Health Care Interpretation Master of Science Degree

Our health care interpreting degree meets the demand for nationally-certified ASL medical interpreters who want to work in the health care industry. 


$53k+

Annual salary potential

18%

Employment growth for interpreters

97%

Graduate outcomes rate

$2.5B

2019 health care industry revenue


Overview for Health Care Interpretation MS

The MS in health care interpretation is designed to meet the demands of nationally certified sign language interpreters desiring a master’s degree specific to working in health care environments. Demand for interpreters is expected to grow 18% over the next ten years, more than three times the rate of the overall job market. Health care is the second highest-demand industry for interpreting jobs.

What is an ASL Medical Interpreter?

For the average person, medical terminology and understanding the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions and disease can be confusing and challenging. People who are deaf or hard of hearing have the additional complication of a language barrier. An ASL (American Sign Language) medical interpreter works in a range of health care settings to help patients and doctors communicate effectively. An ASL medical interpreter can assist a patient in clearly expressing their symptoms and health concerns to a doctor or nurse, and interpret complex medical terminology used by doctors and nurses to diagnose and treat the patient. 

RIT/NTID's Master's in ASL Medical Interpretation: Offered Exclusively Online

The MS in health care interpretation is offered by RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf’s Department of American Sign Language and Interpreting Education, with some course work contributed by RIT’s College of Health Sciences and Technology. This unique program:

  • Meets the growing demand for specialized sign language health care interpreters as more deaf and hard-of-hearing professionals enter medical/health care fields.
  • Increases the number of specialized sign language interpreters working in patient health care settings.
  • Prepares interpreters to work in leadership roles in the health care interpreting field.

The program begins with a professional seminar course designed that establishes the theoretical parameters you are expected to follow in case analysis, to establish a framework for conducting online discussions in safe and confidential ways, and to create connections among classmates that build trust and rapport. This initial connection promotes student engagement in the reflection-based components of the program. It is estimated that each course will require 9-12 hours per week for class assignments and course materials will be delivered asynchronously. In the final semester, you will complete a capstone course consisting of either a research paper or project. The program is offered on a part-time basis for two academic years (with two summers).

The program is offered exclusively online. It is estimated that each course will require 9-12 hours per week for class assignments. Course materials will be delivered online asynchronously. In your final semester, you will complete a capstone project consisting of either a research paper or project.

The program curriculum employs an online pedagogical approach, including accelerated courses as its primary delivery system.

The program may be completed on a full- or part-time basis: one academic year (with two summers) for full-time students or two academic years (with two summers) for part-time students.

This program is offered exclusively online.
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Industries


  • Health Care

  • Non-Profit

  • Other Education

Careers and Experiential Learning

Typical Job Titles

Manager of Interpreter Services Sign Language Interpreter

Cooperative Education and Internships

What makes an RIT education exceptional? It’s the ability to complete relevant, hands-on career experience. At the graduate level, and paired with an advanced degree, cooperative education and internships give you the unparalleled credentials that truly set you apart. Learn more about graduate co-op and how it provides you with the career experience employers look for in their next top hires.

Curriculum for Health Care Interpretation MS

Health Care Interpretation (full-time), MS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
HCIA-610
Interpreting Research Setting (summer)
This online course will prepare graduate interpreters for working in research settings. Students will learn about the lived experience of Deaf scientists and how to effectively work with them by utilizing a variety of tools and strategies. Students will also become familiar with procedures and protocols for interpreting in research settings including lab-based work, meeting with collaborators, and professional conferences. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to build upon their American Sign Language (ASL) and English skills, specifically working on how to translate and interpret complex research related terminology and jargon. Also, students will investigate a topic related to their interest specifically in context of research and science that extends beyond the course materials covered in class and will summarize their findings in both academic ASL and English. This course involves online video lectures in both English and ASL, video observations and case studies, and online group discussions. Grading in the course will be based on students’ participation online and performance on their assignments. Students can receive credit for INTP-510 or HCIA-610, not for both. (This course is restricted to HLTHINT-MS Major students.) Lecture 3 (Summer).
3
HCIA-705
Professional Seminar (summer)
This course is the first course taken in the MS in Health Care Interpreting degree program. This week long on-campus residency professional seminar will build a foundation of the practical skills and knowledge undergirding the master’s degree program. It is intended to provide the learner with an overview of the course management system, webinar software, and sign language health care skills development used throughout the program. This course addresses the theoretical constructs and the approach to the practice of interpreting based on the demand-control schema and reflective practice and the federal regulations and policies impacting communication access and the work of interpreters. The latest research regarding health care disparities in the deaf population will be presented and health care interpreting skill development activities will commence. (This course is restricted to HLTHINT-MS Major students.) Lecture 3 (Summer).
3
HCIA-719
Theories of Translation and Interpretation (summer)
This course will begin with an examination of the scope of practice of spoken language interpreters in health care settings and this will then be compared to the models of professional deportment in sign language interpreting. From there, we will review the major paradigms in the field of translation and interpretation, that of formal or functional (dynamic) equivalence, and how the scope of practice expectations impact the interpretation process. Finally, students will explore the concept of “sense” or meaning and how to convey that in a medical setting. (This course is restricted to HLTHINT-MS Major students.) Lecture 3 (Summer).
3
HCIA-715
Human Body Systems/Diseases I*
This first course in a two-course sequence will help interpreters build a strong foundation in human body systems and diseases. Within each body system topics for discussion include: anatomy and physiology (structure and function), common conditions/diseases, common medications and treatments, specialized terms, health care provider specialties, medical tests, and procedures and equipment. This class is conducted in ASL. (Prerequisites: HCIA-705 or equivalent course and student standing in HLTHINT-MS.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
3
HCIA-720
Health Care Practical Interpreting I*
This interpreting course exposes interpreters to interpreting in mental health, cardiology, OBGYN, and orthopedic outpatient and inpatient settings. This course will expose interpreters to medical professionals, common medical service protocols, typical diagnostic and treatment dialogues or clinical "scripts" of common conditions, diagnoses, and initial presenting complaints. Exposure to this new content knowledge happens via observations of medical student practice dialogues with simulated patients and other problem-based learning activities. In addition to this new knowledge and the unique observation opportunity, participants will be further reinforcing and integrating the Human Body Systems course content in their analyses of medical interpreted cases. English to ASL/ASL to English skill development activities will be employed. (Prerequisites: HCIA-705 or equivalent course and student standing in HLTHINT-MS.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
3
HCIA-730
Human Body Systems/Diseases II**
This second course in a two-course sequence in Human Body Systems/Diseases will continue to help interpreters build a strong foundation in human body systems and diseases by addressing the remaining body systems not covered in the first course. Within each body system, topics for discussion include: anatomy and physiology (structure and function), common conditions/diseases, common medications and treatments, specialized terms, health care provider specialties, medical tests, and procedures and equipment. (Prerequisites: HCIA-715 or equivalent course and student standing in HLTHINT-MS.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
3
HCIA-740
Health Care Practical Interpreting II**
This course is a continuation of HICA 720 Health Care Practical Interpreting I. The course content will address interpreting for surgery, end of life care, pediatrics, and cancer inpatient and outpatient settings. It will also advance students’ ability to facilitate group supervision based on DC-S constructs. Using reflective practice techniques already employed and demonstrated in the program’s courses, students will be expected to emulate similar techniques with their colleagues. Case presentation and case analysis of actual interpreting assignments will form the basis for the course material and activities. Students will be expected to identify and articulate the unique contextual factors of the case (the demands of the job), the decisions made by the interpreting in the case, and discuss all ethical attributes of these demand-control pairings. Students will also be expected to use DC-S constructs to restructure the dialogue that emerges from case analysis discussions. Students will be further reinforcing and integrating the Human Body Systems course content in their analyses of medical interpreted cases. English to ASL/ASL to English skill development activities will be employed. (Prerequisites: HCIA-720 or equivalent course and student standing in HLTHINT-MS.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
3
HCIA-760
Research Methods in Interpreting
This is an introductory graduate-level survey course on research design/methods and analysis. The course provides a broad overview of the process and practices of social and linguistic research in translation/interpreting in health care settings. Content includes principles and techniques of research design, data collection, and analysis, including the nature of evidence, types of research, defining research questions, data collection and analysis, issues concerning human subjects from vulnerable groups, and research ethics. This course instructs the learner how to conduct research in real-world contexts of health-care settings, drawing on translation/interpreting theories. The analysis component of the course teaches how to interpret data found in research (including statistics) as well as how to use data analysis software. (This course is restricted to HLTHINT-MS Major students.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
 
HLTH Elective
3
Second Year
HCIA-750
Health Care Interpreting Within a Diverse Deaf Community (summer)
This course is for health care interpreting students to learn how to work with the diverse Deaf community. The course begins with a discussion of current perspectives in Deaf Studies including the Deaf Gain paradigm and Social Justice Theory relevant to medical interpreting. Current research on deaf individuals’ health knowledge, health literacy, and health outcomes are presented. Class discussions will focus on working with deaf individuals fluent in foreign sign languages, minority Deaf populations, deaf individuals with special needs, deaf-blind individuals, deaf interpreters, deaf students, and deaf professionals. Students will develop skills interpreting for some of these deaf individuals. (Prerequisites: HCIA-730 and HCIA-740 or equivalent course and student standing in HLTHINT-MS.) Lecture 3 (Summer).
3
HCIA-770
Capstone Prof Proj/Rsrch Paper (summer)
The purpose of this course is to provide students the opportunity to conduct research, develop a plan and evaluation components, or submit a project as a demonstration of final proficiency in the program. The faculty teaching the class will guide the topic selected by the student and it will require the student to coalesce and incorporate into the final project or paper a culmination of their entire course work in the program to date (e.g., if a student is employed in a health care setting a project related to enhancing the provision of Language Access Services could be conducted). (Prerequisites: HCIA-719 and HCIA-730 and HCIA-740 and HCIA-760 or equivalent course and student standing in HLTHINT-MS.) Lab 3 (Spring, Summer).
3
Total Semester Credit Hours
33

* HCIA-715 and HCIA-720 are taken in session 1 (first 7 weeks) of the semester.

** HCIA-730 and HCIA-740 are taken in session 2 (last 7 weeks) of the semester.

Health Care Interpretation (part-time), MS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
HCIA-705
Professional Seminar (summer)
This course is the first course taken in the MS in Health Care Interpreting degree program. This week long on-campus residency professional seminar will build a foundation of the practical skills and knowledge undergirding the master’s degree program. It is intended to provide the learner with an overview of the course management system, webinar software, and sign language health care skills development used throughout the program. This course addresses the theoretical constructs and the approach to the practice of interpreting based on the demand-control schema and reflective practice and the federal regulations and policies impacting communication access and the work of interpreters. The latest research regarding health care disparities in the deaf population will be presented and health care interpreting skill development activities will commence. (This course is restricted to HLTHINT-MS Major students.) Lecture 3 (Summer).
3
HCIA-719
Theories of Translation and Interpretation (summer)
This course will begin with an examination of the scope of practice of spoken language interpreters in health care settings and this will then be compared to the models of professional deportment in sign language interpreting. From there, we will review the major paradigms in the field of translation and interpretation, that of formal or functional (dynamic) equivalence, and how the scope of practice expectations impact the interpretation process. Finally, students will explore the concept of “sense” or meaning and how to convey that in a medical setting. (This course is restricted to HLTHINT-MS Major students.) Lecture 3 (Summer).
3
HCIA-715
Human Body Systems/Diseases I*
This first course in a two-course sequence will help interpreters build a strong foundation in human body systems and diseases. Within each body system topics for discussion include: anatomy and physiology (structure and function), common conditions/diseases, common medications and treatments, specialized terms, health care provider specialties, medical tests, and procedures and equipment. This class is conducted in ASL. (Prerequisites: HCIA-705 or equivalent course and student standing in HLTHINT-MS.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
3
HCIA-720
Health Care Practical Interpreting I*
This interpreting course exposes interpreters to interpreting in mental health, cardiology, OBGYN, and orthopedic outpatient and inpatient settings. This course will expose interpreters to medical professionals, common medical service protocols, typical diagnostic and treatment dialogues or clinical "scripts" of common conditions, diagnoses, and initial presenting complaints. Exposure to this new content knowledge happens via observations of medical student practice dialogues with simulated patients and other problem-based learning activities. In addition to this new knowledge and the unique observation opportunity, participants will be further reinforcing and integrating the Human Body Systems course content in their analyses of medical interpreted cases. English to ASL/ASL to English skill development activities will be employed. (Prerequisites: HCIA-705 or equivalent course and student standing in HLTHINT-MS.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
3
HCIA-730
Human Body Systems/Diseases II**
This second course in a two-course sequence in Human Body Systems/Diseases will continue to help interpreters build a strong foundation in human body systems and diseases by addressing the remaining body systems not covered in the first course. Within each body system, topics for discussion include: anatomy and physiology (structure and function), common conditions/diseases, common medications and treatments, specialized terms, health care provider specialties, medical tests, and procedures and equipment. (Prerequisites: HCIA-715 or equivalent course and student standing in HLTHINT-MS.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
3
HCIA-740
Health Care Practical Interpreting II**
This course is a continuation of HICA 720 Health Care Practical Interpreting I. The course content will address interpreting for surgery, end of life care, pediatrics, and cancer inpatient and outpatient settings. It will also advance students’ ability to facilitate group supervision based on DC-S constructs. Using reflective practice techniques already employed and demonstrated in the program’s courses, students will be expected to emulate similar techniques with their colleagues. Case presentation and case analysis of actual interpreting assignments will form the basis for the course material and activities. Students will be expected to identify and articulate the unique contextual factors of the case (the demands of the job), the decisions made by the interpreting in the case, and discuss all ethical attributes of these demand-control pairings. Students will also be expected to use DC-S constructs to restructure the dialogue that emerges from case analysis discussions. Students will be further reinforcing and integrating the Human Body Systems course content in their analyses of medical interpreted cases. English to ASL/ASL to English skill development activities will be employed. (Prerequisites: HCIA-720 or equivalent course and student standing in HLTHINT-MS.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
3
Second Year
HCIA-610
Interpreting Research Setting (summer)
This online course will prepare graduate interpreters for working in research settings. Students will learn about the lived experience of Deaf scientists and how to effectively work with them by utilizing a variety of tools and strategies. Students will also become familiar with procedures and protocols for interpreting in research settings including lab-based work, meeting with collaborators, and professional conferences. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to build upon their American Sign Language (ASL) and English skills, specifically working on how to translate and interpret complex research related terminology and jargon. Also, students will investigate a topic related to their interest specifically in context of research and science that extends beyond the course materials covered in class and will summarize their findings in both academic ASL and English. This course involves online video lectures in both English and ASL, video observations and case studies, and online group discussions. Grading in the course will be based on students’ participation online and performance on their assignments. Students can receive credit for INTP-510 or HCIA-610, not for both. (This course is restricted to HLTHINT-MS Major students.) Lecture 3 (Summer).
3
HCIA-750
Health Care Interpreting Within a Diverse Deaf Community (summer)
This course is for health care interpreting students to learn how to work with the diverse Deaf community. The course begins with a discussion of current perspectives in Deaf Studies including the Deaf Gain paradigm and Social Justice Theory relevant to medical interpreting. Current research on deaf individuals’ health knowledge, health literacy, and health outcomes are presented. Class discussions will focus on working with deaf individuals fluent in foreign sign languages, minority Deaf populations, deaf individuals with special needs, deaf-blind individuals, deaf interpreters, deaf students, and deaf professionals. Students will develop skills interpreting for some of these deaf individuals. (Prerequisites: HCIA-730 and HCIA-740 or equivalent course and student standing in HLTHINT-MS.) Lecture 3 (Summer).
3
HCIA-760
Research Methods in Interpreting
This is an introductory graduate-level survey course on research design/methods and analysis. The course provides a broad overview of the process and practices of social and linguistic research in translation/interpreting in health care settings. Content includes principles and techniques of research design, data collection, and analysis, including the nature of evidence, types of research, defining research questions, data collection and analysis, issues concerning human subjects from vulnerable groups, and research ethics. This course instructs the learner how to conduct research in real-world contexts of health-care settings, drawing on translation/interpreting theories. The analysis component of the course teaches how to interpret data found in research (including statistics) as well as how to use data analysis software. (This course is restricted to HLTHINT-MS Major students.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
HCIA-770
Capstone Prof Proj/Rsrch Paper
The purpose of this course is to provide students the opportunity to conduct research, develop a plan and evaluation components, or submit a project as a demonstration of final proficiency in the program. The faculty teaching the class will guide the topic selected by the student and it will require the student to coalesce and incorporate into the final project or paper a culmination of their entire course work in the program to date (e.g., if a student is employed in a health care setting a project related to enhancing the provision of Language Access Services could be conducted). (Prerequisites: HCIA-719 and HCIA-730 and HCIA-740 and HCIA-760 or equivalent course and student standing in HLTHINT-MS.) Lab 3 (Spring, Summer).
3
 
HLTH Elective
3
Total Semester Credit Hours
33

* HCIA-715 and HCIA-720 are taken in session 1 (first 7 weeks) of the semester.

** HCIA-730 and HCIA-740 are taken in session 2 (last 7 weeks) of the semester.

Note for online students

The frequency of required and elective course offerings in the online program will vary, semester by semester, and will not always match the information presented here. Online students are advised to seek guidance from the listed program contact when developing their individual program course schedule.

Admissions and Financial Aid

This program is available exclusively online.

Offered Admit Term(s) Application Deadline STEM Designated
Part‑time Summer April 1 No

Part-time study is 1‑8 semester credit hours. RIT will not issue a student visa for programs offered exclusively online.

Application Details

To be considered for admission to the Health Care Interpretation MS program, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Complete an online graduate application
  • Submit copies of official transcript(s) (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work, including any transfer credit earned.
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree (or US equivalent) from an accredited university or college.
  • A recommended minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent).
  • Submit a current resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Submit a personal statement of educational objectives.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation.
  • Entrance exam requirements: National ASL/English cert. or state license required. ASL interpreting sample.
  • Letters of recommendation should come from people who have observed your interpreting work.
  • Submit current national ASL/English certification or state licensure. Applicants must email a copy of their credentials to the NTID Office of Admissions at ntidadmissions@ntid.rit.edu.
  • Submit an ASL interpretation sample.
  • Submit an audiogram (applies to Deaf and hard-of-hearing applicants).
  • Submit English language test scores (TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic), if required. Details are below.

English Language Test Scores

International applicants whose native language is not English must submit one of the following official English language test scores. Some international applicants may be considered for an English test requirement waiver.

TOEFL IELTS PTE Academic
case by case case by case case by case

International students below the minimum requirement may be considered for conditional admission. Each program requires balanced sub-scores when determining an applicant’s need for additional English language courses.

How to Apply Start or Manage Your Application

Cost and Financial Aid

An RIT graduate degree is an investment with lifelong returns. Graduate tuition varies by degree, the number of credits taken per semester, and delivery method. View the general cost of attendance

A combination of sources can help fund your graduate degree. Learn how to fund your degree

Additional Information

Medical Terminology Course Requirement

Applicants will be asked to provide proof of completion of a course in medical terminology. This is required after admission to the program is offered. The course must be completed prior to the beginning of the summer session. This $99 self-paced online course is called Language of Medicine.

Online Study Restrictions for Some International Students

Certain countries are subject to comprehensive embargoes under US Export Controls, which prohibit virtually ALL exports, imports, and other transactions without a license or other US Government authorization. Learners from the Crimea region of the Ukraine, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria may not register for RIT online courses. Nor may individuals on the United States Treasury Department’s list of Specially Designated Nationals or the United States Commerce Department’s table of Deny Orders. By registering for RIT online courses, you represent and warrant that you are not located in, under the control of, or a national or resident of any such country or on any such list.