Online Master’s Degree in Translation

Translation studies is an academic discipline that explores the theory and applications of interpreting written text from a foreign language and converting it into a target language. Translators and interpreters both play an important role in helping individuals, organizations, and businesses communicate effectively to their customers, clients, and constituents in an increasingly global society. However, translation differs from interpretation in that its emphasis is on written language skills rather than oral language skills, according to Language Scientific. A masters degree in translation is a good fit for individuals who need advanced communication training so that they can pursue specialized careers in translation.

Since the number of working adults returning to graduate school is increasing, universities have begun offering accredited online masters degrees in translation or translation studies that provide a greater level of flexibility than traditional programs. An online masters degree in translation typically takes two years of full-time study to complete. Actual time of completion may vary depending on a number of factors, including the number of courses a student takes per semester, the number of relevant graduate credits that a student transfers into the program, and whether a student must complete prerequisites before beginning the program.

Classes for an Online Masters Degree in Translation

Course work in an online masters translation degree program is focused on building a student’s practical skills in translation. Students also take an in-depth look at the field of translation as a whole, the most common areas where it is needed, and emerging areas where translation is becoming necessary. Course work teaches students how to interpret and conduct research in translation studies. While required courses differ greatly from program to program, a few classes you may come across in online masters programs include:

  • Basic Translation: Written & Sight
  • Introduction to Legal Translation
  • Translation of Medical and Scientific Texts
  • Editing for Translation
  • Ethics and Procedures in Interpreting

Although most of the course work in online masters programs in translation is completed online, many programs also incorporate an internship in which students build practical on-the-job skills at organizations that offer translation services. In the absence of a full-length internship, an online master’s program may incorporate practicum experiences that involve real-world translation services. These opportunities allow students to watch professional translators in action, learn how translation is done in actual work environments, and hone their own translation skills. A capstone project may also be required in which a student selects a relevant problem pertaining to translation studies and embarks on a research journey to address the problem.

A Career as a Graduate with an Online Masters Degree in Translation

The most fitting career for those who have earned a master’s degree in translation is that of interpreter and translator. Depending on their language skills a student may make a living converting English to other languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, or Japanese, or vice versa. While interpreters and translators typically only require a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree could help set you apart from the competition for the best jobs in translation, particularly if your undergraduate degree is not relevant to translation. Much faster than average employment growth – 42% – is expected for interpreters and translators from 2010 and 2020 due to growing international trade and other factors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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