Not all communication is done orally. American Sign Language is the visual and motor medium of communication for deaf individuals and the deaf culture. Commonly used in the United States, Canada and parts of Mexico, ASL has its own grammatical rules yet does not have any written form.
A major in American Sign Language will allow you to focus on the scholarly and scientific study of the development, structure and use of these languages. Instruction in the syntax, phonology, and morphology are just some of the aspects of this study. Course load for this major includes Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced ASL courses, History and Culture of the American Deaf Community, Art of Translation, Narrative and Poetic Styles in ASL, and Language Development.
In 2020-2021, American Sign Language was the 199th most popular major nationwide with 2,724 degrees awarded. This is approximately the same as the 2,737 graduates the prior year.
Our 2023 Best American Sign Language Schools ranking analyzes 25 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for American Sign Language students. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of ASL programs later in this article.
Students must have good hand-eye coordination and memory as they learn to sign a complete new vocabulary of words and letters as well as learn grammar and syntax. Patience and persistence are critical to learning any language.
Before entering college, you can prepare by taking introductory classes in ASL. It may also be helpful to gain field experience both before and during college, working with the hearing-impaired population. This would allow students to understand this form of communication first hand.
American Sign Language degree applicants generally need have finished high school or their GED. Many schools may also have GPA and SAT/ACT score minimums that must be met. In addition to these basic American Sign Language program qualifications, to serve in some ASL careers, special certification may be required outside of your degree.
There are various different levels of ASL degrees. You can spend many years getting as high as a in American Sign Language to something that takes less time like a . American Sign Language programs can take anywhere between one to four or more years for a full-time student to complete.
|Degree||Credit Requirements||Typical Program Length|
|Associate Degree||60-70 credits||2 years|
|Bachelor’s Degree||120 credits||4 years|
|Master’s Degree||50-70 credits||1-3 years|
|Doctorate||Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation||At least 4 years|
A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to ASL, with approximately 52.1% of workers getting one. Find out other typical degree levels for ASL workers below.
|Level of Education||Percentage of Workers|
|Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree)||11.4%|
|High School Diploma||1.1%|
Most workers in ASL have at least a bachelor's degree. The chart below shows what degree level those who work in American Sign Language have obtained.
This of course varies depending on which ASL career you choose.
Graduates with a degree in American Sign Language can find jobs in a variety of fields. You may become a teacher or professor to deaf or hearing-impaired students, or teach ASL as a second language to hearing students. There is also significant need to teach ASL to adults. You may also choose a career as an interpreter, working for video relaying services, schools, government agencies and healthcare institutions. Some government officials and doctors are fluent in ASL; this decreases the risk of error and allows a firm bridge of communication.
Want a job when you graduate with your ASL degree? American Sign Language careers are expected to grow 11.3% between 2016 and 2026.
The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to American Sign Language.
|Occupation Name||Projected Jobs||Expected Growth|
|Interpreters and Translators||80,300||17.7%|
American Sign Language graduates between 2017-2019 reported earning an average of $32,250 in the 2019-2020 timeframe. Earnings can range from as low as $22,300 to as high as $47,272. As you might expect, salaries for ASL graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.
Salaries for American Sign Language graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top highest paying careers ASL grads often go into.
|Occupation Name||Median Average Salary|
|Interpreters and Translators||$55,230|
With over 365 different ASL degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased ASL school rankings to help you with this.
One of 17 majors within the Foreign Languages & Linguistics area of study, American Sign Language has other similar majors worth exploring.
|Sign Language Interpretation & Translation||1,764|
|American Sign Language (ASL)||935|
|Linguistics of ASL & Other Sign Languages||19|
|Other American Sign Language||6|
|Related Major||Annual Graduates|
|Linguistics & Comparative Literature||8,539|
|East Asian Languages||2,293|
|Classical Languages & Literature||1,428|
Image Credit: By PsiДҐedelisto under License More about our data sources and methodologies.