Successful Student has ranked the 13 Best Translation and Interpretation Colleges in the United States. A Translator typically works with written language (translating a book) while an Interpreter works with spoken language (interpreting between two or more people). This ranking contains programs in both areas. The necessity of proper communication becomes even more vital for obvious reasons in such fields as politics, medicine, and business. Those employed in the field can expect to work in business, government, schools, hospitals, and courtrooms.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median wage for 2016 was $46,120 and the field is expected to grow at 29% between now and 2024, which is much faster than the average for all other occupations. This is due mostly to the increasing globalization of business. Though professional study and certification is best for getting employed, an important aspect is to have as much understanding of your chosen language and culture as possible.
13 Best Translation and Interpretation Colleges
1. University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, AR)
The Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Arkansas is one of the oldest in the country. Designed as a true four-year terminal degree, students may pursue concentrations in poetry, fiction, or translation. Admission to the Creative Writing program is highly competitive, with only five students being accepted within each concentration annually.
Translation of a literary work is assumed to be an act of creative writing by the school. Those interested in applying must submit five to six pages of a translated piece together with copies of the original text.
Students will focus on the practice and theory of literary translation, mainly from other languages into English. Course work includes a minimum of 12 hours of translation workshops, 24 hours of study in the literature of source languages, and one semester each of poetry and fiction workshop. Students can expect to leave the program with a reading knowledge of at least two foreign languages.
2. Gallaudet University (Washington, D.C.)
Among other schools and other translation/interpretation programs, Gallaudet University stands truly unique. It was the first school in American history to offer higher education to the deaf and hard of hearing, and remains the only school offering programs and services that are specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students.
Officially a bilingual school in English and American Sign Language (ASL), classes focus on preparing students for translation positions within the fields of medicine, education, business, mental health, and legal interactions.
Gallaudet’s School of Education, Business, and Human Services has the Department of Interpretation and Translation. This department offers the:
- Master of Arts in Interpretation, Combined Interpreting Practice and Research
- Master of Arts in Interpretation, Interpreting Research
- PhD in Interpretation
The Master of Arts in Interpretation, Combined Interpreting Practice and Research requires 48 credit hours for graduation. An accelerated 33 credit hour program and an extended three-year format are also offered. Course examples include History of Interpreting, Discourse Analysis for Interpreters, and the Structure of Language for Interpreters.
3. Institute for Applied Linguistics at Kent State University (Kent, OH)
Unique to Kent State University is the availability of translation studies at all three levels of higher education, Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. The Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies and the Institute for Applied Linguistics offer 16 language programs covering American Sign Language, Russian, Latin, Japanese, French, German, Arabic, and more. The Master of Arts in Translation requires 36 semester hours of classes.
The seven core courses include Documents in Multilingual Context, Terminology and Computer Applications for Translators, and Project Management in the Language Industry. All students are required to take a Graduate Research and Writing course their first semester. Students may choose up to nine elective hours in any related graduate-level translation courses. Students will also have access to computer-assisted translation, cross-language information exchange and retrieval, and multilingual document management (to aid with learning and research).
4. Monterey Institute of International Studies (Middlebury, VT)
Middlebury College is a private institute for higher education which manages the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Founded in 1955 by foreign language professor Gaspard Weiss, the Institute is further divided into two graduate professional schools: the Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation, and Language Education, and the Graduate School of International Policy and Management.
Though GRE and GMAT scores are not required, they may positively influence a student’s application. The Master of Arts in Translation and Interpretation offers study in the languages of Chinese, German, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and more. Internship opportunities include offers from Stanford University Hospital, the U.S. Department of State, and the United Nations. Short-term, intensive, and customized language programs and professional short-term translation and interpretation programs are also offered by the Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation, and Language Education.
5. State University New York (Binghamton, NY)
Also known as Binghamton University, the State University of New York offers Doctoral and Certificate training in Translation Studies. Being one of the first schools to offer a PhD in this field of study, admission to the program is competitive.
Students who have previous experience in translation studies, near-native fluency in English, and a near-native fluency in a second language will be strong applicants. High GRE, GMAT, or LSAT scores are also required.
Once accepted into the Doctoral program, students will have 16 credits of required core curriculum to complete, including:
- Introduction to Translation Studies
- Topics in Translation Studies
- Independent Study Research
From there, students without a Master’s degree in a related field will have an additional 32 credits to complete (for a total of 48 credits) while students with a Master’s degree in a related field will need to complete an additional 20 credits (for a total of 16 credits).
6. New York University (New York, New York)
New York University’s School of Professional Studies offers the Master of Science in Translation, which consists of 36-credits, and can be finished in 12 to 15 months at full-time study, or five years part-time. This Master’s focuses on the fields of law, business, and finance, and students will learn how to prepare business contracts, books, and articles. English into Spanish, Spanish into English, and French into English courses are offered online, and Chinese into English is offered on campus.
All courses are categorized in three groups: translation and language theory, legal and financial subject matter, and practical translation courses. Each group has required and elective classes, which will focus either on legal or financial translation, and culminates in a final capstone project. The capstone project involves either a lengthy complex translation, or a translation more of a theoretical nature, and will be defended on campus or by video in real time.
One great benefit of studying at NYU is the Wasserman Center for Career Development, where advisors assist students (on campus and online) with job searches, interviewing, creating résumés, and other career focused areas.
7. The Center for Translation Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas (Dallas, TX)
The School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas offers a Master of Arts and a Doctor of Philosophy in Humanities. These non-traditional degrees enable students to tailor their education to their specific interests within the field of Translation studies.
Faculty and students work closely together within three broad research areas: Literary Studies, History of Ideas, or Aesthetic Studies. The Master’s degree requires 33 semester hours of coursework and the Doctoral degree requires an additional 60 hours of coursework beyond that.
Master’s students should expect to complete a translation portfolio to be defended before a committee and to pass a written foreign language examination involving the translation of two short texts into English before graduation. All students have access to the Center for Translation Studies and Intercultural Communication, founded in 1980, which offers numerous educational opportunities including various Translation Workshops.
8. School of Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Urbana, IL)
The University of Illinois offers a Master of Arts in Translating and Interpreting or a Certificate in Translation Studies. Both tracks are offered through the School of Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics and the Center for Translation Studies.
Offered both online and on campus, students enrolled in the Master’s degree may choose from three specializations: Translation for the Professions, Literary and Applied Literary Translation, or Conference and Community Interpreting. The 32 total credit hours include 12 core requirements, eight credit hours of the chosen specialization, eight electives, and four credits for the translation study capstone.
Students interested in the Certificate program must complete 18 credits if they are undergraduates, or 20 credits if they are graduate students. There are a total of 37 languages taught with faculty expertise specifically in Arabic, French, German, and Spanish.
9. La Salle University (Philadelphia, PA)
La Salle is a private, co-educational institution for higher education, and was founded in 1863. La Salle University is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church through the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Holding to ethical values of honesty and hard work, the school offers numerous traditional, online, and hybrid courses and programs.
One such degree is the comprehensive Master of Arts in Translation and Interpretation available through the Hispanic Institute in the School of Arts and Sciences. Focusing on English-Spanish and Spanish-English translation and interpretation in the areas of healthcare, legal, and business environments, there are 15 required courses, or a total of 45 credits, for graduation.
Students must also complete a 100 hour internship and a final Master’s Project as part of the degree requirements. Other similar degrees offered by La Salle University include a Master’s in Bilingual/Bicultural studies, a Master’s in Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages, and Certificates of Translation or Interpretation individually.
10. Arizona State University (Tucson, AZ)
The College of Humanities, Spanish and Portuguese Department at Arizona State University is one of ‘the very few programs in the nation’ to offer undergraduate studies in Translation and Interpretation simultaneously.
Students will study the Spanish language as the primary major, while specializing in translation and interpretation. The curriculum holds a particular focus of interpreting for the healthcare and legal fields. There are a total of 42 required credits for the major, with 21 being held in Spanish classes and 21 being held in translation and interpretation classes.
Students will have access to multimedia and language labs for additional study and practice. Upon graduation, students may be eligible to sit for the Exit Accreditation examination through the National Center for Interpretation. Other similar programs of study offered include an online certification in just translation.
11. University of California, Riverside (Riverside, CA)
The Professional Studies extension program at the University of California at Riverside offers a wide variety of continuing education degrees for working professionals. One of these programs is the Professional Certification in Interpretation and Translation in the Spanish/English Languages, which has been approved by the American Translators Association and the International Medical Interpreters Association.
Students interested in applying must have completed a minimum of two years of college-level classes, submitted a recording, and passed a written and oral examination. The program requires five sequential courses, or a total of 20 units, with a letter grade of B- or better, for credit.
Currently those courses are:
- The U.S. Court System: An Overview for Legal Interpreters
- Sight Translation: English to Spanish
- Consecutive Interpretation
- Simultaneous Interpretation
- Professional Interpreting: Protocol and Ethics
Students have up to ten months to complete this degree.
12. University of California, San Diego (San Diego, CA)
Similar to its sister Riverside campus, the San Diego location of the University of California school system also offers a Professional Certification in Translation and Interpretation in the Spanish/English languages.
Focusing on students who already have a strong bilingual background, students should expect a vigorous admissions examination. Once accepted, the certificate program requires 30 quarter units which aim at helping students pass the American Translators Association and the California Court Interpreter examinations.
There are a total of 11 courses including eight core courses and three electives. Students are encouraged to take electives in the areas of Business, Education, Legal, or Medicine. A similar specialized Certificate program in Translation is also offered. Both degrees are offered both on campus and online, however not all electives may be available in the online format. Students have up to five years to complete the course requirements.
13. Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC)
Wake Forest University offers three related degrees: Master of Arts in Intercultural Services in Healthcare, Teaching of Interpreting, and Interpreting and Translation Studies. There are currently two language combinations available through the Interpreting and Translation Studies program: Spanish/English or Chinese/English.
The Spanish/English track is an intensive, full-time, two semester course of classes totaling 34 credit hours. Conversely, the Chinese/English track requires 37 credit hours which may be completed in up to two years.
Both tracks have similar core courses such as:
- Discourse Organization and Interpreting
- Sociolinguistics and Dialectology
- Localization and Terminology
- Applied Research Project
Students who have graduated from the Interpreting and Translation Studies program at Wake Forest have gone on to work in the foreign affairs, media, business, law and healthcare fields. Numerous graduate/postgraduate certificate programs are also offered for students who wish to continue their education or enhance their careers.
Best Translation and Interpretation Colleges Ranking Methodology
Ranking factors for this article were academic reputation in the programs, specialization in translation or interpretation, and course relevance and degrees offered (Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorates, and Certificates). As always at Successful Student, this ranking was designed for students, and is intended to be a guide to students interested in pursuing translation and interpretation studies. If studying Spanish for the healthcare and legal fields is your primary interest, then Arizona State would be your first choice. Successful Student encourages re-arranging this list to fit your individual needs as a student.