Major Mondays: Linguistics

Major: The Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics is housed in the Dornsife College of Letters Arts and Sciences. A minor in Linguistics is also available for students from all majors at USC, and requires just five additional courses. The USC Department of Linguistics enjoys a national and international reputation for excellence in the scientific study of language. The major is open to both applying first-year and transfer students. 

Overview: Linguistics is the scientific study of language and its structure, focusing on how the human mind organizes, processes, and acquires language. It also examines how similar communication goals are met by diverse means in the languages of the world. While many linguists are polyglots (individuals who speak multiple languages), linguistics is not the study of different languages – rather, it is the study of the science of language itself. It can include topics such as how children acquire language, the unconscious knowledge of language that humans have, and how language influences the way we interact with one another and the world.  

Notable Research: The range of research that linguists conduct is vast- from analyzing how computer systems such as Google Translate model natural language (computational linguistics), to how words give language meaning (semantics). A group of PhD students in our Linguistics department conducted research on the science of beatboxing by utilizing MRI scanners. They have recruited five different beatboxers to produce sounds while an MRI machine recorded their heads and mouths. With this research, they are interested in studying the intersection of language and music, and how the sounds produced in beatboxing might help understand the limits of what humans can accomplish linguistically!  

Notable Info: Linguistics is a highly interdisciplinary field. At USC we offer several combined programs in Philosophy, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Cognitive Science, and Computational Linguistics. We also offer a minor in Linguistics, which is valuable for all students interested in language. A major or minor in Linguistics can be a great starting point and foundation for students interested in pursuing careers in diverse areas, such as education, law, government, computer science, anthropology, business, and more.  

Unique Academic Opportunity: The field of Linguistics is incredibly broad and diverse, but is central is learning about different cultures and languages around the world. As a result, there are a multitude of study abroad opportunities that Linguistics students can take advantage of during their time at USC. One of our Linguistics students who is passionate about studying endangered languages went abroad to Santiago, Chile, where they took a course on Mapuche language from a Mapuche professor! They were able to learn more about the endangered language, known as Mapudungun. Fieldwork is vital in linguistics, and USC invites all of our students to participate in hands-on cultural experiences abroad.  

Want to Learn More? 

To learn more about Linguistics at USC and the Dornsife College of Letters Arts and Sciences, register for one of our ongoing Virtual Programs! The Dornsife department session as well as the live virtual tours and student panels provide more insight into the major and school.  

Written by: Rachel Cho – Assistant Director, USC Office of Undergraduate Admission



Major Mondays: Biology & Human Biology

Majors: The Biology major (B.A. & B.S.) and Human Biology major (B.A. & B.S.) are housed within the Department of Biological Sciences in the Dornsife College for Letters, Arts and Sciences. These programs are available for first-year and transfer applicants interested in careers in the health professional as well as advanced education in medicine, physical therapy, pharmacy, physician assistant, dentistry. The Human Biology majors provide in-depth knowledge of sport-related fields like sport law, sport management, coaching, athletic training, among many others.  

Overview: Biology 
The Biology major is the broadest and most dynamic major of the natural sciences, as you are studying life itself! Biology is offered in a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.)  Students learn and explore the living world together gaining a deep appreciation of all types of organisms, both small and large. You will also fine tune your skills in collaboration, communication and critical thinking as you are studying how biology can contribute to combating a variety of society’s problems.  

Overview: Human Biology 
Human Biology is offered in a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.). The major focuses on central and interdisciplinary concepts of human biology offering a number of tracks for students to choose from. Human Biology keeps a foundation in biological sciences but applies their concepts to the human organism. Formally known as Kinesiology, the Human Biology major is a good option for students who are interested in pursuing higher degrees in Physical Therapy  

Bachelor of Science in Human Biology students can choose from tracks focusing in Applied Physiology, Biomedical Sciences, Health & Disease, and Human & Evolutionary Biology. Bachelor of Arts in Human Biology students can choose track options in Human Physiology and Metabolism, Human Evolutionary Biology, and Human Performance. These tracks help students tailor their human biology education to their own interests and future education or career goals.  

Academic Opportunities: 
Pre-Health Advising within USC Dornsife, the Office of Pre-Health Advisement supports students who wish to pursue higher education and careers in the health professions. Advisors can also help students plan their curriculum at USC to help fulfill pre-requisite courses for health profession-related graduate schools like medical school, physical therapy school, and physician assistant school as well as admission and the application process for these graduate schools. Their goal is to integrate a holistic approach to advising by not only offering course planning, but promotion of faculty-student interaction, opportunities in clinical settings, volunteer programs, and research. 

Freshman Science Honors (FSH) offers promising students advanced fundamental knowledge in introductory biology and chemistry during their freshman year. The honors program allows students to learn in smaller classes and labs, special events, and join a vibrant community of freshman science students. Students in FSH will not only gain a strong grounding in natural sciences but do so with a focus on understanding scientific research. FSH courses are available for introductory chemistry courses CHEM 115a and 115b and introductory biology courses BISC 121 and 221.  

Human Biology… 6 years later 
Long ago when I attended USC, I was admitted as a Kinesiology major shortly before USC grew it into the Human Biology major that it is now. As a high schooler, I was first impressed that USC even offered a kinesiology major. As I did my own research and learned more, I became blown away with USC’s commitment to breadth and depth of knowledge within the major. Using the foundation of biology, physics, and chemistry and learning how it’s applied to your own body was (and is) really cool! But more than anything, the labs were my favorite part. It’s human biology, so guess who the lab subjects and specimens were… us! Don’t worry, no dissections were done, but we did use ourselves in lab studies related to BMI, VO2 max, the effects of caffeine and sugar on exercise performance, and many more (I remember using an exercise bike in a sauna for 30 minutes or so). It was awesome leaving each lab not only learning a more about human physiology, but being able to apply those lessons to my own body and life. Not mentioned above, but Human Biology also offers study abroad in a few countries like New Zealand and Australia and a newer but growing Human Biology Association for students interested in human biology and pre-health.  

Want to learn more? 
Interested in exploring Biology or Human Biology on a smaller scale? Dornsife offers minors in related areas: Biology of Human Movement, Biotechnology, Human Disease, Natural Science, Neuroscience, and Marine Biology!   

USC Dornsife has an entire cohort of Student Ambassadors who offer insight into what it’s like to be a student within USC’s liberal arts college. Visit their website to learn more, access the student blog, and live chat with a current Dornsife student. 

Written by Whitney Rollerson, Events Manager 



Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month

Happy Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month!   

The month of May is celebrated each year as Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, an annual celebration to honor the rich culture, the deep history, as well as the beautiful heritage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in U.S. history.  The month of May was selected not only to commemorate the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in the United States on May 7, 1843 but also to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The overwhelming majority of the workers who constructed the transcontinental railroad were Chinese immigrants. 

Over 100 years later in 1979, then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter signed the initial presidential proclamation for “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.” Just 13 years later in 1992, Congress passed an amendment to officially observe Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month with “appropriate ceremonies, programs, and activities.” 

At USC, there are a litany of resources committed to serving the unique needs of AAPI students. The Asian Pacific American Student Services (APASS)serves as an example of such resources. Founded in 1982, APASS not only seeks toto educate, engage, and empower the Asian Pacific American community” but to specifically do so through “active participation, dialogue, and community-building.” In addition to resources such as APASS, there is also the Asian Pacific American Student Assembly as well asthe Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi American (APIDA) Leaders Community, a special interest community devoted to cultivating a space and community for active engagement, opportunities for development with regard to leadership and personal growth, as well as a successful transition into college.     

There have been a number AAPI alums who have left an indelible mark on our Trojan Family and have continued to represent USC graciously; whether it’s Julie Chen (’91), a renowned news anchor who currently hosts two shows on CBS, or Cynthia Kadohata (’79), a Newbery Medal- and National Book Award-winning author who often explores the challenges that come with a “hyphenated heritage” in her novels. Many of our incredible AAPI alumni are also committed to guiding and engaging with our AAPI undergraduate students through Connections! APASS is dedicated to continuing the Asian Pacific American Career Development Program, which seeks to connect current undergraduate students not only with alumni but also with other professionals in a field of interest. Connections! was established to “meet the career development needs of Asian Pacific American students specifically in a culturally-influenced context” and to explore the unique barriers as well as opportunities AAPI individuals “encounter in the workplace and society.” 

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge all our incredible AAPI students, many of whom serve as mentors for first-year AAPI students or as First-Generation Student Leaders. These mentors and leaders are a terrific resource for “providing insight, advice, and perspective for navigating university life” as a first-gen and/or AAPI college student. In conjunction with AAPI students, AAPI staff such as Peter Limthongviratn, who serves as the SEIP Manager with APASS, continue to build and strengthen the AAPI community through fervent involvement 

Continuing to pay tribute to the voices of our past is imperative, particularly these past couple of years as AAPI Heritage Month has taken on a much deeper level of significance, serving as a positive beacon of optimism and appreciation while also countering the continued rise in anti-Asian violence we have been painfully witness to throughout these recent years. At USC, we actively embrace the mission of creating a society where each and every individual is not only valued but also free from fear, injustice, and oppression. Through simple acts of listening to one another, learning from each other, and speaking up for those whose voices have been suppressed, we can progress towards a more just and equitable society.  

AAPI Heritage Month is not only for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community — it’s truthfully a celebration that every American can participate in! 

Lastly, in order to ensure all members of the Trojan Family would be on campus to participate in AAPI Heritage Month, USC celebrated a month early! 

By: Andy T. Nguyen (Assistant Director, USC Office of Admission