Master of Arts in Disability Studies

Format: Online

The MA in Disability Studies 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. A fundamental premise of the disability studies approach is that the direct experience of individuals with disabilities is primary.  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 Master's Degree 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; and
  • Research for ongoing learning and writing in disability studies.

Career Prospects

The Master's Degree in Disability Studies prepares a new generation of leaders in community-based or governmental agencies. It prepares students 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 a specialization 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

Applications for Spring 2020 are due by November 21, 2019

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Student/Alumni Profiles

Stephen Ippolito

MA in Disability Studies

"The next step in my journey is to use the knowledge I have acquired to become an advocate for people with disabilities. I will continue volunteering at the Lions Club to help others become independent and successful. In the near future, I would like to start an organization to better assist people with disabilities."

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."

Allan Goldstein

MA in Disability Studies 2015

“The school respects the schedule of a full-time employed person, so hybrid (online and in person), evening, and Saturday offerings are typical; I appreciated that I could complete the degree in a reasonable amount of time while keeping my day job.”

Recent News About Master of Arts in Disability Studies

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 (CUNY SPS), along with her colleagues at CUNY and other institutions across the country, have announced the publication of the Journal of Teaching Disability Studies (JTDS).

Lecturer sitting in classroom with people with disabilities

Making Disability Less Abstract

October 23, 2017

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Allan Goldstein, an MA in Disability Studies alumnus and a senior lecturer in NYU's engineering school, invites people with disabilities into the classroom to consult with students.

Meet NYC’s First Digital Accessibility Coordinator

February 16, 2017

City of New York

MA in Disability Studies alum Walei Sabry serves as NYC's first Digital Accessibility Coordinator.
Mariette Bates Receiving Award

Dr. Mariette Bates Receives Distinguished Honor from Friends of Asha Niketan, Inc.

September 19, 2016

On Thursday, September 16, 2016, Friends of Asha Niketan held their annual luncheon during which time they honored Dr. Mariette Bates, academic director of the disability studies programs at the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS), for her contributions, leadership, and advocacy in academia and the human services field.