Overview and Learning Goals

Linguistics examines fundamental properties that all languages share, and how they differ, with respect to structure, meaning, acquisition, variation, and change; it includes the study of biological, social, cultural, and historical bases of language. Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences (SLHS) is also concerned with language structure, how it is represented in the mind, and how it is used, but focuses more on atypical or disordered populations.

The interdisciplinary, intercollegiate major in Linguistics & SLHS is available to students in SAR pursuing a BS degree and to CAS students pursuing a BA. The major provides a theoretically solid, empirically oriented program of study focused on experimental approaches to language science and interactions between theoretical study of human language and clinical applications. It takes advantage of the faculty strengths and richness of course offerings in related disciplines from CAS/Linguistics and SAR/SLHS, which have considerable synergies. The joint degree, with a curriculum designed to integrate the two disciplines in a way that provides students with relevant and complementary courses from both domains, is more than just the sum of the two separate components.

The 13-course joint major offers a solid foundation in both domains, breadth of coverage, and good preparation for a variety of career paths. It prepares students for graduate study in any of a number of related areas (e.g., linguistics, psychology, neurolinguistics, cognitive science) and for graduate/professional work in speech-language pathology, audiology, or more generally, for future careers in medicine, neuropsychology, language technology (e.g., speech recognition or speech synthesis), or areas of child development and education. Individual plans of study will be designed, in consultation with faculty advisors, to match students’ interests and professional goals.

Students graduating with a major in Linguistics & Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences will be able to demonstrate:

  • an understanding of the fundamental questions that drive modern linguistic research concerning formal structure, universals, acquisition, historical change, variation, and social dimensions of use, along with foundational knowledge in the core areas of linguistic theory
  • foundational knowledge in the areas that form the basis for research and clinical work in speech, language and hearing sciences
  • the ability to identify and describe with precision the empirical patterns found in sets of language data, and to construct well-reasoned analyses by formulating, testing, and refining hypotheses about these patterns
  • the ability to apply their coursework in Linguistics and SLHS either in research or in clinical or other professional experiences, demonstrating integrative reasoning to interpret data in relation to published research, justifying the scope of their analyses, supporting their conclusions, and presenting a coherent summary of the relevant facts and of their reasoning
Major Requirements

The joint major in Linguistics & SLHS consists of 13 courses, including 1 phonetics course, 1 language acquisition course, another 5 courses in linguistics (CAS), 5 courses in SLHS (SAR), and 1 elective in either linguistics or SLHS.

5 Linguistics Courses
  • CAS LX 250 Introduction to Linguistics
  • CAS LX 321 Syntax: Introduction to Sentential Structure
  • CAS LX 331 Semantics & Pragmatics: Introduction to Linguistic Meaning
  • 2 CAS LX courses at 300+ level (selected in consultation with an advisor)
5 SLHS Courses
  • SAR SH 531 Introduction to Communication Disorders
  • SAR SH 522 Anatomy and Physiology of the Speech Mechanism
  • SAR SH 523 Introduction to Speech Science
  • 1 additional introductory SAR SLHS course (SAR SH 505, 535, or 548)
  • 1 practical SAR SLHS course (SAR SH 547, 640, or 642)
1 Language Acquisition Course, e.g.
  • CAS LX 350 Crosslinguistic Approaches to Language Acquisition
  • CAS LX 355 Second Language Acquisition
  • CAS LX 453 Acquisition of Phonology
  • CAS LX 454 Acquisition of Syntax
  • SAR SH 524 Language Acquisition
1 Phonetics Course, e.g.
  • CAS LX 301 Phonetics & Phonology: Introduction to Sound Systems
  • SAR SH 221 Phonetics
1 Elective in Linguistics or SLHS, e.g.
  • a CAS LX course at 300+ level
  • any of SAR SH 505, 524, 535, or 548
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 & Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. For further information, see the Honors Program page:


Director of Undergraduate Studies