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Graduate Programs in Disability Studies

Disability studies programs are available in several different formats at the graduate level. Explore some of the program options, their program requirements, common coursework and standard admissions requirements.

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Graduate degree programs in disability studies are often interdisciplinary programs that are available as advanced certificate, master's, and doctoral degree programs. Students in these programs study disability from many different perspectives, including science, law, humanities and more. Learn more about these programs and their requirements here.

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Courses for Graduate Programs in Disability Studies

Certificate and master's degree programs in disability studies may be offered online and on-campus, while doctoral degree programs are typically only available on-campus. These degree programs usually involve fieldwork to provide hands-on experience and culminate in a master's capstone project or doctoral dissertation. Graduate programs often include some of the common courses discussed below.

Disability Law

Courses in disability law and policy may focus specifically on analyzing the Americans with Disabilities Act or take a broader approach to the subject and look at additional pieces of legislation. Students generally examine discrimination and policy issues in areas like education, housing, public accommodations, and employment. Students discuss the civil rights of people with disabilities and may examine some policies with international reach, such as policies from the United Nations.

Aging and Disability

Courses in aging examine the aging process and disabilities that are common to older people. Some of these courses may examine disability through the entire life cycle, while others may include issues of advocacy and service delivery for the elderly. Other common topics for these courses may include family support, dementia care, community building, and more.

Cultural Politics of Disability

Students in cultural politics of disability courses examine society's knowledge of disability and health issues. Students discuss various psychosocial, sociopolitical and cultural perspectives of disability and how these perspectives are constructed. These courses may also touch on relationships between disability and gender, race, media, literature, and poverty.

Family Perspectives

Courses in family perspectives may vary in their emphasis to cover family support strategies, the family life cycle with someone who has a disability, and family-centered interventions. Students usually explore research, theories, and policies in these different subjects. Topics may include, but are not limited to, evaluating family support, family involvement with someone who has a disability, self-advocacy, mental health resources, cultural competence, and more.

Research Methods in Disability Studies

Students in disability studies programs are typically required to take a research methods course to study specific research methods in the field. Students examine the ethics and methodologies for conducting interviews, creating surveys, and designing research projects. These courses also cover data analysis and report writing and may culminate in a final research project.

Common Entrance Requirements

Many graduate certificate, master's, and doctoral degree programs in disability studies require applicants to have a minimum GPA of a 3.0 and submit letters of recommendation, a personal statement and a resume with their application. Some programs may also request GRE scores and/or require an interview. Disability studies programs at all levels typically require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree, and although it is not always required, doctoral programs encourage applicants to have a master's degree. It is also not required to have a background in human services, but that may be an advantage in these programs.

Students interested in disability studies can pursue a graduate certificate, master's, or doctoral degree in the subject. These programs typically require fieldwork and cover a wide range of topics to examine disability from multiple perspectives.

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