Master of Arts in Disability Studies

Format: Online
Application Deadlines
  • Fall 2023 Priority Deadline: April 6, 2023
  • Fall 2023 Regular Deadline: May 18, 2023

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. 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 2023 Priority Deadline: April 6, 2023
  • Fall 2023 Regular Deadline: May 18, 2023
Apply Now

Student/Alumni Profiles

Cara Liebowitz

MA in Disability Studies 2015

"I always knew I wanted to work in the disability field. The Disability Studies program at CUNY SPS just solidified that desire for me, and gave me more of a formal background."

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."

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.”

Recent News About Master of Arts in Disability Studies

9 New Albums You Should Listen to Now: Show Me the Body, Westside Gunn, and More

November 29, 2022

Pitchfork Magazine

CUNY SPS MA in Disability Studies student Molly Joyce recently released the album "Perspective", which features forty-seven different interviews with disabled persons addressing various issues on access, care, weakness, interdependence, and more. The album, which made Pitchfork Magazine's "9 New Albums You Should Listen to Now" list, is intended to be heard alongside open-captioned videos in an effort to emphasize multisensory accessibility.

Accessibility at Sarah Lawrence

November 09, 2022

Sarah Lawrence Phoenix

Daniel Chan, an alum of the MS in Disability Services in Higher Education and MA in Disability Studies programs at CUNY SPS, is profiled in the article Accessibility at Sarah Lawrence. Chan is the new Dean of Disability and Access at Sarah Lawrence College.

Journal of Teaching Disability Studies Publishes Third Issue

October 20, 2022

The new issue explores several pedagogical experiments made by disability studies practitioners at their schools.

Student Events to Honor National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October 04, 2022

In recognition of NDEAM, the Disability and Access Coalition will offer three career prep workshops for students with disabilities.