Yale College introduces a new combined major in Computing and Linguistics

Gavin Gerrett, Photographer Editor

This fall, Yale College is offering a new combined major in Computing and Linguistics to students interested in the computational study of human language.

Led by the new Director of Undergraduate Studies Robert Frank, the major will require students to undertake coursework in four core areas: mathematics, statistics, linguistics, and arithmetic. Students have the option to complete either a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science program, where the Bachelor of Arts program requires 11 credits beyond the core requirements and the Bachelor of Science program requires 14 credits beyond the core requirements. Regardless of the degree program, all students are required to complete two core courses in mathematics, one core course in statistics, two core courses in linguistics, and two core courses in arithmetic as a postgraduate requirement.

“I’ve noticed a need for this major through my experience working with Yale College students on projects in computational linguistics,” Frank said. “I have found that there is interest from both computer science majors who lack language training and linguistics majors without programming experience. The major comes from a desire to provide a pathway for students to learn about all related areas in one programme.”

Computing and Linguistics join an expanding list of common disciplines that include coursework in computer science. Yale College also offers degrees in computer science, economics, computer science, mathematics, computer science, psychology, computing, and the arts. Other common majors offered to undergraduate students include mathematics, philosophy, physics, philosophy, economics, and mathematics.

This news comes after the university ramped up recruitment in computer science and expanded course offerings in response Standard order. Today, computer science is the second most popular major at Yale College. Total enrollment in computer science courses reached a new record high of 3,260 students for the Fall 2022 semester.

For Hannah Szabo ’25, the major offers the opportunity to pursue a more personalized program of study while also integrating her interests in computer science and the humanities.

“I had been planning to study computer science, but had always been particularly interested in natural language processing [natural language processing], so this major really fits my interests,” Szabo said. “One of the most exciting ways to connect computer science and the humanities is through computational linguistics. Also, I like the idea of ​​being in a smaller major that is somewhat personal.”

Like other common majors, Computing and Linguistics will allow students to complete prerequisites for two different subjects without the need for a double major, which requires approximately twice as many courses.

Major requirements for the new major include proof-based discrete mathematics, linear algebra and probability, and an introduction to computer science, data structures, and programming techniques. On the linguistic side, students must take courses related to phonology, grammar, and semantics.

William Palmer 26 explained that he is interested in using computational methods to better understand what it means to be human.

“I wasn’t really sure what to major in, but I knew I was going to take a lot of linguistics courses because linguistics is so great at describing the mind and describing what it means to be human,” Palmer said. “I really liked the idea of ​​using computational and mathematical techniques to describe the structure of language and perhaps the structure of the mind.”

According to Frank, a major in computing and linguistics opens up a wide range of opportunities. Students may decide to pursue anything from academia and research to technology, banking, and consulting.

In addition to the coursework offered, students pursuing Computing and Linguistics can also seek research opportunities in Computational Linguistics at the Yale Lab led by Frank and Language, Information and Learning at the Yale Lab led by computer science professor Drago Radev.

Frank emphasized the diversity of research areas open to students in the major. The list of laboratories relevant to the major’s work, which Frank compiled for interested students, included principal investigators of various affiliations including the School of Management, the School of Divinity and the School of Music.

“I am really excited to combine computer science and linguistics because of my deep interest in natural language processing,” said Seth Goldin ’26. “It’s an area where new research is constantly emerging.”

Yale College offers 83 undergraduate majors.

Alex Ye

Alex Ye covers faculty and academics. He previously covered endowment, funding and donations. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, he is a sophomore at Timothy Dwight majoring in applied mathematics.

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