Areas of Study


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 website for more information and a checklist of application requirements.

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

  • Online graduate application
  • Goal statements
  • A Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in a relevant field of study: ASL (or other signed languages), Deaf Studies, Linguistics, or Bilingual Education. If a candidate does not possess a degree in a relevant field of study, the following may be considered
    • Candidates who can demonstrate with a transcript of cumulative elective courses taken that are equivalent to a degree in a relevant field of study may be considered
    • A Bachelor’s degree and experience of at least 1,350 hours (approximately 5 years) of language instruction with language courses within secondary or post-secondary institutions may be considered
    • A MASTER Certification from ASLTA may be considered
  • Submission of all official postsecondary transcript(s)
  • A minimum of 3.0 grade point average (on a four-point scale) in all previous undergraduate and graduate study
  • Three names of references

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

-Applications to open on August 16

-Applications to close by the end of February 

*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 sent to you after you have officially applied to the program. The interview can be taken at any day or time and location with high-speed internet.

ASLPI Requirement 

Students who teach ASL will be required to receive a level of 4 from the ASLPI in order to graduate. Students who teach other signed languages will be required to receive a level of 3+ on the ASLPI in order to graduate.

Courses & Requirements

Summary of Requirements

Program Equipment

Studying in the MASLED program involves two important components:

  • online study, which requires high-speed internet and equipment (e.g. laptop or computer) allowing you to access high-speed internet on a consistent and regular basis, and
  • intensive high definition filming and editing using Final Cut Pro X, iMovie, QuickTime and other types of Apple-based software.

Please contact the program for an updated list of required and recommended equipment at

*Equipment specifications subject to change.

Typical Program Schedule

  • 9 core courses
  • 4 required elective courses
  • 2 field experiences (practicum and internship)

Summer I (Hybrid - Online, then On Campus) (15 Credits)

ASL 709: Sign Language Media Production can be waived with extensive media, film and editing experience. Contact us for more details at

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Fall I (Online) (7 Credits)

Candidates with extensive experience may request to forgo Practicum by submitting an application, however, an Internship is required. To be eligible to submit an application, one must:

  • Have at least 1,620 hours (approximately 6 years) of sign language instruction with language courses within secondary or post-secondary institutions, as described below:
    • Have at least 810 hours (approximately 3 years) of language instruction in both basic and advanced sign language courses.
    • Have at least 810 hours (approximately 3 years) of curricular and course development for advanced sign language courses.

Deadline for the Practicum waiver is July 15.

In addition: Students who meet the criteria and are eligible to submit an application must procure and provide their best sample lesson plan, syllabus, and assessment tool. They also must obtain grades of A- or above for their first Summer courses.

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.

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.

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.

Spring I (Online) (7 Credits)

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.

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.

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) consecutive teaching hours. During this experience, the student teacher is mentored by a cooperating faculty and 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.

Summer II (Hybrid - Online, then On Campus) (12 Credits)

Program Electives

*ASL 709 and ASL 752 may not be required for students with extensive media, film, and editing experience and/or extensive teaching experience.

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.

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.

With the advent of non-traditional approaches to learning, including online and hybrid teaching, this course examines the role of electronic elements in enhancing pedagogical methods of sign language education, curriculum and classroom. Digital tools are especially more paramount with visual-spatial languages such as signed languages. This course will explore integration of video-based tools into the curriculum as one way to teach and assess signed language acquisition and development. Students will be encouraged to engage in a critical examination of various theoretical schools of thought regarding digital pedagogy.

This course will introduce students to the most commonly-used research methods in Deaf Studies, particularly textual analysis, and ethnographic interviews. Students will be guided by the instructor in the processes of developing research questions, methodologies, data collection and analysis.

This three credit course is designed as a guided research course to support students' progress with their individual thesis research topics and methodologies within the field of Deaf Studies. This course is the second of two courses that provide students with experience in preparing their thesis proposals. Students will select their methodology, conduct a literature review, gather preliminary data if applicable, and complete the necessary steps to gain approval for their data collection procedures, such as IRB approval and CITI certification. Students will be introduced to ethical conduct in research, the Institutional Review Board procedures, and grant writing. They will complete and defend their thesis proposals at the end of this course.

The course serves as an introduction to graduate study in Deaf Studies. Students are guided in reflecting on the past, present, and future of Deaf Studies scholarship. Exploring the historical trends and debates in Deaf Studies, we seek out foundational questions about deaf lives and communities, including identities, power, culture, and framing from interdisciplinary perspectives. Leading with stories and lived experiences, students connect theory with practice in preparation for subsequent courses within the Deaf Studies Master's Program. The course also aims to develop critical reading and writing skills important to graduate level scholarship.

This course begins by exploring key issues faced by minority language communities, with special emphasis on the world's linguistic diversity, language endangerment, and revitalization. After gaining a broad understanding of the dynamic intersections of language, culture and power, students will examine the historical role of language ideologies relating to signed languages, beginning with classical thought and continuing through the formation of deaf education in the 18th century and the medicalization of deaf bodies in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the end, students should be able to identify and explain intersections of philosophical, linguistic, educational, medical, scientific, and anthropological discourses which influenced the vitality of sign languages and deaf communities in the 21st century. Developing awareness of this phonocentric heritage helps to equip students in developing strategies for linguistic and cultural revitalization of sign languages and deaf communities.

This course is designed as a thorough exploration of the literary practices influenced by cultural traditions in the deaf community. Attention will be given to the unique face-to-face nature of signed literature and its numerous traditional forms as well different types of cultural productions, including online media. Students will become versed in the stylistics, poetics, and cultural contexts of signed literature in its live as well as video-text formats.

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.

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.

This course links theory with debates and issues central to contemporary deaf lived experiences situated in locations throughout the world. This course draws from foundational texts in the social sciences and humanities, as well as more recent theoretical directions and avenues of inquiry in Deaf Studies. Throughout this course, we will consider major theoretical perspectives as they have been applied in Deaf Studies. These perspectives will be discussed in terms of their historical precedents and their applicability to contemporary deaf lived experiences. Our aim is to understand the ways in which Deaf Studies scholars use specific concepts, their paths of inquiry and methodology, as well as contemplate future directions for scholarship in Deaf Studies. We will keep returning to the same question: where is-or could be-Deaf Studies today and how does-or could it-work as critique? In short, we will be critiquing Deaf Studies and thinking of it as critique in itself.

This course investigates the role of vision and the senses, sensory practices and sensory politics in the deaf community through its visual-tactile nature. By drawing on new theoretical approaches in the study of the senses, this course will explore representations and visual culture, the theory and the politics of sensory perceptions; and 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 the senses in art and deaf space within a phonocentric world.

This course focuses on an analysis of relevant U.S. laws and policies when it comes to sign language rights, particularly for young deaf children. Topics include: legislative process, writing of state and federal regulations, power of position statements/policy papers, and an analysis of federal and state laws. Students will learn about community mobilization in the context of sociopolitical movements, with practical use of framing arguments for public consumption.

This course traces the development of the human rights of deaf people within the wider context of the emergence of the concept of universal human rights after WWII. The formation of international institutions such as the United Nations, and the growth of international nongovernmental organizations dedicated to human rights work has allowed non-state actors significant opportunities to develop and use human rights tools to protect particular minorities. The emergence of the concept of linguistic human rights has been applied to signing communities and the concept promoted in the Convention on the Human Rights of Peoples with Disabilities. The concept and the Convention will be examined in depth and applied to the linguistic human rights of contemporary Deaf communities.

This course will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the contemporary transnational Deaf public sphere. Students will study the origination and spread of international meetings among Deaf people and the concurrent formation of transnational Deaf networks. Students will study key concepts and review case studies in transnational studies which will then be used to interrogate the nature of interconnections between Deaf communities across the globe.

This course provides a multicultural perspective of community organizing for social change in parallel in understanding the deaf community's past and ongoing campaigns for equal rights from an advocacy perspective. Topics covered include organization structure, politics, ethics, inclusion, systematic challenges, and more.

Program Outcomes

Graduates from the MA program in Sign Language Education:


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.


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.


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


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



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M.A. in Sign Language Education

Kenneth DeHaan

Kenneth DeHaan



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