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Man using sign language to communicate.

American Sign Language (ASL) Studies

A common misconception about American Sign Language (ASL) is that it’s the English language “spoken” with gestures. But in fact, it’s far more intricate and nuanced than that. ASL is actually its own language, with its own unique syntax and grammar. And like many languages, ASL is a bond for those who practice it. Beyond communication, ASL is a source of pride, community, and culture.

Degree Types
Major , Minor
Complementary Programs
Distinctive Requirements
Demonstrated Competence in ASL

McDaniel’s major and minor in American Sign Language (ASL) Studies offer a variety of courses related to the language, culture, and literature of Deaf people in the United States and Canada. This program of study includes various opportunities for immersion in the language and culture of Deaf people, including an option to be a visiting student for a semester at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., and completing a January Term in an ASL environment.

Future Career Paths

Students who complete the major or minor in ASL Studies will be well prepared to apply for McDaniel’s Master of Science in Education for the Deaf.

Additionally, experience in ASL can supplement McDaniel’s pre-med or pre-health track, giving you a distinctive highlight on your graduate school application. Healthcare providers who speak ASL and understand the needs of the Deaf community will not only be better able to serve deaf patients and their families but will also be better prepared to serve all patients with dignity and empathy.

Graduates with a B.A. in ASL could go on to advanced degrees in speech and language pathology, teaching, interpreting, social work, mental health, Deaf and hearing linguistics, neuroscience, computer programming, and more. Their career paths will likely support the education and development of minority students in the Deaf community.

McDaniel Pre-Med Track

McDaniel's breadth of academic opportunities provides you the chance to craft compelling and highly distinctive major/minor combinations that support compelling applications for medical dental or veterinary school. Many McDaniel students double or triple major, giving you breadth and depth in your academic studies and a more competitive application for your next step.

Learn more about the Pre-Med Track

Distinctive Courses

ASL 1140 - Dominican Republic and the Educational Life Experiences of the Deaf

Students will be involved in presenting instructional activities at the National Deaf School of the Dominican Republic as well as at a private school serving Deaf students with learning disabilities and behavior issues.

ASL 2012 - Fingerspelling & Numbers

This course will introduce the grammatical foundations and mechanics of fingerspelling and numbers used in ASL, increasing fluency in fingerspelling and numbers for the ASL learner. In this course, developing fundamental skills in ASL receptive and expressive skills associated with fingerspelling and numbers will also be covered.

ASL 3370 - International Perspectives on Sign Languages and Deaf Culture

The study of diverse signed language and socio political structures of Deaf communities in various countries and the impact on society. This course provides a global perspective of a linguistic and cultural minority group.

ASL 4492 - Seminar in ASL Studies

This course examines current trends and issues in the study of ASL and ASL Linguistics as it relates to the socio-cultural aspect of the Deaf community.

Special Opportunities

Grad students using sign language.

M.S. in Deaf Education

For students wishing to pursue a career in teaching Deaf students, McDaniel College offers a nationally recognized graduate program in Deaf Education.

The ASL Studies minor provides a critical foundation for the graduate degree and includes courses that satisfy prerequisites for Deaf Education. All courses are taught in ASL.

McDaniel Commitment in Action

The McDaniel Commitment—a series of opportunities guaranteed to all students—provides enhanced mentoring and coaching, and ensures every undergraduate student completes at least two meaningful experiential learning opportunities.

McDaniel College M.S. alumna Clara Jean "Jeanie" Mosley Hall '76

Spotlight Clara Jean "Jeanie" Mosley Hall M.S. ’76

Think back to when you were a child just learning to speak, read or write. Learning the nuances of one language was hard enough but imagine that you had to learn two — and serve as an interpreter for the adults in your life. That’s the situation Clara Jean “Jeanie” Mosley Hall M.S. ’76 was born into as a Child of Deaf Adults (CODA).