BIU is Home to the World’s Leading Researchers in Linguistics

Led by internationally recognized faculty that bring unique exposure to diverse approaches to the study of human language

At Bar-Ilan University, students learn from the world’s leading researchers in Linguistics, studying both theoretical aspects of linguistics analysis and experimental and corpus-based research methods. Linguistics at BIU provides training both in deep formal theoretical models and in applied and interdisciplinary studies related to fields such as brain science, bilingualism and language impairments.

Students gain a solid background in phonology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics, as well as in more applied areas such as psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics. Studies take place in English, yet the BIU Linguistics degree provides students with the tools for analyzing any human language – English, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, and many others.

Upon completion of the degree, students can explore careers not only in academia but also in teaching (including English as a second language), publishing, speech pathology, and information technology, to name but a few.

BA Literature and Linguistics ( Double Major)

In addition, the double major with Linguistics is offered to students who would like to specialize not only in English Literature but also in Linguistics.  This is an excellent opportunity for those students that would like to utilize a combined knowledge of both fields in their career or continued academic endeavors.

Courses And Descriptions

* Courses in the list provided may be updated at any time.

First year courses
Introduction to Linguistics

This course introduces students to linguistics as a scientific study of human language. The course will focus on major subfields of linguistics: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Language is a complex rule-governed mental system. We will discuss how language is different from animal communication. Students will learn to identify principles shared by all human languages and parameters along which languages differ.

Phonetics and Phonology

The course provides an introducing the study of systems and patterns of sounds and structures in human languages. In Phonetics, we will examine the features of linguistic sounds and their categorization. In phonology, we will examine is the interaction of sounds that result in both universal and language specific processes. Students will acquire basic tools for phonetic and phonological analysis of linguistic data.


This course is an introduction to the generative approach to analyzing sentence structure. Elements of syntactic analysis are introduced: constituents and tree diagrams, arguments and modifiers, thematic roles and the theta criterion, movement and abstract syntactic representations. This course provides the tools for understanding the source of phenomena such as structural ambiguities and the formation of interrogative sentences.


An introduction to the theory and techniques of formal semantics, i.e. to a theory of meaning in natural language. This theory gives interpretation to natural language expressions in a systematic way, by using formal tools of logic and philosophy of language.

Second/third year courses
First Language Acquisition

The course focuses on the process of first language acquisition across languages, explaining various phenomena (such as the acquisition of word order, inflections and subordination) from the different theoretical perspectives: developmental psycholinguistics on the one hand and the generative (nativist) theory on the other hand. The course will also give some insight to research methodologies used in this field.

Research Methods in Linguistics

The course introduces students to various methods, tools and techniques used in linguistic research. The course is designed to provide students with a basis for critical reading of scientific reports and basic skills for conducting their own research.


The course introduces concepts, methods, assumptions and findings in psycholinguistic research including language acquisition, processing, disorders, bilingualism and literacy.

Language Emergence & Evolution

Only one species, the human species, has a communicative system of the complexity of human language. In this course on Language Emergence and Evolution, we explore various different approaches to language evolution by considering the communication systems that unfold in: (1) pidgin communication, (2) child language, (3) language of trained apes, (4) young emerging sign languages, (5) iterative learning experiments, and (6) computational models of language simulation.


Languages exhibit variation which is systematically constrained by a number of social factors. In this course on Sociolinguistics we discuss 1) the different approaches to sociolinguistic investigation, 2) the classic sociolinguistic theories and findings, and 3) the most important driving forces behind language variation and change.

Advanced Syntax

BA-level elective which is a continuation of 287. This course introduces more advanced topics that form the foundations of modern syntactic theory: functional projections and recent versions of X-bar theory, clause structure and the syntactic representation of argument structure, movement operations and cross-linguistic variations in word order, case, agreement, and binding. Abstract notions such as empty categories (PRO, trace) and non-overt structural representations are developed, with the goal of arriving at a systematic theory of syntax that can not only describe the language but also explain why it has the observed properties.

Advanced semantics

This course introduces tools for capturing compositional interpretation of natural language expressions, so their meaning is systematically derived from the meaning of their syntactic parts and the way they are composed. This is done by introducing the theory of types the lambda calculus for capturing in a precise and a formal way function-argument relations in the syntactic tree. We apply the system to sentences with sentential operators, gradable adjectives, quantifiers and presupposition triggers, and gain interesting insights on puzzles and challenges regarding natural language interpretation.

Meaning and Use

An introduction to concepts in semantics and pragmatics, including model theory, quantification, definiteness, tense, event semantics. The course presupposes an introductory course in basic semantics, and uses minimal formal techniques beyond basic quantification theory.

Atypical Reading Development

The course discusses reading development in children with developmental disorders including dyslexia, developmental language disability (or SLI), ADHD and Autism. The focus is on the interplay between linguistic processing skills and reading development in these populations.

Quantitative Research in Syntax

This seminar deals with work in theoretical syntax which is based not only on the methodology of using informal grammaticality judgments but also on quantitative research methods, and in particular experimental syntax and corpus studies. Through discussions of specific studies we also deal with deeper theoretical questions regarding the nature of abstract syntactic representations and the extent to which different syntactic models are suitable representations of the full range of observed facts.

Psycholinguistics and Research Methods for Graduate Students

The course focuses on clinical aspects of psycholinguistics with an emphasis on speech perception, mental lexicon, language acquisition and language impairments discussing both theoretical and empirical issues from different theoretical perspectives: developmental psycholinguistics, the generative (nativist) theory and the usage-based approach. The course explores methodological issues related to experimental design and statistical analysis of findings in order to prepare graduate students for carrying out experiments in psycholinguistics and writing research papers.

Theoretical Approaches to Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)

This research seminar focuses on language acquisition by children diagnosed for Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), with special emphasis on monolingual verses bi-lingual development in this population, providing the students with hands-on experience in psycholinguistic research, discussing empirical findings from theoretical perspective. The course exposes the students to aspects of lexical development including early words and fast mapping, the acquisition of inflectional and derivational morphology and morphological awareness, the role of memory and other cognitive skills in lexical development, grammatical information in the lexicon, and the contribution of lexical knowledge to narrative abilities.

Acquired language and reading impairments in adults

In this seminar, we discuss different types of acquired language and reading impairments, and review current findings in light of different models of language processing in the brain. We further examine the use of advanced imaging methods, such as structural and functional MRI, in the study of brain reorganization following brain damage. The goals are to deepen our understanding of healthy language organization by identifying selective patterns of language impairments, to discuss patterns of compensation and recovery, and present current research on effective treatment methods.

Introduction to Syntax and Semantics (for graduate students)

A quick and intensive introduction to syntax and formal semantics in generative linguistics, and to the analytical skills it requires. The syntax part studies representation of sentence structure using tree diagrams, constituency tests, X-bar theory, forming yes-no and WH questions by movement, etc. The semantics part studies the benefits and limitations of formal languages (like predicate calculus) as tools to capture interpretation of various operators and quantifiers in natural language, entailments and presuppositions, the semantics-pragmatics interface, etc.

Expressions of additivity and scalarity

The seminar studies the contribution of the particles only and even in English and of their correlates in other languages (Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, etc.). Such particles were intuitively described in the past as making opposite or ‘mirror image” semantic / pragmatic contribution, regarding notions about additivity and scalar ordering. We examine to what extent this ‘mirror image’ intuition is correct and how to formally and precisely capture it.

Autism: Language, Theory of Mind and Cognition

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is a heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulties in social communication and repetitive behavior/ interest. In this seminar we will explore linguistic characteristics of individuals with ASD. We will discuss how atypical language and cognitive development contribute to linguistic theory.

Linguistics of sign languages

The investigation of signed languages is crucial for understanding the properties of language in general. In this seminar on the Linguistics of sign languages, we explore the essential aspects of sign linguistic structure: phonology, morphology, word order and prosody, as well as how they differ or relate to the structure of spoken languages.

Noun phrase semantics

Issues in noun phrase semantics, including definiteness, count/mass, genitive constructions, generalized quantifiers.

Linguistic borrowing: Morphological and phonological aspects

The seminar examines the phenomenon of language contact and borrowing elements form one language to another. It examines the strategies that speakers take in the adaptation of loan items (and lack thereof). This provides direct access to the morphological and phonological processes that are active in the grammar and provides insights on the mechanism of languages and how different types of criteria are taken into consideration.

International School
Bar-Ilan University
Ramat-Gan, Israel 5290002

Tel: +972- 3-738-4245
Email for further information

Program Overview
Program Length: 3 Years
Language of Instruction: English
Priority Application Deadline: July 30, 2021
Admission Requirements:
GPA: 3.1 or above
SAT: 1100 or above with an EBRW score of 600 or above
SAT is waived at a 3.3 GPA or above

Country Code:




The School of Communication at Bar-Ilan University is one of the few academic institutions in the world to offer research and training in International Communications and Public Diplomacy. It aims to empower Israel’s future generation with the knowledge and skills necessary to advocate for Israel across the globe. As a part of the BA program, students are offered the opportunity to immerse themselves in workshops on how to effectively convey messages and build a positive public image for anyone from brands, to themselves. The workshops, offered in areas relating to New Media, Advertising, Public Relations and Broadcast Media, are instructed by individuals considered professionals in their fields.

Why Study Communication

Communication is all around us. We use it every day without even noticing; we maintain personal communications with our family and friends, we consume mass media, and we create and participate in social networks.

Communication studies are intended for those who want to influence and leave their mark on the world, who wish to take part in making tomorrow’s news — today. In order to accomplish that, one has to understand the media: Why is the same topic presently differently from one media outlet to another? What makes Google or Facebook so popular? Which medium is more influential – cinema, TV, radio, internet, or maybe the mobile phone? If you are interested in these questions – your place is with us.

Unparalleled Expertise

Bar-Ilan University has over 30 years of experience in teaching communication, and prides itself with hundreds of B.A. and M.A. graduates. The faculty members of the School of Communication and related units are internationally renowned researchers and lecturers, with extensive experience in all fields of communication: print press, TV, radio, advertising, marketing, public relations, spokesman ship and new media.

Ample Career Opportunities

Our graduates are sought after and well established in all fields of communications, both locally and globally. Many work in advertising or public relations offices, some in radio or TV stations, others in various websites, and a significant number in the press. Many of our graduates are media consultants in government or private offices, while others have chosen to pursue an academic research and teaching career.

During the third year of studies, our BA students can already participate in our internship program, in which they intern in different media organizations such as PR offices, news websites, government offices and others. Through the program, the students gain practical experience in the field and acquire important tools which will assist them in their future careers.

Program Overview

Program Type: Major (25 Credits)
Program Length:
 3 Years
Language of Instruction: English
Admission Requirements:

  • SAT: 1100
    Psychometric: 550
  • 3.5 High School GPA

Application Deadline: Rolling admissions