BS in Deaf Studies

The Deaf Studies Program at Boston University affords students the opportunity to develop insights into, and genuine appreciation for the culture, contributions, and contemporary issues related to Deaf people in the United States. Our program is one of the only undergraduate programs in the United States to use American Sign Language as the language of instruction and conversation in the classroom.

The coursework provides information on the historical and cultural background of the Deaf community. Students entering the Deaf Studies program will explore a range of educational, social, cultural, linguistic, and psychological issues and their application to Deaf people, as individuals, as a community, and as a linguistic and cultural minority. Our multi-disciplinary approach led by a strong faculty, many of whom are Deaf, will provide in-depth training that prepares undergraduates for a number of exciting career options in fields related to working with Deaf people, including working in education, counseling, social justice, human services, linguistics, and other professions requiring competence in American Sign Language. With this foundation, students frequently go on to graduate study well equipped for specialized training.

Core courses detailing the history, education, literature, and language of the Deaf will be taught by both Deaf and hearing faculty and will be conducted in American Sign Language. (American Sign Language courses are required prior to entering advanced core courses in the Deaf Studies program.) Students will participate in field experiences, enabling them to put into practice knowledge gained through academic courses. Competence in American Sign Language (the language of the Deaf) is fundamental to gaining an in-depth understanding of the Deaf Community, and is a requirement of the program.

The program draws on a core faculty with interests in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies, as well as other faculty within the University and the School of Education with expertise in bilingualism, biculturalism, reading, literacy, linguistics and applied linguistics, cognitive and language development, language teaching, special education, and counseling.

Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing students are encouraged to apply; interpreters and support services are available at no cost to the student. Boston University is committed to equal educational opportunity for all persons. The Boston University undergraduate program in Deaf Studies does not qualify graduates for licensure in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Completion of an EdM in Education of the Deaf is required to meet state standards for licensure.

Required Coursework

There are core courses and a practicum that constitute a Deaf Studies major. Core courses detailing the history, education, literature, and language of the Deaf Community will be taught by Deaf faculty and conducted in American Sign Language. Through these courses, students will gain in-depth knowledge of the Deaf Community and Deaf Culture. Course selection and registration must be done with an advisor’s consultation. Some advanced-level courses may be taught in ASL without interpreters.

Elective Coursework

There are suggested elective courses that may be selected to fulfill the School of Education’s general education requirements and most closely relate to the Deaf Studies major. These courses (or others, depending on student’s individual interests) must be selected in consultation with the program advisor.

Junior Year Spring Semester at Gallaudet University

The option of doing a full semester of electives at Gallaudet University, a world-known Deaf university, is offered. Arrangements for study at Gallaudet need to be made in advance with the faculty advisor (at the earliest, Fall Semester of junior year) in order to coordinate course requirements and credits.

Competency in American Sign Language

Coursework will be offered which is intended to develop performance and proficiency in American Sign Language. Competence in American Sign Language is required upon completion of the program. Students are required to take the Boston University ASL proficiency exit test before graduation.

Field Placement

All Deaf Studies majors are required to participate in a field placement senior year. This placement involves students working on Fridays in an agency (including schools) serving Deaf people. Placements will be determined by the Deaf Studies major’s advisor. Senior year Spring-Semester students should not enroll in courses that take place on Friday in order to allow time for their field placement course. Specific placements may be tailored to each student’s interest in a particular area or setting. The program director has final say regarding field placement preferences.

Community Service

A Deaf Community service component is a requirement for undergraduate study. Students are encouraged to seek out volunteer opportunities in consultation with the undergraduate advisor. Students must perform a minimum of 15 hours of service each year (totaling 60 hours).

Required Courses (Total credits: 128)

Distribution Requirements (62 credits)

  • CAS WR 100 Writing Seminar (4 cr)
  • CAS 150 Writing and Research Seminar (4 cr)
  • Two humanities courses from the College of Arts & Sciences (8 cr in at least two disciplines)
  • Two courses in social sciences from CAS (8 cr in at least two disciplines)
  • One CAS mathematics course (students who received an SAT math score of 580 or better or an ACT score of 23 or better are exempt) (4 cr)
  • One laboratory science course from CAS (4 cr)
  • One natural or laboratory science from CAS (4 cr)
  • 26 liberal arts electives which may include courses leading to a minor (26 cr)

Subject Matter Requirements (56 credits)

All courses are 4 credits unless otherwise noted.

  • SED DE 500 Introduction to the Deaf World
  • SED DE 550 History and Culture of the Deaf
  • SED DE 551 Deaf Literature and ASL Folklore
  • SED DE 552 Seminar: Selected Topics in Deaf Studies
  • SED DE 554 Field Experience: Deaf Studies
  • SED DE 570 American Sign Language I
  • SED DE 571 American Sign Language II
  • SED DE 572 Psychology, Sociology, and the Deaf
  • SED DE 590 American Sign Language III
  • SED DE 591 American Sign Language IV
  • SED DE 592 American Sign Language V: Academic Language (2 cr)
  • SED DE 672 American Sign Language Structure
  • SED DE 693 American Sign Language VI (2 cr)
  • CAS LX 250/SED LS 565 Introduction to Language and Linguistics
  • SED LS 566 Language Acquisition

Professional Studies (10 credits)

  • SED ED 100/101 Introduction to Education (6 cr)
  • SED ED 410/412 Social and Civic Context of Education (4 cr)