Language is the set of knowledge, devices and cognitive capacities, specific to the human species, which underlie thought, the expression of ideas, emotions, desires, intentions etc., and which make possible an important part of our social interactions. To study language is to study the human essence, the distinctive properties of the mind of our species.

Linguistics is the scientific study of language in all its aspects: how is this complex of knowledge and mental abilities structured? How is it deployed in the production and understanding of messages? How are languages ​​acquired by children despite limited and incomplete experience? How do they evolve from generation to generation? Linguists study the properties common to all languages ​​and those that vary between one language and another. They are also interested in computational and quantitative modeling of language



The main purpose of the university study of linguistics is to satisfy intellectual curiosity, enrich one's knowledge and contribute to the progress of this discipline. The central place of language in human interaction, however, opens up professional and practical outlets in various fields: language teaching and pedagogy, translation and machine translation, language pathology and speech therapy, synthesis speech, computer modeling as well as all editorial, writing and publishing professions


The linguistics department at the UNIGE occupies a privileged place in the history of modern linguistics because it was in Geneva that Ferdinand de Saussure laid the foundations of Structuralism at the beginning of the 20th century. Currently, the department of linguistics is the only one in Switzerland to offer a complete training (ranging from BA to doctorate) in formal linguistics, resulting from the cognitivist revolution of the second half of the last century and associated with the founding work of Noam Chomsky.

Structure of studies

Three programs are offered, directly related to the Department of Linguistics. Two of them offer complete training: Linguistics, and Computer Science for the Humanities.

In collaboration with the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, the Department also offers a  bachelor's degree in psycholinguistics .


Undergraduate & Graduate programs



Postgraduate programs :

Certificate of Specialisation in Linguistics

Doctoral program CUSO