Master of Arts in Disability Studies

Format: Online
Application Deadlines
  • Spring 2021 Priority Deadline: November 5, 2020
  • Spring 2021 Regular Deadline: December 3, 2020

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. 

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

  • Spring 2021 Priority Deadline: November 5, 2020
  • Spring 2021 Regular Deadline: December 3, 2020
Apply Now

Student/Alumni Profiles

Laura Lofaro

MA in Disability Studies 2010

"I feel well-respected having this degree and have brought a wealth of knowledge, experiences, and resources with me to contribute to the program, agency, and the disability field in general."

April Coughlin

MA in Disability Studies 2011

"Each professor showed not only support, but a genuine interest in my research and the topics we discussed both in and out of class."

Nooria Nodrat

MA in Disability Studies 2014

"I learned so much about the legal rights of persons with disabilities, as well as the importance of creating broader educational and professional opportunities for persons with disabilities."

Eldin Cruz

MA in Disability Studies

"Be prepared to study hard, to do lots of reading, to give up wasteful activities, and to challenge yourself."

Recent News About Master of Arts in Disability Studies

Nia Williams

CUNY SPS Disability Studies Student Wins Scholarship

October 28, 2020

The School welcomes news that Nia Williams, a rehabilitation professional attending the MS in disability studies program, has been awarded the 2020 Marge A. Tierney Memorial Scholarship by the New York State Board of Regents.

Urban Law Journal Symposium Explores Issues of Accessibility in Cities

March 02, 2020

Fordham Law News

Dr. Mariette Bates, Academic Director of the Disability Studies Program at CUNY SPS, is featured in Fordham Urban Law Journal’s Spring 2020 Symposium, which explores issues of accessibility in cities.
Margaret Reilly - Academic Director, Nursing

Three CUNY SPS Faculty Receive JFK, Jr. Institute Fellowship

January 23, 2020

Dr. Elizabeth Bishop, adjunct faculty, youth studies program; Margaret Reilly, academic director of nursing; and Cassandra Evans, assistant professor, disability studies programs, have been awarded a JFK, Jr. Faculty Fellowship from the John F. Kennedy, Jr. Institute for Worker Education.

Woman writing in a notebook outside

Journal of Teaching Disability Studies to Launch in Fall 2019

March 11, 2019

In an effort to encourage community and advance instruction in the field of disability studies, Dr. Mariette Bates, Academic Director of Disability Studies at the CUNY School of Professional Studies, announced the publication of the Journal of Teaching Disability Studies (JTDS).