MA in Applied Linguistics

The Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics program provides an excellent background for more advanced work in linguistics or fields related to linguistics and the language sciences. Students who complete the MA degree have continued on to PhD programs in linguistics, and to clinical programs in communication disorders. Others have gone on to work in the fields of speech technology or education, among others. In addition, students who are planning a career in the linguistic study and teaching of their native language and in shaping the language policies in their countries of origin can benefit from interaction with the African Studies Center, the Modern Languages & Comparative Literature Department, the Department of Romance Studies, and the School of Education (SED).

In consultation with an advisor, master’s degree students select a sequence of courses providing both depth and breadth in their area of specialization. Students may also become involved in projects offering opportunities for research and practice, in association with faculty at Boston University and other local institutions, including universities, schools, research institutes, or clinics.

Applicants must have met the requirements for a bachelor’s degree. The undergraduate degree may be in any field, but the student must have completed the equivalent of one of Boston University’s introductory classes in linguistics (CAS LX 250 or SED LS 565). Students who have not previously had an introductory linguistics course must pass an examination or make up the deficiency through coursework prior to entry or during the first semester. (Introductory linguistics courses will not be counted toward the master’s degree requirements.)

Course Requirements

Eight semester-level courses (32 credits) are required:

  • CAS LX 510: Phonetics
  • CAS LX 522: Syntax I
  • One course in language structure and linguistic theory
  • One course that provides an introduction to a major area of applied linguistics
  • Four additional specialized courses. Possible specialization areas include the following, or students may design their own specialization in consultation with their advisor:
    • Language Acquisition
    • Language Structure and Linguistic Theory
    • Sign Language Linguistics and Acquisition
    • Bilingualism and Language Teaching

A full list of approved courses can be found online.

Students may receive transfer credit for up to two courses, in accordance with the policies and practices of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. If a student has taken the equivalent of any of the core courses, it may be waived. In this case, the student may substitute another course for the course already taken, but unless the credits are transferred, there will be no reduction in the 32 credits required for the MA.

Language Requirement

All students pursuing an MA in Applied Linguistics are required to demonstrate graduate-level reading proficiency in a foreign language prior to completion of the degree. Language proficiency can be demonstrated either through a language examination, successful completion of a non-credit graduate-level foreign language reading course offered by Boston University, or the equivalent of two years of undergraduate study of the language at Boston University.

Final MA Project

Students complete a significant research project relevant to their field of specialization. This may be a publishable paper or a project designed to show mastery of some aspect of the specialization area. Planning of the final project is done in consultation with the advisor. The project or paper is evaluated by the advisor and at least one other member of the faculty of Boston University.