ASL-English Interpretation, BA

ASL-English Interpretation, BA

Columbia’s nationally accredited ASL-English Interpretation BA program is like none other in the American Sign Language community. Your BA degree—a requirement for a national certification in interpreting—will certainly prepare you for a career; the program has a proven track record of strong employability among graduating students. But as a product of a highly collaborative, creatively-focused arts and media institution, your education opens the door to so much more.

You’ll learn from world-class faculty who are internationally known in the community—for their advocacy of the recognition of ASL as a language and Deaf culture as a cultural identity, and for their roles as prominent Deaf storytellers and artists. Our relationships and status within the Deaf community open the door to a wide range of specializations, from educational and performing arts to community-based interpreting opportunities. After graduation, our grads work: as staff, community and educational interpreters; video relay service interpreters; or artistic interpreters

What to Expect Your First Year

Our program is designed to start with ASL 1. However, if you have previous ASL experience—whether you’re a freshman or a transfer student—you will take a placement test to determine the ASL skills class into which you’ll be placed. You’ll also work with faculty to determine a plan for the rest of your time in the program, which is highly customized depending on your previous ASL experience. In addition to being immersed in ASL classes to develop and perfect your language skills, you’ll take courses in Deaf culture and career opportunities within Deaf communities. You’ll also have the opportunity to take elective courses in your areas of interest, from theatre and art to literature and history. Most importantly, from day one, you’ll be a part of a unique community within Columbia—one that is active in the broader Deaf community as well as in the creative accomplishments that make the college what it is. 

What to Expect Your Last Year

In addition to preparing for your certification and licensure exams, your last year of the program will consist of a two-semester practicum, in which you’ll be paired with licensed interpreters on the job. As a result of our long-standing relationships in the Chicago Deaf community—and those who work closely with the community—you’ll gain invaluable on-the-job experience from professionals who could serve as mentors in your future career.

You’ll also take part in continued intensive language immersion and enjoy exploring your areas of interest in the elective courses of your choice.

Detailed Program Information

Download a Four-Year Plan

For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the Catalog

Real-world Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

Columbia will give you real-world experiences while you’re in school. You’ll be immersed in Chicago’s Deaf community from day one, with opportunities to:

  • Join the ASL Club, a nationally recognized group of dedicated ASL students who are active in the Deaf community
  • Participate in Deaf events in Chicago—such as ASL-only coffee hours, ASL interpreted theater events and ASL improv nights—and volunteer for community-based projects
  • Attend the ASL Silent Retreat, an annual ASL adventure that immerses participants in a fun learning environment away from the classroom. While the retreat changes from year to year, it always provides informative workshops, lively presentations and performances, and team-building activities
What are my internship options?

The ASL-English Interpretation program is designed to provide you with built-in, real-world experience that goes beyond an internship. In your practicum—which is required of all students in the program—you’ll be matched with interpreters who are working in the field, and you will accompany them on the job in a supervised setting. During the first semester, you’ll be placed in a school. In your second semester, you’ll work with a freelance interpreter or in a government or private organization. Your second semester practicum can take place anywhere in Chicago or—when possible—in the state in which you’d like to be licensed. These two experiences allow you to connect with professional interpreters who can serve as mentors as you prepare to launch your interpreting career.


Ready to Apply?

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