NEW Joint Major in Linguistics & Computer Science

The joint major in Linguistics & Computer Science -- available starting in Fall 2019 -- allows students to explore human language from a variety of perspectives, through courses in phonetics and phonology, syntax, and semantics, and a choice of electives in many other areas. Students also learn about the organization, design, and construction of hardware and software systems for computing, and discover how such systems can be programmed to process and analyze large amounts of natural language data.

This prepares students for a variety of career opportunities in Computational Linguistics and Natural Language Processing, including improving or developing new software in areas such as grammar checkers, machine translation, and information retrieval. It also provides an excellent background for students who wish to pursue graduate studies in these areas.

Learning Goals

Students graduating with a major in Linguistics & Computer Science Student will achieve:

  • An understanding of the fundamental questions that drive modern linguistic research, along with foundational knowledge in the core areas of linguistic theory. 
  • The ability to identify and describe with precision the empirical patterns found in sets of language data, and to construct well-reasoned linguistic analyses by formulating, testing, and refining hypotheses about these patterns.
  • The ability to understand and evaluate the organization, design, and construction of hardware and software systems for computing.
  • The ability to analyze problems that require computation to answer, and to design and implement appropriate problem solutions that are efficient and effective.
  • The ability to use computational tools, particularly those involving statistical and machine-learning techniques, for language-related applications.

Participating Faculty


Computer Science

Major Requirements

Linguistics and Computer Science courses satisfy a wide variety of Hub units. For information about how Linguistics courses and degree programs fit in with the brand new BU Hub, see Linguistics & Computer Science majors will fulfill at least 11 -- and can fulfill up to 15 -- of the 26 Hub units through courses that satisfy requirements for the major.

The requirements include 15 courses in Linguistics and Computer Science (completed with a grade of C or higher), including at least one course in Computational Linguistics or Natural Language Processing. Students are also expected to be comfortable with standard high school mathematics as well as calculus at a level equivalent to completion of CAS MA 123.

Six courses in Linguistics

Seven courses in Computer Science

    [Those marked with * carry Hub credits.]

  • * CAS CS 111 Introduction to Computer Science 1
  • * CAS CS 112 Introduction to Computer Science 2
  • * CAS CS 131 Combinatoric Structures
  • CAS CS 132 Geometric Algorithms
  • * CAS CS 210 Computer Systems
  • * CAS CS 237 Probability in Computing
  • * CAS CS 330 Introduction to Analysis of Algorithms

One additional course in Linguistics or Computer Science

From the following options:

  • CAS CS 542 Machine Learning
  • One CAS LX course at the 400-level

One course in Computational Linguistics or Natural Language Processing

From the following (or others that may be offered in the future):

    [Those marked with * carry Hub credits.]

  • * CAS LX 496 Introduction to Computational Linguistics
  • CAS CS 505 Introduction to Natural Language Processing (approval pending)

Declare your major

To declare a Linguistics & Computer Science major in CAS, submit the form here: Major Declaration form,

Honors program

Students with a sufficient GPA overall (at least 3.65) and in the major (at least 3.7) and who have already completed at least 2 of the required Linguistics courses and at least 2 of the required courses in Computer Science, can apply to participate in the Honors program, which involves one additional advanced course in Linguistics (an LX course at the level of 400 or above), Computer Science, or Computational Linguistics/Natural Language Processing, chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor, plus one semester of Senior Honors Research. Details will be available on the Linguistics website. Applications will be accepted no sooner than the end of sophomore year and no later than the beginning of the second semester of the junior year. Students are expected to begin discussions with faculty advisors about the Honors Research project by March of their junior year, and are required to submit an approved proposal by May 15 of their junior year. To graduate with honors in the major, the student will need a GPA of 3.7 in the 15 major courses and a grade of at least A- on the honors project.

Honors students in the joint major will be invited to participate in activities organized for honors students in both departments.


The deadlines for application to the honors program are listed here:

Printable brochure

For a brochure with an overview of the Linguistics & Computer Science major, download this file:


NOTE: For students who may be interested in combining a Linguistics major with a minor in Computer Science, you should be aware that there is a Linguistics Track for the CS minor: