The major in Linguistics & African Languages enables students to combine the study of human language from a diversity of perspectives with the study of one or more African languages in cultural and historical context. In their linguistics courses, students explore the formal structures of language as well as language universals, variability across languages, social dimensions of language use, and historical language change. At the same time, in African studies courses they will gain a foundational understanding of the diversity of ethnicities, African languages, cultures, and societies, including the advent of Islam, Christianity, and colonization and their enduring consequences. This program thus fulfills the CAS commitment to diversity: “We strive to create environments for learning, working, and living that are enriched by racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity.” Courses that focus on the linguistics of African languages bring together the major’s two primary areas of study.
The joint major equips students with language skills and cultural competence, preparing them for a wide range of careers, or pursuit of graduate degrees in fields such as Linguistics, Forensic Linguistics, Cognitive Science, Anthropology, African Languages, African Studies, African History, Information Technology, or Translation and Interpretation. They will also be well prepared to pursue professional MA degrees in International Affairs, Diplomacy, and Global Development Policy at BU and elsewhere, and could find career opportunities in government and non-government organizations where interdisciplinary training in linguistic theory and practice and language and cultural competencies are increasingly in demand.
Students graduating with this joint major will:
The African Studies Center offers financial aid in the form of the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship for undergraduates at the intermediate level of African language and area studies. The competitive awards consist of a scholarship and stipend:
The Linguistics & African Languages major consists of 13 courses (to be completed with a grade of C or better): 7 courses in linguistics and anthropology, 2 courses in African languages (at or above the 5th-semester level), and 4 additional electives distributed across both Linguistics (300+ level) and African Studies.
7 Linguistics & Anthropology Courses
2 African Language Courses, e.g.
4 Additional Electives, e.g.
Study abroad is strongly encouraged through the linkages of the African Studies Center. Students may also take courses to fulfill some of these requirements (with advance approval of their advisor) in the BU Study Abroad and Internship programs. For further information, see BU Study Abroad’s website:
In addition to the standard joint major, we also have an Honors Program in Linguistics & African Languages. For further information, see the Honors Program page:
Director of Undergraduate Studies