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, 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
  • experience in presenting their own research and/or reviewing the literature through written papers and oral presentations
Major Requirements

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


It is possible to combine the Linguistics major with a major or minor in another field, such as a foreign language. It is also possible to complete one of several joint majors (Linguistics + Related Field). For further information, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies: 

4 Core Linguistics Requirements
  • 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
4 Additional Linguistics Courses
  • 1 course in linguistic analysis of a specific language
  • 2 Linguistics electives (at least one at the 300 level or above)
  • 1 additional elective, in Linguistics or a related area (e.g., logic and philosophy of language; language, culture, and society; developmental psychology; speech-language pathology)
4 Foreign Language Courses

Must be at or above 3rd-semester level, and include at least two different non-native languages. Options include:

  • American Sign Language (ASL), taught through WED Deaf Studies
  • any language taught by the Department of Romance Studies
  • any language taught by the Department of World Languages and Literatures
  • any language taught by the Department of Classical Studies
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 major, we also have an Honors Program in Linguistics. For further information, see the Honors Program page:


Director of Undergraduate Studies