Research Opportunities for Linguistics Majors

Opportunities at Yale

Professor Claire Bowern

I regularly have paid positions to work on various aspects of historical linguistics, typology, and language documentation, particularly in relation to Australian languages. Current projects include work on color terms, flora and fauna borrowing, how kinship terms change, how numeral systems evolve, and how sound systems differ. Students work on a project for an entire year, ideally taking it through from developing the research question to writing a journal article.

Several undergraduates have published articles resulting from their research projects. The lab meets regularly and includes both undergraduate and graduate students. Further information about grant activities can be found at

Both paid positions and independent study are an option. The projects are designed to make the most of students’ backgrounds, so as such, there is no compulsory background preparation; however, the students who have got the most out of their research projects have taken one or more of the following classes: historical linguistics, Australian languages, field methods, or a class in evolution.

Please contact me in the spring if you’re interested: claire.bowern@yale.ed

Professor Bob Frank

Computational linguistics applies the tools of computer science to the study of human language. My own work, and that of students with whom I work, focuses on questions ranging from the theoretical (why is human grammar structured in the way that it is?) to the psychological (how can we build a computational model of language acquisition or sentence processing?) to the applied (what role can ideas from formal linguistics play in the construction of systems for natural language processing tasks such as summarization, parsing or machine translation?).  Students are involved in existing projects, or work with me  to develop new directions for research.  Students who work with me typically come with solid programming and math skills and/or background in linguistic theory (especially syntax and semantics).

In addition to involvement in research projects, undergraduates also participate in the Computational Linguistics at Yale (CLAY) group.  This inter-departmental group, which includes undergraduates, graduates and faculty, meets weekly, to talk about on-going research by group members, and also to explore topics of interest to the group at large. 

If you are interested in becoming involved, or if you have any questions about this area, contact me, Bob Frank, at

Professors Larry Horn, Jim Wood and Raffaella Zanuttini  

People often think of variation in American English in terms of lexical items or phonology. For the last several years, the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project has been devoted to exploring variation in grammatical constructions. You might can visit our website to get a sense of what people are working on anymore:

Our group consists of undergraduate, graduate students and faculty.  We meet every other week, discuss constructions we ‘re interested in and think about how they relate to what we know about English grammar.  We collaborate in preparing the pages that make up our website, as well as in working out analyses for the phenomena we study.

For more information contact Jim Wood at or Raffaella Zanuttini at

Professor Maria Piñango

At my lab students have participated at a least two levels of responsibility:

1) Paid research assistant. This usually takes place in the summer, and the student gets some exposure to lab work while participating in one or two of the ongoing projects assigned by the lab director. No previous experience is generally required but a strong commitment to research is expected.

2) Rotation research fellow. This entails specific participation in an ongoing research project, or a project that is about to begin. This is generally not a paid position because here the objective is for the student to obtain specific research experience. So, there is a lot of training involved, and the student is expected to do some written work at the end of the project. This possibility is usually done as a directed research course. In this case, even though lab experience is not required, some basic background in linguistic theory is, and an ability to read and comprehend primary literature on fundamental issues in experimental linguistics is expected. 

So, in general, the students who do rotations or are hired for pay in the lab have a keen interest in syntax and semantics (the domain foci of the lab) and would like to explore the experimental side of those subfields. 

For more information please contact Maria Piñango at

Professors Maria Piñango

We have an ongoing research project that seeks to understand how semantic phenomena and semantic composition can be understood in terms of the mind and the brain. Students who are interested in getting research experience in psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics are invited to apply to get a chance to do a rotation in the lab. These start as unpaid positions and depending on your commitment, investment, and contribution may transition into paid positions.

Recommended background for working in the lab (at least one the following)

  • Language and Mind
  • Semantics
  • Morphology/Syntax 
  • Neurolinguistics
  • Historical Linguistics
  • Any seminar taught by Piñango

For more information please contact Pinango at

Professor Jason Shaw

Both paid positions and independent study options are available in the phonetics lab starting in summer 2017. Students gain hands-on training in designing, running and analyzing experiments, including Electromagnetic Articulography and Ultrasound experiments to investigate speech articulation and eye-tracking to investigate the time course of speech perception.

Helpful background includes coursework in phonetics, phonology, statistics, signal processing and cognitive psychology (particularly experimental methods).

Interested students should contact for more information.

Haskins Laboratories (

Scientists at Haskins Laboratories conduct research on spoken and written language and the biological basis for language and reading. Take a look at the website of individual researchers, see what they are working on, maybe even read a paper they wrote, and contact them directly to ask for a research opportunity. You can attach your CV and you should include a little bit of relevant background in your email (for example, mention your major if you have decided on it and courses you have taken that might be relevant to the project you are emailing about).

Job Opportunities

Summer research opportunities at other institutions

Some are broad undergrad research programs where one applies to a certain lab, for example in the psychology or linguistics department. Some are nominally Neuroscience or even Biological science programs, but the neuroscience labs often veer into

Summer 2018 Employment Opportunities

Linguistics Instructor and Teaching Assistant at John Hopkins

CTY offers challenging academic programs for highly talented elementary, middle, and high school students from across the country and around the world. We are currently seeking highly motivated and qualified candidates to work in our summer programs. Information regarding employment and our summer programs can be found at

We are currently seeking individuals to teach or TA the following course:

·         Linguistics (grades 7 and above)

Why teach for CTY?

  • opportunity to teach motivated and talented students a subject they love
  • limited class size (maximum of 18 students) ensures a low student-teacher ratio
  • all classes are taught by both an instructor and a teaching assistant
  • opportunity to work in an environment with colleagues who share similar interests
  • competitive salary plus room and board at our East and West Coast residential sites

2017 Program Core Dates*

  • Session 1: June 21 - July 14, 2018
  • Session 2: July 14 - August 4, 2018

*Some sites run one week later than these dates. For a full list of locations and dates, please

Terms of Employment

  • Starting salary for two sessions is $4,800 - $6,000 for instructors and $2,400 for TAs
  • Room and board are provided at residential sites. (Linguistics is only offered at our residential sites.)

Desired Qualifications

·         Teaching assistant candidates are generally graduate or undergraduate students with experience tutoring or as a college-level TA.

         Instructor candidates generally have independent classroom teaching experience and are graduate students or faculty.

More Information



The Language Learning Lab at Boston College (L3@BC)

Directed by Dr. Joshua Hartshorne, is seeking undergraduate research assistants for Summer 2018. Students who desire more research experience and seek opportunities to contribute to various stages of the scientific process are encouraged to apply here. Application deadlines is February 1, 2018.

Internship details:

·The program will last 10 weeks (tentatively June 11 - August 17, 2018).

·The position is full-time (up to a 40 hour work week).

·The lab is located on the main campus of Boston College, which allows full access to the many opportunities in the city of Boston.

·This is a paid position. Each intern will receive a stipend for the summer ($11/hour).


·Students should be current undergraduate students with a major in Psychology, Computer Science, or a related field.

·Preference will be given to applicants with previous research experience and experience with children.

You can find more information about the position here. Please contact the lab manager with any questions.

The University of Wisconsin – Madison Psychology Research Experience Program (PREP)

is currently accepting applications for the summer of 2018. This summer research opportunity program (SROP) offers a 10-week program of mentored research, with an emphasis on applying tools of data science to problems in psychology and neuroscience. It is tailored for individuals from groups historically underrepresented in our field: racial and ethnic minorities, first-generation college students, individuals from low income families, and individuals with disabilities. PREP covers all travel and living expenses, and offers a modest stipend. In addition to carrying out research at a top-ranked psychology department, participants will also interact with faculty and trainees associated with the NSF-supported LUCID graduate training program (“learning/understanding/cognition/intelligence/data science”). LUCID brings together expertise and resources from engineering, computer science, education psychology, and psychology, and offers such opportunities as bootcamps on technical skills (e.g., Matlab coding, multivariate analysis of neural datasets, high-throughput computing), and participation in the end-of-summer eLUCID8 conference ( PREP students can also take advantage of numerous professional development and networking opportunities, and engage with a broader community of >100 students participating in one of the UW–Madison’s many SROPs. **Unique for 2018**: PREP students will have full access to CogSci2018, taking place in Madison July 25-28, 2018.

For more information, please visit:

General inquiries:

Program Director: Brad Postle;

To apply, use the online application:

2018 ETS English Language Learning Summer Institute: Paid Internships Available

Apply here

Deadline: Various

The English Language Learning (ELL) group in the Assessment Development division of Educational Testing Service (ETS) expects to hire approximately 35 interns for the summer of 2018.

Make a Difference in New Haven: TEACH
Apply Here
Deadline: February 12, 2018
SROP (Summer Research Opportunity Program) at the University of Michigan
Apply Here
Deadline: February 9, 2018
University of Pittsburgh Center for Neuroscience SROP
Apply Here
Deadline: February 9, 2018
Internships at MPI Leipzig
Apply Here
Deadline: Various Dates
NYU Center for Neural Science Summer Internships
Apply Here
Deadline: March 15, 2018
Stanford Center for the Study of Language and Information Summer Internship Program 2017
Apply Here
Deadline: February 26, 2018
University of Oregon Summer Program for Undergraduate Research
Apply Here
Deadline: Late March
UPenn Summer Undergraduate Internship Program
Apply Here
Deadline: February 1, 2018
Yale Linguistics Boot Camp in Language Documentation
Apply Here
Deadline: January 31, 2017
Undergraduate Workshop in Cognitive and Brain Sciences
Apply Here
Deadline March 1, 2018
Kavli Summer Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience
Apply Here
Deadline: TBA
Summer School in English Corpus Linguistics
University College London
Apply Here
Registration Dates: Various dates
CoLang 2018
University of Florida
Apply Here
Deadline 2018
Find out how some of our Linguistics Majors have spent part of their summers over the past few years.
Here are some  brief summaries of their experiences:

Katie Martin. In the summer of 2017, I worked part-time as a research assistant at Boston University’s Phonetics, Multilingualism and Acquisition lab ( Although I had an unpaid position, there are also paid RA positions if you apply earlier in the year than I did! I worked on a research project headed by Dr. Charles Chang, on Southeastern Pomo, an endangered language of California, and other student RAs worked on projects involving Korean-English bilingual children’s phonological perceptions and Asian-American sociolinguistics. Mostly, I annotated Southeastern Pomo elicitations using Praat, but the lab also had RAs finding study participants and collecting data.

Will Merrill. I spent the summer of 2017 as a full-time intern at the the Language Learning Lab at Boston College. The program lasted ten weeks, and I received a $4000 stipend. There were six other college-age interns in the lab, and most of the interns were working together on team projects, although I was assigned a project where I was the only intern working under a senior lab member. Still, it was nice being able to work with other students and there were plenty of lab social events where we were able to hang out together.

In general, the lab investigates questions related to language acquisition through the lens of developmental psychology. They aim to do this via experiments that collect large amounts of data on the internet. For example, they run a word game website that collects quiz scores and demographic information from millions of participants, and they have built models from this data to determine the critical period for native language acquisition (i.e. at what age you stop being able to acquire a language natively).

Most of the projects at the lab involve some degree of data analysis and programming, and developing familiarity with these technical skills is a major goal of the internship program. Since I had prior experience with machine learning and natural language processing, the project I was assigned to focused on building neural network models that take a second-language essay as input and try to diagnose fluency and native language of the author. This task was relevant to some of the online experiments investigating language acquisition, and the lab had also received a grant from BC to use it for language placement in their Spanish department.

The project I worked on is still ongoing (and probably will be for the foreseeable future). I know that a BC student took over my portion of the work during the fall of 2017, and I imagine there will be room for other interns to work on it next summer. While programming experience is definitely not a prerequisite of the internship program, I think that the Language Learning Lab is a pretty good place to go if you want to be able to work on a project where you will code. More specifically, there is a lot of opportunity to apply existing machine learning methods to research problems in linguistics. With that being said, I should stress that the lab is using machine learning as a tool for research; they are not aiming to do machine learning research per se.

Margaret Kandel. During the summer of 2014, I had the opportunity to work as a research affiliate at the University of Maryland through the CASL Language Sciences Summer Scholarship program (  I was paired with projects at UMD’s Language Science Center and the Cognitive Neuroscience of Language (CNL) Lab.

At the Language Science Center, I was involved in the preparations for the launch of the online Langscape portal, a linguistic database inherited by the University of Maryland from CASL that was made available as a public-domain resource this past fall (  My responsibilities included designing and authoring a K-12 Teacher’s Manual to the site, using the Langscape data to develop materials for a demo online language-learning program in Kituba through Transparent Language Online, working with the web developer to improve site usability and design, composing text for the demo site, recording demo videos for a presentation at the 2014 ACL conference, as well as researching potential collaborators and copyright information.

At the CNL Lab, I was involved with two psycholinguistic studies.  The first investigated how native English speakers process wh-dependencies and resumptive pronouns.  I helped execute an online sentence-completion task aiming to reveal if a resumptive pronoun within a syntactic island can be used to satisfy a gap dependency.  I worked with my supervisors to develop the experimental materials used in the study, set up the experiment online, devise a coding schema to analyze the results, and code the results.

The second study examined the theory of indirect learning as a language acquisition strategy using the That-trace Effect as a case study.  I annotated the relevant syntactic forms in several corpora of Italian child-directed speech that were then compared to corpora of English and Spanish child-directed speech to ascertain if there is enough evidence in a child’s linguistic input to determine whether or not their language displays the effect.


Tom McCoy. For the past two summers (2013 and 2014), I have worked full time at the Language Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. I am from Pittsburgh, so working at Carnegie Mellon allowed me to spend the summer at home while still doing something productive. I enjoyed this arrangement quite a bit; it gave me an interesting and enjoyable job, and there were virtually no living expenses since I lived at home.

During both summers, my projects focused on making computational tools for under-resourced languages (i.e., languages that have a fair number of speakers but that do not have many linguistic resources available). In the first summer I developed a finite state transducer to serve as a morphological analyzer for Kinyarwanda, and in the second summer I worked on a tree-to-string transducer to transduce English parse trees to Malagasy sentences.

These experiences were not part of any specific program; rather, once I had decided that I would like a linguistics-related job close to home, I simply asked around to find professors who would hire me. I highly recommend this method to anyone else who wants to do something with linguistics over the summer but who also wants to stay at home with family.  The specifics of the experience may vary with regards to features like wages and office space, but many professors at many universities will be eager to take on summer workers.

One way to find an employer is to ask your Yale professors if they can put you in touch with any colleagues at the university of your choice. Even if none of your Yale professors have acquaintances at the school where you want to work, you can still try emailing professors directly. Relatively few undergrads are applying for summer jobs in linguistics, so most professors will be thrilled to hear from people interested in coming to work for them.

Phoebe Gaston. In summer 2012 I participated in the University of Michigan’s Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP), which is an eight week, fully funded, intensive research experience meant to serve as preparation for graduate school. I was paired with a faculty mentor who was the director of the Language and Literacy Lab in the Department of Psychology, and spent my 8 weeks as an intern in that lab. The purpose of the program is to have interns not only assist with the daily workings of the lab but also to develop and execute their own research project. I helped design working memory and language localizer tasks for a new fNIRS study on child bilingualism, assisted with behavioral testing and scoring and database work, and helped work toestablish experimental protocols for a new fNIRS lab at UM’s Center for Human Growth and Development. SROP also requires you to attend weekly seminars on the graduate school application process and preparing for professional life, and pays for you to take a Kaplan GRE prep course while you’re in Ann Arbor.
Hannah LaPalombara. In summer 2012, I spent eight weeks doing linguistic research in Kununurra, a small outback town in Western Australia. I received funding from Yale fellowships to volunteer at Kununurra’s language center, Mirima Dawang Woorlabgerring Language and Culture Centre (MDWg). The linguists and language workers at MDWg focus on the documentation, preservation, and instruction of two closely related indigenous Australian languages, Miriwoong and Gajirrabeng. My tasks at MDWg included analyzing older recordings of Garjirrabeng speakers, assisting Aboriginal language workers with writing and editing Miriwoong texts for publication, recording speakers while out in the field, and helping create lesson plans for Mirwoong languageclasses. I also developed an individual research project on the local creole language, Kimberley Kriol. I worked with Aboriginal subjects to make a series of recordings of Kriol, which I brought back with me to use for future research. I was given the opportunity to work at MDWg through a friend and colleague of Associate Professor Claire Bowern, whose lab on indigenous Australian languages I have been working in for nearly two years. Although MDWg does not provide funding for the position, they
are always looking for more volunteers. Their website can be found here:
A description of fellowships offered by Yale can be found on the Yale Office of Fellowship Programs (OFP) website.
Zach Maher. I spent the summer of 2012 as a full-time intern at the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, which is an organization that fosters collaboration of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, mostly inthe fields of psychology, computer science, and linguistics. The program lasted eight weeks, and I received a $4000 stipend, in addition to free housing and $600/month for food. Everyone is paired with a faculty mentor from CMU or Pitt and generallyworks more directly with a graduate student or post-doc. All of the work is at least tangentially related to education, and I was placed at Charles Perfetti’s Psychology of Reading lab, where I helped to develop an experiment to tease apart semantic,phonological, and orthographic processing in reading. Other students in the program had assignments related to second language acquisition, natural language processing, and use of “virtual peer” tutors who code-switch between African-American English and “Standard” English. We also attended weekly seminars where different work in the science of learning was presented and had a poster session at the end of our time. I should note that while I had the chance to contribute conceptually to the project, many of the interns were assigned more mundane tasks like designing stimuli, running subjects, and analyzing data that had already been collected.
More information can be found at the following link:
Also, in looking for opportunities, I recommend, which is where I
discovered this internship.