Frequently asked questions about the Linguistics major and the combined Linguistics-English and Linguistics-Psychology majors:

How do I declare a major or minor in Linguistics?

You simply fill out a Petition to change major, have your new Faculty Advisor in the Linguistics Program sign the form, and return the form to 1 Meserve. Complete instructions are available here.

When are courses in linguistics offered?

It depends on the course. Some courses are offered regularly, and other courses are offered less frequently. For these less-frequently offered courses, we generally know about a year in advance what will be offered. Be sure to check with the Registrar’s website or the Linguistics major advisor on the selection of courses for any specific term.

How do I fulfill the Experiential Education requirement for these majors?

There are currently two ways to fulfill your Experiential Education requirement for the Linguistics major and the Linguistics-combined majors. You may go on Study Abroad for a semester, or you may complete LING 4996 Experiential Education Directed Study.

  • International Study Abroad is an excellent opportunity to experience the fun and the challenges that go with living and studying in a different culture. Living in a different linguistic context gives students many opportunities to practice their language skills, to apply their analytic abilities, and to experience first-hand the types of cross-linguistic miscommunication that we often discuss in our courses. [Please note that while we encourage our students to go on Dialogues of Civilizations, these short-term study aboard experiences are not considered deep enough to fulfill the Experiential Education requirement for the majors in Linguistics.]
  • LING 4996 Experiential Education Directed Study is a research project that a student completes with a full-time member of the linguistics faculty. This project may build on a coop experience, but you would need to organize with the faculty member that you are working with in advance of the coop experience, so that you can work on the project while out on coop, and to be sure that the coop experience would be appropriate for such a project. For most students, however, this is an excellent opportunity to work on part of a faculty member’s research program, or to conduct their own study under the direction of a faculty member. This gives students hands-on independent research experience, and often results in a paper that can be used as the writing sample for graduate school applications.

What’s the difference between a Combined, or Dual Major, and a Double Major?

The Combined, or Dual Majors, are created by the university to allow students to study two fields that naturally complement each other. The number of courses for a Combined or Dual Major is approximately the same as for single Majors. A Double major is when a student completes two majors at the same time. This means that there can be up to double the number of courses required (although if the two majors are related, some courses will double count). Your advisors can help you decide whether it’s appropriate for you to complete a Combined or Dual Major or a Double Major.

I see a course that I’d like to take, but it doesn’t ever seem to be offered! What can I do?

There are some courses that are rarely offered, even though they are on the registrar’s list of possible Linguistics courses. We keep these courses on the books because we hope to offer these courses, but whether a course is offered depends on the number of faculty members that we have and their fields of expertise, and also what the general student demand for these courses is. Often the courses that aren’t offered are of interest to such a small set of students that we can’t fill a course. But you shouldn’t think that means that you can’t learn about these topics! All you need to do is find a willing full-time faculty member in the Linguistics Program, and complete an Independent Study, where you and the faculty member work together to establish a course of study for a semester.

How do I ask for a letter of recommendation?

There are plenty of on-line resources that give information about how to request a letter of recommendation, including this link to WikiHow’s excellent article on the the subject. Or download a modified version of this article here.To highlight a few of the most important things:

  • Give the professor plenty of advance warning, requesting the letter at least 4 to 6 weeks before the letter is due. You may also need to give them a gentle reminder a week or so before the deadline.
  • Give the professor plenty of information about yourself. This helps to jog their memory, and write a more specific letter. This should include a copy of your resume, an unofficial transcript with the courses you took with that professor highlighted, a copy of your statement of purpose, and a brief list that describes why you are applying to each school. Keep this information neat and organized. And please keep in mind that as much as professors enjoy getting to know their students as individuals, they are dealing with many, many students each semester!
  • Be sure to waive your rights to view the letter on the application forms. Many Professors require you waive these rights, so they can write a completely candid letter; it also affects how the application committee views the letter—a letter written without the student’s consent waived may be viewed as less open and honest.
  • Linguistics Program
    545 Nightingale Hall
    Northeastern University
    360 Huntington Avenue
    Boston, MA 02115