Linguistics has existed as a program of study at Boston University (BU) since the 1970s. Under the leadership of Professors Paula Menyuk, James Gee, Carol Neidle, Bruce Fraser, Catherine O’Connor, and Jonathan Barnes, undergraduate and graduate programs in linguistics grew steadily over time, at first through BU’s language and literature departments (Modern Foreign Languages & Literatures, Romance Studies) and graduate programs in Psycholinguistics and Language Behavior (which eventually merged into one interdisciplinary graduate program in Applied Linguistics).

In 2015, Linguistics became an autonomous program at BU (subsuming the former Applied Linguistics program) and then, in 2018, an independent department within the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS). Historically, we have had strong connections with other disciplines and related areas (e.g., psychology, neuroscience, developmental studies, speech and hearing sciences, philosophy, education), enhanced by the long-running BU Conference on Language Development, and this cross-disciplinarity continues to be a distinguishing characteristic of scholarly activity within our department.

Over the years, our BA, MA, and PhD students have gone on to successful careers in a range of fields, including higher education, industry, medicine, law, government, non-profit work, and entrepreneurship. Many have pursued further study of linguistics at institutions such as Harvard University, New York University, Northwestern University, Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley, University of California at Santa Cruz, University of Chicago, and University of Massachusetts at Amherst.