Language is something that we have and something that we do. It is a fundamental part of the human experience and indispensible to human progress. Language is a cultural and interactive tool and it is also a major part of the way we think and reason. To study the language faculty requires you to study everything from the way we form sounds and gestures, to the way we perceive speech, to the meanings that language expresses, to the use of language as a signal of group identity. All of these topics are encompassed by coursework in the major. The Linguistics department gives its majors the experience of an academic neighborhood—something that few other CU departments can do. At present, there are about 160 students working toward a Major or Minor degree in Linguistics at CU Boulder. Because of the small scale of the major and a faculty dedicated to teaching excellence, Linguistics majors can interact extensively with peers and instructors both inside and outside the classroom.
Because the Linguistics major has relatively few course requirements (27 credits in Linguistics plus 5 credits of a natural language other than English), it can easily be combined with electives, a minor or a double major in another field that interests you. Among the areas of study that you can insightfully integrate with linguistics are: Anthropology, International Affairs, Communication, Theatre, Speech, Language and Hearing Science, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Education, modern languages, Philosophy, Classics and Sociology.
What can you do with a degree in linguistics? Linguistics graduates have built careers in foreign service, law, international business, translation and interpreting, lexicography, teaching English as a Second Language in the US and abroad, information technology, technical writing and publishing. Students who augment their linguistics training with computer science coursework are highly valued by companies that develop natural-language processing tools for speech recognition, speech synthesis, automatic translation and information retrieval. Even if you do not intend to work in a language-related profession, the linguistics major can benefit you: business and industry employers are increasingly aware that linguistics majors have well developed skills in complex problem solving.
Linguistics students are also well equipped for further training in many fields, including:
And of course, linguistics majors often pursue graduate study in linguistics and closely related areas, including psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, computational linguistics, linguistic neuroscience and speech pathology. If you want to know more about the field of linguistics, what the linguistics major is about and how you can use a BA degree in linguistics, go to Why Major in Linguistics? on the Linguistics Society of America website.