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M.A. in Sign Language Education

Web: Department of ASL and Deaf Studies

Dr. MJ Bienvenu, Co-Program Director
Dr. Raychelle Harris, Co-Program Director
Sorenson Language and Communication Center, Room 1230

The Department of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies offers a M.A. degree in Sign Language Education. This program is designed to prepare future sign language teachers, who will provide exemplary leadership in the sign language teaching field. Students will be introduced to key theoretical and methodological issues involved in sign language instruction including curriculum development, assessment, and incorporating Deaf culture into the language curriculum. In addition, students will undertake a teaching practicum and internship under the supervision of a cooperating teacher. An electronic portfolio is required at the completion of the program, which represents the culmination of the student's academic performance.

Graduates from the MA program in Sign Language Education

I.         Will demonstrate theoretical knowledge and display competence in classroom settings regarding methodological and socio-political issues involved in sign language teaching, curriculum development, and assessment.

II.         Will produce graduate level Sign Language and English texts that demonstrate knowledge of and critical inquiry into key concepts in the Sign Language teaching field.

III.         Will recognize the importance of the Sign Language teacher as a system change agent and apply this in practice utilizing effective leadership, advocacy, consultation, and collaboration to influence change on the individual, group, and organizational and systemic levels.

IV.         Will demonstrate preparedness to seek and obtain employment as a teaching professional in the field of sign language education.

Program Overview

We are a 15-month Summer/Online program.  In typical 2-year graduate programs, there are four consecutive semesters of study.  Our four semesters of study begin with the first semester occurring during the Summer, the second semester during the Fall, third semester during the Spring, and the fourth and final semester during the following Summer.

Students begin the program mid-May online, then arrive on campus for approximately a month for required face-to-face courses during the summer. 

Currently the Certificate in Deaf Studies program is on hold for academic year 2016 - 2017.  The Certificate in Deaf Studies program offers some face-to-face options for students who wish to remain local/on-campus, however, there are limited space in those on-campus classes.  To ensure your spot in on-campus classes during the year, you may want to consider applying to the graduate Certificate in Deaf Studies program in addition to a Masters degree in Sign Language Education for academic year 2017 - 2018 

The final set of summer courses begin online in mid-May, and require on-campus presence for at least a month during the summer. Please contact us for more details at

*The Masters in Sign Language Education program is not a state approved licensure program or part of the Educator Preparation Providers unit accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). If you are seeking employment in K-12 school settings, you would be best advised to contact your state office of licensure and certification to see if our program meets their requirements.


Admissions Procedures and Requirements

Applicants for the M.A. in Sign Language Education 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.

Please complete the following requirements as outlined on the Graduate Admissions website:

Mail the official transcript(s) to: 
Graduate Admissions 
Kendall Hall 101 
Gallaudet University 
800 Florida Avenue NE 
Washington DC 20002

Application opens: August 1st

Deadline for Application Review/Screening:  December 15th 

*Students are admitted to the Sign Language Education masters program once a year, with the program starting online mid-May.

Program Specific Requirements:

● Online Video interview.  The direct link for the online video interview will be given to you after you have officially applied to the program. 

● ASLPI result of 4 or above for teachers of ASL, or 3+ or above for teachers of other signed languages. Please contact ASL Diagnostics and Evaluation Services (ASL-DES) to schedule an ASL Proficiency Interview (ASLPI).  Please visit their website at

You are required to submit evidence of your American Sign Language Proficiency Interview (ASLPI) result from ASL-DES. Please send the documentation of your ASLPI score to the Graduate Admissions Office at: Other types of sign language proficiency interview scores will not be accepted. 

Program Equipment

The MA-SLED program is primarily an Apple/Mac-based degree program.  All courses require quality bilingual Sign Language/English submissions.  During the summers (on-campus classes), the department provides a state-of-the-art 24/7 access to lab and filming studios with iMacs, loaner Canon EOS 60D cameras, tripods and professional light kits.  The program expect the same video quality during the online portion of the program - fall and spring semesters, so students are expected to obtain (or ensure access to) necessary equipment prior to starting the program.

Required equipment*:

  • External Harddrive (1 TB or higher)
  • Recording equipment that can record at 1080p or higher (e.g. Canon 60D, 7D, or EOS 5D Mark II and III)
  • Minimum internet bandwidth:  Download speed 25Mbps / Upload speed 10Mbps

Recommended equipment/software:

  • Apple Laptop/Computer with 8GB memory minimum
  • Tripod
  • Light kit
  • Final Cut Pro X
  • Blue/green screen chroma key background (using either a chroma key cloth or paint).

*Equipment specifications subject to change.

Typical Program Schedule: 2015-2016

  • 10 core courses
  • 1 elective course
  • 2 field experiences (practicum and internship)

Summer I - hybrid

9 credits

ASL 709*Sign Language Media Production3
ASL 724Sign Language Linguistics for Sign Language Professionals3
ASL 743Curriculum Development for Sign Language Education3
  • *  ASL 709 Sign Language Media Production can be waived with extensive media, film and editing experience. Contact us for more details at

Fall I (Online)

ASL 741Methods of Sign Language Teaching3
LIN 510Introduction to First and Second Language Acquisition3

    Spring I (Online)

    ASL 750Assessing Sign Language Skills3
    ASL 752Sign Language Practicum3
    ASL 761Seminar in Sign Language Education - Professional Preparation1
    ASL 762Seminar in Sign Language Education - e-Portfolio1
    ASL 763Seminar in Sign Language Education – ASLTA Certification Preparation 1

      Summer II - hybrid

      ASL 770Sign Language Planning and Advocacy3
      DST 710Literary Traditions in the Deaf Community3
      DST 714**Critical Pedagogy3

        Fall II - online

        ASL 790Sign Language Internship3
        • The practicum and internship site and cooperating teacher must be approved by the department in advance.

        **Courses with a double asterisk are program electives, and course offerings depend on minimum enrollment.  Matriculated Masters in Sign Language Education are required to take at least two course electives (6 credits) to meet program requirements for graduation.


        ASL 709 - Sign Language Media Production (3)

        Visual media has changed the way we communicate. With the advent of new tools and platforms, possibilities of publishing has proliferated, allowing a wider discourse of ideas to be shared with a vast audience. This course explores these opportunities and will introduce students to the tools and skills necessary to produce digital media. Through a hands-on approach, this course will allow students to capture, import and edit digital video in a variety of platforms and genres. Students will participate in a workshop approach to hone their skills at "writing" through digital media.

        • Prerequisites: Matriculation into the M.A. program in ASL & Deaf Studies or permission of the program coordinator.
        • Course Fee: $100.00

        ASL 724 - Sign Language Linguistics for Sign Language Professionals (3)

        This course involves a comprehensive review of current sign language linguistics research with emphasis on how such sign language linguistic research shapes sign language education. Through a literature-based and data-centric approach, students will investigate linguistic structure of signed languages in different areas including phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and discourse. They will then explore how such investigation has been incorporated into the sign language teaching literature and methodology.

        • Prerequisites: Matriculation into the M.A. program in ASL & Deaf Studies or permission of the program coordinator.

        ASL 741 - Methods of Sign Language Teaching (3)

        This course focuses on principled approaches to developing and implementing classroom methods and strategies for language teaching. It also investigates linguistic, psychological and attitudinal factors that influence student-teacher interaction in the classroom. The course examines in detail the most important teaching methodologies that have evolved over the past thirty years. Following a thorough analysis of each methodology, in terms of its theoretical justification and supporting empirical research, students will endeavor to teach and learn some aspect of a sign language through the implementation of each of the methodologies.

        • Prerequisites: Matriculation into the M.A. program in ASL & Deaf Studies or permission of the program coordinator.

        ASL 743 - Curriculum Development for Sign Language Education (3)

        This course examines philosophical and historical roots of language teaching curricula through the lens of sign language teaching. Students will learn about the theoretical complexity of curriculum design intersected with the visual nature of signed languages and the diverse, multicultural nature of Signed Language communities. Curriculum design theories and approaches, systematic and sequential development involving needs assessment, lesson planning and evaluation will be covered. Students will study different Sign Language curricula and have opportunities to develop lessons and units within a curriculum.

        • Prerequisites: Matriculation into the M.A. program in ASL & Deaf Studies or permission of the program coordinator.

        ASL 745 - Sign Language Teaching, Culture and History (3)

        Students in this course will analyze the integration of history and culture in sign language teaching curricula. Language is often taught with cultural and historical anecdotes. The history and culture of the Signed Language communities and Deaf people are very rich and diverse. Decisions behind choosing which historical and cultural content to include in Sign Language courses will be analyzed as well as theoretical implications of history and culture as a separate course of study within a language curricula.

        • Prerequisites: Matriculation into the Masters in Sign Language Education program or permission of the program coordinator.

        ASL 750 - Assessing Sign Language Skills (3)

        This course examines factors involved in developing and administering an assessment of Sign Language students' linguistic proficiency and socio-cultural competence. Topics include the role and function of assessment, assessment validity, assessment reliability, the use of measurement instruments, current approaches to assessing language learning, and an analysis of current tools for testing Sign Language skills and knowledge. Students will develop samples of assessment tools.

        • Prerequisites: Matriculation into the M.A. program in ASL & Deaf Studies or permission of the program coordinator.

        ASL 752 - Sign Language Practicum (3)

        This course is a required professional field experience in the Sign Language Education program consisting a minimum of forty-five (45) observation and/or assisting hours. During this experience, the practicum student observes (and when appropriate, assists) sign language education. A required seminar is conducted regularly to review theoretical and practical applications of teaching, lesson planning, activities and assessment techniques. An important component of this course also includes preparing for the upcoming student teaching internship.

        • Prerequisites: ASL 724, 741, 743, and 750 or equivalent courses; a B grade or above is required.

        ASL 760 - Connecting Sign Language Research to Practice (3)

        This course covers an introduction to research and is designed to develop student ability to locate, review, and critically evaluate sign language-related research studies. In addition, students will be introduced to quantitative and qualitative research methodology and concepts including reliability and validity. Research ethics, particularly for Signed Language communities will be explored. This course also includes techniques on how to develop a reciprocal relationship between research and practice.

        • Prerequisites: Matriculation into the Masters in Sign Language Education program or permission of instructor

        ASL 761 - Seminar in Sign Language Education - Professional Preparation (1)

        This course is designed to prepare students for the academic, sign language teaching job market. Students will develop tailored job application documents such as cover letters and curriculum vitae. Essential resources in searching and screening potential teaching positions will be covered along with effective strategies for a successful interview process.

        • Prerequisites: ASL 709, 724, 741, 743 and 750; or permission of the program coordinator.

        ASL 762 - Seminar in Sign Language Education - e-Portfolio (1)

        This course is devoted to developing a comprehensive electronic portfolio where students will integrate multiple academic projects and assignments completed during the program into a professional website to generate a significant presence in the field.

        • Prerequisites: ASL 709, 724, 741, 743 and 750; or permission of the program coordinator.

        ASL 763 - Seminar in Sign Language Education – ASLTA Certification Preparation  (1)

        This course is designed to prepare students to successfully apply for national ASL teaching certification with the ASL Teachers Association (ASLTA) or its equivalent.

        • Prerequisites: ASL 709, 724, 741, 743 and 750; or permission of the program coordinator.

        ASL 770 - Sign Language Planning and Advocacy (3)

        This course covers language planning and policy in transnational and national sign language communities. A commonality among these communities is that the natural signed language of deaf communities are often threatened by majority languages. Language policies vary, and successful (and not so-successful) activism will be studied. This course will include a study of four main components of language policy and planning: attitude, corpus, acquisition, and status planning. Connections will be emphasized between applied language planning in sign languages, settings in which linguistic advocacy takes place, and theoretical and empirical research in language acquisition and learning.

        • Prerequisites: ASL 724, 741, and 743 or equivalent courses; or permission of the instructor.

        ASL 790 - Sign Language Internship (3)

        This course is the final professional experience in the Sign Language Education program and is a required field experience consisting a minimum of forty-five (45) preparation and teaching hours. During this experience, the student teacher is mentored by an faculty and supervised by an university supervisor. Students with extensive sign language teaching experience, and with approval of the department, may undertake an on-the-job internship placement. A required seminar is conducted regularly to share teaching challenges, celebrate successes and to exchange useful teaching techniques.

        • Prerequisite: ASL 752; a B grade of above is required.

        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 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.

        LIN 510 - Introduction to First and Second Language Acquisition (3)

        This course introduces students to the acquisition of a native language by young children (L1 acquisition) and acquisition of a second language after childhood (L2 acquisition), with a focus on sign languages. The first part of the course covers the important milestones of normal L1 development in phonology, morphology, syntax and pragmatics for both spoken and signed languages. The course also explores how delays in exposure affect the acquisition process, related to the main topics of the second part of the course: critical period effects and L2 acquisition. Readings and discussion throughout the course will reflect the perspective that acquisition studies on a broad variety of languages, both signed and spoken, are crucial for developing accurate theories of language structure and use. Application of concepts from lectures and discussion is developed through student analysis of L1 and L2 data.

        • Prerequisites: For UG students: LIN 301, 302; for MASLED GRAD students: B or above in ASL 724 or permission of the instructor and MASLED program coordinator; for other GRAD students, permission of the instructor.
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