Deaf Studies and Sign Languages

Deaf Studies and Sign Languages: Minor, Self-Designed Major

American Sign Language is the third most-studied language in the United States. Holy Cross has embraced this growing interest by offering a program in deaf studies and sign languages with an interdisciplinary emphasis. Beyond the classroom, the program offers opportunities for cultural and language immersion through cocurricular activities and community-based learning initiatives.

The program is unique for its wealth of opportunities to learn American Sign Language and sign languages such as Black Sign Language from native ASL signers. You will develop proficiency in ASL through our three-year language program which consists of formal classroom instruction, practicums, and cocurricular activities. Our program is one of very few in the country that offers practicums, which are small group practice sessions with ASL signers that meet twice a week, in conjunction to regular language instruction. In addition to practicums, the community-based learning component of our second-year courses will afford you the opportunity to interact with a wide range of native ASL signers on a weekly basis outside the classroom and practicum. 

You will also gain cultural competency through our course offerings in deaf culture, history, literature, politics, theoretical applications, and related interdisciplinary courses. Our formal linguistic and cultural instruction is supplemented by diverse cocurricular activities such as ASL Mass, ASL Club, ASL performances, guest lectures, coffee socials with native ASL signers, and informal ASL-only gatherings. Upon graduation, Holy Cross students move on to graduate studies and a wide range of careers in deaf and non-deaf related fields.

Program Highlights

  • The course offerings provide students with the humanist and cultural perspectives that deaf people are not disabled, but rather a cultural and linguistic group.
  • Our program embraces a holistic Jesuit, liberal arts education by equipping students with a broad range of multidisciplinary tools in solving problems and exploring the world.
  • For students who are interested in a truly immersive experience in ASL, we offer a study away program at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the world’s only liberal arts college that uses ASL as its language of instruction and where ASL is primarily spoken on campus.     


three students signing
American Sign Language Club

Learn about American Sign Language and Deaf culture and practice your new language skills.

students standing for a group photo

Gain cultural competency and learn the visual language used by the Deaf community in the

a student and a woman signing at a table in a kitchen
Community-Based Learning

Put your new skills to use and engage with the Deaf community through one of our community-based learning opportunities.

Deaf Studies and Sign Languages News

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Katherine Murray '20
Blog: Murray ’20 Eager to Explore Irish Culture and History During Semester Abroad
NAME Katherine Murray ’20 HOMETOWN Wellesley, Mass. AREAS OF STUDY Economics major, American Sign Language and Deaf Studies minor WHERE SHE’S STUDYING University College Dublin in Dublin, Ireland DURATION Spring 2019 WHY SHE CHOSE IRELAND “I chose to study in Dublin because I …
Lucca Eloy '18 stands next to mathematics and computer science Professor Constance Royden, with whom he works closely to develop an independent project to artificially model the way the brain processes visual information.
Liberal Arts and Technology: A Match for the New Millennium
Lucca Eloy ’18 didn’t arrive at Holy Cross planning to major in computer science. He figured he’d focus on biology, maybe even go pre-med. But a funny thing happened sophomore year after he signed up for a computer science class …