M.A. in Deaf Studies

MA Program Mission Statement

The Department of ASL and Deaf Studies offers the world's premiere graduate program in Deaf Studies.  Our students become members of a vibrant learning community dedicated to the critique and production of knowledge relating to Deaf communities and their sign languages.

Program Description

The Department of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies offers an M.A. degree that provides an interdisciplinary approach to the field of Deaf Studies. Students engage Deaf Studies through a critical exchange with related fields, including cultural studies, anthropology, history, literature, critical theory, linguistics, philosophy, critical pedagogy, and visual media production. Students complete the core curriculum in their first year of coursework, then select a specific area of concentration for their second year. These include:

For program requirements for each area of concentration, click the links in the right-side menu.

If you would like to receive information about the M.A. in Deaf Studies, please visit the Graduate School Admissions web site and complete the online inquiry form.

Deaf Studies MA Program Learning Outcomes:

Core Curriculum

After the first year of study, students will demonstrate understanding of, and ability to
critique, the following key concepts in Deaf Studies:


  • the broad evolution of philosophical perspectives on signed languages.
  • the history of the American Deaf Community

Cultural Studies:

  • the development of the field of Deaf Studies, within the context of cultural studies.
  • the notions of “ideology” “culture” and “identity.” 
  • the role that the institutions of medicine and education have played in the lives of Deaf people


  • sign language literature produced by the Deaf community
  • the linguistic structures which comprise ASL.

Media Production

  • Video production skills, from script to final editing.

Students will also demonstrate understanding of, and ability to critique the broad evolution of philosophical perspectives on signed languages.

Admissions Procedures and Requirements

Applicants for the M.A. 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 in the Graduate Catalog.



First Date for Consideration of Application: November 15
Due Date for Completed Application: February 15

Program Specific Requirements:

  • Three letters of reference
  • ASL Essay: Personal Statement. In video format, submit a personal statement of interest in the program. This essay will be used for 2 purposes. It will give help us understand your personal interest in our program and will also be used to determine your proficiency in ASL. Why are you applying for this degree? What do you hope to gain from the degree? What are your professional interests after you graduate?
  • On your application (on page A1), please ensure that you note which concentration you are considering: Cultural Studies or Language and Human Rights.
  • Transcripts
  • ASLPI result: 3 or above.
  • GPA 3.0 or above.

Recommended Prior Coursework:

  • Introduction to Deaf Culture
  • Introduction to ASL Structure
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