The CU Department of Linguistics has a strong commitment to excellence in teaching at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. The linguistics faculty offers a wide range of research strengths—including syntactic theory, sociocultural linguistics, computational and psycholinguistics, phonetics/phonology and language documentation—ensuring that students gain both versatility and expertise in an array of subfields. 

Our educational mission is to provide students with insight into the fundamental design features of language—its sound patterns, its word- and sentence-formation devices, its semantic structure—and to create awareness of language varieties: the diversity of human languages, the role of language as an index of social identity and the ontogenetic and historical development of language.

Requirements

Program Requirements

Majors in linguistics must complete a total of 32 credit hours of study in general linguistics, including 5 credits at the intermediate to advanced level of a natural language (for exceptions, see below). Language study is taken in other departments.

Students must complete the general requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences and the required courses listed below.  All courses must be completed with a grade of C- or better and cannot be taken pass/fail. Students must have a grade point average of at least 2.000 in the major in order to graduate.

In additional to the general Linguistics major the Linguistics department offers four specialized major tracks for undergraduates:  Computational Linguistics;  Language and Cognition; Sociocultural, Anthropological, and Interactional Linguistics (SAIL); and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).  More information about these new tracks can be found on the the Program Tracks tab.

Required Courses and Credits

Foundational Linguistics Courses
LING 2000Introduction to Linguistics3
LING 3100Language Sound Structures3
LING 3430Semantics3
LING 4420Morphology and Syntax3
Natural Language
Complete a minimum of 5 credit hours at the intermediate to advanced level of a natural language other than English (see details below) with a grade of C- or better.5
Electives
Select a minimum of 15 elective credit hours from the following with a grade of C- or better:15
Old English 1: Introduction to Old English
French Phonetics Through Musical Performance
French Phonetics and Pronunciation
Japanese Syntax
Kanji in Japanese Orthography
Second Language Acquisition of Japanese
Spanish Phonology and Phonetics
Linguistic Analysis of Spanish
Special Topics in Hispanic Linguistics
Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics
Language in U.S. Society
The Study of Words
Languages of the World
Programming for Linguistics
Language, Gender and Sexuality
Race, Ethnicity, and Language
Cognitive Science
Figurative Language
American Indigenous Languages in their Social and Cultural Context
World Language Policies
Talk at Work: Language Use in Institutional Contexts
Special Topics in Linguistics
Computational Linguistics
Japanese Sociolinguistics
Perspectives on Language
Language and Mind
Interdisciplinary Research Methods in Child Language Acquisition
Introduction to Formal Syntax
Language Development
Pedagogical Grammar for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
Teaching Second Language (L2) Oral Skills and Communication
TESOL and Second Language Acquisition: Principles and Practices
Machine Learning and Linguistics
Teaching Language Skills: Focus on Social Justice
Conversation Analysis and Interactional Linguistics
Language and Culture
Honors Thesis
TESOL Practicum
Other upper-division linguistics courses may also be chosen if available; graduate courses may be taken with permission of the department.

Natural Language

Students must complete, with a grade of C- or better, a minimum of 5 credit hours of study of a natural language other than English (including signed languages used by deaf communities). The 5 credit hours offered in satisfaction of this requirement must be at the 3000 level or above for widely-taught languages (French, German, Greek, Latin, Spanish), or at the 2000 level or above for less-widely-taught languages (Arabic, American Sign Language, Chinese, Farsi, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish).

Only courses taught in the language in question, and focused specifically on language learning, may be used for this requirement. A list of all the approved courses is available from the Department of Linguistics or the departmental undergraduate advisor.

The natural language requirement may be satisfied by examination or waived for foreign students whose native language is not English; in these cases, students must still meet the college minimum major requirement of 18 credit hours of upper-division coursework and 30 credit hours overall in the major by taking an additional 3-credit elective from the list above. Students who wish to have their language requirement waived must obtain the consent of an undergraduate advisor before registering for the fall term of the junior year.

Additional Information

The department recommends that prospective majors complete LING 2000 and at least two 1000-level foreign language courses (in the same language) by the end of the sophomore year, unless the student's foreign language proficiency is already advanced.

The fall semester of the junior year should include LING 3430, a 2000-level foreign language course, and a linguistics elective or LING 4420. It must also include LING 2000 if that was not taken earlier. The spring semester of the junior year should include LING 3100, a linguistics elective and a further 2000-level foreign language course (if needed to prepare the student for the required upper-division foreign language credit hours).

Graduating in Four Years

Consult the Four-Year Guarantee Requirements for information on eligibility. The concept of "adequate progress" as it is used here refers only to maintaining eligibility for the four-year guarantee; it is not a requirement for the major. To maintain adequate progress in linguistics, students should meet the following requirements:

  • By the beginning of the spring semester of the freshman year (second semester), declare linguistics as a major.
  • During the freshman or sophomore years (first through fourth semesters), take LING 2000 (required) and LING 1000 or LING 2400 (electives)
  • By the end of the sophomore year (fourth semester) at the latest, complete two semesters of study of a natural (spoken or signed) language other than English.*
  • During the junior year (fifth and sixth semesters) at the latest, continue natural language study at the 2000 level.
  • During the fall of the junior year (fifth semester), take one or both of LING 3430 or LING 4420.
  • During the junior or senior year (fifth through eighth semesters), take the remaining courses as needed.
  • During the spring of the junior year (sixth semester), take LING 3100 and an upper-division linguistics elective.
  • During the senior year (seventh and eighth semesters) at the latest, take 5 credit hours of natural language study at the 3000 level.*

*The language requirement is waived for native speakers of a language other than English, but if it is waived, 3 additional credit hours in linguistics must be taken.

NOTE: A Linguistics major who has been excluded from any upper-division linguistics course due to enrollment limitations will be given first preference for a seat in that course the following year if the exclusion is made known to the department staff within two weeks after it occurs. No declared linguistics major who still needs LING 2000 for fall of the junior year and attempts to register for it during the regular registration period for continuing students (spring of the sophomore year) will be excluded from the course.

Program Tracks

In addition to the general Linguistics major, the Linguistics department offers four specialized major tracks for undergraduates. These tracks allow students to tailor their major coursework to better reflect their specific interest(s) within the field of linguistics. Concentrated training within a specific subfield of the discipline provides students with the in-depth knowledge and skills needed to pursue specific careers within the field of linguistics. In addition, it provides a foundation for pursuing a focused area of study for those who continue onto graduate school. 

Students declaring any track will need to complete the following courses:

Foundational Linguistics Courses
LING 2000Introduction to Linguistics3
LING 3100Language Sound Structures3
LING 3430Semantics3
LING 4420Morphology and Syntax3
Natural Language
Complete a minimum of 5 credit hours at the intermediate to advanced level of a natural language other than English (see details on the Requirements Tab) with a grade of C- or better.5
Total Credit Hours17

Computational Linguistics

Students declaring the Computational Linguistics sub-plan will also complete 15 credit hours of LING electives (at least 9 at the upper division level); however, they must take 12 of these credits as the following 4 core courses listed below. For the remaining 3 elective credit hours, students can choose an elective from the list of electives, also below, some from CSCI or INFO.

Computational Linguistics Core Courses
LING 1200Programming for Linguistics3
LING 3832Computational Linguistics3
LING 4200Introduction to Computational Corpus Linguistics
LING 4632Machine Learning and Linguistics3
Electives
Select one course from the following:3-4
Conversation Analysis and Interactional Linguistics
Computer Science 2: Data Structures
Natural Language Processing
Programming for Information Science 2
Total Credit Hours12-13

Language and Cognition 

Students declaring the Language and Cognition track will also complete 15 credits of LING electives (at least 9 at the upper division level); however, they must select 12 of these credits from the set of Language and Cognition-related courses below. For the remaining 3 elective credit hours, students can choose any LING course.

Language and Cognition Core Courses
Complete 12 credit hours from the following:12
The Study of Words
Cognitive Science
Figurative Language
Language and Mind
Perspectives on Language (Language and Embodiment)
Interdisciplinary Research Methods in Child Language Acquisition
Language Development
Statistical Analysis for Linguistics
Machine Learning and Linguistics
Electives
Select any LING course.3
Total Credit Hours15

Sociocultural, Anthropological & Interactional Linguistics (SAIL)

Students declaring the SAIL track will also complete 15 credit hours of LING electives (9 at the upper division level); however, they must select 12 of these credits from the set of SAIL-related courses below. For the remaining 3 elective credit hours, students can choose any LING course.

Sociocultural, Anthropological & Interactional Linguistics Core Courses
Complete 12 credit hours from the following:12
Language in U.S. Society
Community-Based Learning Practicum: Literacy and Language Learning
Language, Gender and Sexuality
Race, Ethnicity, and Language
American Indigenous Languages in their Social and Cultural Context
World Language Policies
Talk at Work: Language Use in Institutional Contexts
Special Topics in Linguistics (Language in Digital Media)
Special Topics in Linguistics (Language and Politics)
Japanese Sociolinguistics
Conversation Analysis and Interactional Linguistics
Language and Culture
Electives
Select any LING course.3
Total Credit Hours15

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

Students declaring the TESOL sub-plan will be required to take four foundational TESOL-focused courses in Linguistics for a total of 12 credit hours. In addition to these four courses, students must complete at least 3 credit hours from a limited set of TESOL-related courses.

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Core Courses
LING 4610Pedagogical Grammar for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages3
LING 4620Teaching Second Language (L2) Oral Skills and Communication3
LING 4630TESOL and Second Language Acquisition: Principles and Practices3
LING 4910TESOL Practicum3
Electives
Select one course from the following:3-4
World Language Policies
Language Development
Language and Culture
Intercultural Communication
Educational Psychology for Elementary Schools
Foundations of Bilingual/Multicultural Education
Teaching English Language Development
Secondary World Language Methods
Introduction to Bilingual/Multicultural Education
Methods of Biliteracy Instruction
Language Acquisition for Bilingual Learners
Total Credit Hours15-16

Recommended Four-Year Plan of Study​

Through the required coursework for the major, students will complete all 12 credits of the Social Sciences area of the Gen Ed Distribution Requirement. Depending on the courses selected as a major electives, students can potentially complete some credits in the Arts & Humanities area of the Distribution and both the U.S. Perspective and the Global Perspective components of the Gen Ed Diversity Requirement.

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
Fall SemesterCredit Hours
LING 2000 Introduction to Linguistics 3
Beginning Level Foreign Language 1 (If needed, does not count toward langage requirement) 4-5
Gen. Ed. Skills course (example: Lower-division Written Communication) 3
Gen. Ed. Distribution course (example: Natural Sciences) 3
Gen. Ed. Diversity course (example: Diversity: US Perspective) 3
 Credit Hours16-17
Spring Semester
Beginning Level Foreign Language 2 (If needed, does not count toward language requirement) 4-5
LING Lower-Division or Upper-Division elective 3
Gen. Ed. Skills course (example: QRMS) 3
Gen. Ed. Distribution course (example: Natural Sciences and Lab) 4
 Credit Hours14-15
Year Two
Fall Semester
Second Year Foreign Language 1 (If needed) 3-5
Gen. Ed. Distribution course (example: Natural Sciences) 3
Gen. Ed. Distribution course (example: Arts & Humanities) 3
Gen. Ed. Diversity course (example: Diversity: Global Perspective) 3
LING Lower-Division or Upper-Division elective 3
 Credit Hours15-17
Spring Semester
LING Foreign Language Requirement (if needed) 3-5
LING 3100 Language Sound Structures 3
Gen. Ed. Distribution course (example: Natural Sciences) 3
Gen. Ed. Distribution (example: Arts & Humanities) 3
Elective 3
 Credit Hours15-17
Year Three
Fall Semester
LING 3430 Semantics 3
LING Foreign Language Requirement UD (if needed) 3
Gen. Ed. Distribution course (example: Arts & Humanities) 3
Gen. Ed. Skills course (example: Upper-division Written Communication) 3
Elective 3
 Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
LING Upper-Division elective 3
LING Foreign Language Requirement UD (if needed) 3
Gen. Ed. Distribution course (example: Arts & Humanities) 3
LING 4420 Morphology and Syntax 3
Upper-Division Elective 3
 Credit Hours15
Year Four
Fall Semester
LING Upper-Division elective 3
Elective 3
Upper-Division Elective 3
Upper-Division Elective 3
Upper-Division Elective 3
 Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
LING Upper-Division Elective 3
Elective 3
Upper-Division Elective 3
Upper-Division Elective 3
Upper-Division Elective 3
 Credit Hours15
 Total Credit Hours120-126

Learning Outcomes

  • Students can identify multiple levels of linguistic structure and their interactions: sound segments, sound categories, word structure, sentence structure and semantic structure.
  • Students are aware of the range of speech sounds found in languages of the world, including how they are transcribed, and have the ability to transcribe those sounds that are frequently encountered.
  • Students can use transcribed data to infer the contrastive relationships among sounds in a given language.
  • Students can describe the ways in which languages and language families differ with regard to word- and sentence-formation devices.
  • Students can infer language structures from the analysis of data from unfamiliar languages.
  • Students can describe the relationship between conceptual structure and linguistic structure at both the word and sentence level, and identify differences between conventional and calculable linguistic meaning.

Bachelor's–Accelerated Master's Degree Program(s)

The bachelor's–accelerated master's (BAM) degree program options offer currently enrolled CU Boulder undergraduate students the opportunity to receive a bachelor's and master's degree in a shorter period of time. Students receive the bachelor's degree first, but begin taking graduate coursework as undergraduates (typically in their senior year).

Because some courses are allowed to double count for both the bachelor's and the master's degrees, students receive a master's degree in less time and at a lower cost than if they were to enroll in a stand-alone master's degree program after completion of their baccalaureate degree. In addition, staying at CU Boulder to pursue a bachelor's–accelerated master's program enables students to continue working with their established faculty mentors.

BA and MA in Linguistics

Admissions Requirements

In order to apply for admission to the BAM program in Linguistics, a student must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Transfer students must have completed a minimum of 24 credit hours at CU Boulder
  • Students must have completed at least one upper division Linguistics elective
  • Students must take a graduate-level "qualifying course" in the semester they apply for admission to the BAM

The BAM degree program is recommended only for the most serious and able undergraduate students. For further information, see the graduate advisor in the spring of the sophomore year or during the first week of the fall semester of the junior year.

Program Requirements

Students may take up to and including 12 hours while in the undergraduate program which can later be used toward the master’s degree. These 12 credits may be double counted toward the bachelor’s degree and the master’s degree. Students must apply to graduate with the bachelor’s degree, and apply to continue with the master’s degree, early in the semester in which the undergraduate requirements will be completed.

If you are interested in the BAM degree program, please contact the Linguistics graduate advisor for more information.  Students should discuss possible BAM plans with the graduate advisor by spring of the sophomore year or during the first week of the fall semester of the junior year.

BA in Linguistics, MS in Computational Linguistics, Analytics, Search and Informatics

Admission Requirements

In order to apply for admission to the BAM program, a student must meet the following criteria:

  • Complete all prerequisite courses with a minimum grade of B or higher:
LING 1200Programming for Linguistics3
or CSCI 1300 Computer Science 1: Starting Computing
LING 4632/5632Machine Learning and Linguistics3
LING 3832/5832Computational Linguistics3
or CSCI 3832/5832 Natural Language Processing
LING 4200/5200Introduction to Computational Corpus Linguistics3
One of the following courses in Computer Science as an elective
Algorithms
Introduction to Data Science with Probability and Statistics
One of the following courses (in the semester the student applies)
Morphology and Syntax
Linguistic Phonetics
Semantics and Pragmatics
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher.
  • Have at least junior class standing.
  • Provide two letters of reference, one written by the course instructor of the LING 5XXX course they are taking during the semester they apply, the other by the instructor from an upper division course in Computer Science. Letters should be sent directly to the CLASIC Program Coordinator.

Program Requirements

Students may take up to and including 12 hours while in the undergraduate program which can later be used toward the master’s degree. However, only 6 credits may be double counted toward the bachelor’s degree and the master’s degree.

Students must apply to graduate with the bachelor’s degree, and apply to continue with the master’s degree, early in the semester in which the undergraduate requirements will be completed.