Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language, aiming to answer the question “What do we know when we know a language?”. Although language is involved in nearly every aspect of the human experience, most people know surprisingly little about how language works.
Linguists research the components of human languages, including the sounds of speech; the organization of sound patterns, words, sentences, discourses, and meanings; variation and change in human languages; and the relationships between language and computation, cognition, and society.
The undergraduate linguistics program at Brandeis offers an in-depth study of human language, and linguistics majors learn the methods, concepts, and theories that will enable them to recognize, explore, describe, and explain the complex patterning of human languages, and of their knowledge and use. Whether you major or minor in linguistics, you can complement your course of study by taking language-related classes in other disciplines, such as anthropology, philosophy, computer science, or neuroscience.
Studying Linguistics at Brandeis
At Brandeis, you will be part of a lively and close-knit community of students taught by research-active faculty dedicated to teaching and mentoring. Our faculty will encourage you to discover linguistic patterns for yourself, and to think deeply about language data and linguistic theories. Most of our classes beyond the introductory level are relatively small, allowing for active discussion and engagement with faculty as well as fellow students.
Because of our emphasis on data-driven hypothesis testing, you will graduate with solid skills in data collection, critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and written and oral communication. Our program complements its core focus on theoretical generative linguistics with flexibility in elective choices. We offer core courses on phonological theory, syntactic theory, formal semantics, and formal pragmatics, which students can supplement with a range of electives in linguistics and related disciplines that include computational linguistics, psychology, philosophy, and anthropology, among others.
While the emphasis within the major’s required courses is on the core empirical and theoretical subfields of the field, Brandeis is unusual among other linguistics programs in having a full computational linguistics curriculum alongside our theoretical linguistics courses, run by the same set of faculty. Qualified undergraduate students interested in computational linguistics are invited to take courses from this curriculum, and to opt to apply to our five-year combined Bachelor’s/Master of Science program in Computational Linguistics.
The Linguistics major allows you to develop skills used in a broad range of careers.