BA in Spanish & Linguistics

The Spanish & Linguistics major enables students to combine the study of human language from a variety of perspectives with the study of Spanish language, literature, and culture.

In their linguistics courses, students explore the formal structures of language (sound system, internal structure of words, syntactic organization, and representations of meaning) as well as language universals, variability across languages, social dimensions of language use, and historical language change. In their Spanish courses, they learn about the essential grammatical structures and principles governing pronunciation of the language, improve their reading and listening skills, and develop proficiency in speaking and writing. They also gain an understanding of Spanish cultural and literary traditions and learn to analyze and appreciate great literary and cultural works. Integrating the two components of the joint major, coursework in Spanish linguistics focuses on the historical development of Spanish, on variation in the uses of Spanish in different parts of the world, or on the distinguishing characteristics of Spanish in relation to other languages. Class projects and interactions with faculty provide frequent opportunities for making connections between the major’s two primary areas of study.

The joint major equips students with language skills and cultural competence for employment across all economic sectors and provides excellent background for a range of careers including language education, testing and assessment, translation and interpretation, international business, speech therapy, voice coaching, information technology, law, nursing and medicine, child development, and social work. It also prepares students for graduate study in the areas of language, literature, linguistics, and related areas such as Latin American or European regional studies and cognitive science.

Learning Outcomes

  • An understanding of the fundamental questions that drive modern linguistic research concerning formal structure, universals, acquisition, historical change, variation, and social dimensions of use, along with foundational knowledge in the core areas of linguistic theory.
  • The ability to identify and describe with precision the empirical patterns found in sets of language data, and to construct well-reasoned linguistic analyses by formulating, testing, and refining hypotheses about these patterns.
  • Linguistic mastery of some aspect of modern-day Spanish (phonetics, phonology, variation, e.g.) or of the historical development of the language.
  • Proficiency in the Spanish language at an advanced level, with respect to reading, writing, speaking, and understanding of spoken Spanish.
  • Critical and analytical engagement with Hispanic cultural and literary traditions, practices, genres, and great works.


All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in Spanish & Linguistics will ordinarily, through coursework for the major, satisfy some of the BU Hub requirements in Philosophical, Aesthetic, and Historical Interpretation; Scientific and Social Inquiry; Quantitative Reasoning; Diversity, Civic Engagement, and Global Citizenship; Communication; and the Intellectual Toolkit. For further details about how the Spanish & Linguistics major courses fit in with the Hub requirements, see the Linguistics Hub requirements page. Students can satisfy up to 15 of the 26 required Hub units from courses counting for the joint major. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, cocurricular experiences.

Major Requirements

The major consists of thirteen 4-credit courses, all completed with a grade of C or higher. Further information on individual courses can be found in the list of Spanish course descriptions and Linguistics course descriptions and on the Linguistics Department website.

Five courses in Spanish:

  • One Spanish-language course at the 300 level (CAS LS 306, 307, 308, 309, 310)
  • CAS LS 350 Introduction to Analysis of Hispanic Texts
  • Two CAS LS 400-level literature courses (including one Peninsular and one Latin American literature course)
  • One CAS LS 500-level literature course

Five courses in linguistics:

  • CAS LX 250 Introduction to Linguistics
  • Three core courses in linguistics, to be taken in any order (all have CAS LX 250 as a prerequisite):
    • CAS LX 301 Phonetics & Phonology: Introduction to Sound Systems (previously offered as CAS LX 510)
    • CAS LX 321 Syntax: Introduction to Sentential Structure (previously offered as CAS LX 522)
    • CAS LX 331 Semantics & Pragmatics: Introduction to Linguistic Meaning (previously offered as 502)
  • One additional CAS LX elective above the level of CAS LX 250

One course in Spanish linguistics, chosen from:

  • CAS LS 420/LX 381 Spanish in the United States (also previously offered as CAS LX 420)
  • CAS LS 504 History of the Spanish Language
  • CAS LS 505/LX 386 Topics in Spanish Linguistics
  • CAS LS 507/LX 383 The Sounds of Spanish (also previously offered as CAS LX 507)
  • CAS LS 508/LX 384 The Structure of Spanish (also previously offered as CAS LX 508)
  • Or another course (including relevant courses offered abroad) with advisor approval

Two additional electives:

  • One additional linguistics course, chosen from offerings in Spanish linguistics (listed above) or general linguistics (CAS LX courses at or above the 300 level)
  • One additional Spanish course at the CAS LS 300 level or above in the area of advanced language, linguistics, culture, film, or literature; options include courses taken abroad, with advisor approval

Study Abroad: Madrid, Burgos, or Buenos Aires

Students may take courses to fulfill their language requirement or courses toward their major or minor in the Boston University Madrid, Burgos, or Buenos Aires Study Abroad programs. Additional information on these programs is available in the Study Abroad and Internship Programs section of this Bulletin.

A minimum of 6 of the 13 courses required for the major must be taken on the Charles River Campus.

Honors in the Major

Students who meet the GPA requirements (3.65 overall; 3.7 in courses for the major) and who have already taken at least two of the core courses in Linguistics (from CAS LX 250, 301, 321, 331) as well as CAS LS 350 plus another of the required courses in Spanish literature can apply to participate in the Honors program, which involves additional advanced coursework. See the Linguistics Department website for details. Applications will be accepted no sooner than the end of sophomore year and no later than the beginning of the second semester of the junior year.