For nearly a century, UWM has been a leader in training teachers to serve students who are deaf or hard of hearing, and UWM is still the only university in Wisconsin to offer a bachelor’s degree with a focus in American Sign Language.

The American Sign Language Studies program is offered as an undergraduate major or minor. This degree will provide you with a strong foundation in ASL, as well as knowledge of ASL culture, history and literature.

Career prospects in this field are very strong: Job opportunities for interpreters and translators of all languages are expected to grow 46 percent by 2022, much faster than other occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bureau also notes that ASL interpreters are in particular demand because of their specialized skills and the increasing use of video relay services by those who need ASL interpreting.

Why Choose Our Program?

  • You’ll benefit from UWM’s deep history and expertise in the field of exceptional education. The ASL Studies program allows students and faculty to collaborate with UWM’s Interpreter Training Program, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education program, and World Languages Teacher Certificate Program. This is the only program like this in the state that has extensive collaboration with other programs, providing opportunities to apply what you’ve learned in your ASL classes.
  •  We emphasize the social and cultural diversity of the signing community, which provides a foundation for building personal and professional relationships across socio-cultural communities.
  •  UWM offers an American Sign Language Living Learning Community, allowing new freshman the opportunity to immediately connect with fellow ASL majors and students who are deaf or hard of hearing by living in the same residence hall.

ASL Major

Your degree will be a Bachelor of Science in Education with a major/focus in American Sign Language Studies. The ASL degree provides a foundation and fluency in American Sign Language, and most of your advanced coursework will be finished after you complete American Sign Language levels I through IV. This major also pairs well with other subject areas, including:

  • The Interpreter Training Program, combined with ASL Studies, provides a foundation and fluency in the language with sought-after interpreting skills.
  • After graduating with your ASL Studies degree, you can pursue UWM’s Deaf/Hard of Hearing Teacher Education Program, a master’s degree and certification that will build on your ASL foundation so you can better teach children who are deaf and hard of hearing.
  • After obtaining the ASL Studies degree, the American Sign Language Teacher Education Program will equip you with a strong base of the language so you can teach others ASL.
  • Pair another major on campus with an ASL Studies degree to enhance your marketability even further.

ASL Major Program Sheet (PDF)

ASL Minor

The minor will guide you through all six levels of ASL courses, along with some upper-level language courses. The ASL minor pairs well with many other subject areas at UWM, such as:

  • Interpreter Training Program
  • Regular or Special Education
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Social Work
  • Business
  • Criminal Justice
  • Communication Disorders

Combining another major with the ASL Studies Minor allows you to be bilingual, which is a definite advantage in the job market.

Note: You must be a student at UWM with a degree-seeking major in order to pursue the ASL minor.

ASL Minor Program Sheet (PDF)


Have Questions About our Program and/or Admissions?

Jen Hayes
Advisor/Sign Language Interpreter
Enderis Hall 697
(414) 229-4663


Margaret Bartlett
Early Childhood Special Education
Enderis Hall 698

Pam Conine
Interpreter Education, Adult Education, Interpreter Training Program
Enderis Hall 669

Elizabeth Drame
Children With Special Needs in Charter Schools, Teacher Quality, Early Adolescence – Adolescence
Enderis Hall 683 – Department Chair

Dave Edyburn
Assistive Technology, Mild Disabilities
Enderis Hall 679

Alison Ford
Teacher Education, Severe Disabilities, Inclusive Education, Middle Childhood – Early Adolescence
Enderis Hall 693

Elise Frattura
Public School Organizational Structures for All Learners
Enderis Hall 667

Marika Kovacs-Houlihan
ASL Studies and Literature
Enderis Hall 687

Amy Otis-Wilborn
Teacher Education, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education, Language and Literacy
Enderis Hall 677

Laura Owens
Teacher Education, Transition Planning, Inclusive Schooling, Early Adolescence – Adolescence
Enderis Hall 655

Nancy Rice
Cultural Representations of Disability, Preparing Teachers for Inclusive Schools and Communities, Early Adolescence – Adolescence
Enderis Hall 675

Judy Winn
Teacher Education, Literacy, Learning Disabilities, Middle Childhood – Early Adolescence
Enderis Hall 691