Sep 18, 2019  
2019-2020 Catalog and Handbook 
2019-2020 Catalog and Handbook

Master of Arts in Disability Studies

Academic Director: Mariette Bates, PhD
CUNY School of Professional Studies
119 West 31st Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10001
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The mission of the Disability Studies Program is to develop leaders who will improve the lives of people with disabilities. In a welcoming and hospitable environment, students are taught to think about disability in a social, cultural and political context, and to conduct research, apply theory, and advocate for inclusion, access and opportunities for disabled people.

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the MA in Disability Studies will be able to:

  1. Analyze disability experience, both individual and social, and the models used to frame disability.
  2. Compare and contrast disability narrative, disability and media, the arts and other creative aspects of disability culture to mainstream media and the arts.
  3. Summarize disability rights emerging from disability history, disability law and policy.
  4. Explain major factors contributing to inequality impacting people with disabilities including but not limited to race, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and health opportunities.
  5. Engage in advanced critical thinking and writing about disability related topics.
  6. Demonstrate how their learning has increased their knowledge and broadened their approach in their chosen field(s) of disability work or scholarship.
  7. Identify methodologies commonly used in qualitative research about disability.

The Program

The MA in Disability Studies, 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. The program utilizes a ‘person centered’ approach to the study of disability, incorporating overlapping lenses through which students realize disability as a social construction as opposed to a deficit inherent in an individual.

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 program 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.

Admission Criteria

In addition to the admission criteria for graduate degree programs, background as a human services professional, advocate, researcher or policy maker is an advantage, but not essential. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.


Students of the MA in Disability Studies are introduced to the social model of disability and are challenged to think critically about disability in relation to a variety of academic disciplines and society. Through intense coursework and fieldwork, students explore the phenomenon of disability in depth, gain new insights and skills, and become part of a growing community in this exciting field.