Degree in applied linguistics now available

If you’ve ever wondered what it is like to create your own language or how a language might be modeled computationally for Alexa, Siri or other voice command applications, you might be interested in applied linguistics.

Wichita State now has an applied linguistics major that can prepare students for a variety of careers, ranging from teaching to speech pathology to speech technology research.

“We’ve seen increasing interest in offering linguistics courses beyond the minor,” Mythili Menon, assistant professor of English and linguistics. said. “There’s also more interest in teaching English as a Second Language and for pursuing linguistics in graduate school. Students want to work on real-life problems and linguistics is a great tool/skill set to solving problems in technology, such as speech recognition, and machine translation.”

The applied linguistics major offers three concentration tracks: general linguistics; speech pathology; and computational linguistics. Students will complete 120 undergraduate hours regardless of track, and will also complete the foreign languages requirement for the bachelor of arts degree. The major is intended to be interdisciplinary and appeal to a diverse student population. It will also be a good double major for students in disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, speech pathology, anthropology, MCLL, applied studies, and computer science.

“Linguistics is inherently interdisciplinary: it studies how languages differ and how they share common features; it is a window into thought and consiousness, and is itself a cognitive process; it is a primary distinguisher of humankind; it is the medium of mass communication,” said Andrew Hippisley, dean.  “It is therefore not surprising that it is an important component of many disciplines and has seen great growth of interest as the field has developed.”

According to Menon’s proposal to the Kansas Board of Regents, linguistics has seen tremendous growth in the last 70 years. The field is currently at the forefront of interdisciplinary research in artificial intelligence, data science, computer science, speech pathology, natural language processing, and marketing and branding strategies.

“The BA program of study is designed to be flexible, to accommodate multiple content concentrations while providing enhanced academic training and the highest quality of applied learning experience,” Menon said.

Employment growth is also increasing. For example, the demand for interpreters and translators is rising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 20% growth in employment over a 10-year period ending in 2029, which is significantly faster than the average increase for all occupations. Part of this growth is driven by globalization and the increasing number of non-English speakers in the United States.

During the same 10-year period, computer and information research scientist positions are expected to grow by 15%. People in these jobs create and implement new approaches to computing technology.

Fall 2021 registration at Wichita State for all students begins April 5. For more information, contact: Mythili Menon, assistant professor of English and director of the linguistics program, (316) 978-6763; or visit