Learning Goals

The joint major in Linguistics & Computer Science 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. 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
Major Requirements

The requirements include 15 courses in Linguistics and Computer Science (to be completed with a grade of C or higher): at least 6 courses in linguistics, 7 courses in computer science, and 1 course in computational linguistics or natural language processing (NLP). 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.

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.

6 Linguistics Courses
  • CAS LX 250 Introduction to Linguistics
  • CAS LX 301 Phonetics & Phonology: Introduction to Sound Systems
  • CAS LX 321 Syntax: Introduction to Sentential Structure
  • CAS LX 331 Semantics & Pragmatics: Introduction to Linguistic Meaning
  • 2 CAS LX electives at 300+ level
7 Computer Science Courses
  • 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
1 Linguistics or CS Course, e.g.
  • CAS CS 542 Machine Learning
  • CAS LX course at 400+ level
1 Computational Linguistics or NLP Course, e.g.
  • CAS LX 496 Introduction to Computational Linguistics
  • CAS CS 505 Introduction to Natural Language Processing
Study Abroad

Students may 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:

Honors Program

In addition to the standard joint major, we also have an Honors Program in Linguistics & Computer Science. For further information, see the Honors Program page:


Director of Undergraduate Studies