Let language speak to you. Become an expert in the history and analysis of language in the linguistics program.


You can tell a lot about people by the way they speak. Our Linguistics Program can help you harness that talent by training you to analyze and understand the phonetic and phonological sound systems of language and morphology.

You’ll appreciate the development of language over time through historical linguistics and learn about the complex interaction between the brain and language through psycholinguistics. We’ll help you be a person of your word on your way to a successful career in speech pathology and audiology, education, anthropology, or a wide array of other fields.

The Linguistics Program, which draws its faculty from several language-related departments at our beautiful campus in Brooklyn, New York, offers students training in understanding and analyzing language and covers the full scope of the field of linguistics through an interdisciplinary approach. We offer students a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major and a minor in linguistics. In addition, students who choose to double-major with linguistics as their second major may be able to apply up to three courses from their first major toward the linguistics requirements.

We seek first to give our students a solid undergraduate grounding in contemporary linguistics, beginning with an overall understanding of the nature and structure of language, and then moving on to the core areas—phonology (the sounds of language), morphology (the structure of words), syntax (the structure of phrases and sentences), and semantics (the structure of meaning). We seek to give our students an appreciation for language as a defining human characteristic, one that not only distinguishes people from other creatures, but also binds people together in communities and social networks. We offer courses that investigate how language is structured, how it is acquired throughout childhood, how it functions in communication, how it is processed in the human brain, how it can be processed by computers, how it changes over time, and how it functions in society. The program also seeks to strengthen students’ awareness and understanding of the wide range of the field of linguistics and the many key areas directly related to it, including but not limited to, first and second language acquisition, cognitive science, the philosophy of language, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, language typology, the study of pidgins and creoles, and natural language processing. In keeping with its location in the English Department, the program also seeks to foster an appreciation of the close relationship between language and literature, including the many ways in which linguistics has informed the field of literary criticism. The program thus seeks not only to lay out the conceptual tools and the information base in linguistics, but also to show how this knowledge has been applied in these other disciplines.

Thus, the program prepares our students for graduate studies, and for a variety of careers, in fields such as:

  • education (e.g., teaching, curriculum development, assessment in language arts, and second language learning at all levels);
  • translating and interpreting;
  • computational fields related to language and speech technology;
  • international business fields;
  • specific areas of legal practice (e.g., immigration law; international business);
  • publishing: writing, editing, and lexicography; and
  • foreign service and other internationally oriented government careers.


Academic Information
What Can You Do With a Degree in Linguistics?

Why Linguistics

Linguistics graduates have built careers in foreign service, international business, translation and interpreting, lexicography, teaching English as a Second Language in the United States. and abroad, information technology, technical writing, and publishing. Students who augment their linguistics training with computer science classes are highly valued by companies that develop natural-language processing tools for speech recognition, speech synthesis, automatic translation, and information retrieval.

Linguistics students are also well equipped for further training in many fields, including some already mentioned: anthropology; international affairs; law; journalism; communication; speech, language, and hearing science; computer science; education; foreign languages; philosophy; and psychology. And, of course, linguistics majors often pursue graduate study in linguistics and closely related areas, including psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, computational linguistics, neurolinguistics, and speech pathology.

I’m already committed to a primary major; why would I add Linguistics as a second major or minor?

Because a primary major from an appropriate field that is augmented with linguistics will place you in a stronger position for pursuing graduate studies or professional careers in a wide variety of fields (see the LSA and UNH pages below for examples of these). Even if you do not intend to work in a language-related profession, you can benefit from the study of linguistics: Business and industry employers are increasingly aware that linguistics majors have well-developed skills in complex problem-solving (see the Wall Street Journal article below)—and so are the admissions committees of graduate programs.

Simply put, a second major or minor in linguistics adds value to your primary major.

More Resources

  • The Linguistics Society of America’s (LSA) Why Major in Linguistics
  • A list of sample jobs provided by the Department of Linguistics at the University of New Hampshire (UNH)
  • A Wall Street Journal article (pdf) on the marketability of a linguistics degree, available on Boston University’s Linguistics website

Contact Information

Director: Jonathan Nissenbaum
1209 Ingersoll Hall
P: 718.951.5000, ext. 6631
F: 718.951.4136

Brooklyn. All in.