Enrolling in a disability studies program is of great benefit to professionals of many fields. From special education teachers to public health workers, individuals from a wide range of vocations find that earning a certification or degree in disability is highly beneficial to their work. The list below is a ranked selection from research completed on U.S. colleges with disability studies departments. The description of each rated school includes key details of their academic offerings in disability studies.
Points were awarded based on the presence of: comprehensive disability studies curriculum that is relevant to the current state of disabled society; highly experienced faculty in the field; campus organizations or events dedicated to disability education; internships or scholarships in the field; and one point for each additional offering that is uniquely valuable. The 20 colleges profiled here scored the highest among a pool of 60 schools with a net price (per College Navigator) of $34,000 USD or less.
The schools profiled below are ranked in order of points earned. In the event of a tie in points, the schools with the lower net price are ranked higher.
Ranking Colleges with the Best Disability Studies Programs
#20 – Metropolitan State University of Minnesota
St. Paul, Minnesota
Net Price: $13,654
Known for both its innovative academics and flexible course schedules, Minnesota’s Metropolitan State University works closely with its students in achieving their higher education goals. The disability studies minor at this college is a 20-credit program that proves to be a worthwhile supplement to other degree areas. Students enrolled in disability studies programs receive a comprehensive curriculum in the history and current challenges facing disabled society. Some of the specific course topics in the minor in disabilities studies include aging and disability; disability rights; disability and career development; blind, deaf blind, and deaf culture; and other specialize subject areas in the field.
#19 – University of Massachusetts – Lowell
Net Price: $15,965
Found in the city of Lowell, the University of Massachusetts is a nationally respected research institution with students from around the world. UMass has an interdisciplinary minor that conveys a strong understanding of the disabled person’s life in society. Some of the disabilities explored in this minor includes physical; sensory; intellectual; autism spectrum disorder; among others. The University of Massachusetts makes tuition affordable by offering substantial financial aid packages to an average of 90% of students.
#18 – University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA
Net Price: $14,315
One of the nation’s top public research universities, and a member of the Big Ten conference since 1899, the University of Iowa is a large, affordable education option. Part of UI’s academic offerings is their disability studies programs, where enrolled students learn how disability has evolved socially, politically, and historically. This college offers a disabilities studies certificate that is most often paired with majors including physical therapy; special education; health and human physiology; occupational therapy; and others. The University of Iowa distributes over $56 million in scholarships each year, making this college a great deal in disability studies education.
#17 – University of Georgia
Net Price: $13,286
Ranked by Kiplinger magazine as one of the 2016 “100 Best Values in Public Colleges,” the University of Georgia has a higher education option for everyone. Among UGA’s over 140 curriculum fields is in disability studies, where students earn a disabilities certification upon completion of the interdisciplinary program. The disabilities studies certificate is designed to enhance degrees in disability-related fields including special education; speech communication; therapeutic recreation; among others. The faculty of UGA’s disabilities studies department present disability as a strength, rather than a shortcoming.
#16 – Temple University
Net Price: $19,435
With nine campuses and 17 schools and colleges, Philadelphia’s Temple University is the academic home of hundreds of degree programs and nearly 38,000 students. This institution has a highly accommodating range of education opportunities, one of which is in the field of disability studies. The Institute on Disabilities was established in 1973, as part of the university’s College of Education. Students who choose to pursue Temple’s disability studies programs are enrolled in a 12-credit certificate program that can stand alone or to enhance graduate work in disability-related fields.
#15 – University of Maine
Net Price: $16,505
Established in 1865 in the rural countryside, the University of Maine is a resource-rich academic community with a broad spectrum of study areas. UM is also the sight of the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD), where students explore relevant topics in professional practice, policy, and scholarship in the context of living with a disability. The UCEDD is sponsored through the Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies. The faculty at the University of Maine are considered experts in their field and engage in individualized learning.
#14 – Gallaudet University
Washington, District of Columbia
Net Price: $14,080
Located in the nation’s capital, Gallaudet University is a multicultural institution that specializes in the higher education of deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Gallaudet has many offerings to students seeking colleges with disability studies programs. Although this college’s primary academic focus is in ASL (American Sign Language) and other curriculum related to deaf studies, students receive a comprehensive learning experience in the general study of disability. The disability studies courses at Gallaudet introduce students to the historical; political; social; cultural; and other influences on our understanding of life as a categorized “disabled” person.
#13 – University of Hawaii at Manoa
Net Price: $12,163
Founded on 320 beautiful acres in Honolulu, the University of Hawaii at Manoa attracts students from around the world. One of the programs UH Manoa offers is a 15-credit graduate level certificate in disability and diversity studies (DDS). The DDS certificate can be received in tandem with master’s, doctoral, or post-doctoral degree tracks. Most of this college’s students who seek out disability studies programs are in education; psychology; sociology; public health; social work; and similar fields where one works often with disabled persons. Over the course of the average school year, UH Manoa offers over $170 million in financial aid packages.
#12 – Shippensburg University
Net Price: $16,714
Founded in 1871, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania is a liberal arts college with a community-oriented approach to education. This institution’s minor in disability studies is an interdisciplinary program that directly addresses the perceptions we form of disabled society. The disability study minor at Shippensburg also gives a comprehensive overview of rights; laws; societal issues; and best practices in creating inclusive environments for disabled citizens. This college has a variety of campus activities that express support and advocacy for mental and physical disabilities.
#11 – Northern Arizona University
Net Price: $12,946
Offering over 150 degree programs, Northern Arizona University is a large college community that maintains a personalized approach. On the Flagstaff campus of NAU, one can enroll in an undergraduate minor in disability studies; this degree addresses the state of disability in society and how the concept of “normal” has shaped perceptions of the disabled person. One of the primary objectives of the disability studies minor is to guide students toward deepening their appreciation of the inclusion, integration, and independence of disabled persons.
#10 – Eastern Washington University
Net Price: $11,894
Located just outside the city of Spokane, Eastern Washington University is the state’s fastest growing public college institution. EWU offers both an undergraduate and graduate certificate in disability studies. The undergraduate disability certificate is a 15-hour program that focuses largely on disability and the chronic issue of accessibility. EWU’s graduate certificate in disability studies is an expanded version of the undergraduate curriculum, adding topics in disability culture; the daily experiences of disabled persons; laws and policies; history; contributions to society; and more. The Carper Foundation College of Social & Behavior Sciences and Social Work Scholarship is offered in part to qualifying students enrolled in disability studies.
#9 – Miami University
Net Price: $21,775
Oxford, Ohio’s Miami University is an affordable liberal arts institution with competitive academic offerings. Miami’s disability studies minor is an opportunity for students to learn the legal; educational; philosophical; social; artistic; and literary elements of disabled society. The curriculum of the disability studies degree has recently been updated, and students now learn subjects including sign language and how one identifies and becomes a true advocate in the disabled community. MU offers multiple merit-based scholarships and grants both to incoming and current students.
#8 – University at Buffalo
Buffalo, New York
Net Price: $15,546
A large, research-intensive school, the State University of New York at Buffalo is the most comprehensive campus in the SUNY system. One of UB’s academic programs is the UB Center for Disability Studies (CDS), which is a collaboration among People, Inc. and the UB College of Arts and Sciences. People, Inc. is a provider of services to disabled people in Western New York State, and the partnership with SUNY Buffalo mutually expands regional resources and outreach. The CDS offers an M.A. in humanities with a formal concentration in disability studies.
#7 – National Louis University
Net Price: $15,420
National Louis University is a progressive liberal arts college in the beautiful city of Chicago. This institution is one of the most diverse academic communities in the nation, with 44% of the student body identifying as minority. NLU offers a PhD in disability studies, called the doctoral program in disability and equity in education (Ed. D.); this advanced degree curriculum takes on the social; cultural; historical; philosophical; and political beliefs that have shaped the current state of educating disabled persons. A respected leader in the field, National Louis University in one of only four North American universities with an advanced disabilities studies degree in the context of education.
#6 – Pacific University
Net Price: $27,196
A quaint liberal arts college in rural Oregon, Pacific University is a close-knit academic community that values experiential learning. This institution has a disability studies minor available to those seeking to pursue the field; some of the course topics included in the disability program include disability ethics, medicine, and healthcare. PU’s disability studies education also incorporates input from its English; physical therapy; philosophy; and sociology departments on campus. Students enrolled in the study of disabilities are additionally employed as counselors in a 2-week outdoor camp for the disabled.
#5 – Kent State University
Net Price: $18,106
Recently ranked among the top 100 national public universities in U.S. News & World Report, Kent State University is a prestigious institution in Northeast Ohio. Kent is also home to the Center for Disability Studies, a cross-disciplinary institute that educates students about the disabled person’s entire life experience. The Center consists of 16 total federal and privately funded projects related to disability research. KSU engages in community service and disability education initiatives; some of the topics featured in this outreach include deaf education; multiple sclerosis; early childhood special education; and other important topics in disabled society.
#4 – University of California at Berkeley
Net Price: $17,655
Ranked number one public university by U.S. News and World Report for the 17th straight year, University of California at Berkeley is a top-notch education at an affordable tuition. One of the 170 academic programs at UC Berkeley is in disability studies, where students explore disabled society in different cultures and historical moments that have defined today’s perception of disability. Students enrolled in disability studies programs are trained to assist in challenges faced by those with impairments or limitations.
#3 – Hofstra University
Hempstead, New York
Net Price: $30,606
A vibrant campus just east of New York City, Hofstra University gains recognition from respected college guides and publications. One of the university’s undergraduate programs is in disability studies, where students are prepared for a wide range of career choices. Initiated in 2003, the disability studies curriculum addresses complex issues including: genetics and eugenics; health care and insurance; euthanasia; capital punishment; and welfare. Hofstra University has multiple grant opportunities for students pursuing special education; qualified applicants for these disability study grants receive specialized training in their field. One of the campus libraries, the Joan and Donald E. Axinn Library, is considered a central resource for disability studies.
#2 – University of Delaware
Net Price: $15,407
With state-of-the-art facilities and a distinguished faculty, the University of Delaware is an institution with high academic standards. UD’s College of Education and Human Development is where the minor in disabilities studies was established; students who declare this minor are educated on the policies, services, and systems that encourage full societal inclusion of disabled persons. Disabilities studies at UD is supported through its partnership with the Community Advisory Council (CAC), which is a group of individuals who function in disabled society in various capacities. The University of Delaware works closely with its students in keeping them informed of ongoing scholarship and career opportunities in disability studies.
#1 – Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York
Net Price: $29,621
Located at the center of New York State, Syracuse University is a highly competitive institution founded in 1870. SU has one of the most expansive disability studies programs in the country, offering not only the undergraduate level, but also disability studies graduate programs. These include the MA in disability studies as well as the PhD disability studies. Students in the disability studies department may also attain a certificate of advanced study (CAS), which is a 15 credit hour graduate degree ideal for those pursuing disability research, teaching, or other vocations. Syracuse’s distributes an average of $225 million in financial assistance, grants, and scholarships.
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By GCD Staff