Forensic Linguistics Degree Programs

In a forensic linguistics master's degree program, you'll study language as a science and examine how syntax and language can identify moods. You can learn how to identify authentic threats or other documents as they relate to legal or criminal cases. Read on to find out what subjects you can study in a degree program and information about careers in this field. Schools offering Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Degrees in Forensic Linguistics Are Available?

You'll find forensic linguistics programs only at the master's level, and even those programs are rare. To enter a graduate program in this field, you'll typically need an undergraduate degree with a background in law, linguistics, sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology or criminal justice. Since these programs are limited in availability and include numerous language exercises, it's unlikely that you'll find online study opportunities.

If you hope to teach or conduct academic research in forensic linguistics, you'll likely need to pursue a doctorate. Since no U.S. colleges or universities offer a Ph.D. program in forensic linguistics, you might choose to pursue a doctoral program in applied linguistics or sociolinguistics that will allow you to pursue independent research in forensic linguistics.

Degree LevelsOnly offered at the master's level
Common Course TopicsDialectology, semantics, trademarks and legal terminology, crime theory, language crimes
Possible EmployersState or federal government, police departments, courts, law firms
Key Job ResponsibilitiesAnalyzing written documents, studying written statements, identifying authors

What Will I Study?

A master's degree program in forensic linguistics teaches you to identify threats and authorship of documents for legal purposes, in addition to preparing you to work with historians to authenticate primary sources, letters and plagiarism. Some of the subjects you're likely to study include dialectology, semantics, sociolinguistics, crime theory, language crimes, trademarks and legal terminology. A master's essay often is required.

Where Can I Find Employment?

As a forensic linguist, you might be employed by a state or federal government agency to help solve crimes or exonerate individuals from false accusations. Police departments, courts and law firms also may utilize your services. With more experience, you could become an independent consultant to a law firm or academic institution.

What Will My Duties Be?

As a forensic linguist, you could make or break a case against a criminal defendant. Your activities might include analyzing written documents, like suicide or ransom notes, to confirm accuracy or intent. You also might study death row statements or death threats or identify authors of written or verbal correspondences.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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