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Foreign Languages & Linguistics Major

Foreign languages and linguistics is a major that typically falls into the Foreign Languages & Linguistics category.

There are 444 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in foreign languages and linguistics, 3,518 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 840 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 457 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting a Foreign Languages & Linguistics Degree?

This is one of the most frequently chosen college majors. It is the most popular in the country with students graduating with a bachelor’s in foreign languages and linguistics in 2017. This major is dominated by women with about 69.9% of recent graduates being female.

Racial Distribution

At the countrywide level, the racial distribution of foreign languages and linguistics majors is as follows:

  • Asian: 5.8%
  • Black or African American: 4.2%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 21.6%
  • White: 57.5%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 3.7%
  • Other Races: 7.2%
Foreign Languages & Linguistics Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in foreign languages and linguistics. About 3.7% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending foreign languages and linguistics majors to the U.S. are.

What Will You Learn as a Foreign Languages & Linguistics Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to foreign languages and linguistics to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Foreign Languages & Linguistics Majors

Foreign languages and linguistics majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

Important Knowledge Areas for Foreign Languages & Linguistics Majors

Skills for Foreign Languages & Linguistics Majors

When studying foreign languages and linguistics, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

Important Skills for Foreign Languages & Linguistics Majors

Abilities for Foreign Languages & Linguistics Majors

As you progress with your foreign languages and linguistics degree, there are several abilities you should pick up that will help you in whatever related career you choose. These abilities include:

Important Abilities for foreign languages and linguistics Majors

What Can You Do With a Foreign Languages & Linguistics Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with foreign languages and linguistics:

Careers Related to Foreign Languages & Linguistics
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

English Language and Literature Professors



Foreign Language and Literature Professors



Transportation Planners



Interpreters and Translators



Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education






Foreign Languages & Linguistics Major Salary

Foreign languages and linguistics majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $64,000 to $79,000. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for a Foreign Languages & Linguistics Major  ( 64000 to 79000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

The area of the country you choose to work in will also affect your career and salary prospects. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Foreign Languages & Linguistics Major Jobs

Some careers associated with foreign languages and linguistics require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

How much education do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to foreign languages and linguistics have obtained the following education levels.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Foreign Languages & Linguistics
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Foreign Languages & Linguistics Programs

There are 3,518 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in foreign languages and linguistics, with 31 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Getting your degree online is not easy and includes watching and listening to hours of lectures, participating in group charts, submitting papers by the appropriate deadline and taking tests. Some online programs will also feature internships or in-person clinical hours.

Is a Foreign Languages & Linguistics Major Worth It?

The median salary for a foreign languages and linguistics grad is $77,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 98% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $761,800 after 20 years!

foreign languages and linguistics salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: John Stephen Dwyer via License

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