Comparative Language Studies

In a comparative language program, you'll have the chance to explore two or more foreign languages within an interdisciplinary and linguistic context. If this sounds like an intriguing field of study, read on to learn more about career and educational options for comparative language experts.

Is Comparative Language Studies for Me?

Career Overview

The term comparative language or comparative linguistics refers to the analysis of different language systems in order to determine their histories, evolutions and interconnections. As a comparative language student, you'll study ancient texts, manuscripts and other direct source materials. By comparing languages from different regions, you may draw conclusions about history, religion and population migration, among other cultural factors. Field research is a key part of comparative language programs, and you should expect to spend long hours in the library and maybe even in archeological settings.

Employment and Salary Information

After completing a master's or doctoral degree program, most comparative language professionals work in academia, as researchers or college professors, although some positions in the private sector are available. Employment as an interpreter or translator is another option. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of postsecondary teachers is expected to increase by 19% nationwide between 2012 and 2022. In May 2013, professors of foreign language and literature courses earned a mean annual wage of $66,300.

Between 2012 and 2022, interpreters and translators can look forward to a dramatic 46% growth in job opportunities. As of May 2013, interpreters and translators earned a mean annual salary of $47,920 (

How Can I Work in Comparative Language Studies?

Undergraduate Programs

As an undergraduate student in a comparative language program, you'll become fluent in a primary language and proficient in the spoken and written word of at least one other foreign language. Course topics may include the study of culture and civilizations, advanced conversation, grammar, composition and literature. You'll also receive training in semantics, syntax, phonetics and phonology. Combining a comparative language program with a related field of study, such as philosophy or anthropology, may improve your career prospects.

Graduate Programs

Graduate programs can lead to a Master of Arts in Linguistics and typically culminate in a thesis. In addition to a major subarea of linguistics, like semantics, programs usually require the study of a minor subarea, such as psycholinguistics. Areas of specialization can include French, German and Russian, among other languages. Concentrations in non-Indo European and scholarly languages might also be required.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs emphasize both the sound and grammatical structure of comparative languages, as well as their meaning and use. Degree requirements include an original dissertation and passing scores on multiple written and oral examinations.

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