Major in Linguistics

The focus of the linguistics program does not lie alone in the acquisition of language skills, but rather in learning to analyze linguistic phenomena with a view toward making significant generalizations about the nature of language.

Students majoring in Linguistics build their programs around a specific area of emphasis. In consultation with the faculty, students design a program of study tailored to individual interests and goals.

Desired Learning Outcomes Include:

  1. The ability to explicate an extended linguistic argumentation.
  2. The ability to analyze linguistic data with a view towards making significant generalizations about the corpus of data within the framework of a theory about the nature of language
  3. Acquiring an in–depth knowledge of a specific area of emphasis tailored to the student’s interests.

Typical areas of emphasis include philology (the historical and comparative study of ancient languages), psycholinguistics, and language acquisition.
A major in Linguistics prepares students for a wide array of careers including education, law, publishing, speech pathology, government service, and computer science.

Major Requirements: 31 Credits

  • LING3101 General Linguistics (3 credits)
  • LING3102 Syntax and Semantics (3 credits)
  • LING3103 Language and Language Types
    LING3104 Formalism and Functionalism in Linguistics (3 credits)
  • 6 credits in course work of a philological nature on the detailed structure of a language (see listing of such courses here: Linguistics Courses).
  • 15 additional credits drawn from departmental offerings, supplemented by approved linguistics-related courses in other departments.
  • LING4391 AB Comprehensive: Linguistics (1 credit)

Linguistics majors should develop proficiency in one foreign language and competence in at least one other language at a level appropriate to their career plans.
Further exposure to a non-Indo-European language is desirable (e.g., Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish—all of which are taught within the Department of Slavic & Eastern Languages and Literatures)

Don't forget to visit our Linguistics Minor page.

Meet Our Accomplished Students of Linguistics

Emily Arnold is Board Member and Baritone player for the BC Marching Band

Elizabeth Bae has organized a penpal program linking BC students with Japanese college students

Jolivia Barros (LG 16) is Field Organizer for Boston mayoral candidate John Barros

Erika Bjerklie works part-time as an Information Specialist at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts

Doyle Calhoun (LG 16) is a member of the BC Sailing team, now competing for the ACC championship

Jay Chin (LG 15) has completed his English translation of ‘On the Practice of Hesychasm’ by Kallistos Tellikoudis, written in Byzantine Greek

Edem Dela-Seshie is radio DJ at the BC radio station, WZBC, and works at an art therapy program for adults in Brookline, MA

Matt Destruel (MA student), Bryan Fleming (MA 2009), and Audrey Smith (MA 2012) together edited and published the first-ever issue of Lingua Frankly: Boston College Working Papers in Linguistics (see announcement on this website!)

Alyssa Ellard didn’t even bring up the fact that she is writing a senior thesis on language planning in Algeria and Morocco

Shaughnessy Flint is International Assistant Coordinator for International Freshmen and Exchange Students

Erin Fulong and Erika Bjerklie cut a record together in the summer of 2013

Jonathan Geary (LG 15) is writing a senior thesis on Quechua

Genie Han is President of BC Amnesty International

Cynthia Leonardo was a trip leader for the BC Outdoors Club

Gunnar Lund is Editor of the BC undergraduate philosophy journal Dianoia

Kathy O’Keefe (LG 15) is a member of the BC women’s varsity Track team, and is too modest to mention either that she completed a triathalon in the summer of 2013, or that she was named to the Indoor Academic All-ACC Team

Catherine Palmer (LG MA 16) was a presenter at the 2013 Conference on the Americas, and at the 2013 North Georgia Annual Research Conference

Brandon Short interned for the District Attorney's office in Brooklyn, New York last summer

Cindy Tung (LG 15) is on the Board of the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team

Jon Tveit (LG 10) was ordained as a priest for the Archdiocese of New York on 28 May 2016. 

Andrea Wrisley was Coordinator of the summer program at International House Boston last summer; back on campus, she has served as an International Assistant and as a Language Partner



Emily Arnold will be studying at the Sorbonne in Paris next semester

Elizabeth Bae studied at Tokyo’s Sophia University in the spring of 2013

Jolivia Barros worked at the Brazilian Consulate in Boston

Both Eden Dela-Sheshie and Alyssa Ellard traveled to Bordeaux, France over the summer

Erin Furlong studied at the University of London’s School for Oriental and African Studies last spring, and later traveled to Japan to view the cherry blossoms

Genie Han has worked in Guatemala for the last two summers

Cynthia Leonardo has been Culture Chair of the BC Japan Club, and is now Director of Social / Political Action of the BC Organization of Latin American Affairs

Gunnar Lund studied abroad in Sweden in 2013

Matt Schlanger is volunteering as an English language teacher at a Linguistic Center in St. Petersburg, Russia

Brandon Short is ‘loving living in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain—a linguistically rich bilingual (Catalan and Spanish) community’

Cindy Tung spent seven weeks in Papua New Guinea last summer with Wycliffe Bible Translators, following a translator around and learning Tok Pisin.  Back at Boston College, she is on the executive board of the Taiwanese Cultural Organization

Patrick Walsh volunteered in Huancayo, Peru for three months

Elizabeth Bae was granted a Gilman Scholarship for study abroad in Tokyo in 2013

Doyle Calhoun was awarded an Advanced Study Grant to attend Boston University’s Editorial Institute

Matt Destruel was awarded the Donald J. White Teaching Excellence Award in 2012 for Elementary and Intermediate French at BC

Shaughnessy Flint received the McGillycuddy-Logue Travel Grant in the summer of 2012 to study abroad in Bordeaux, France

Gunnar Lund published the article ‘Across and Beyond: The Semantics of Transgender Identity’ in Ball State University’s journal Stance

Kakas Rish has been named a McNair Scholar, to carry out research on African American Vernacular English

Larissa Belcic (2011) is enjoying her first year at the Harvard Graduate School of Design

Danielle Belko (2008), following a Fulbright year in Taiwan, earned and MA in Entertainment Technology and is employed at Schell Games studio

Cassandra Bell (2011) teaches Spanish in the District of Columbia public schools, while she is getting a degree for Johns Hopkins

Rachael Bertuzzi (2009) is completing her graduate work at the Columbia School of Nursing

Ricky Brutti (2006) earned an MA in Linguistics from Brandeis, and now works for Language Scientific on translation and Natural Language Processing projects

Nicole Choinski (2012) was recently promoted to Senior Account Manager at Signpost in New York City

Kayleigh Dudevoir (2011) relishes her work combining music and management as General Manager at Chicago Chamber Choir

Rebecca Edwalds (2011) is completing her JD at the University of Michigan Law School

Alexa Cometz (2013) is in her first year at Northeastern University’s Program in Speech-Language Pathology

Kelsey Gasseling (2011) lives and works on language projects in Guinea under the auspices of the Peace Corps

Bridget Germain (2011) is Community Director for the Baltimore MD March of Dimes

Matt Gritzmacher (2012), following a year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Los Angeles, is Outreach Coordinator at Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth in Washington DC

Catherine Hadshi (2011) was awarded the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation Graduate Student Fellowship to complete her training in speech pathology at Boston University

Ted Jenkins (MA 2010) is in a PhD program in Speech, Language and Hearing at the University of Connecticut

Kevin Conroy (2008; MA 2011) taught Irish at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, following two years as a Fulbright Fellow in Ireland

Alicia Johnson (2011) is Advocacy and Communications Coordinator at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts

Marc L’Heureux (2012) works in Cambridge MA as a computational linguist for the startup company Hopper, doing natural text data extraction

Kate Lucey (2012) is Development Manager for the United Way of Massachusetts, and is mulling over graduate school

Kelly McCartney (2011) spent a Fulbright year in Viet Nam, and is now working in Chicago with Teach for America

Emily Ralic (2011) travels the globe as Contracts Coordinator at WorldStrides International Discovery programs

Andrea Reichert (2008) spent a Fulbright year in Indonesia then graduated from Fashion Institute of Technology.  She is Associate Fragrance Development Manager at Firmenichin in New York

Jessica Seminelli is working as a second grade teacher at a charter school in Brooklyn under the auspices of Teach for America

Brandon Short (2014) is headed to Law School

Reynira Tejada (2010) is enrolled in an MA program in Language and Literacy at CUNY

Kaity Wilson (2010) works for Gap International, a global management consulting company, researching the link between language, thinking, and performance

Dimitri Phillips (2009) has graduated from Oxford University in Linguistics, and subsequently from Stanford Law School

Alex Jasset (2008) entered the Boston University graduate program in International Relations and Environmental Policy, following a Fulbright year in France

Nate Keegan (2009), following a stint in Micronesia, graduated from Stanford University with a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies, and now works for the Embassy of Mexico in Washington, DC

Erica Robinson (2008) is a Paralegal Consultant with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Board of Pharmacy

Catalina Tan (2011) is finishing up an MS in Nonprofit Management at Northeastern University while serving as Youth Program Coordinator at Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center

Colleen White (2011) is the Program Administrator for Boston Colleges’ own Irish Institute

Laura Yount (2010) spent two years as a Fulbright Fellow in Bulgaria