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How can we work together to promote better cultural understanding worldwide?

Qais Akbar Omar (GRS’16), a graduate student in the Creative Writing Program, has published a much-praised memoir, A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story. He recalls how the violence and tumult of civil war jolted his family, who, despite losing relatives, their home, and possessions, continued to nurture his wish to attend a university.

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Language Learning at CAS

“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein

To learn which languages are offered as majors, minors, or basic courses, go to the Language Study: Majors and Minors section of this page and click on the relevant academic program.

Language Offered Through
Akan Twi CAS-African Studies
American Sign Language SED-Deaf Studies
Amharic CAS-African Studies
Arabic CAS-World Languages & Literatures
Chinese CAS-World Languages & Literatures
French CAS-Romance Studies
German CAS-World Languages & Literatures
Greek-Ancient CAS-Classical Studies
Greek-Modern CAS-Classical Studies
Hausa CAS-African Studies
Hebrew CAS-World Languages & Literatures
Hindi-Urdu CAS-World Languages & Literatures
Igbo CAS-African Studies
Italian CAS-Romance Studies
Japanese CAS-World Languages & Literatures
Korean CAS-World Languages & Literatures
Latin CAS-Classical Studies
Persian (Farsi) CAS-World Languages & Literatures
Portuguese CAS-Romance Studies
Russian CAS-World Languages & Literatures
Spanish CAS-Romance Studies
Swahili (Kiswahili) CAS-African Studies
Turkish CAS-World Languages & Literatures
Wolof CAS-African Studies
Xhosa CAS-African Studies
Zulu CAS-African Studies

BU’s exceptional course offerings in 27 different languages allow you to maximize your undergraduate experience by gaining foreign language proficiency and developing essential intercultural skills for living, studying, and working with others around the world. Learning a new language or advancing your study of a foreign language will prepare you to take full advantage of study abroad and internship opportunities through more than 75 BU programs on six continents.

At the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS), you can study a wide range of languages, from Portuguese to Swahili to Japanese. And you won’t just be learning a new tongue; you’ll be delving deeply into a foreign culture. Language proficiency is an integral part of regional studies majors such as European Studies or Middle East & North Africa Studies, and an important complement to popular majors such as International Relations or History.

Our hands-on academic advising team will assist you in choosing the course of language study that is right for you, and our career services team will help you translate your language learning into success after graduation. And you can meet others with a passion for language learning through our residential language houses, student organizations focused on language and cultural study, Language Link discussion groups, and the Globally Speaking program offering fun, non-credit courses in a wide range of languages.

Language Study: Majors and Minors

African Studies website

CAS offers minors in African Studies and African Languages & Literature, as well as beginning and advanced classes in the following languages: Amharic, Hausa, Igbo, Kinyarwanda, Swahili, Twi, Wolof, Xhosa, and Zulu. Learn more

Read this BU Today article about the benefits of learning an African language at BU.

Learn how a CAS biology major became an expert on public health in Senegal.

Classical Studies website

Majors: Ancient Greek, Ancient Greek & Latin, Classical Civilization, Classics & Philosophy, Classics & Religion, and Latin

Minors: Ancient Greek, Classical Civilization, Latin, Modern Greek, and Myth Studies

Resources: Undergraduate Classics Association, BU Philhellenes, Classics House

Find out why one student chose to leave an Engineering track to follow his passion for Classics.

Linguistics website

Majors: Linguistics (BA or BA/MA), French & Linguistics, Italian & Linguistics, Japanese & Linguistics, Linguistics & Philosophy, Linguistics & Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, and Spanish & Linguistics

Minor: Linguistics

Resources: BU Undergraduate Linguistics Association Facebook page, BU Linguistics Facebook page

Alex Williams parlayed the study of Turkish, German Literature, and Linguistics into a fascinating academic journey. Read his story.

Romance Studies website

VENICE2Majors: French Studies, French & Linguistics, French Studies/French Language & Literature (BA/MA), Italian Studies, Italian & Linguistics, Spanish, Spanish/Hispanic Language & Literatures (BA/MA), Spanish & Linguistics

Minors: French, Italian, Portuguese & Brazilian Cultural Studies, Spanish

Resources: French House, Italian House, Spanish House, Spanish-language study abroad programs, French-speaking study abroad programs, study abroad in Italy

World Languages & Literatures website

Majors: Chinese Language & Literature, Comparative Literature, German Language & Literature, Japanese Language & Literature, Russian Language & Literature

Minors: Arabic, Chinese, Comparative Literature, German, Hebrew, Japanese Language & Literature, Korean, Persian Cultural Studies, Russian

Beginning and advanced classes offered in: Hindi-Urdu, Turkish

Resources: Chinese HouseGerman HouseJapanese HouseLanguage Link (language discussion groups), Academic Advising (language advising), Arabic-speaking study abroad programs (Morocco), Chinese-speaking study abroad programsGerman-speaking study abroad programsJapanese-speaking study abroad programs

Alex Williams parlayed the study of Turkish, German Literature, and Linguistics into a fascinating academic journey. Read his story.

Regional Studies

Language learning is an integral part of our regional studies programs offered through the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, which is housed within the College of Arts & Sciences.

Students in the Pardee School can receive a bachelor’s degree from CAS in the following majors:

You can also earn minors in:

Learn more about these opportunities by visiting the Pardee School website.

Study Abroad

BU Global Programs offers close to 100 study abroad and internship opportunities in 25 countries spanning six continents. Learn more

Other Language Learning Opportunities at BU

Scholarship opportunities targeting foreign language study and internships are available for many different languages. Consult the links below and consider applying for one of these programs! Please contact your language professor or CAS Language Advising if you have any questions.

Volunteering is a great way to practice your language skills while helping others in the Greater Boston Community. Here are some links to get you started, but check with individual language departments for suggestions as well.

The BU Community Service Center has information about volunteer opportunities in the Boston area and abroad that offer students a chance to use their foreign language skills.

The BU Center for English Language & Orientation Programs (CELOP) offers a Conversation Partner Program that pairs students studying foreign languages with native speakers for practice in both English and the other language.

Knowledge of a foreign language will help you to become a more open-minded global citizen. As a speaker of a second language, you will be better able to communicate and connect with people of different cultural backgrounds. Foreign language study will also prepare you for study and internship abroad opportunities where you can put into practice what you learn in the classroom. Hoping to land a job after graduation? In an increasingly global economy, exposure to another language and culture will position you favorably for success in whatever career you pursue.

Learning another language has many other benefits: improved cognitive skills; increased sensitivity to linguistic and cultural difference; and greater access to foreign films, music, and the arts. It may even change the way you see the world!

Read more about the benefits of language learning: