American Sign Language Degree Online: Courses & Programs

Students can obtain a variety of degrees or certificates in American Sign Language (ASL) online, or they can simply take courses that enable them to communicate with deaf friends and family members. Schools offering Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Kinds of Degrees Are Available?

There are a wide range of ASL degrees available online, including associate degrees, bachelor's degrees and master's degrees. In addition, a variety of courses and programs enable students to obtain certification in ASL interpreting, enhance cultural awareness and prepare students to communicate with or educate members of the deaf community.

Degree LevelsAssociate degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree
Other ProgramsCertificate, graduate-level certificate, non-degree coursework
Length of StudySeveral months to four years
Career OptionsInterpreter, teacher, speech-language pathologist
Median Annual Salary (2018)$49,930 (for interpreters and translators)*
Projected Job Growth (2016-2026)18% (for interpreters and translators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Traditional Degrees Are Available?

Online bachelor's degree programs in ASL take around four years to complete, while shorter programs usually require an associate degree or ASL course equivalency to apply. These programs can allow for focus in areas such as community or educational interpreting, and can include the following coursework:

  • Linguistics of American Sign Language
  • ASL and English contrastive analysis
  • ASL literature
  • Intercultural communication
  • Interpreting in advanced settings
  • Simultaneous interpreting skills

There are also online master's degrees in ASL, which allow interpreters to enhance their skill sets, study in specialized settings - such as healthcare, service learning or legal settings - or learn the skills needed to teach ASL-English interpreting in colleges and universities.

Bachelor's and master's degree programs offered online often have students work in a cohort model to create a supportive community, or require students to attend occasional classes on campus.

What Do Associate Degrees and Certificates Provide?

Associate degree and undergraduate certificate programs can provide online training in understanding, utilizing and interpreting ASL, and enhance cultural awareness of deaf communities. Associate degree programs usually require students to meet general education requirements in addition to completing ASL coursework, and require a total of around 60 credits - compared to around 40 credits for a certificate program. These credits can sometimes be transferred to a four-year college, and coursework can include the following:

  • American Sign Language I through IV
  • Process of communication
  • Principles of sign language interpreting
  • Creative signing

Alternatively, graduate-level certificate programs provide specialized training for students who have already completed a bachelor's degree; subjects can include early childhood deaf education or educating deaf students with disabilities. Some colleges and universities also offer online courses to non-degree students who want to learn the fundamentals of ASL in order to communicate with deaf friends and family members.

What Can I Do with an ASL Degree or Certificate?

ASL degree or certificate holders can find employment as interpreters, teachers or speech-language pathologists, and can work in the following settings:

  • City, county, state and federal agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Legal settings

ASL interpreters who have completed a bachelor's degree in any major can further enhance their credentials by passing an exam to obtain National Interpreter Certification from the Center for the Assessment of Sign Language Interpretation (CASLI).

Interpreters and translators earned a median annual salary of $49,930 in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The same agency found that jobs were expected to grow 18% from 2016-2026 - much faster than the average for other occupations.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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