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Certificate in Deaf Studies

Dr. Gene Mirus, Program Coordinator
Sorenson Language and Communication Center, Room 1211

The Graduate Certificate Program in Deaf Studies provides students with historical and theoretical foundations in Deaf Studies.  Students may select courses from an interdisciplinary curriculum in the areas of cultural studies, history, critical theory, philosophy, literature, disability studies, visual culture, critical pedagogy, public policy and advocacy. This 18-credit program will enhance students' knowledge of Deaf Studies, better preparing them to work in fields relating to Deaf communities.


Admissions Procedures and Requirements

Applicants for the Graduate Certificate in Deaf Studies must complete the application procedures and meet the requirements for graduate study at Gallaudet University. Visit the Graduate Admissions web site for more information and a checklist of application requirements. Detailed program information and course descriptions are also available under the 'Overview' and 'Courses' tabs.



First Date for Consideration of Application: No set date
Due Date for Completed Application: No set date

Program Specific Requirements:

  • ASLPI result: 3 or above
  • GPA 3.0 or above
  • Signed (ASL) Digital Video Statement of Interest: Applicants must submit a signed (ASL) video indicating why they want to pursue a Graduate Certificate in Deaf Studies. Signed video essays should be limited to three minutes and should provide a sense of how the Certificate will support the professional and academic interests of the applicant.

One course from the following History Graduate Certificate Program:

HIS 731History of the American Deaf Community3
HIS 732History of Mass Media and the Deaf Community3
HIS 733Topics in European Deaf History3
HIS 734Deaf People in Hitler's Europe3
HIS 735History of Disability in the United States3

Five courses from the following:

DST 703Deaf Cultural Studies3
DST 705Sign & the Philosophy of Language3
DST 710Literary Traditions in the Deaf Community3
DST 712Enforcing Normalcy: Deaf and Disability Studies3
DST 714Critical Pedagogy3
DST 733Theory & Identity in Deaf Studies3
DST 735Visual Studies3
DST 737Public Policy, Advocacy and the Deaf Community3

DST 703 - Deaf Cultural Studies (3)

This course will explore the Deaf World through the various theoretical lens provided by the multidisciplinary field of Cultural Studies. Students will inquire into the diversity, complexities and commonalities of Deaf cultural experiences through research and class projects. This course serves as a cornerstone course that provides students with the theory and content that subsequent courses will build upon.

  • Prerequisites: Matriculated in DST MA Program

DST 705 - Sign & the Philosophy of Language (3)

This core course will examine the role that signed languages have played in the evolution of philosophical ideas concerning human identity, language and the senses. Rather than being seen as marginal areas of concern, signed languages have played an important role in the history of ideas and the philosophy of language. Course content will explore how both hearing and Deaf thinkers, artists, and writers have viewed signed languages throughout history, with special emphasis on 18th and 19th century France and 20th century linguistic and literary theory. This course will provide students with a historical and intellectual background to understand how signed languages, deafness, and deaf education have been constructed throughout history, and how 21st century issues of education, language and identity are informed by the evolution of philosophical perspectives.

  • Prerequisites: Matriculated in DST MA Program

DST 710 - Literary Traditions in the Deaf Community (3)

This course is designed as a thorough exploration of the literary traditions in the Deaf community. Attention will be given to the unique face-to-face nature of signed literature and its numerous traditional forms. Students will become versed in the stylists, poetics, and cultural contexts of signed literature in its live as well as video-text formats.

DST 712 - Enforcing Normalcy: Deaf and Disability Studies (3)

This class will explore the historical, medical, social, political, philosophical, and cultural influences that have constructed the categories of "normalcy", "disability" and "deafness". Building on the writing of Michel Foucault and critical work in the field of disability studies, this course will inquire into the institutions that have enforced standards of normalcy, throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to the present. Primary attention will be paid to the rise of medical authority in the West, the history of eugenics, and contemporary bioethical issues confronting disability and deaf communities.

DST 714 - Critical Pedagogy (3)

This course focuses on the field of inquiry known as Critical Pedagogy, which examines the role that education plays in shaping and transmitting the ideology of those in power. This course also inquires into the use of education as a means of resistance and emancipation. Particular focus will be given to the disparate conditions relating to the education of those populations considered to be in the margins, i.e.,class, race, ethnicity, gender, and disability.

DST 733 - Theory & Identity in Deaf Studies (3)

This course is designed to explore the various issues and complexities inherent in d/Deaf identity constructions. By drawing on contemporary theoretical practices, including Marxism, postcolonialism, feminism, structuralism, poststructuralism, queer theory and phenomenology, students will be encouraged to engage in a critical exchange between Deaf Studies and these theoretical lens.

  • Prerequisite: Completion of MA Deaf Studies Core Curriculum

DST 735 - Visual Studies (3)

This course investigates the role of vision, visual practices (and ideologies) and visual art in the Deaf Community. By drawing on theoretical approaches in the emerging field of Visual Studies this course will explore visual theories and perception, the politics of representation, the cultural practices of architecture, museums, memorials, film, video, sign literature and resistance art. Through discussions, projects, and presentations, students will gain and articulate a critical understanding of the role of vision and art in staking our Deaf space within a phonocentric world.

  • Prerequisite: Completion of MA Deaf Studies Core Curriculum

DST 737 - Public Policy, Advocacy and the Deaf Community (3)

This course examines deaf communities within the context of public policy and advocacy. Students will learn how to articulate their political positions and turn them into effective public administration and political advocacy. By understanding how public administration works and how it interacts with public policy development, both theoretically and practically, students can identify how political advocacy in the deaf community can be more effective. Students will map out a three-year advocacy plan for a national organization serving deaf and hard of hearing people.

  • Prerequisite: Completion of MA Deaf Studies Core Curriculum

HIS 731 - History of the American Deaf Community (3)

This course will introduce students to the history of the American Deaf community. While recent studies in social history have challenged our notions of race, class, and gender, historians have not yet fully addressed a fundamental component in our historical identity: physical ability and its underlying concept of normality. A close study of Deaf history offers one approach to this issue, and students will confront some of the specific issues facing this minority group. Particular attention will be paid to the ways in which deafness has been interpreted within the mainstream community, as well as how the Deaf people expressed and preserved their cultural identity. By studying the changes in this group and its relation to hearing society, this course also raises broader issues of cultural identity in the United States.

HIS 732 - History of Mass Media and the Deaf Community (3)

This is an historical survey of the mass media (print, film, and television) as sources and interpreters of deafness and deaf people within the context of U.S. social and cultural history. This class also will examine historical changes in the products of mass media within the deaf community and offer ways of critiquing media sources.

HIS 733 - Topics in European Deaf History (3)

This course will cover a variety of important topics in the history of the Deaf in Europe from the Eighteenth Century to the present, covering significant events, movements, issues, and perspectives on deafness in Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and Italy. Topics may vary each time the course is taught, based on emerging scholarship and its availability in English translation. Specific topics may include the medieval origins of modern cultural assumptions; changing attitudes and ideas about Sign Language in the Enlightenment; Abbe de l'Epee and other early educators of the Deaf; The Congress of Milan; The Braidwoods; Eugenics and Deafness; the evolution of education for the Deaf in Europe; Deaf People in Hitler's Europe; Modern Deaf Liberation Movements; etc.

HIS 734 - Deaf People in Hitler's Europe (3)

This course will cover a series of important topics in the history of the Deaf people in Europe living under Hitler's dictatorship. Topics may vary each time the course is taught, based on emerging scholarship and its availability in English translation. Topics will include the nature of Nazism and the Holocaust; the deaf community in 1933; deaf Nazis; eugenics, sterilization and the "T-4" Program; the fate of deaf Jews in Europe.

HIS 735 - History of Disability in the United States (3)

This course will address the meaning of disability in America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This is a cultural study of disability, and will confront the social construction of disability, its representation and changing meaning in society. By challenging common social assumptions, and expanding social historical studies of marginalized groups, this course also refocuses the study of such major themes in history as nativism, the role of media, community histories, eugenics, gender roles, the idea of progress, and the perception of normalcy.

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