American Sign Language Schools with Program Information

American Sign Language (ASL) schools educate students about the culture and communication of the deaf community. Many programs are geared towards ASL interpreting and are offered at the certificate, undergraduate, and graduate levels.

How to Select an American Sign Language School

Interpreters need certification and special training, so students should determine their career goals to ensure they select a program that fits their needs. For example, a certificate or associate's degree program won't qualify its graduates for certification. Master's degree programs are rare, and they can prepare students for advanced teaching positions. Most ASL teachers and interpreters hold a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Programs are available at some 2- and 4-year institutions.

When looking at ASL schools, consider the following:

  • Training options range from the certificate through the master's degree level; select a program based on your career goals.
  • Anyone wishing to take the National Interpreter Certification (NIC) exam to become an ASL certified interpreter must hold at least a bachelor's degree in any discipline in addition to being proficient in ASL.
  • Look at what extracurricular activities the school offers, such as seminars, lectures, performances, study abroad options, and studies related to the deaf community.

American Sign Language Program Overviews

Associate's Degree in ASL

Associate's degree programs can't exclusively prepare a student to become an interpreter, but these undergraduate options do provide an introduction to the deaf community and ASL. They're appropriate for someone with a personal interest in ASL or who wants to add ASL skills to other existing professional qualifications. The curriculum spans about two years and includes general education requirements. A high school diploma or GED certificate is required for entry, and some programs require applicants to have an elementary knowledge of ASL. Some courses include:

  • Interpreting theory
  • Role of the interpreter
  • Orientation to deafness
  • Beginning ASL
  • Intermediate ASL

Bachelor's Degree in ASL

ASL is available as both a major and a minor at the bachelor's level of study. Some programs offer interpreting training, while others do not. Graduation requirements may involve completing a practicum, which allows them to gain experience to take the NIC exam. Classes cover:

  • Finger spelling
  • Deaf education
  • Language development
  • Conversational ASL

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in ASL

Post-baccalaureate courses of study are for those who already hold a bachelor's degree and want to learn about ASL. A program's specialty should be considered; some specifically teach interpretation, while others focus instead on language and culture. Prior knowledge of ASL is not always necessary for admission. Students can earn a certificate in approximately two years. Coursework includes:

  • Fingerspelling
  • ASL
  • Child development
  • Interpreting theory
  • Deaf culture

10 American Sign Language Schools

College\University Institution Type
Gallaudet University 4-year, Private not-for-profit
National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology 4-year, Private not-for-profit
Ohio State University 4-year, Public
University of Rochester 4-year, Private not-for-profit
University of New Hampshire at Manchester 4-year, Public
Goshen College 4-year, Private not-for-profit
William Woods University 4-year, Private not-for-profit
St. Petersburg College 4-year, Public
Sinclair Community College 2-year, Public
Phoenix College 2-year, Public

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