The concentration in linguistics is designed both for students interested in the discipline itself and for those wishing to use their understanding of linguistic structure to pursue other disciplines. Linguists are concerned with such issues as the commonalities of human languages, why languages change, how our linguistic abilities interact with our cognitive abilities, how language is learnable, and developing formal models of linguistic structure. Fields as diverse as anthropology, legal reasoning, language pathology, technical writing and editing, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) all rely heavily upon methods and models developed in linguistics. Required courses examine linguistic theory, phonology, syntax, and semantics, while electives may focus on computational, mathematical, or socio-linguistics, the philosophy of language, and biology and the evolution of language.

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Student Goals

Students in this concentration will:

  • Develop fluency in the core areas concerned with the structure of language (phonetics, phonology, syntax, and semantics)
  • Gain a sense of the intricacies of natural language systems, including a sense of the ways in which different languages can vary and the ways in which they are similar
  • Gain some understanding of topics in psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics, such as the acquisition, comprehension and production of language and language and the brain
  • Gain an understanding of the relation between linguistic theory and other aspects of language such as those above or language change, sociolinguistics, computational linguistics, or other areas illuminated by an understanding of language structure
  • Get practice in problem solving and analyzing complex data from natural languages


Click here for a list of the Linguistics concentration requirements.

Honors and Capstones

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Concentrators are urged, but not required to take a seminar or independent study in their senior year, to integrate or deepen their concentration studies. In addition to fulfilling the requirements of the standard concentration, candidates for Honors complete two additional courses in Linguistics or related disciplines. One of these courses may be an independent study project upon which the thesis is based. Honors candidates should formalize their projects in consultation with their advisors by the end of the sixth semester. Only students with a strong academic record and an advisor willing to work with them will be allowed into the Honors Program. Please consult the department’s website for a complete description of admission procedures and requirements.

Liberal Learning

This concentration allows you to address the following Liberal Learning goals:

  • Collaborate fully
  • Engage with your community
  • Develop a facility with symbolic languages
  • Experience scientific inquiry
  • Evaluate human behavior

Download the full statement on Liberal Learning at Brown

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Affiliated Departments


Director of Undergraduate Studies

Graduating Class

Year Total Capstone Honors

Alumni Pathways

Linguistics alumni are now employed as software engineers, journalists and editors, and educators. Many have gone on to careers as university researchers and teachers.

See more details on the CareerLAB website.

Dept. Undergraduate Group

Student Leaders:

  • Eli Sharf
  • Christopher Mescher

If you are an advisor and would like to make changes to the information on this page, contact, or email Dean Besenia Rodriguez.