University and Colleges for the Deaf

Deaf college students communicating with ASL. Loretta Hostettler/Getty Images

Gallaudet University

Gallaudet University is the world's only liberal arts college for the deaf. Since fall 2001, a select number of hearing students have been able to attend Gallaudet, through the Hearing Undergraduate Student (HUG) program. However, not just any hearing student can attend Gallaudet.

Hearing students who apply to attend Gallaudet must go through a competitive admissions process including interviews.

Accepted students are those who have skill in sign language, and who have a career goal of working with deaf people such as becoming sign language interpreters or teaching deaf students.

It is not unusual for them to have deaf parents. Only a certain percent of HUGs can be admitted, and this percentage is set by the Gallaudet University board of trustees along with the Gallaudet administration.

When Gallaudet initially announced the startup of the HUG program in 2000, the initial reaction of some deaf students was that hearing undergraduates would dilute the deaf college experience. However, after the program got underway, the hearing undergraduates were and are fully accepted by their fellow deaf students. HUG students participate equally in campus life including government and Greek life.

The National Technical Institute for the Deaf

The National Technical Institute for the Deaf has been around for a much shorter time than Gallaudet University, but it has quickly risen in importance to the status of "friendly rival" of Gallaudet.

NTID's focus is on technical skills. By law, the cost of attending Gallaudet and NTID must be approximately the same (both receive federal funding) so that deaf students will make their choices based on their educational needs rather than the cost.

The NTID Center on Employment provides guidance for both deaf jobseekers and employers.

NTID students can get co-op jobs through the Center while studying at NTID.

Last but not least, you can always find out what is new at NTID by checking out its Newsroom.

Southwest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf

If you live in the big state of Texas and your deaf or hard-of-hearing teen is not quite ready for a four-year college, you might want to consider a community college program for the deaf in Big Spring, Texas. SWCID, the Southwest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf, part of Howard College, is the only community college program only for deaf/hoh students.

In addition to preparing deaf students for employment or transfer to a four-year program, the college offers interpreter training and other programs for hearing undergraduate students. SWCID was officially launched in Fall 1980. Deaf students have the choice of staying in self-contained classes or mainstreaming into classes elsewhere at Howard.

Although SWCID is based in Texas, students from outside of Texas may attend. This was confirmed by a visitor to, who personally knows students from outside of Texas that have attended SWCID.

The college offers things that would be expected at a college for the deaf - audiological services, library services, internet access, a media center, and a career resource center.

SWCID has a Hawk Review yearbook, Thistles, the literary magazine, and the Rattler newspaper.

Last but not least, jobs are available at SWCID, and are listed on the main Howard jobs page.   


About SWCID (n.d.) Howard College. Retrieved September 21, 2015 from

Turning the Volume Down: Hearing Student at Gallaudet Blossoms in Deaf Culture. The Washington Post, February 6, 2005, page A01. This article focused on the experience of one hearing undergraduate student, Jenn Legg, a child of deaf parents. It also covers the history behind the HUG program.

Gallaudet University Gets HUGgy - In this blog post from April 2005, Mike McConell covers some of the history and feelings behind the HUG program. - The application information for the HUG program (Accessed 10/06/07).

Updated by Melissa Karp, Au.D, FAAA

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