5 U.S. and International Colleges for the Deaf

While deaf or partially deaf students in the United States can attend any college in the country, many are drawn to schools that specifically serve deaf students. In addition to offering more resources and classrooms tailored to deaf and partially deaf learners, these schools provide a sense of identity, understanding, and pride for their students and alumni.

Instructors may be deaf, partially deaf, or hearing, and communicate using American sign language (ASL), spoken language, finger spelling, printed and visual aids, and online resources.

Back of graduates during commencement at university
Prasit photo / Getty Images 

Here's what to know about five colleges—three in the United States and two abroad—that are known for their excellence in deaf education.

Major U.S. Colleges for the Deaf

Gallaudet University

Located in Washington, D.C., Gallaudet University is the only liberal arts college in the world exclusively devoted to deaf students. It has graduated 19,000 students who've majored in subjects such as arts and media, business, human services, humanities, language/culture, and science/math/technology. Approximately 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students enroll at Gallaudet yearly. Around 5% of the undergraduate class consists of hearing students.

The long history of Gallaudet University goes back to 1850, when a man named Amos Kendall donated land to start an elementary school for deaf and blind students. In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill authorizing the school to grant college degrees. More than a century later, in 1986, Gallaudet was awarded university status under the Education of the Deaf Act. The university is named for Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1787-1851). His son, Edward Miner Gallaudet, was the university's first president.

National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID)

The National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) is a private technical college for the deaf in Rochester, NY. (In fact, Rochester is known for its deaf community.) It's one of the nine colleges that make up the Rochester Institute of Technology; the campus is home to more than 14,000 undergraduate students, with NTID accounting for approximately 1,100 of them. There are 200 programs of study for deaf students to choose from.

By law, both NTID and Gallaudet University must charge approximately the same amount for tuition, because both receive federal funding. This ensures that deaf students will choose a college based on educational need rather than cost.

Southwest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf (SWCID)

The Southwest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf, a community college for the deaf in Big Spring, Texas, is part of the Howard County Junior College District, and the country's only self-contained community college program for the deaf and partially deaf. Opened in 1980 and designed for students who want to prepare to go on to Gallaudet University or NTID, SWCID offers associate degree and certification programs. Students may also use Howard College facilities and services for activities including athletics, student organizations, and class internships.

U.S. Colleges for the Deaf: How They Compare
School Undergraduate Enrollment Tuition Average Class Size Student-Faculty Ratio
Gallaudet 1,523 $16,512 13 8:1
RIT/NTID 1,129 $17,814 10 8:1
SWCID Open to any of the approximately 4,485 Howard Community College students In-state: $3,970
Out-of state:$5,420
N/A 8:1

International Colleges for the Deaf

Doncaster Communication Specialist College

Located in Doncaster in South Yorkshire, England, Doncaster Communication Specialist College also specializes in educating students with autism spectrum disorder. Enrolling students age 16 and older, the college provides vocational training in nine industries. Special services include instruction in life skills; business, office, and food service training; liaison with employers to place students in internship-like programs; and employee placement services for graduates.

Classes are taught using British Sign Language, and teachers work alongside vocational tutors to ensure students comprehend the lessons appropriate to their level. Students have access to speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, and audiologists.

National University Corporation of Tsukuba University of Technology

The only higher-education institute for the deaf and visually impaired in Japan, the National University Corporation of Tsukuba University of Technology (NTUT) serves 360 students at two campuses: the Amakubo Faculty of Industrial Technology and the Kasuga Faculty of Health Science, both located in Tsukuba City, Ibaraki, Japan. NTUT offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees and provides a wide variety of student programs and services.

For more information: College Express has a complete list of other schools with programs or barrier-free classrooms for the deaf and partially deaf.

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  2. Gallaudet University. Fast facts.

  3. National Technical Institute for the Deaf. About.

  4. Communication Specialist College Doncaster.