Interested in American Sign Language (ASL), Deaf Culture or interpreting? St. Kate’s ASL and Interpreting majors are confident and analytical, with excellent communication and ethical decision-making skills. Our programs teach you the art of interpreting between spoken English and ASL and give you an in-depth understanding of the Deaf Community and Culture in the United States and Canada.
Mastering the language
You learn ASL from native users of the language, work on the fundamentals of translation and study both written texts and ASL videos. You also use and hone your ASL skills through active engagement with the community. Our curriculum blends liberal arts with professional studies so you gain the breadth and depth necessary to interpret in many situations.
You'll take core courses in linguistics, English, literature, philosophy, communications and sociology — in addition to rigorous classes on topics such as text analysis, interacting with DeafBlind people, sign variation, fingerspelling and ethical decision-making for interpreters.
Leader in interpreter education
St. Kate’s is the only interpreter education program in Minnesota accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education. We are also one of five universities or colleges in the nation to offer an accredited bachelor’s degree program in interpreting. In 1983, we started the first and only interpreter education program in the world focused on preparing ASL/English interpreters to work in healthcare settings.
— Paula Gajewski Mickelson, assistant professor
Classroom to career
St. Kate’s prepares you to provide excellent interpreting services in a variety of fields, including education, healthcare, government, theatre and the performing arts. Our faculty will help you develop your plan to take the National Interpreter Certification exam offered by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).
Our faculty, both Deaf and non-deaf, are active interpreters, leaders and researchers. They’re renowned for their work and contributions to the interpreting profession. Professor Laurie Swabey has been invited to speak in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe about the field of interpreter education and her research on healthcare interpreting. Associate Professor Jimmy Beldon is a nationally certified Deaf Interpreter and serves the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf in a variety of leadership positions. He consults with groups across the United States on topics related to the NAD/RID Code of Professional Conduct.
An internship is required for interpreting majors in their senior year — and suggested for ASL majors. Students collaborate with faculty to determine their placement in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, government and nonprofit agencies in Minnesota, California, Florida and Washington D.C. During your internship, you are assigned an Ethics and Decision-Making (EDM) coach, a professional interpreter in the community who will guide you through ethical issues or concerns.
Connections to the Deaf Community are vital to your success as an ASL interpreter. That's why service learning is built into our courses. St. Kate's students volunteer regularly at the Metro Deaf School, Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf, Thompson Hall Deaf Club and many after-school programs. They gain a competitive edge at job interviews or with career advancement opportunities.
Minnesota is home to one of the largest Deaf Communities in the country — so service opportunities abound, whether you lobby at the State Capitol or volunteer at a public event. St. Kate’s has hosted the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens Biennial Conference, the Miss Deaf Minnesota Pageant, ASL Immersion Week and many interpreting and Deaf Community events.
St. Kate's has received grant funds from the U.S. Department of Education Rehabilitation Services Administration to advance interpreter education since 1999. Our CATIE Center, leads the national initiative on healthcare interpreting through the dissemination of domains and competencies for interpreters working in medical settings, skill development resources, a healthcare interpreting website and intensive seminars. Our 2010 National Symposium on Healthcare Interpreting brought nearly 170 sign language interpreters to campus.