Northeastern University

Combined Majors

To declare a combined major you must meet with Dennis Cokely, the ASL program director.

ASL Studies and Psychology

The combined major in ASL Studies and Psychology offers students a unique opportunity to couple the study of aspects of cognitive psychology and the study of various linguistic and cultural aspects of the American Deaf Community. This dual major has evolved from students' desire to explore further the ramifications of visually acquired and gesturally produced languages as well as the profound implications for society as a whole of learning from a Culture and a Community whose experience of the world is visual not auditory.

Through their study of American Sign Language students not only will gain access to the Culture of Deaf Americans but also will acquire insights into various features of spoken languages that are often taken for granted. Not only does learning a modally different language give students a sense of the power of language, but it enables students to experience firsthand the principles underlying the spatial organization of discourse required by signed languages. This has a profound impact in understanding how language shapes one's world. The scope and sequence of courses in Psychology provide students with a foundation in the interdisciplinary science of Psychology. In particular students in this dual major will acquire special skills offered by the study of psycholinguistics, perception, cognition, and child language acquisition.

Graduates completing this unique combined major will be prepared to undertake pursuit of graduate studies in cognitive psychology or psycholinguistics. Others will choose to study clinical psychology, with particular emphasis on working with Deaf people. Still others will choose to pursue a career in educating Deaf students. Regardless of the specific career path chosen, this combined major offers students a unique combination of theoretical perspectives and practical skills that will enhance their options and their employability.

ASL Studies and Theatre

The ASL Studies and Theatre combined major offers students a unique opportunity to couple the study of aspects of theatrical production and the study of various linguistic and cultural aspects of the American Deaf Community. This dual major has evolved from students' desire to couple their interests in American Sign Language and Theatre in a manner which responds positively to the increased presence of sign language and sign language interpreters in theatrical productions.

Through their study of American Sign Language students not only will gain access to the Culture of Deaf Americans but also will acquire insights into various features of spoken languages that are often taken for granted. Not only does learning a modally different language give students a sense of the power of language, but it enables students to experience firsthand the principles underlying the spatial organization of discourse required by signed languages. This has a profound impact in understanding how language shapes one's world. In particular students will acquire the foundation necessary to undertake translations of a wide array of theatrical works.

The scope and sequence of courses in Theatre provides students with a thorough understanding of the various aspects of theatrical and staged productions (e.g. design, technical, acting, directing). This will better enable graduates to relate in a meaningful and informed way with responsible individuals at all levels of a theatrical production. This coursework will, for example, provide students with a thorough understanding of many of the nuances involved in lighting, set design and character blocking for such productions. Students will thus be better prepared to ensure appropriate levels of visual integration of sign language within theatrical productions.

Graduates completing this unique dual major will be prepared to work as access agents ensuring that theatrical companies are made aware of the visual needs of Deaf audiences. Graduates will also be able to work on translating theatrical pieces. These translated works can either be staged by Deaf actors/actresses or interpreted. Students will acquire the skills and sensitivity necessary to work with directors, actors, and interpreters.

ASL Studies and Human Services

Students who choose to pursue this combined major will find many employment opportunities working with individuals who are facing life transitions or social and emotional challenges. Specifically, students will be prepared to work in a variety of social service settings with an under-served segment of the population-individuals who are Deaf and who use the language of the Deaf Community, American Sign Language.

Increased national awareness of the Deaf Community and its language, coupled with the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act has resulted in an increased demand for bilingually competent professionals in a wide range of human services. This dual major provides students with a solid theoretical and practical foundation in the Human Services field along with the linguistic skills and cultural sensitivities necessary to work directly with Deaf people in a range of public and private agencies.

Upon graduation from Northeastern students earning this combined major will find a number of employment opportunities created, in part, by the severe shortage of ASL/English interpreters. This shortage means that Human Service agencies are constantly seeking ways to comply with federal and state mandates to provide communication access to clients and employees. One way of complying with an agency's legal obligations is to employ students who have the "value-added" attraction of bilingual and bicultural competence. Such students will find themselves extremely marketable upon graduation.

This combined major also provides the academic foundation necessary for students to pursue graduate study in Deaf Education, Special Education, Social Work, Counseling, or Public Administration. Entering graduate programs in any of these areas, students will find their graduate experience academically, linguistically, and culturally enriched by the foundation established in this combined major.