Interested in Medical or Legal Interpreting?
The Interpreting Certificate is designed for both current language professionals and those new to the field. You will work with instructors who are subject-matter specialists and interpreters in medical, legal, and educational settings.
The certificate can help you develop knowledge and skills in:
- interpreter protocols
- ethical issues
- specialized terminologies
- consecutive interpreting
- sight translation
- simultaneous interpreting
The career potential for interpreters is only expected to grow in the coming years. Be prepared for your next opportunity.
Total credits required:
- 18 for one specialization
- 24 for two specializations
With approval, transfer course work can make up 40 percent of the certificate requirements.
Use the planning charts below to help you chart your coursework.
Oral Proficiency Interview
During or after you have completed TRIN 3102 Consecutive Interpreting take, you will take the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) for your second or “B” language. If you do not receive at least an Advanced-Low in the OPI, wait at least six months and retake the assessment.
Please contact the Program Director, Dr. Scott Homler, at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule the OPI .
To be awarded the certificate, you should also complete all coursework within four years of admission, with a minimum grade of C- and a cumulative GPA of 2.00.
When you are ready to apply for graduation, visit One Stop.
Introduction to Translation* (TRIN 3001)
A bilingual introductory course oriented toward the translation of documents written in English or another language. The course includes both theory and supervised practice. Taking this course also provides you with a solid basis for training in interpreting, as well as translation.
Introduction to Interpreting (TRIN 3101)
A practical and theoretical introduction to interpreting in community settings (health care, human services, and legal settings). The course emphasizes the unique role of the interpreter, current models and modes of interpreting, ethical issues and ethical decision making, professional standards of practice, and developing pre-interpreting skills. Classes are taught in English with some bilingual activities.
Consecutive Interpreting* (TRIN 3102)
This is a practical bilingual course, aimed at developing interpreting proficiency for health care, human services, education, and legal settings. Topics covered include consecutive interpreting and sight translation skills, vocabulary research/storage, intercultural issues, situational ethics, analysis of the interpreting process, and assessment of interpreting performance.
*Bilingual writing samples must be approved before taking this class.
Health Care Terms and Concepts for Interpreters (TRIN 1201)
This is an introduction to the terms, concepts, and processes used by health care providers when they talk to patients. The concepts are presented primarily though lectures and guest presentations, with each session dedicated to a particular specialism. This course is specifically designed for students of interpreting and working interpreters rather than a general audience. All classes are taught in English, but students are expected to develop a bilingual glossary of medical terms for use in later interpreting courses.
Interpreting in Health Care Settings* (TRIN 4201)
This bilingual capstone course builds on the skills and knowledge acquired in TrIn 3102 Consecutive Interpreting. The focus of this course is practice in interpreting simulated clinical encounters. Students will improve the accuracy of their consecutive and simultaneous interpreting as well as sight translation. Ethical considerations and terminology research are also discussed.
Legal Terms and Concepts for Interpreters (TRIN 1301)
This is an introduction to the American legal system, taught in English, to provide students of legal interpreting with a general understanding of the court system they plan to work in, as well as specific technical vocabulary used in courts and other legal settings. The course also studies legal discourse. It is taught by legal practitioners, with time for class discussion and exercises for review/practice. Students are expected to develop a bilingual glossary of legal terms for use in subsequent course work.
Interpreting in Legal Settings* (TRIN 4301)
This bilingual capstone course focuses on the principles and practice of interpreting in legal settings. The majority of class time is spent on increasing accuracy in the simultaneous and consecutive modes as well as practicing typical courtroom sight translation tasks. The challenge of maintaining the appropriate register in both languages is emphasized. Other topics include ethical considerations, courtroom conduct, and observation of actual court proceedings.
Special Education for Interpreters (TRIN 1901)
This online class is an introduction to the terms, concepts, and processes used in the special education and education field. The concepts are presented primarily though lectures and guest presentations, with each session dedicated to different areas of disability and/or education topics. All classes are taught in English, but students are expected to develop a bilingual glossary of special education/education terms for use in later interpreting courses.
Interpreting in Special Education (TRIN 4901)
This bilingual capstone course builds on the skills and knowledge acquired in TRIN 1901 Special Education/Educational Terms and Concepts for Interpreters and TRIN 3102 Consecutive Interpreting. The focus of this course is practice in interpreting simulated special education encounters. Students will improve the accuracy of their consecutive and simultaneous interpreting as well as sight translation. Ethical considerations and terminology research are also discussed.
*Bilingual writing samples must be approved before taking this class.
- Language and Society (LING 1701)
- Introduction to Linguistics (LING 3001/5001)
- Introduction to Communication (COMM 1102)
- Introduction to Small Group Communication (COMM 3411)
- Intercultural Communication: Theory and Practice (COMM 3451W)
- Introduction to the Study of Hispanic Linguistics (SPAN 3107W)
- Intermediate Translation (TRIN 3002)
**Substituting another relevant course is sometimes possible.
- A high school diploma or equivalent
- Superior language skills in English and at least one other language
How to Apply
Please attach the following forms to your electronic application.
You may take one or two courses in the program before applying for official admission; however, you should apply for official admission to the program as soon as possible.
As an admitted certificate student, you will:
- gain access to academic advising
- have the opportunity to register earlier than non-admitted students
- be assured that all of your course work will count toward the certificate, as requirements sometimes change
- not be assessed the University of Minnesota Student Services fee
To find out when you should register, consult the Registration Calendar. You may want to contact the program before registering to plan an appropriate course sequence.
- If you are a U of M admitted student, register through MyU. Instructions can be found on One Stop.
- If you would like to take one of our courses but are an unadmitted student (not formally admitted to a degree or certificate program), follow the registration steps outlined on One Stop.
You can also register in person at 20 Nicholson Hall, 216 Pillsbury Drive SE.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
I'm already working as an interpreter. How would these courses benefit me?
A valued credential from a world-class university will distinguish you from the competition. Many of our students are working interpreters. They tell us that developing your skills in a classroom environment is an invaluable complement to on-the-job experience. Many topics covered in the certificate, such as ethical decision making and cognitive interpreting skills, are hard to master through experience alone.
How long will it take for me to complete the program?
You have four years to complete the certificate. The process of gaining interpreting skills is a gradual one; therefore, we ask students to first take three core courses. After this, students can complete the certificate by taking an elective course and the health care specialization courses. These specialization courses are not necessarily offered every year, but with a little planning, it is possible to complete the certificate in one and a half years. If you take breaks between courses, it may take three years or more.
What happens if I do not receive the required score on the oral proficiency interview in Consecutive Interpreting?
If you do not receive at least an "Advanced-Low" in the oral proficiency interview, you will have to wait at least six months to retake the assessment (and pay the fee again).
Do you offer certification?
No. The Certificate in Interpreting attests to successful completion of a course of study. 'Certification' is an assessment of proficiency done by a professional organization or government agency.
Two organizations currently offer certification testing for health care interpreting: Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters and the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters. Check frequently with the two organizations for details.
Where can I learn more about employment opportunities as an interpreter?
The Program in Translation program can help you look for a job by:
- Circulating announcements about open positions
- Seek out internship/mentored interpreting experiences for students who take core courses
- Encourage informal interviews with instructors, program staff, and classmates
A recent survey of former students suggested that employers are eager to hire candidates who have taken some or all of the courses in the program rather than employing interpreters with no formal training.
You can also explore interpreting opportunities in the language services departments of local hospitals and clinics or contact local interpreting agencies. The roster of spoken language interpreters in Minnesota is a good place to list your contact details, training, and experience.
Can I include the Certificate of Interpreting in a degree program?
Credits earned through this certificate may be transferable to a degree program. Check with the appropriate degree program adviser to determine if the credits will transfer. See the Inter-College Program and Multidisciplinary Studies degree programs within the College.
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