Sign Language Degree Programs and Classes
You can study American Sign Language (ASL) through degree programs at the associate's and bachelor's levels. Read about the courses you'd take in an ASL program, and check the prerequisites for enrolling, which may or may not include some previous experience with sign language. Review career options for those fluent in sign language.
What You Need to Know
A career in American Sign Language typically requires an associate's or bachelor's degree. When going on to pursue a bachelor's degree, you may find programs that focus more on the culture of the deaf community as well as other sign language courses. Upon graduation, there should be a variety of career options available to you both privately and publicly.
|Programs||Associate's and bachelor's degree programs available in sign language interpretation|
|Courses||Alphabet and language signs, sign-to-voice and voice-to-sign interpreting, internships|
|Future Career Options||School districts, social service or community service agencies, medical facilities|
What Kinds of Degree Programs Are Available in Sign Language?
Sign language is typically available at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels. Most programs focus on American Sign Language interpretation, though a few include instruction on the deaf community's culture, literature and linguistics. Depending on where you attend college, you might be able to complete your degree program at or near a school for the deaf where you can receive in school-sponsored exposure or arrange for practice prior to entering the workforce.
You could find an Associate in Applied Science or a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in American Sign language-English Interpreting degree program.
What About Online Programs?
Some schools offer online courses at the bachelor's degree level. Specific software applications and hardware components are necessary, such as a reliable computer, Microsoft Office and a high-speed Internet connection. Online programs are typically offered in a hybrid format, providing videos that teach you to communicate visually, though you might be required to complete the professional courses in person. Other options could require that you participate in short, intensive sessions at the school between semesters of online study.
What Courses Will I Take?
At the associate's degree level, courses introduce you to tools, technology and culture within the deaf community. Several schools offer you the opportunity to apply your lessons in an internship or independent study. These courses will likely be covered in your associate's degree program:
- Reading and writing techniques
- Alphabet and language signs
- Sign-to-voice and voice-to-sign interpreting
What About Courses in A Bachelor's Degree Program?
In a bachelor's degree program, you might encounter additional teaching not offered at the associate's level. Some schools offer you the chance to earn a bachelor's degree through study-abroad programs, teaching you a foreign sign language. Additionally, internship opportunities allow you to practice communication with students in various settings. Some of these course topics might be explored in your bachelor's degree program:
- Multicultural issues
- Interpretation in specific environments
- French sign language
- Japanese sign language
- Communication skills with the non-hearing public
What Prerequisites Will I Need to Meet?
Both associate's and bachelor's degree programs might require you to have some knowledge of American Sign Language. Depending on the school and program, you might need to take English composition and general psychology courses prior to being admitted. Some bachelor's degree programs require you to be knowledgeable about American Sign Language linguistics, as well as have a familiarity and experience with the deaf community.
What Are My Career Options?
You'll be qualified to work with a number of hearing-impaired individuals, including school children, the elderly and those who need career counseling. You'll be able to find jobs in both the public and private sectors, as well as at state and local government agencies. Potential employers include state employment centers, school districts, social and community services agencies, medical facilities and postsecondary institutions. Academic positions may require special educational training and licensure.