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American Sign Language Option

American Sign Language Option

Students earning a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree at the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) are required to demonstrate intermediate level proficiency in a foreign language. The College of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (FAHSS) accepts intermediate level proficiency in American Sign Language (ASL) as an option for meeting the language requirement. For further details please visit Language Requirement for FAHSS.

The following four ASL courses from Northern Essex Community College (NECC) will be accepted as fulfillment of the language requirement:

  1. ASL101 Elementary American Sign Language I (UML equivalent WLSI.1970 American Sign Language 1), offered by NECC Fall, Spring, and sometimes Summer.
  2. ASL102 Elementary American Sign Language II (UML equivalent WLSI.1980: American Sign Language 2), offered by NECC Fall, Spring, and sometimes Summer.
  3. ASL111 Intermediate American Sign Language I (UML equivalent WLSI.2950: Intensive ASL I), offered in Fall only. [Note that students will be allowed to take this course ONLY if they have passed ASL101 and 102 with a grade of ’C’ or better, and they must obtain written permission in advance from the NECC Sign Language Studies Program Coordinator.
  4. ASL112 Intermediate American Sign Language II (UML equivalent WLSI.2960), offered by NECC Spring only.

Course Format and Schedule

ASL courses are offered in a hybrid format, with approximately half the meetings conducted face-to-face in the classroom and half conducted online.

UML has no control over NECC course schedules. In order to complete the sequence on time, you must begin at least four semesters (Fall/Spring) prior to the academic year in which you expect to graduate. As with other language courses, these ASL courses are sequential, and thus will generally require a minimum of three or four academic semesters to complete. For information regarding the scheduled offering of these Northern Essex Community College (NECC) courses, visit NECC website.

Alternate/Substitute/Supplemental Courses

NECC offers additional courses in ASL and related areas for those who intend to work with the deaf community or as an interpreter. Psychology majors are encouraged to consider DST101 (Introduction to Deaf Studies; UML equivalent WLAN.1990) as a supplemental course. This course is offered in Fall semesters in a virtual format. In general, UML requires its students to follow the four-course sequence outlined above for completion of the FAHSS language requirement.

World Language vs. World Ready

Students declaring ASL for their language requirement must follow the World Language Option. There is no World Ready option for ASL.

Credits/Residency for Students Completing ASL Courses as a NECCUM Student

NECC ASL courses are listed as 3-5 credits however only 3 credits per course completed will transfer in, consistent with UML language courses.

Required Grades

To have courses from other schools transferred to UMass Lowell you need to earn a grade of ‘C-‘or higher in the courses but be aware of the NECC requirement that ASL111 and 112 may only be taken if you earned a grade of ‘C’ or better in both ASL 101 and 102.

Undergraduate Day School Students Only

Undergraduate full time matriculated “day” school students may take ASL courses through the NECCUM program for only.  Students must have an established minimum GPA of 2.000 and be registered for at least 12 UML credits in order to be eligible to participate in the NECCUM program. Courses taken through the NECCUM program are considered part of your UML course load, and therefore do not carry any additional fees.

  • The NECCUM program operates in the Fall and Spring terms only.
  • Courses taken through the NECCUM program will transfer in as UML courses, and the grade earned at Northern Essex will be factored into your UML GPA and residency requirement.
  • Information about the NECCUM program is available online on the UML NECCUM website.
  • The registration process is managed by the Registrar’s Office.  Interested students will need to send an email to, and you will be sent the Cross Registration form.  This form must be signed by your Department Chair (“Academic Approval”) and UML Registrar’s Office (“Home Registrar”). The UML Registrar’s Office will forward the application to the NECC (“Host Registrar”) and send you confirmation of registration as well as an information sheet.
  • Students are responsible for knowing the Northern Essex academic calendar and attendance policy.  In addition, students must meet the Northern Essex Covid-19 vaccination requirements.
  • Northern Essex will automatically send UML NECCUM student transcripts.

Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) Undergraduate Students Only

  • NECCUM is not available to students matriculated in the School of Graduate and Professional Studies programs.
  • GPS undergraduate students may choose to enroll in ASL courses through NECC by completing the form and transferring the credits to UML.  UML GPS students must have the signatures of their faculty advisor and department chair. GPS students are responsible for registering and paying for the credits at NECC. In addition, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that a final transcript is sent to the UML Registrar’s office. Electronic transcripts should be sent to

Summer Courses

  • All students wishing to take ASL courses during the summer terms will need to complete the Prior Authorization for Off-Campus Course form prior to taking the course. Students must have this form signed by their academic advisor and department chair prior to submitting the form to the Registrar’s Office.
  • Note that for Residency purposes ASL courses taken during the summer or evening are usually thought of as credits from a 2-year school and not UML credits, but if you need them to count toward UML residency, be sure to submit an Academic Petition along with the Authorization for Off-Campus Course form.
  • Please note that SIS might not recognize ASL112 as sufficient to satisfy your foreign language proficiency requirement. If that occurs, you will need to submit a Student Exception form to the Department Chair for signature.