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The Association for Computational Linguistics describes computational linguistics as the scientific study of language from a computational perspective.

Computational linguistics (CL) combines resources from linguistics and computer science to discover how human language works. Computational linguists create tools for critical tasks such as machine translation, speech recognition, speech synthesis, grammar checking, and text mining.

Top 10 Online Computational Linguistics Graduate Programs 2020
#1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA
#2 Stanford University Stanford, CA
#3 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
#4 Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA
#5 University of California -- Berkeley Berkeley, CA
#6 Princeton University Princeton, NJ
#7 University of Michigan -- Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
#8 Columbia University New York, NY
#9 Cornell University Ithaca, NY
#10 Yale University New Haven, CT

Typically, computer science (CS) departments at colleges and universities offer computational linguistics as a specialization, though some linguistics departments also offer it. Some CS departments don't offer CL as a formal specialization, but qualified students can often work with faculty to create their own focus area.

Computational linguistics graduate students take computer programming, math, and statistics courses. They examine subjects such as semantics, computational semantics, natural language processing, models in cognitive science, and phonology.

Featured Online Schools

Best Online Computational Linguistics Graduate Programs

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    A top-ranked private institution focused on technology, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a doctorate in linguistics that lets students design their own focus area. Since the 1960s when Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle led the linguistics program, MIT has garnered international recognition for its research and scholarship.

    After meeting coursework requirements, linguistics students take a three-part general exam, including completing two workshop subjects during coursework, writing two research papers, and passing oral examinations. The requirements ensure that students build broad research strengths in linguistics before focusing on their dissertation.

    Program topics and areas of learning at MIT include:

    • Experimental linguistics
    • Computational linguistics
    • Computational modeling of language learning

    Applicants must submit a statement of purpose, academic transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a writing sample. The writing sample should reflect the applicant's ability to conduct scholarly research. Recommended samples include research reports, papers, and theses. All applicants must also provide a sample research summary of their proposed dissertation project.

  2. Stanford University
    Location

    Stanford, CA

    At Stanford University, the Stanford Natural Language Processing (NLP) Group brings together faculty and graduate students in linguistics and computer science to advance the science of computer processing of human languages. Members of the group conduct research on computational linguistics, human language technology, and machine translation.

    Graduate students can join the group by gaining admission to the Ph.D. in linguistics program or master's in computational linguistics program. Stanford's linguistics department lets graduate students create an individualized program of study, prioritizing flexibility.

    Program topics and areas of learning at Stanford include:

    • Computer science with a focus on computational linguists
    • Linguistics with a focus on computational linguists
    • Natural language processing
    • Machine translation

    The Ph.D. program receives around 150 applications annually and admits seven students. Both the Ph.D. and master's programs require applicants to submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, a resume, and GRE scores.

  3. Harvard University
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    At Harvard University, graduate students can pursue a focus in computational linguistics through graduate programs in applied computation. The Institute for Applied Computational Science comprises graduate students and faculty focused on applied computational methods, including computational linguistics. The institute emphasizes interdisciplinary collaboration.

    Graduate students can choose from several degree options, including two master's degrees in computational science and engineering (CSE), which let students complete independent research projects focused on computation applications. Students can earn a one-year master of science in CSE or a two-year master of engineering in CSE.

    Program topics and areas of learning at Harvard include:

    • Data science
    • Computational science and engineering
    • Computational linguistics
    • Machine learning
    • Natural language processing

    Students interested in computational linguistics can strengthen their skills through a capstone graduate course, which asks students to apply concepts like machine learning to solve real-world problems.

  4. Carnegie Mellon University
    Location

    Pittsburgh, PA

    At Carnegie Mellon University, the Language Technologies Institute (LTI) trains graduate students in natural language processing, computational linguistics, information extraction, and machine learning. Students can earn a Ph.D. in language and information technology or a master's degree in language technology, intelligent information systems, artificial intelligence, or computational data science.

    The two-year master's in language technology incorporates two summers of research. The master's in intelligent information systems lets students concentrate on human language for language technologies, language technology application, or machine learning for language technologies. Doctoral students spend two years completing coursework before conducting research under a faculty advisor.

    Program topics and areas of learning at CMU include:

    • Language and information technology
    • Language technology
    • Intelligent information systems
    • Artificial intelligence and innovation
    • Computational data science

    Applicants must submit GRE scores, official transcripts, a current resume, a statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation. The five LTI graduate degrees let students choose a computational linguistic master's or doctoral degree aligned with their career goals.

  5. University of California -- Berkeley
    Location

    Berkeley, CA

    One of the top-ranked public institutions in the world, the University of California, Berkeley benefits from its proximity to Silicon Valley. Graduate students can pursue a doctorate in linguistics with a focus on computational linguistics through the Berkeley Linguistics Graduate Program. The program incorporates computational and experimental methods and linguistic research into the curriculum.

    During their first year, graduate students complete foundational coursework in areas like phonology and cognition. Doctoral classes in experimental phonetics; psycholinguistics; and language, computation, and cognition train students for research in their focus area. After completing coursework and passing qualifying exams, doctoral students must research, write, and defend a dissertation.

    Program topics and areas of learning at Berkeley include:

    • Linguistics
    • Computation and experimental methods
    • Computational linguistics

    Applicants must submit letters of recommendation, transcripts, a writing sample, and admissions essays. Berkeley's linguistics graduate program admits about 10% of applicants, making it highly competitive.

  6. Princeton University
    Location

    Princeton, NJ

    At Princeton University, graduate students can pursue a master's or doctoral degree with a focus on computational linguistics, natural language processing, or machine learning through the Department of Computer Science. Graduate students take coursework in machine learning, algorithms, and artificial intelligence, with the ability to conduct independent research in an area of interest.

    The Center for Statistics and Machine Learning (CSML), established in 2014, brings together faculty and graduate students working on statistics, machine learning, and the data sciences. An interdisciplinary group, graduate students affiliated with CSML study methodological challenges in fields like computational linguistics.

    Princeton also offers a graduate certificate in statistics and machine learning to complement departmental graduate programs. Students take courses in artificial intelligence, computer systems, and computational theory. The certificate helps linguistics and computer science students pursue machine learning research.

    Program topics and areas of learning at Princeton include:

    • Computational linguistics
    • Natural language processing
    • Machine learning
  7. University of Michigan -- Ann Arbor
    Location

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Graduate students at the University of Michigan can pursue a computational linguistics research area through the Department of Linguistics. The department enrolls over 30 doctoral students. In the computational linguistics research area, graduate students examine the intersection of computer and human language. In addition to machine translation and speech recognition, learners study computational models of language processing.

    Doctoral students complete coursework on topics like phonetics, phonology, syntax, and semantics. All doctoral students take at least two courses outside the department to promote an interdisciplinary approach. After passing qualifying exams, doctoral students complete a dissertation under the supervision of faculty.

    Program topics and areas of learning at U-M include:

    • Computational linguistics
    • Computational discovery and engineering
    • Machine translation
    • Speech recognition
    • Information extraction

    Prospective doctoral students must submit an application, a statement of purpose, a personal statement, and official transcripts. The linguistics department also requires three letters of recommendation and a written work sample.

  8. Columbia University
    Location

    New York, NY

    At Columbia University, master's and Ph.D. students can pursue focus areas in natural language processing and spoken language processing through the Department of Computer Science. In these areas, learners study computational approaches to text and speech analysis and generation, examining machine translation, language generation, and question answering in multiple languages.

    Coursework covers topics like language modeling, information extraction, and the role of linguistic concepts in language processing. Computational linguistics students can work with the Columbia NLP Group or the Center for Computational Learning Systems, interdisciplinary research groups that let students advance their training in a focused field.

    Program topics and areas of learning at Columbia include:

    • Natural language processing
    • Machine learning
    • Information extraction and data mining
    • Machine translation
    • Information extraction, data mining
    • Machine translation

    Applicants must submit research-oriented reference letters, GRE scores, and transcripts.

  9. Cornell University
    Location

    Ithaca, NY

    An Ivy League institution, Cornell University offers graduate degrees through the Linguistics Department. The department's strengths in computational linguistics, phonology, and language documentation prepare graduates for computational linguistics jobs. The Cornell Computational Linguistics Lab supports graduate students conducting theoretical and applied works on computational modeling.

    The research group in neurolinguistics and psycholinguistics applies computational linguistics models to study the cognitive neuroscience of language. In addition, the Cornell Natural Language Processing Group brings together graduate students and researchers in computer science, information science, and linguistics.

    Linguistics students take courses in computational linguistics, natural language learning, and neurolinguistics. The computer science department also hosts a natural language processing seminar and offers coursework in advanced language technologies, providing an interdisciplinary environment for computational linguistics students

    Program topics and areas of learning at Cornell include:

    • Computational linguistics
    • Natural language learning
    • Computational phonetics
    • Machine learning
  10. Yale University
    Location

    New Haven, CT

    Consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the country, Yale University dates back to 1701. Graduate students interested in computational linguistics can pursue a Ph.D. in linguistics and join an interdisciplinary research group known as Computational Linguistics at Yale (CLAY). The research group brings together students and researchers studying linguistics, computer science, and cognitive science and machine learning.

    In the CLAY lab, graduate learners study abstract computational models and practical applications in language technology. Current research projects at CLAY include investigations into the representation of grammatical knowledge in neural networks, the construction of practical parsing systems, and learning biases in neural network models. CLAY hosts a weekly meeting to discuss recent research papers and current work by lab members.

    Program topics and areas of learning at Yale include:

    • Computational linguistics
    • Cognitive science
    • Language technology
    • Machine learning

    Applicants must submit information on their interests in research and potential faculty advisors, including interest in CLAY. Graduates typically work in academia or the tech industry.

Best Online Programs

Online Computational Linguistics Graduate Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked the best master's in computer science programs based on acceptance and graduation rates, median ACT/SAT scores for accepted students, and average earnings of graduates, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

To determine a school's influence, reputation, and faculty strength, we used data from AcademicInfluence.com, which tracks the scholarly publications and citations of professors, graduate students, and alumni of the ranked universities.

Natural Language Processing

Both computational linguistics and natural language processing (NLP) apply formal training in linguistics, computer sciences, and machine learning. NLP allows computers to understand, analyze, and derive meaning from human language in an intelligent and useful way. NLP professionals organize and structure knowledge to perform tasks such as translation, text segmentation, and speech recognition.

Both computational linguistics and natural language processing (NLP) apply formal training in linguistics, computer sciences, and machine learning.

NLP systems, with their ability to analyze language for meaning, perform tasks such as correcting grammar, automatically translating languages, and converting speech to text. NLP allows machines to communicate with people on conventional language-based terms, which makes it an important factor in cognitive computing.

Data scientists use NLP for log analysis of security models, risk management and regulatory compliance, and demand forecasting. Companies use NLP to improve the accuracy of documentation, enhance the efficiency of documentation processes, and identify the most pertinent information in large databases.

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How to Get Into Computational Linguistics

Most computational linguistics jobs require at least a master's degree. To pursue a master's degree, candidates must first hold a bachelor's degree. While several undergraduate majors prepare students for graduate study in computational linguistics, a bachelor's in linguistics or computer science provides ideal training for a master's program.

Certain undergraduate courses may help students gain admission to a master's program, such as courses in morphology, semantics, and statistics. Undergraduate classes in artificial intelligence and machine learning also prepare graduates for master's programs in computational linguistics.

Many computational linguistics master's programs set prerequisite requirements for admission. These requirements may include programming knowledge, such as the ability to program in specific languages, like Python, C++, or Java. Many programs also require or prefer applicants to have taken an undergraduate linguistics course, statistics or probability class, and foreign language courses.

Most graduate programs require a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and transcripts. They may also ask applicants to complete a skills assessment or provide samples of their academic work.

Computational Linguistics Careers

Computational linguistics is the most commercially viable branch of linguistics. Computational linguists can work for high-tech companies, creating and testing models for improving or developing new software in areas such as speech recognition, grammar checkers, and dictionary development. They can also work in computer-mediated language learning and artificial intelligence or in research groups at universities and government research labs.

Examples of Companies That Employ Computational Linguists

  • Alelo
  • Apple
  • Expert System
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Intel
  • Lingsoft
  • Lionbridge
  • Microsoft
  • North Side
  • Nuance
  • Oracle
  • SDL
  • Sensory
  • SRI STAR laboratory
  • Systran
  • Vantage Linguistics
  • VoiceWeb
  • Yahoo

Computational Linguistics Jobs and Salaries

Below are some common careers and average salaries for graduates with a master's degree in computational linguistics.

Career and Salary Info for Master's in Computational Linguistics Graduates
Career Median Salary
Computational Linguist $81,000
Data Scientist $96,000
Linguist $68,000
Research Scientist $79,000
Machine Learning Engineer $111,000
Source: PayScale

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