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Which Degree to Choose…

If you’re looking for an undergraduate program, you’ll want to choose one that moves you toward national certification, which requires you to have a Bachelor’s degree. There are approximately 44 Bachelor’s degree programs across the country. The rest are mostly Associate’s degree programs plus a few Master’s and PhD programs. But keep in mind…not all Associate’s degree programs are alike. Look for a program that has a transition plan in place to move students from an Associate’s to a Bachelor’s degree level. Often this means the Associate’s degree program will have a matriculation agreement with a four-year institution.

Breadth of Knowledge

Interpreters need breadth and depth in world knowledge. You’ll want to find a program that offers a strong liberal arts education in addition to language, culture, and skills related to interpreting.

Practical Experience

Make sure the program you choose gives you opportunities to observe interpreting and work in the field under supervision. Most programs will offer courses called “Practicum” or “Internship.” The best programs will provide experiences in a variety of community settings with highly skilled, certified interpreters to supervise your work.

Interpreting Instruction

A strong program will have faculty who are both skilled teachers and active interpreting practitioners able to bring the real world into your classroom. Look for a program whose teachers are life-long learners and who are involved in their professional organization, the Conference of Interpreter Trainers.


The Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education (CCIE) was established as the national accrediting body for interpreter education programs. A list of accredited programs may be found here.

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Already have a Bachelor’s Degree?

You can find interpreting certificate programs designed for students who already have a Bachelor’s degree. The certificate demonstrates that you’ve completed required coursework in interpreting. You can check with the programs you’re considering to see if this is an option. There is a growing number of graduate degree programs in interpreting.