The Department of Linguistics is unique in that all students and faculty in the department share an abiding interest in the study of American Sign Language (ASL). The ongoing, innovative research carried out by the linguistics faculty and graduate students is contributing substantially to what is known about the structure and use of sign languages. ASL is not only the subject of faculty and student research, but also the language of communication in the classroom.

Typical linguistics degree programs focus exclusively on spoken languages. In our program, students study both spoken and signed languages, with considerable emphasis on ASL. This provides students with a broad understanding of language with a specialist's understanding of ASL.

The department's M.A. degree program is appropriate for students seeking linguistic knowledge as a foundation for work in such allied professional fields as language teaching, interpreter education, language planning, bilingual education, and language assessment. Students who complete the M.A. program may apply to pursue a Ph.D. in a range of theoretical and applied areas related to sign language in the department's Ph.D. program established in 2002.

The MA and PhD programs are not offered online at this time.


The Department of Linguistics at Gallaudet University trains students at the Bachelor's, Master's and Ph.D. level to describe, analyze, understand and report on the structure, variation, acquisition and use of signed languages and the communities in which they exist. We engage our students with the foundational theories of the field of linguistics with special emphasis on problem solving, analytical thinking, and expository writing and signing. Our goal is to produce graduates who can function as outstanding professionals in academia or in any field or setting in which linguistic knowledge is applied.

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