Liberal Arts: Deaf Studies Option, AA

Room: B-Building, B-234

Phone: (718) 482-5640


The Liberal Arts: Deaf Studies Option is the only American Sign Language degree program within the CUNY system and the only Deaf Studies program in all of New York City. The curriculum of the Deaf Studies Program prepares students to work with the Deaf community as sign language interpreters, educators of the Deaf, speech language pathologists, audiologists, and social workers.

Are You Interested In...

  • Expressing yourself with your face and body?
  • Learning American Sign Language?
  • Learning about the Deaf culture?
  • Learning the history of the Deaf community in the U.S. and how their fundamental rights are assured under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
  • Watching TV shows or movies featuring the Deaf community & culture (such as Switched at Birth or Sound of Metal)?
  • Assisting Deaf family members/relatives/friends?

Skills You Will Learn

  • Intermediate-level proficiency (familiar topics related to daily life) in American Sign Language.
  • Familiarity with the Deaf culture and the Deaf community.
  • Understanding of the history of the Deaf community in the U.S.
  • Understanding bilingualism and its career/cognitive benefits.
  • Understand the struggles Deaf people face for communication access in a variety of situations.

What makes this major unique?

The curriculum of the Deaf Studies Program is designed with a specific focus on ASL (2-year instruction in ASL) as well as ASL linguistics and Deaf sociology.

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Career Possibilities

The majority of careers for this major require at least a Bachelor’s Degree.

Please visit the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) website for detailed information on certification. There are two steps required for certification. Step One: Knowledge Exam – AA students can sit for this exam. Step Two: Performance Exam – requires a Bachelor’s degree or 120 credits. This means LaGuardia students wishing to become fully certified as ASL interpreters must continue on for a bachelor’s degree.

Career trajectories for bi- or multi-lingual speakers vary depending on proficiency level. See this chart produced by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages for detailed information on career paths.

It is very common for Deaf Studies majors to start out wanting to become sign language interpreters but then switching to alternate pathways. This is fine – not everyone has the linguistic skill needed for interpretation and the Deaf Community has many other needs. For instance, there is a significant need for social workers and teachers who are fluent in ASL.

Proficiency note: Simply going to ASL classes is rarely sufficient to attain the proficiency required for sign language interpretation or other jobs. Students must go to and participate in Deaf events to acquire receptive and expressive fluency. The sterile classroom environment is insufficient exposure to ASL as it is naturally used within the community.

Audiology/Speech Pathology note: If you are interested in a career such as a speech language pathologist or audiologist, keep in mind that these professions focus on speech. Some programs are anti-sign and may not be a good fit for Deaf Studies majors.

  • Sign Language Interpreter Trainee
  • Special Education Teacher Assistants/Paraprofessional
  • Business/Retail/Healthcare/Other Settings in need of ASL-proficient staff
  • ASL & Deaf Advocate/Policy Researcher or Analyst
  • ASL & Deaf Program Administrator
  • Sign Language Interpreter (National certification by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf required)
  • Speech Language Pathologist (Master’s in Speech Language Pathology)
  • Teacher of the Deaf (Master’s in Special Education)
  • Social Worker (Master’s in Social Work)
  • Audiologist (Doctorate in Audiology)
  • School Psychologist (Master’s in School Psychology)
  • Lawyer (Law Degree): ADA compliance, Special Education Law, Deaf defendants, inmate accessibility, etc.

Transfer Possibilities

  • LaGuardia/SUNY Empire State – BA in American Sign Language (ASL) /English Interpretation (housed at LaGuardia)
  • Gallaudet University – Various Programs (Institute at forefront of deaf and signing community in Washington, DC)
  • Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) – Bachelor’s in American Sign Language or Deaf Cultural Studies

Degree Requirements

A. REQUIRED CORE: 12 Credits

English: 6 credits

  • ENG101 English Composition I* – 3 credits
    (or ENA101 depending on placement)
  • ENG102 Writing through Literature – 3 credits

Mathematical and Quantitative Reasoning: 3 credits

Select one course from the following:

  • MAT107: Mathematics and the Modern World – 3 credits
  • MAT123 Modern Problem Solving (Depending on placement) – 3 credits
  • MAT115 College Algebra and Trigonometry – 3 credits
  • MAT117 Algebra and Trigonometry (depending on placement) – 3 credits
  • MAT119 Statistics with Elementary Algebra (depending on placement) – 3 credits
  • MAT120 Elementary Statistics – 3 credits

Life & Physical Sciences: 3 credits

Select one of the following courses:

  • SCB101 Topics in Biological Sciences – 3 credits
  • SCB206 Introduction to Neuroscience – 3 credits
  • SCC101 Topics in Chemistry – 3 credits
  • SCC102 Chemistry of Photography – 3 credits
  • SCP101 Topics in Physics – 3 credits
  • SCP105 Life in the Universe – 3 credits
  • SCP140 Topics in Astronomy – 3 credits

B. FLEXIBLE CORE: 18 Credits

Select one course from each of the five flexible core categories AND one additional course from any flexible core category.

  • World Cultures and Global Issues
  • US Experience in its Diversity
  • Creative Expression
  • Individual and Society
  • Scientific World

Students are advised to select one Urban Study course to complete college requirement. To complete the degree requirements from the Flexible Core, students are advised to select courses from the recommended course selections listed on the program website. Note: Students can select only two courses from any one discipline.

Courses Credits
Liberal Arts: 6 Credits
LIF101 First Year Seminar for Liberal Arts Social Science and Humanities 3
LIB200 Humanism, Science and Technology 3
English: 3 Credits
ENG103 Preparing and Writing the Research Paper 3
Education & Language Acquisition: 3 Credits
ELN101 Introduction to Bilingualism 3
Deaf Studies
ELM101 American Sign Language 1
ELM102 American Sign Language 2
ELM103 American Sign Language 3
ELM104 American Sign Language 4
Social Science: 3 Credits
SSS190 Sociology of American Deaf Community 3

Graduate in Two Years!

Review your Degree Map to stay on track.