Master of Arts in Disability Studies

Format: Online
Application Deadlines
  • Fall 2024 Priority Deadline: April 4, 2024
  • Fall 2024 Regular Deadline: May 16, 2024

The MA in Disability Studies online degree program, the first stand-alone program of its kind in the country, offers students a unique opportunity to examine disability from an interdisciplinary perspective, including the social sciences, humanities, science, social policy, and the law. Designed around the fundamental belief that the direct experience of individuals with disabilities is paramount and using the social model of disability, the program incorporates overlapping lenses through which students discover a new understanding of disability and society.

The degree provides students with the intellectual and methodological tools to assume greater responsibility and leadership in the future as service providers, advocates, researchers, or policy makers. Students study with renowned faculty from CUNY as well as expert practitioners from public and private organizations.

Graduates of the MA in Disability Studies are reflective, knowledgeable, and flexible professionals, researchers, educators, and advocates in their chosen disability-related field. Graduates think, write, and speak critically about:

  • Disability experience, both individual and social
  • Disability and the arts/creativity in disability culture
  • Improvement in quality of life and justice for people with disabilities
  • Field-based applications to disability-related practice
  • Research for ongoing learning and writing in disability studies

Career Prospects

The MA in Disability Studies prepares a new generation of leaders in community-based or governmental agencies. It provides students with the skills to begin or further a career working with and for people with a wide range of disabilities and is ideal for administrators, social service professionals, educators, scholars who wish to specialize in Disability Studies, people with disabilities or family members, and advocates.

Note: The MA in Disability Studies is a liberal arts degree that does not lead to certification or licensure in any of the applied professions (social work, special education, or rehabilitation counseling). The goal of the program is to provide students with the intellectual and methodological tools to enable them to assume leadership roles in providing services, formulating or changing disability policy, and advocating for removing barriers to full inclusion in public and private organizations and the broader society.

Scholarship Opportunities

Meet Our Faculty

Admissions Criteria

Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, with a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Applicants are required to write a personal statement, upload a resume, and provide two letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation may be submitted before or after submitting an application. Please note that an individual interview may be necessary.

Background as a human services professional, advocate, researcher or policy maker is an advantage, but is not essential. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

Application Deadlines

  • Fall 2024 Priority Deadline: April 4, 2024
  • Fall 2024 Regular Deadline: May 16, 2024
Apply Now

Student/Alumni Profiles

Nikki Wilkes

MA in Disability Studies / Advanced Certificate in Disability Services in Higher Education 2002 and 2023

"I returned to CUNY SPS to complete the Advance Certificate in Disability Services in Higher Education, and I have not regretted it. I am now working in my desired field as a disability access coordinator."

Matt Conlin

MA in Youth Studies / MA in Disability Studies 2021/2015

"For me, one of the more defining aspects of CUNY SPS is its community. I have found an incredible support system in my colleagues, peers, and mentors."

Danielle Lucchese

MA in Disability Studies 2016

"My experience as a disability studies student greatly influenced my role as an adjunct faculty member in the field, because I am able to take the knowledge I gained from the disability studies program and pass it forward."

Katherine Smith

Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies and MA in Disability Studies 2009 and 2012

"My CUNY SPS master’s degree in disability studies allows me to approach my job in a much different light....providing a more objective assessment.”

Recent News About Master of Arts in Disability Studies

NDEAM 2023 official poster featuring field of red, gray, teal, blue and yellow and words “Advancing Access & Equity,"

Honoring National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2023

October 16, 2023

This October, students and faculty from the CUNY SPS disability studies programs will host events exploring disability employment issues.

A Brief But Spectacular take on how everybody can learn

July 25, 2023

PBS NewsHour

Allan Goldstein, an author, lecturer, and alum of the CUNY SPS MA in Disability Studies program (Class of 2015), describes how his younger brother Fred survived the Willowbrook State School, an institution on Staten Island for people with disabilities that became notorious in the 1970s for its neglect and abuse of residents. Once Fred got out, Goldstein saw his brother’s many talents that had never been nurtured. In this PBS NewsHour Brief But Spectacular short video, Goldstein shares his story and offers his take on how everybody can learn.
Photo of CUNY SPS Disability Studies Professor Neil Harbus

Disability Studies Professor Awarded 2023 Adjunct Faculty Teaching Prize

June 22, 2023

Professor Neil Harbus, who teaches in the disability studies programs, accepted the award for his creative and innovative online teaching in a ceremony on June 7.

Disability Rights Activist Judy Heumann

CUNY SPS Honors Legendary Disability Rights Activist

April 21, 2023

Judy Heumann, known as the mother as the disability rights movement, was an inspiration for the CUNY SPS disability studies programs.