Graduate Certificate in Linguistics

Linguistics seeks the descriptive and theoretical characterization of particular languages and of human language as a property of the species, and an understanding of language use, acquisition, variation, and change. Language is central to what we are, in part because it unites us: we are the only species capable of acquiring language. However, it is also central to what we are because of how it divides us: humanity is split into social, ethnic, and national groups speaking thousands of different languages (and uncountable dialects). Language thus serves as the vehicle for diverse cultural traditions, and as an expression of our personal identities. Language is crucial to all we do, because it underwrites communication, and makes possible the creation of knowledge, technology, and art. Since language is so fundamental to human life, aspects of language—including its psychological, cognitive, biological, and neurological underpinnings, and its use as an essential element of literature and culture—are important to many other intellectual disciplines. For example, it is a central topic in philosophy and the foundations of logic. Linguistics thus lends itself naturally to interdisciplinary connections.

The Graduate Certificate in Linguistics offers the opportunity for students to gain knowledge about linguistics to complement their primary area of graduate study, and to explore possible interconnections between linguistics and their primary field. This will enhance their graduate education and also provide a credential that may be useful for their future professional pursuits.

Students interested in earning the certificate must be in good standing in their doctoral program at Boston University. The certificate is awarded under the auspices of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS).

Students entering this certificate program are expected to have the background equivalent to one introductory course in Linguistics. Students who do not have this background can register for, or audit, CAS LX 250, or acquire equivalent knowledge. Students who lack this background should consult with the director of graduate studies.

Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the Graduate Certificate in Linguistics will be able to demonstrate:

  • An understanding of the fundamental questions that drive modern linguistic theory, along with foundational knowledge in the core areas of linguistics.
  • 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.
  • An understanding of some of the interdisciplinary connections between linguistics and the student’s field of graduate specialization.

Course Requirements

Core Courses

  • GRS LX 601 Phonetics & Phonology: Introduction to Sound Systems
  • GRS LX 621 Syntax: Introduction to Sentential Structure
  • GRS LX 631 Semantics & Pragmatics: Introduction to Linguistic Meaning

One Additional Elective

  • Additional GRS LX elective selected in consultation with the student’s advisor, or a related course offered by another department with the permission of the director of graduate studies.

Students who have already taken courses equivalent to any of the required core courses can substitute other appropriate GRS LX electives, with the approval of their advisor and the director of graduate studies.

Please contact the director of graduate studies for additional information.