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UK’s Linguistics Program was founded in the early 1970s by Jean Pival (English), John Rea (French), and Tom Olshewsky (Philosophy). Their vision of establishing a modern linguistics program in the Commonwealth is the foundation on which the program continues to be built. The program started out small, initially only teaching a few core classes such as English Syntax, Typology, and Language and Gender. Under the long-serving direction of Gregory Stump, the BA/BS became established. 

In 1997 Anna Bosch became the new director and the program expanded in scope and size adding several classes to the curriculum and enlisting the help of collaborators from many different departments. Jeanmarie Rouhier-Willoughby(MCL), Yanira Paz (Spanish), Susan Belmore (Psychology), Andy Hofling (Anthropology), Tom Hudak, Janine Scancarelli (both English), and Sharon Shelly (French), are among many others to enrich the quality and diversity of offerings within the program. During the 2000s, the program continued to grow exponentially, hiring many new linguists as faculty members with diverse linguistic specializations such as Sociolinguistics, Creoles, and Dialectology. The number of courses offered under the LIN prefix tripled.

Under the direction of Andrew Hippisley from 2010 until his depart in 2018 the core requirements were changed to align with benchmark programs, and fall of 2012 saw the first cohort of graduate students enrolled in the newly launched master’s in linguistic theory and typology. Following the recommendations of a panel of external reviewers the Linguistics Department was created and ‘went live’ on July 1st 2016. To our great honor, the newly founded Department was selected to host the 2017 Linguistic Society of America’s Summer Linguistics Institute

In 2023, the department successfully added a Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics degree program. The first cohort will begin in Fall 2024.