What can you do with a Linguistics degree?

Students graduating from Northeastern’s Linguistics Program often choose to go to graduate school, either immediately following graduation, or after a year or two working or volunteering (often working or volunteering abroad). Students with an undergraduate linguistics degree have a variety of options to choose from, both within and outside of the field.

Within linguistics there are masters and doctoral degrees focusing on theoretical linguistics, applied linguistics, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, and computational linguistics. Students pursuing graduate degrees in theoretical linguistics are likely to find jobs working at universities or research labs. Graduate degrees in applied linguistics can lead to jobs in education: teaching foreign languages, teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), working in a bilingualism program at elementary or high school level. Or it may lead to jobs in other areas, such as translation, research and documentation of endangered languages, or working for religious organizations to research lesser-known languages, for the purpose of developing grammar books, teaching materials and Bible translation. In a psycholinguistics program, students may focus on the processing of language, the development and acquisition of language, or the loss of language (through aging or disease), among other things. Neurolinguistics focuses on language in the brain, and graduates usually work in a university or hospital setting, working with aphasia patients, and/or running experiments using the latest technology (fMRI, MRI, PET, MEG, etc.) Computational linguists work in high tech firms, developing and testing models for improving or creating new software in areas such as speech recognition, dictionary development, grammar checkers, etc.

Other students choose to use their undergraduate linguistics degree as a springboard into another field. Students have attended graduate school in fields such as speech pathology, law, criminal justice, and business. Students are highly competitive in applying to these programs, because the analytic skills and detailed work required in linguistics provides students with an ideal background. For example, one of our recent graduates was accepted to just about every law school he applied to, including Harvard, NYU, UC Berkeley, and Duke.

There are many career options open to students without a graduate degree as well. For example, several of our students have gone on to be lab coordinators at large research labs (here at Northeastern, and at Harvard). Others have decided to work abroad teaching English in countries like France or Brazil. Several have gone to work for publishing companies, either in editing, or developing educational materials such as textbooks and classroom materials for language arts and foreign language texts. Still others decide to become teachers, and earn their certification to teach at the elementary school or high school levels.

In short, with a degree in linguistics, students gain the basic skills and experience needed to prepare their entry into a variety of professional opportunities. The career choices of students pursuing a degree in linguistics are numerous, and are only limited by the student’s imagination.

  • Linguistics Program
    545 Nightingale Hall
    Northeastern University
    360 Huntington Avenue
    Boston, MA 02115
    617-373-4553
    linguistics@neu.edu