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The Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and Linguistics combines the best of both fields into three concentration areas, allowing students to consider language development at its most basic and complex levels.

What You Will Learn

Learning outcomes include:

  • a deep understanding of languages as an organized, interrelated system with multiple subsystems
  • the ability to apply linguistic methodologies to analyze language (English and other languages)
  • the skills to recognize and interpret differences across speech communities in language use
  • awareness of cross-cultural difference and respect for diversity
  • the ability to conduct a scientific research project and produce a quality research paper
  • language teaching methods
  • how to plan a lesson and create teaching materials
  • how to assess student learning

Why Linguistics?

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. In this field, your main focus will be to understand how languages work, and how they are acquired by both native speakers and second language learners. Like in other scientific fields, you will collect and examine data, identify patterns, and create and test different hypotheses. In doing so, you will develop crucial analytical and technical skills, which are directly or indirectly relevant to a wide range of career paths. Here are some examples.

For more information, visit the Linguistics Society of America website.

Career Options Involving Linguistics

Text mining (text analytics): Analyzing text can be extremely valuable to companies, but how do you make sense of thousands of lines of text...? One useful tool is called sentiment analysis, which seeks to identify patterns in text data. Companies often employ this type of analysis to investigate whether customers have positive or negative opinions about their products (this can be done by examining the words that customers use when writing about such products in reviews or blog posts online). This type of analysis provides unique insights into how people feel about services and products, which in turn inform companies' marketing strategies, for example.

Linguistics allows you to have a comprehensive understanding of sentence structure, meaning, words, and their sounds. This knowledge is crucial if you plan to teach any language to children or adults, in the US or abroad. Needless to say, language teaching plays a crucial role in a world where people migrate to different countries and cultures (as immigrants or refugees). Linguistics can also help you better appreciate the building blocks that underlie all languages, which in turn allows you to better understand the challenges that people face when learning a new language—and to predict such challenges on the basis of people’s mother tongues.

More and more tech companies rely on linguistic data. When you start typing certain words on your smartphone, specific words are suggested based on your typical typing patterns: your phone "knows" what you normally type, and it can help you complete your own sentences by predicting the next word(s)—saving you a lot of time in the long run. At the same time, you can talk to your phone and get an answer back almost instantly. Combined with computer science and data analysis, linguistics can equip you to explore domains such as natural language processing, speech recognition, computer-assisted language learning, and many other areas.

Positions involving editing, publishing and writing all benefit from a background in linguistics.

Within the field of linguistics, phonetics deals with how speech sounds are produced and perceived by humans. Among other things, you will understand what makes different accents sound so different sometimes---which is certainly an important skill in acting.

Our Alumni

Learn more about what our graduate-program alumni do.

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What Can You Do with an English Major?

We’re asked this question all the time. Our answer: A lot. You will learn skills that transfer across hundreds of possible careers and industries—some of which may not even exist yet. Our graduates go on to work in marketing, publishing, non-profit fundraising, speechwriting, as well as in countless other fulfilling occupations.

Explore Careers

A student and a professor working together.

Program Benefits

You will learn directly from and collaborate with your faculty members, who offer diverse areas of expertise in linguistics and are actively conducting research in their fields, often with support from their students.

Faculty has included work on:

  • second language (L2) vocabulary learning
  • prompt effects on language performance
  • discourse markers in L2 writing
  • collaboration in writing classrooms
  • language of politics
  • Totonac-Tepehua
  • the effect of syllable structure on language learning
  • the development of complexity, accuracy, and fluency in L2 English
  • language textbook content analysis

Read our faculty bios:

You’ll produce published work and gain experience in the professional field through projects with your faculty, working as an assistant, presenting your work at conferences, and publishing journal articles.

Many of our graduate assistants work in Ball State’s Intensive English Institute, which provides English instruction to nonnative speakers. Through the work in the institute, the GAs receive ample practical training and can put into practice what they learn through their courses.

Explore more professional opportunities.


Coursework includes a core TESOL and linguistic topics (including methods and materials for TESOL, phonetics and phonology, morphology and syntax, and sociolinguistics), plus directed electives. Three concentration options are available to select from.



The TESOL concentration of the master of arts in TESOL and linguistics prepares students to teach English to speakers of other languages, both in English speaking and non-English speaking environments.

As a foundation for language teaching, this path introduces the study of linguistic structure (phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics), the study of language use in social contexts, and the study of second language acquisition encompassing different theoretical frameworks (e.g., linguistic, cognitive, pragmatic, sociocultural, and input-interactionist).




A few of the classes you may take include:

  • Theories of Language Learning
  • Methods for Teaching English Language Learners
  • Materials Development for Teaching English Language Learners
  • Assessment in TESOL

For a complete list of all the courses you will take, view the course catalog.

View Catalog

Accelerated Master's Program (AMP)

Our Accelerated Master's Program (AMP) in English allows you to begin your graduate studies at Ball State while still an undergraduate student saving time and money as you pursue an advanced education in your field of interest.


The linguistics concentration of the MA in TESOL and linguistics includes core graduate-level linguistics coursework, directed electives, and a research or creative project.

Total Credits



A few of the classes you may take include:

  • Research in English Studies
  • Morphology and Syntax
  • Phonology and Phonetics

For a complete list of all the courses you will take, view the course catalog.

View Catalog

The TESOL and Linguistics concentration includes coursework in core topics for TESOL, phonetics and phonology, morphology and syntax, and sociolinguistics, plus directed electives. This concentration culminates in a capstone research paper or creative project.

Total Credits



  • Research in English Studies
  • Theories of Language Learning
  • Morphology and Syntax
  • Phonetics and Phonology
  • Materials Development for Teaching English Language Learners
  • Assessment in TESOL

For a complete list of all the courses you will take, view the course catalog.

View Catalog

Paying for Your Education

Department Graduate Scholarships and Assistantships

A graduate assistantship is an excellent opportunity to gain meaningful professional experience while helping cover the costs of your degree. Learn more.

Ready to Apply?

Review our admission requirements, dates and deadlines, and instructions. Then complete our online application.

Applications for the fall semester will be accepted until July 10; applications for the spring semester will be accepted until November 1. To ensure full consideration for academic-year graduate assistantships, applications must be complete by January 31.

More Information

If you would like to learn more about this program or about Ball State Graduate School in general, please complete our online form to request more information. Or if you’d like to speak with someone in our department directly by phone or email, please contact us.

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