Sign Language Linguistics (Linguistics)

The Bachelor's in Sign Language Linguistics teaches you to investigate sign languages - their structure, their acquisition, and their use - from the perspective of a linguist. In order to be able to do this, you will learn at least one sign language yourself.

Studying at the Bushuis

Sign Language Linguistics is the right programme for students with a broad interest in languages and in sign languages specifically. Sign languages from all around the globe show interesting similarities, but yet, they are not mutually intelligible, as they also differ from each other in significant ways. Interestingly, many of these differences reflect variation also attested in spoken languages. 

As a sign language linguist you are interested in how sign languages are structured, how children and adults acquire them, how they function in society, and how they are subject to change. Perhaps you are curious about differences between sign languages, problems that may arise in their acquisition, or the extent to which they are different or similar to spoken languages. You may wonder how this relates to how languages in general and sign languages in particular are processed in the brain. Or you might be interested in how sign languages may be captured in formal models that allow us to generalize across all languages that we know of, spoken and signed. These are all questions that will be asked and addressed when you study Sign Language Linguistics at the University of Amsterdam.

Top 5 reasons to study Sign Language Linguistics at the University of Amsterdam

  • As one of very few universities in the world, the University of Amsterdam offers a full-fledged track in Sign Language Linguistics with a focus on the structure, acquisition, and use of visual-gestural languages.
  • As a student of Sign Language Linguistics at the University of Amsterdam, you have the opportunity to learn and study Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT). If you have acquired another sign language elsewhere, you can bring in your knowledge of this language in the programme.
  • The Sign Language Linguistics programme is a track of the Linguistics programme, which is a very broad programme that familiarizes you with all subfield of linguistics, such that later on you can make your own choices as regards your future trajectory.
  • The programme is also a very liberal one: as one of the very few programmes in the world, it offers you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with various theoretical frameworks, and you are explicitly encouraged to choose the one that you feel most comfortable with.
  • According to the QS World University Rankings by Subject, the University of Amsterdam has the best programme in Linguistics in Continental Europe, since this ranking was initiated some five years ago. The University of Amsterdam steadily occupies the 20th position worldwide.

Is Sign Language Linguistics right for you?

Sign Language Linguistics is the right degree for you if you have an active interest in sign languages but also in language in general. It is also the right degree for you if you like to (learn how to) solve puzzles and problems that require a systematic approach, as the methodologies applied in linguistics and sign language linguistics are objective and replicable. Prospective students should possess a valid secondary school/high school diploma or Dutch university preparatory education (VWO) diploma, and need to demonstrate a sufficient command of English.

Rankings and reputation

The University of Amsterdam (UvA) offers a world-class education. The BA in Linguistics is offered by the Faculty of Humanities of the UvA.

  • UvA is ranked 52nd in the world and 1st in the Netherlands in the Arts and Humanities category of the QS World University Rankings 2015.
  • UvA is ranked 45th in the THE Top 100 sub-ranking for the Arts and Humanities (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015)
  • UvA is a member of LERU (League of European Research Universities), an exclusive network of renowned research universities.
  • UvA is a member of Universitas 21, the network of leading research-intensive universities in the 21st century in 13 countries.

Accreditation and degree

The quality of this programme has been positively accredited by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). This means that after successful completion of the programme you will receive a recognised Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and the title Bachelor of Arts (BA).

Degree programme
BA Linguistics
Full-time, part-time
180 ECTS, 36 months
Language of instruction
Starts in
CROHO code

Published by  Faculty of Humanities