New Zealand Sign Language & Deaf Studies Major - Bachelor of Arts

New Zealand Sign Language is an official language of New Zealand, and an understanding of sign language and Deaf culture is useful for many careers.

The New Zealand Sign Language and Deaf Studies major covers communication strategies in NZSL and the cultural knowledge to work with Deaf clients and colleagues. Sign language skills are in demand in all areas of New Zealand society, including education, health, legal and social service settings, as well as any customer-facing area of work.

Tailor this sign language course to your interests, and combine it with courses or a major from any other area of study, including, but not limited to, education, health promotion, Māori development or event management.


This is part of the Bachelor of Arts.

The first year focuses on the development of receptive and expressive fluency in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), and the study of the Deaf community and culture. In the second and third years, you can either continue with further language acquisition, learn about the interpreting profession, or choose courses related to intercultural competence.

Apart from the courses below you also need to complete courses from your second major, your chosen minor(s) or electives.

Core courses

All Bachelor of Arts students need to complete core courses that help you develop transferable skills and support your work in all other courses in the degree.

Academic Communication

Choose one of:

Culture and Society

Complete one course from each of the following clusters. Each cluster aligns with one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

New Zealand Sign Language and Deaf Studies courses

Level 5 courses

Complete two of:

Level 6 courses

Complete three of:

Level 7 courses

Complete three of:

Workplace experience

Workplace experience (the Work Integrated Learning course) is the final part of your degree and takes a full semester. This is a supervised work placement related to your major(s), for an organisation of your choice.

Recent placements included:

  • Auckland Deaf Society
  • Ko Taku Reo Deaf Education New Zealand
  • SignDNA

Professionals working with Deaf clients, colleagues, students, as well as any customer-facing profession. For example:

  • Teachers
  • Health professionals
  • Health educators
  • Event managers
  • Hospitality professionals
  • Disability service coordinators
  • Social workers
  • Lawyers
  • Any area of work where you might meet Deaf people

Industry organisations that recognise this programme

  • Sign Language Interpreting Association of New Zealand
  • New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters
  • Interpreter booking agencies New Zealand-wide
  • Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Tertiary Education Institutions New Zealand-wide
  • Ko Taku Reo Deaf Education New Zealand
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Find out more about industry trends, job descriptions and what employers may be looking for.

NZ Sign Language & Interpreting Careers

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.

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