Gallaudet Hearing Student Admission: The Truth Behind the HUG Program

By: Mary Pat Luetke-Stahlman

Gallaudet University the one university in the world that boasts the title of “the only higher education for the Deaf” is recently believed to be in trouble. There are concerns that have recently been brought up in terms of comparing the number of Deaf students to the enrolled hearing undergraduate students (HUGs), a program that was established in 2000 as a pilot program and was approved as a permanent program in 2006 after being reviewed and approved by the Department of Education to help infuse and increase enrollment at Gallaudet. 

According to articles coming out recently, the community is being told that Gallaudet will be overridden with hearing students, taking away the University from the community and that Gallaudet is not Deaf centered. There is one slight issue with this assumption, that issue is the preset limit put on the percentage of enrolled students in the HUG program by the Department of Education. 

When the HUG program was initially established, it was set that each year Gallaudet could not accept more than 5 percent of the yearly total of newly enrolled undergraduate students at Gallaudet. This number changed the cap to 8 percent, however, as of 2015 they only enrolled 6 percent of the new undergraduate student population into the HUG program 2% less than the cap they set. (Department of Education)

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Students that are interested in enrolling into the Gallaudet “Hearing Undergraduate” program are supposedly evaluated via ASLPI and are expected to know American Sign Language proficiently prior to being accepted into the program. There are some people that are accepted and allowed to study any major they wish to pursue but all of them must undergo the same general studies that all students have to go through; which includes classes that echo core Deaf principals like ASL & Linguistics. Both of these classes have in their curriculum a requirement to touch on and expand on the history of ASL and how it is in fact a recognized language as well as other languages in America such as BSL. Other students are accepted into the interpreting program (BAI), when they do, part of their admissions requirements are that they must “Submit one written essay and one video essay in American Sign Language.“

Gallaudet University’s objectives and vision highlight their intent:

Gallaudet University will build upon its rich history as the world's premier higher education institution serving deaf and hard of hearing people to become the university of first choice for the most qualified, diverse group of deaf and hard of hearing students in the world, as well as hearing students pursuing careers related to deaf and hard of hearing people. Gallaudet will empower its graduates with the knowledge and practical skills vital to achieving personal and professional success in the changing local and global communities in which they live and work. Gallaudet will also strive to become the leading international resource for research, innovation and outreach related to deaf and hard of hearing people.

Gallaudet will achieve these outcomes through:

  • A bilingual learning environment, featuring American Sign Language and English, that provides full access for all students to learning and communication

  • A commitment to excellence in learning and student service

  • A world-class campus in the nation's capital

  • Creation of a virtual campus that expands Gallaudet's reach to a broader audience of visual learners

  • An environment in which research can grow, develop, and improve the lives and knowledge of all deaf and hard of hearing people worldwide.

For more information on the Hearing Undergraduate Program (HUG) (Click Here).