It is also possible to combine a major in linguistics with a major or minor in a particular foreign language; you may also wish to consider one of the joint majors.

The Linguistics Major in CAS

Printable Brochures

You can download printable versions of

Learning Goals

Students graduating with a major in Linguistics are expected to attain:

  • An understanding of the fundamental questions that drive modern linguistic research, concerning formal structure, universals, acquisition, historical change, variation, and social dimensions of use.
  • Foundational knowledge in the core areas of linguistic theory, including phonetics, syntax, and semantics.
  • 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 critically evaluate popular beliefs regarding the nature and use of language, and to provide informed contributions to contemporary debates about language.
  • Experience in conducting the kind of research that is carried out in Linguistics, through projects, experiments, or field research; experience in presenting their own research and/or reviewing the literature through written papers and oral presentations.
  • Proficiency at or above the intermediate level in at least two non-native languages, as evidenced by the successful completion of courses at or above the third semester level.

Major Requirements

The Linguistics major consists of 12 courses: 8 in Linguistics and 4 in foreign languages, as listed below. In addition to the requirements for the major, students must also satisfy general requirements of the College of Arts & Sciences. An advisor can assist you in designing your program of study.

Eight Linguistics courses

Introductory linguistics course

The following course, to be taken before other linguistics courses at the 300-level or higher:

Courses in linguistic theory

The following three courses in linguistic theory are required:

Linguistic analysis of a specific language

One course in the linguistic analysis of a specific language:

  Offered in English

 Knowledge of the language a prerequisite

Two additional Linguistics courses

Two additional linguistics courses, including at most one at the 200 level, from the following:

One additional elective

One additional course chosen from among those listed under "Additional Linguistics courses" or "Linguistic analysis of a specific language" plus those listed below (or another related course, with approval of the major advisor).

Logic and philosophy of language

Language, culture, and society

Language acquisition and development

Independent study

  • CAS LX 491/492 Directed Study

Four courses in foreign languages

These four courses, at or above the 3rd semester level, must include at least two different non-native languages. (American Sign Language, taught through the School of Education, may count toward this requirement, as may any language taught by the Department of Romance Studies, the Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature, or the Department of Classical Studies.)

Declare your major or minor

You can now change your major or minor declarations online: http://www.bu.edu/casadvising/major-minor-declaration-form/.
Be sure to list all your majors and minors if you are making any kind of change.

New Location for CAS Advising and Records Office

    CAS Academic Advising (includes Records)
    Room 401, 100 Bay State Road, Boston MA, 02215
    Phone 617-353-2400, Fax 617–353-1859

Honors program

Follow this link for details on the Linguistics Honors Program, or click here for a printable description of that program.