Carnegie Mellon University

Linguistics is the study of human language, and it encompasses a broad spectrum of research questions, approaches, and methodologies. Some linguists are concerned with the cognitive aspects of language learning, production, and comprehension; some are concerned with language as a social and cultural phenomenon; others engage in the analysis of linguistic form and meaning, some from a functional and others from a formal perspective. There are also computational approaches to linguistics with both applied and theoretical goals.

The major in Linguistics reflects the multidisciplinary character of the field and of the Linguistics faculty here at Carnegie Mellon, offering a program which provides students with the fundamental tools of linguistic analysis while maintaining a focus on the human context in which language is learned and used. The major is available as either a primary major or an additional major. It is an ideal choice for students with a general interest in their own or other languages and combines well thematically with studies in any of the departments represented in the major.


The Linguistics primary major requires a total of 12 courses plus a senior thesis. The Linguistics additional major requires a total of 13 courses. This includes 2 semesters of language study for all majors. At least three courses (not including specific language courses) must be at the 300-level or higher. All courses counted towards the major must be taken for a letter grade and passed with a grade of "C" or above. Students may double count any course for the major simultaneously with another major or minor.


Complete the following requirements.

80-180 Nature of Language 9
80-282 Phonetics and Phonology I 9
80-280 Linguistic Analysis 9
or 80-285 Natural Language Syntax
80-381 Meaning in Language 9
or 80-383 Language in Use


Choose three courses (27 units) from Extended Core and/or additional courses from Linguistics Core.

80-283 It Matters How You Say It 9
80-284 Invented Languages 9
80-286 Words and Word Formation: Introduction to Morphology 9
80-287 Language Variation and Change 9
80-288 Intonation: Transcription and Analysis 9
80-382 Phonetics and Phonology II 9
80-384 Linguistics of Turkic Languages 9
80-385 Linguistics of Germanic Languages 9
80-388 Linguistic Typology: Diversity and Universals 9


Primary majors choose three additional electives (27 or more units). Additional majors choose four additional electives (36 or more units). Primary majors see thesis requirement below.

These can be additional courses from the Core or Extended Core courses listed above, the electives list below, or any other course which is approved by the Director as a linguistics elective. Listed below are the additional electives taught on a regular basis. Additional appropriate courses are offered irregularly or on a one-off basis. The Director will provide students with a list of possible electives each semester, and will assist students in selecting electives which are consistent with their goals and interests.

80-380 Philosophy of Language 9
80-484 Language and Thought 9
76-318 Communicating in the Global Marketplace 9
76-325 Intertextuality 9
76-385 Introduction to Discourse Analysis 9
76-386 Language & Culture 9
76-389 Rhetorical Grammar 9
Modern Languages
82-283 Language Diversity & Cultural Identity 9
82-305 French in its Social Contexts 9
82-373 Structure of the Japanese Language 9
82-383 Second Language Acquisition: Theories and Research 9
82-585 Topics in Second Language Acquisition 9
85-354 Infant Language Development 9
85-421 Language and Thought 9
Language Technologies Institute
11-411 Natural Language Processing 12
11-423 ConLanging: Lrng. Ling. & Lang Tech via Constru Artif. Lang. 12
11-492 Speech Processing 12
11-661 Language and Statistics 12
11-722 Grammar Formalisms 12


Students must successfully complete two semesters of consecutive language courses. (Note that students may not 'test out' of this requirement. However, language courses taken at other institutions or as part of a study abroad program will typically substitute for a semester of language study.)


Primary majors must complete a senior thesis (a workload equivalent to a 12-unit course) during their senior year. Topics must be approved by an advisor, who will work with the student and guide the thesis project. Students are responsible for identifying their topic and securing their thesis advisor. Students should work with the director of the major to begin the process of identifying their thesis topic and advisor during the fall of their senior year at the latest. Students will be required to submit a written proposal of their thesis project, signed by their thesis faculty advisor, before the end of the second week of classes in which the thesis is being completed.


  • All 11-xxx courses have significant Computer Science prerequisites. Interested students should check with the course instructor before registering.