When you pursue a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Computational Linguistics, you position yourself on the cutting edge of an exciting interdisciplinary field that explores and addresses the use of computers to process or produce human language.
Faculty members in the Department of Linguistics have designed this program to combine the study of linguistic analysis with computer science and other cognitive science fields. The Department of Linguistics is part of the College of Arts and Sciences.
The degree prepares you with core linguistic, computational, and computer science concepts and skills. In addition, you can elect more study in either linguistics or computer science, as well as a concentration or minor in a related field, such as Cognitive Science, Mathematics, or Psychology.
The Department of Linguistics also offers a B.A. in Linguistics and an Interdepartmental Major in Linguistics and Anthropology.
High achieving majors may want to apply, in their sophomore year, to the joint Computational Linguistics Bachelor/Master of Science B.S./M.S. degree, a combined 3-year/2-year program in which students earn both an undergraduate and a graduate degree in 5 years.
The Department of Linguistics also offers minors in Linguistics and in Computational Linguistics. These two minors are available only to students majoring in other fields.
To get started, you should take LING-L 203 Introduction to Linguistic Analysis, which introduces you to training in technical language construction.
You should also look for LING-L 245 Language and Computers, which explores how computers can work with natural human language.
Since the Bachelor of Science degree in Computational Linguistics requires two semesters of calculus as well as of computer science, you should make sure to take MATH-M 211 Calculus I as early in your degree program as possible.
Tracks and concentrations
The Computational Linguistics B.S. major does not have formal tracks or concentrations. Contact the academic advisor to discuss your specific interests and your many options within the broad field of linguistics if you wish to develop an unofficial concentration.
Upper level coursework
The Bachelor of Science in Computational Linguistics includes a linguistics core and a computational core. The linguistics core consists of 300-level courses that provide you with the "nuts and bolts" of how language is put together:
- LING-L 306 Phonetics
- LING-L 307 Phonology
- LING-L 310 Syntax
The computational core prepares you for developing the technology to process natural language on computers. Upper-level courses include:
- LING-L 415 Corpus Linguistics
- LING-L 435 Foundational Skills in Computational Linguistics
- LING-L 445 Introduction to Computational Linguistics
You can choose upper-level electives from Linguistics, Computer Science, or Cognitive Science. An upper-level statistics class, STAT-S 320, is also included in the Math and Logic Foundation of the degree.
Contact the academic advisor to discuss the best course options to meet your interests and goals.
Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates
As a student of Computational Linguistics, you are required to have a concentration or minor in a related field. Choices include Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Mathematics, Psychology, or a foreign language. Contact the academic advisor for details.
- Enhance your major
Working with faculty
When pursuing a degree in Computational Linguistics, you work with faculty familiar with a wide variety of language systems, structures, and patterns. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of readings and assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.
You can get involved in research as early as your freshman year. Many incoming freshmen apply to the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) program. ASURE students experience project-based learning enhanced by a community of supportive faculty and peers. Choose an ASURE path in the arts and humanities, social and historical studies, or natural and mathematical sciences. Consider joining one that will deepen your skills and knowledge in an area related to your major or a different one to become a more well-rounded thinker.
You may want to test your skills in a research lab or on a professional project. Talk with the academic advisor or your instructors about the possibility of earning credit as an undergraduate research assistant to individual faculty members.
Outstanding students, particularly those aspiring to apply to graduate school, are eligible to apply to the Linguistics departmental honors program for their junior or senior year.
Under the guidance of a project advisor, students complete LING-L 399 Readings in Linguistics (Honors) (1-6 credit hours) and LING-L 499 Honors Project (1-6 credit hours). Students present the thesis before an Honors Committee, upon meeting certain academic benchmarks. Interested students should consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Undergraduate scholarships and awards
Options for pursuing scholarships and awards include:
- Boren Awards for International Study
- Carnegie Junior Fellows Program
- Cindy Simon Skjodt Study Abroad Scholarship
- Critical Language Scholarship Program
- Foreign Language and Areas Studies Fellowships
- Hutton International Experiences Program
- Office of Overseas Study Scholarships
- Service-Learning Student Travel Scholarship
Internships allow you to gain professional experience and contacts while honing your knowledge and skills in computational linguistics. One of your best opportunities for gaining experience is with Linguist List, the premier online web resource for the international linguistics community, located at IUB. Check their website for internship opportunities.
There are additional opportunities to work with Linguistics faculty members. Also, a local company, Megaputer, provides experience to up-and-coming computational linguists. Discuss other career and internship resources with your academic advisor.
You might also seek overseas study programs with internships. Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through the Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you'll find many resources for both domestic and international internships. Contact your career coach for more information about finding computational linguistics internships.
Foreign language study
As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 80 languages. Most Computational Linguistics students desire proficiency in more than one foreign language, and so appreciate the choices available at IUB.
Here are just a few of the language-study resources available to students at IU Bloomington:
- Arabic Flagship Program
- Center for Language Technology
- Chinese Flagship Program
- Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships
- IU Language Workshop
- Language Tables
- Project GO
- Russian Flagship Program
Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in our increasingly interconnected world. As a Computational Linguistics major, you can expand your knowledge and skills by studying abroad, while making progress on your degree. The following programs offer wonderful opportunities for cultural immersion:
- Adelaide Semester Program -- Australia
- Cape Town CIEE Semester Program -- South Africa
- Freiburg IU AY or Spring Semester Program -- Germany
- Oxford-St. Anne's Academic Year Program -- England
- Seoul CIEE Semester Program -- South Korea
The College of Arts + Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations by contacting your academic advisor as well as the Office of Overseas Study.
The Undergraduate Linguistics Club, better known as UnderLings, is the organization for all undergraduate students interested in any aspects of linguistics. Students in the organization plan and lead events, and connect with professional linguists on campus and from other colleges and universities.
Female students interested in technological careers can find on-campus mentors, through the Center of Excellence for Women & Technology.
Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.
IU Bloomington and the greater Bloomington community offer you many opportunities to volunteer your time and talents, activities that enhance your knowledge and skills while serving others. Linguistics students have volunteered for:
- El Centro Comunal Latino
- IU Bloomington International Services
- IU Corps
- IU Global Village Books and Beyond Service Learning Project
- Office of Overseas Study
- Middle Way House
Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.
There are many professional organizations for language lovers, including one organization specifically for computational linguistics:
- Association for Computational Linguistics
- Linguistic Society of America
- Societas Linguistica Europaea
- Society for Caribbean Linguistics
- Society for the Study of Indigenous Languages of the Americas
- West African Linguistics Society
For more information about professional involvement in computational linguistics, consult the faculty of the Department of Linguistics.
- Build your skills
Through the major
The Bachelor of Sciences degree in Computational Linguistics provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferrable to many areas of study and work. These include:
- Critical thinking and source analysis: develop skills in gathering and analyzing linguistic data based on theory
- Ethical sensitivity: understand and exercise principles of creating artificial intelligence
- Language competence: communicate proficiently in at least one language other than English
- Math and programming: gain skills in breaking down problems into logical steps, and translating these steps into computer programming code
- Quantitative data analysis: practice solving problems in the context of real-world issues
- Research expertise: develop evidence-based arguments, defend your own position, and make informed oral and written presentations
Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree
Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in ever career path:
- Question critically
- Think logically
- Communicate clearly
- Act creatively
- Live ethically
These foundation skills will aid you in landing your first job, and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.
Skills desired by employers
Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.
The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:
- Problem-solving skills
- Ability to work in a team
- Written and verbal communication skills
- Leadership skills
- Strong work ethic
- Analytical and quantitative skills
- Ability to take initiative
- Being detail oriented
- Demonstrating adaptability
- Technical skills relevant to the field
- Interpersonal skills
- Computer skills
- Organizational ability
As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, then talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.
Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.
- Launch your career
Plan your search
The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.
Join one or more of the new Career Communities to determine if the path you are considering aligns with your short- and long-term goals. Consult with community facilitators, connect with employers, and learnwith fellow students about educational preparation, employment opportunities, insider tips, industry-related interview questions, and more.
You might want to take a career course to help you maximize your time at IU. Linguistics students are encouraged to consider taking ASCS-Q 294, College to Career I: Explore Your Options in their first two years at IUB. Q 294 helps you to solidify your major choice by understanding your values, interests, personality, and skills.
To further maximize your career preparation with a career course. Computational Linguistics majors should consider enrolling in ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. The section dedicated to Social and Historical Studies provides the opportunity for you to explore the relationship between your field of study and life after graduation, while developing an academic and career development plan for post-collegiate success. If you are considering continuing your studies after graduation, you may wish to enroll instead in the section dedicated to graduate school preparation. Regardless of the section you select, you will leave the class with your resume, a cover letter or personal statement, and a LinkedIn profile ready to go!
The job market
The employment outlook is positive for students with a B.S. degree in Computational Linguistics. With the overwhelming amount of linguistic data available on the Internet, the need for people skilled in both languages and computers will continue to rise.
Computational Linguistics majors, noted for their attention to detail and strong analytical skills, can take their education in many directions, whether moving directly into a career or going on to graduate or professional studies.
Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors: education at all levels, including staffing college and university administrative offices; state and federal agencies; all kinds of companies that need help in machine translation, search utilities, sentiment analysis (product reviews), dialogue systems, and auto-correction. Start-up companies in information technology, social media, and security also seek employees with computational linguistic skills.
Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center's First Destinations survey!
The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.
Talk with Linguistics faculty, the academic advisor, career coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates in Computational Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics.
Post-graduate short-term experiences
The beginning of your post-graduate career might be an ideal time to explore an international internship or other short-term experience through organizations such as these:
Using these and other resources, your career coach can help you put together a unique post-graduate short-term experience, whether in the United States or abroad.
Fellowships for post-graduate study
Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.
Resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:
- American Council of Learned Societies
- Boren Awards for International Study
- Cultural Vistas Professional Fellowships
- Fulbright Programs
- USAID Payne International Development Fellowship
- Wenner-Gren Foundation
- Woodrow Wilson National Fellowships
Graduate and professional study
When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career, to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.
A major in Computational Linguistics will also prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as computational linguistics, natural language processing, human-computer interaction, information studies, media studies, robotics, and bioinformatics.
With careful planning and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions, including nursing or public health administration.
Students who pursue graduate studies in Linguistics have gone into careers at established or rising companies, including:
Examples of graduate programs offered at IU include:
- Linguistics -- M.A. and Ph.D.
- Computational Linguistics -- M.A., M.S., and Ph.D. with concentration
- PhD with concentration in African Languages and Linguistics
- TESOL and Applied Linguistics -- certificate and M.A.
- Second Language Studies -- M.A. and Ph.D.
The IU College of Arts + Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.
Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts + Sciences Alumni, and let other know where your path takes you.
Is it for you?
The B.S. degree program in Computational Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics attracts students who choose to combine their love of language with their affinity for computers. They typically have some of the following qualities:
- Desire to gain speaking and writing proficiency in more than one language
- Interest in language construction
- Fascination with the importance of language in human life and society
- Enjoyment of information technology and computers
- Facility in mathematics
- Dream of teaching robots to communicate with humans
Contact the Linguistics academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.
- Department website
- Advisor email address