Computational Linguistics B.S.

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.

Besides the new Computational Linguistics B.S., the department also offers a 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 a minor in Linguistics. The minor in Linguistics is available only to students majoring in other fields.

Coursework

Getting started

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 include MATH-M 211 Calculus I as early in your degree program as possible.

Tracks and concentrations

Because of the variety of degree options offered through the Department of Linguistics, 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.

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 an international 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 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.

Honors

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.

High-achieving students may be recognized for academic excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Options for pursuing scholarships and awards include:

Internships

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 advisor 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 70 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:

Overseas study

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
  • Istanbul CIEE Semester Program -- Turkey
  • Oxford-St. Anne's Academic Year Program -- England
  • Seoul CIEE Semester Program -- South Korea

Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations by contacting your academic advisor as well as the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

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.

Women Empowering Success in Technology links female students interested in technological careers with mentors, through the Center for Excellence for Women in Technology.

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

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:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

There are many professional organizations for language lovers, including one organization specifically for computational linguistics:

For more information about professional involvement in computational linguistics, consult the faculty of the Department of Linguistics.

Also, use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.

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 abilities, as identified by the 11 Goals of the College of Arts and Sciences:

  • Achieve the genuine literacy required to read, listen, speak and write clearly and persuasively
  • Learn to think critically and creatively
  • Develop intellectual flexibility and breadth of mind
  • Discover ethical perspectives
  • Cultivate a critically informed appreciation of literature and the arts
  • Practice and apply scientific methods
  • Learn to reason quantitatively
  • Develop historical consciousness
  • Investigate and study the international community
  • Develop and practice communication skills in public settings and in the study of at least one foreign language
  • Pursue in-depth knowledge of at least one subject

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 abilities are sought in the job market across many employment sectors:

  • Communicate effectively with persons both inside and outside the organization
  • Work in a team structure
  • Make decisions and solve problems
  • Plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Obtain and process relevant information
  • Analyze quantitative data
  • Create and/or edit written reports
  • Obtain technical knowledge related to the job
  • Proficiency with computer software programs
  • Create and edit written reports
  • Ability to persuade or influence others

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, talk with your academic and career advisors about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career advisor 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

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with your career advisor at the Walter Center for Career Achievement.

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. Q294 helps you to solidify your major choice by understanding your values, interests, personality, and skills.

Linguistics students are also encouraged to take ASCS-Q 299, College to Career III: Market Yourself for the Job and Internship Search. In the course, students gain proficiency in writing resumes, crafting cover letters, navigating interviews, and other skills that help them transition from college to new horizons.

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.

Talk with Linguistics faculty, the academic advisor, career advisor and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates in Computational Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

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 advisor 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:

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:

Alumni connections

The IU College of Arts and Sciences organizes Alumni events. Check out as well the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

The Department of Linguistics also sponsors an annual Alumni Weekend and publishes newsletters to keep alumni informed of departmental events and accomplishments.

Join and use the IU Alumni Association to remain in touch, network directly, and let others 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

Learn more

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
kherndon@indiana.edu