Master of Arts in Disability Studies

Format: Online
Application Deadlines
  • Fall 2022 Priority Deadline: April 7, 2022
  • Fall 2022 Regular Deadline: May 19, 2022

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 an 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. 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 2022 Priority Deadline: April 7, 2022
  • Fall 2022 Regular Deadline: May 19, 2022
Apply Now

Student/Alumni Profiles

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."

Stephen Ippolito

MA in Disability Studies and BA in Sociology 2017 and 2014

"I was able to use what I learned to help create a more efficient management system for our district at the LCI as well as bring awareness of disability accessibility to my employment at NYU.”

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.”

Daniel Chan

Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies, MA in Disability Studies, and MS in Disability Services in Higher Education 2015, 2016, and 2017

"My CUNY SPS degrees have given me the confidence and credibility to do my job.”

Recent News About Master of Arts in Disability Studies

Photo of comedian and disability advocate Maysoon Zayid

Comic and Disability Advocate Inspires CUNY SPS Students

October 19, 2021

CUNY SPS hosted a memorable night of laughter and community-building with comedian, actor, writer, and disability advocate Maysoon Zayid.

2021 National Disability Employment Awareness Month Poster featuring map of United States with graphics of people

Disability Awareness Celebration Highlights Accessibility Trend

October 13, 2021

CUNY SPS is commemorating National Disability Employment Awareness Month with events that explore how accessibility has shifted during COVID.

York's Dr. Vaigneur: a Renaissance man for the twenty-first century

September 29, 2021

York College News

Dr. Truett Lee Vaigneur, a student in the CUNY SPS MA in Disabilities Studies program and LEADS specialist at York College's Counseling Center, describes what led him to a career in disability services in this York College profile.

Online Learning Consortium Announces 2021 OLC Accelerate Award Winners

August 25, 2021

Online Learning Consortium

CUNY SPS disability studies faculty member Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler has been named a winner of the Online Learning Consortium's 2021 OLC Accelerate award, which celebrates peer-reviewed excellence in digital teaching and learning practice and scholarship, equity and inclusion, and open education.