your interests wherever they lead for the rest of your life. In the end, a linguistics degree is what you make of it.

What can you do with a linguistics degree?

What to do with a linguistics degree . . . the possibilities are nearly endless. But I realize that doesn’t help all that much when considering future job prospects. Many of the programs in this ranking of the most affordable linguistics degrees have recommended minors or certificates, or synergies with other degrees, whether a double major or bachelor/master’s program that can help you narrow your field of study to a given specialty.

The most common are teaching careers. Linguistics study at the undergraduate level pairs nicely with TESOL certification, and can be a great foundation for teaching languages at the K-12 level.

However, if teaching isn’t your area of interest, there are plenty of other options. Linguistics majors often become interpreters or translators, whose services are in high demand in diplomatic contexts. These skills, along with the analytical skill set you will develop while studying linguistics are also in demand at a variety of government agencies like the NSA, CIA, FBI, and Homeland Security.

Of course, translation and interpretation skills can also be immensely helpful when working with non-governmental aid organizations as well.

If you pair linguistics with the study of computer science or mathematics you will have a great foundation for getting into artificial intelligence research and development and potentially cryptography (though cryptography would likely require further study of mathematics at the graduate and postgraduate levels).

Publishing is another area in which a fundamental understanding of language can be immensely useful. You might find work as an editor or translator in any number of different publishing contexts (academic or popular publishing for example).

In the academic world, you could pursue research into cognitive development, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and archaeology.

If you are religious, or interested in studying religions, linguistics is a great foundation for the study of ancient religious texts, making it a great initial degree for priests, monks, pastors, rabbis, imams and other spiritual leaders, scholars, or theologians.

In the corporate world you could find work as a translator, copy editor, writer, and more.

Of course, the best person to determine the most effective application of your linguistics degree is you! What are you interested in? What unique perspectives on the world do you have that could inform the way you apply your degree?

How much do linguistics degree jobs pay?

This is a complicated question to answer given the sheer number of possibilities. In order to keep things simple I’ll post the median annual salaries of the professions I listed above, to give you a general idea of what you can expect from them.

  • ESL Teacher: $53,630
  • High School Teacher: $60,320
  • Interpreter/Translator: $49,930
  • College Professor: $78,470
  • Technical Writer: $71,850
  • Court Reporter: $57,150
  • FBI/Homeland Security/Detective: $63,380
  • Intelligence Analyst (NSA or CIA): $43,000-$100,000 (Payscale)
  • Speech Language Pathologist: $77,510
  • Computer Programmer: $84,280
  • Editor: $59,480
  • Clergy: $53,290

This is just a small sample of the kinds of jobs that will be available to you as a linguistics scholar. Some require only a bachelor’s degree, while others will require a master’s or even a doctorate. This list is not exhaustive, as there are too many potential career paths for linguistics scholars to list. Don’t be afraid to use your imagination to discover new and interesting applications for linguistics.

Even affordable degrees seem expensive. How can I pay for mine?

One of the first things I should mention is that while the schools on this ranking do represent the cheapest, we used out-of-state tuition to make sure the prices were relevant to all our readers. So one of the first things you should do is check the prices of linguistics programs at state universities in your state of residence. Often tuition at these universities is under $10,000 for residents, and at most it still tends to be under $20,000. Preference is often given during the admissions process to students who reside in the same state as a public university.

The absolute best way to do college without spending much money is to attend a community college or junior college. This is especially true if your grades in high school weren’t as good as they could have been. Most community colleges have open admission and great resources for students. Getting good grades at this level can lead to great scholarships if you transfer to a state university. Plus, the easiest way to get into the best state universities is to do your first two years at a community college, as it’s often easier to transfer into the best state universities. They often give preference to students attempting to transfer in from community colleges.

Speaking of transferring into a program after completing two years at community college, linguistics degrees are particularly good for this. Most linguistics programs have a low number of core courses, and a high number of electives, which means you are less likely to lose credits when transferring into the program than programs with a more stringent course schedule. Attending a community college for your first two years can also help you save on room and board if you can live at home. But even if you can’t live with your parents or relatives, don’t despair! Community college is cheap, and excess financial aid can, in most cases, be used for housing and food, even if you aren’t living in dorms.

And if you do decide to attend community college, and you’re in high school right now, check to see if your local community college has any dual-credit programs. You can often attend community college instead of your last two years of high-school, for nearly free! If you do that, not only will you save money, but you’ll also put yourself on track to graduate from college a year or two early!

Finally, make sure you fill out your financial aid applications early! And it never hurts to apply to school early either. If your target schools have an early application period, get that application in as early as possible. Financial aid (through both schools and FAFSA) is first-come, first-serve. Even the federal government doesn’t have unlimited money, so the earlier you apply the better.

Are cheaper degrees lower in quality than more expensive degrees?

Honestly, the quality of a degree often has little to do with the cost. It is true that more expensive universities may have more resources than some less expensive universities. But this usually only holds true when comparing private universities to each other. State universities are a different animal because they receive lots of public funding. Tuition at state universities would be a lot more expensive (even than their out-of-state prices) if the tuition weren’t being subsidized by the state and federal governments. Going to a state university is like getting a massive hidden scholarship from the start!

Ivy league schools play by different rules. They are old, so they have huge endowments. Most of them cover close to 100% of student financial need, so they aren’t as expensive as they appear. But their prestigious reputations allow them to have their pick of students, making it difficult to gain admission. The prestigious reputations of ivy league schools and their huge research budgets often attract people at the top of their field. But even when it comes to ivy league schools, the cost isn’t what determines the quality. It’s other factors. My advice? If you can get into an ivy league university you should definitely go, and don’t worry too much about the cost. The networks you find yourself in just from attending such a school will often mean not having to worry too much about any student loans you have to take out.

But if you can’t get into an ivy league school, for the most part the top public schools are on the same level as the top non-ivy schools. In fact some public schools, like Berkeley, consistently rank among the top 20 or 30 schools in the country. So don’t feel bad about choosing a school based on price. It’s often one of the smartest ways to choose.

Should I go for a master’s right away?

This mostly depends on what you’re planning to do with your degree. But master’s degrees generally tend to be a strong addition to liberal arts degrees, and linguistics degrees are no exception. A master’s can help you focus more closely on any related field you want to go into. It’s also often required for teaching (most teaching positions require teachers to get a master’s degree eventually). If you plan to minor in computer science, then getting a master’s in computer science is a great way to enhance your computer science credentials.

And if you’re doing interpretation, translation, or want to go into the FBI or CIA, or foreign service, then a master’s degree is always useful. For those last options consider master’s degrees in political science, international relations, or a master’s that builds on the languages you studied at the undergraduate level. Good languages to study if you want to go into intelligence or work for a law enforcement agency would be Russian, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, or Farsi.


CVO Staff

This concludes our ranking of the top 45 cheapest linguistics degree programs.