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Transfer Credit (including non U-M Study Abroad)

Transfer credits may be used to satisfy elective requirements for the Linguistics major or minor, provided that the courses are approved by the University and Linguistics Department, and are subject to the Limit on Special Courses (see below). Transfer credit includes:

  • Credit for courses taken by transfer students before attending U-M

  • Transfer credit for courses taken elsewhere by U-M students, for example, remote learning courses taken when a comparable course is not available at U-M

  • Credit for non-CGIS (ie, non U-M) study abroad courses

  • Please note: although CGIS credits are considered in-residence by the University of Michigan, students must still petition CGIS courses for Linguistics Department credit, and the limit on special courses also applies to in-residence study abroad courses. **For more information on the study abroad course petition process, please refer to this webpage:** 

Please be sure to review the information in the drop down section “Linguistics Departmental Evaluation” before submitting.

Procedure and Evaluation

In order for a course to count towards a student’s Linguistics major or minor, the following criteria must be met:

  1. The course must be transferable to the University of Michigan (ie, the Registrar’s Office must accept the course) (read drop down section “Transferring Courses to University of Michigan)

  2. The course must be further approved by the Linguistics department for specific major/minor requirements (read drop down section “Linguistics Department Evaluation”)

    1. The course must not exceed any Limit on Special Courses

Transferring Courses to University of Michigan (Registrar's Office Evaluation)

The U-M Office of Undergraduate Admissions maintains a database of previously evaluated courses called the Transfer Credit Equivalency list (TCE), including study abroad classes (both CGIS and non-CGIS). 

  1. If the class is listed in the TCE as transferring for equivalent credit (e.g., LING 111 or LING 210), then no additional steps are required. However, if the class is listed on the TCE website as transferring in as departmental credit (e.g., LING 301x Dept.), you may request departmental evaluation (see below).

  2. If a course does NOT appear in the TCE, this means that the class has never been evaluated by the University of Michigan. Students should follow the procedures listed here to learn how to submit a course for TCE pre-approval.

Linguistics Department Evaluation

In addition to the TCE process, transfer courses must be evaluated by the Linguistics department before they may be counted towards major and minor requirements. **Please note that departmental approval is conditional upon TCE approval. If a course is not transferable to the university, the departmental approval does not supersede university policy.** Transfer students may submit transfer course petitions before or after TCE evaluation, but courses will only be added to a student’s linguistics major or minor a) once the course appears on the student’s transcript, and b) the student has declared a major or minor.

To submit a Linguistics transfer course petition, please do the following:

  1. Click here to access the InfoReady form

  2. Please answer all questions

  3. Upload supporting documents, including the syllabus/reading list, handouts, term paper, exam, homeworks

  4. **Note–if you are a current Linguistics Major/Minor and are planning to take courses at another institution (ex local community college summer courses), we are happy to evaluate these courses for conditional approval, although final decisions will require the supporting material above.

For approval, documentation of both the content and form of the course is needed. (See Approval Criteria below.)


The Limit on Special Courses

Both the major and the minor place a limit on the total number of elective credit hours that can be satisfied using special courses. "Special courses" include not only transfer credits, non-U-M study abroad courses, but also cognates, experiential practice, and independent study. (Note that cognates may be used only for the major, not for the minor.)

For the major, the limit is 12 credits, and for the minor, it is 6 credits. That limit applies to special courses as a whole, not just to transfer credits and non U-M study-abroad credits.

Although CGIS or other U-M study abroad programs are considered in-residence, the above limits still apply.

You can review the major requirements LSA page here.

You can review the major requirements LSA page here.


Departmental Approval Criteria

There are a few hard constraints on approval:

  • The course must represent work at the 300 level or higher. In unusual cases, the department may decide that a course that initially transferred in at a lower level represents 300-level work, and may have the course level adjusted.

  • Extra-departmental credits are always elective credits. They cannot be used to satisfy the core-course requirements (313, 315, 316) or the capstone requirement. (A student doing a linguistics minor is only required to do two of the core courses and may take the third as an elective, in which case it may be taken extra-departmentally.)

  • Credit cannot be given for the same course twice. In particular, elective credit cannot be given for an extra-departmental course that has substantially the same content as an intra-departmental course that the student receives credit for.

Beyond those restrictions, the following provide some general criteria that are used in evaluating courses. These criteria are used for all extra-departmental courses, including cognate courses as well as transfer credits and study-abroad. Note that this list is intended to give students an idea of what to expect; it is not definitive. The ultimate determination is at the discretion of the director.

With respect to content, the fundamental question is whether the course is primarily linguistic in nature. The following sorts of course generally do qualify:

  • A course on the linguistic structure of a language, e.g., "Phonology and Morphology of Arabic"

  • A course on the history of a language, e.g., "The History of English"

  • A course on the languages of the world that has significant linguistic content, e.g., discussion of genetic groupings, linguistic characteristics of language families, etc.

  • A course on sociolinguistics, if it has sufficient genuinely linguistic content

  • Advanced or specialized courses in phonology, syntax, or semantics

  • Courses on other subfields of linguistics, such as computational linguistics, mathematical linguistics, historical linguistics, and closely related areas such as philosophy of language or mathematical logic

By contrast, courses that generally do not qualify include:

  • Regular language courses, that is, courses whose primary aim is to impart competence in a language

  • Courses on language in society whose focus is culture or social issues

With respect to form:

  • The course must be a graded, academic course.

  • The course usually cannot be independent study or directed research. To get linguistics credit for independent study or directed research, one must enroll in a LING independent study with a Linguistics supervisor. Exceptions may be granted for transfer students, if sufficient documentation is provided.

  • There must be a final exam, term paper, homeworks, or other significant written student work.