Best Universities for Language Degrees

books on shelves in a library

You’ve decided you want to pursue a career as a translator or interpreter. First things first, education!

  • Are there schools that specialize in translation or interpretation?
  • Do many schools offer the degree I need?
  • What level of education do I need to pursue this career path?

Jobs as a translator or interpreter typically require an undergraduate degree followed by a master’s degree or a professional certificate. Master’s degree programs (M.A.) typically prepare their students to work as corporate or freelance translators, as government agency employees, or as translation software developers.

A professional certificate allows translators to gain advanced study in their foreign language as well as their specific profession (e.g. legal/court translation, medical translation, etc.)

Compiled below are 9 universities for you to consider for each step of the road and for whichever post-graduate route you choose:


Harvard University: home to one of the best language programs in the country, they offer: Celtic languages, East Asian Languages, Germanic languages, Near Eastern Languages, Romance Languages, Slavic Languages, and Literatures.

Kent State University: unique to this school is the availability of translation studies for the Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D programs in 16 languages. Their programs build a comprehensive foundation for developing skills in translation and translation studies, including specialized translation, computer-assisted terminology and translation, software localization and project management for the language industry.

University of California, Berkeley:  the College of Letters and Science has undergraduate degree programs in a large variety of languages, including Hindu, Urdu, Tibetan, and Korean. The Berkeley Language Center also enhances the quality of education received in language studies through their modern facilities and language-learning tools, workshops, events, and compelling lecture series.

Harvard Gates - University Language Degrees

Morgan Gate at Harvard University campus in Cambridge, MA, USA.

Graduate School (M.A.)

Gallaudet University: Gallaudet offers a M.A. in American Sign Language Interpretation. The Interpretation master’s degree program prepares and educates deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing persons to work as interpreters within the deaf and hearing communities.

Middlebury College – The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey: contains both the Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation, and Language Education, and the Graduate School of International Policy and Management. The Translation and Interpretation program offers Chinese, German, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and more. They also offer esteemed internships with Stanford University Hospital, the U.S. Department of State, and the United Nations.

SUNY Binghamton: known for their PhD in Translation Studies, this degree prepares students for the professorial and research-informed translation. They also offer individualized interdisciplinary tracks to accommodate a variety of backgrounds. This doctorate does not prepare students for professional work as a translator or interpreter (which students can definitely choose to do at the completion of the degree) but focuses more on those looking to pursue a career of research or teaching.

Student Popping Champagne at Graduation - University Language Degrees

Professional Certificate

New York University: their program offers professional certificates in general translation, medical interpreting, court interpreting (Spanish/English), simultaneous interpreting, and general language studies certificates in a wide variety of languages including: Arabic, Japanese, Mandarin, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and language groups such as Slavic, East Asian, Middle Eastern, Scandinavian, and Classical language.

Boston University: BU offers professional certificates in medical, community, and legal interpreting in Chinese, Portuguese, and Spanish. Their program organizes students in Cohort Groups based on their language specialization, focuses on linguistic techniques and the ethics of interpreting as a profession.

Florida International University:  this southern Florida school offers a Certificate in Translation Studies (English / Spanish) and a certificate in Legal Translation and Court Interpreting (English / Spanish).

We hope this provides inspiration for those of you interested in continuing your education into language studies. If you are currently an interpreter or translator, we are always seeking talented individuals to join our team of freelance linguists. Apply here!


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