Scholarships for disability studies offer free financial support to students choosing this relatively new major to expand society’s understanding of disabilities.
From the bachelor’s to the Ph.D. level, disability studies programs immerse advocates in researching the effects of ability-based marginalization and unfair treatment. Students work to develop actionable goals for improving equality among the United States’ more than 56.6 million disabled citizens.
Choosing the disability studies major segues into gratifying careers like rehabilitation counselor, social worker, case manager, health educator, group home administrator, and ADA specialist. The BLS reports that disability studies majors are entering a human services sector poised for faster-than-average job growth at 10 percent through 2024.
If you’re passionate about removing barriers to inclusion, the following disability studies scholarships are for you.
1. Arthur A. Schomburg Fellowship
Deadline: June 30th
The Center for Disability Studies at SUNY Buffalo created the Arthur A. Schomburg Fellowship to gift $7,000 stipends to outstanding graduate students who are pursuing the M.A. in Humanities with the formal Disability Studies Concentration. Qualified scholars must register full-time with 9+ credits, apply for New York State residency, obtain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, have overcome an impediment or disadvantage to higher education success, and attach three recommendations.
Arthur A. Schomburg Fellowship
552 Park Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260
2. Bethesda Lutheran Communities Scholarships
Deadline: May 1st
Founded in 1904, Bethesda Lutheran Communities is a Christian nonprofit serving over 2,000 disabled people across 14 U.S. states and awarding $20,000 in scholarships. Four members of the Lutheran faith who are pursuing bachelor’s degrees full-time are selected yearly. Eligibility criteria requires attending accredited U.S. colleges, having at least one year remaining, excel academically with a 3.0 GPA or better, and intend to share Jesus’ love with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Bethesda Lutheran Communities Scholarships
600 Hoffmann Drive
Watertown, WI 53094
3. Bishop Charles P. Greco Graduate Fellowship
Deadline: May 1st
The Knights of Columbus manages 650 scholarship funds for nearly $2 million, including the $2,000 Bishop Charles P. Greco Graduate Fellowship. Since 1973, it has supported United States citizens who are enrolling full-time in accredited master’s programs for special education, inclusive teaching, or related disability studies to teach children with intellectual disabilities. The application is reserved for the spouses and children of KofC members in good standing.
Bishop Charles P. Greco Graduate Fellowship
P.O. Box 1670
New Haven, CT 06507
4. Bonnie Watson-Peterson Scholarship
Deadline: March 31st
The Rehabilitation Association of Nebraska (RAN) bestows the Bonnie Watson-Peterson Scholarship for $500 annually upon a local Cornhusker who’s enrolling full-time in a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral program for rehabilitative occupations. Acceptable majors include social work, human services, rehabilitation counseling, disability studies, and psychology. Applications must be accompanied by a grade transcript, statement of disability, letter of recommendation, and personal goals essay.
Bonnie Watson-Peterson Scholarship
301 Centennial Mall South 6th Floor
P.O. Box 94987
Lincoln, NE 68509
5. Chris Bell Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: March 6th
Named after the late AART Fellow at Syracuse University, the Chris Bell Memorial Scholarship is presented by the Society for Disability Studies (SDS) for up to $1,000 . It’s designed for non-white racial minority scholars who are conducting thesis or doctoral research at accredited U.S. institutions that broadens the field’s empirical-based knowledge about ethnicity. Other disability studies scholarships offered at the SDS Conference include the Tanis Doe Prize and Irving K. Zola Award.
Chris Bell Memorial Scholarship
P.O. Box 5570
Eureka, CA 95502
6. Dennis Lang Award for Disability Studies
Deadline: May 7th
To honor the founder of the University of Washington’s Disability Studies Program, the Dennis Lang Award grants $500 to deserving undergraduate or graduate students on any UW campus who are devoted to resolving social injustices against people with disabilities. Eligible candidates must be taking at least one disability studies course with a minimum “B” average. To apply, submit a resume or curriculum vitae, academic transcript, and brief personal statement of activist endeavors.
Dennis Lang Award for Disability Studies
Seattle, WA 98105
7. Edith Weingarten Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: December 4th
The American Occupational Therapy Foundation offers several scholarships that post-baccalaureate disability studies majors could utilize for finishing an AOTA-accredited program in occupational therapy to serve people with disabilities. For example, the $1,000 Edith Weingarten Memorial Scholarship assists two disability advocates who’ve completed at least one year of occupational therapy courses with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Also consider the NorthCoast Medical Scholarship and Kappa Delta Phi Scholarship.
Edith Weingarten Memorial Scholarship
4720 Montgomery Lane Suite 202
Bethesda, MD 20814
8. Florence Margaret Harvey Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: April 1st
Valued at $2,500, the Florence Margaret Harvey Memorial Scholarship is funded by the American Federation for the Blind’s (AFB) Delta Gamma Foundation to support visually impaired undergraduate or graduate students who are pursuing disability-related majors. To qualify, students must be United States citizens, attend accredited four-year colleges, have best corrected visual acuity of 20/200 or less, and specialize in the rehabilitation or education of blind persons.
Florence Margaret Harvey Memorial Scholarship
2 Penn Plaza, Suite 1102
New York, NY 10121
9. Frederick J. Krause Scholarship
Deadline: November 15th
The American Association on Health and Disability (ADHD) distributes the Frederick J. Krause Scholarship for $1,000 to honor the Illinois special education teacher who was appointed Executive Director of the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation in 1969. Suitable applicants will be full-time undergrad or post-grad students with disabilities who are majoring in any field related to disability awareness. Being a U.S. citizen or legal resident, attaining at least sophomore status, and actively participating in community service is required.
Frederick J. Krause Scholarship
110 N. Washington Street Suite 328-J
Rockville, MD 20850
10. Karman Healthcare Mobility Disability Scholarships
Deadline: September 1st
Karman Healthcare, a leading wheelchair manufacturer, offers two Mobility Disability Scholarships for $500 annually to physically disabled students who’ve helped build disability awareness in America, perhaps as a disability studies major. Candidates must be at least 16, be matriculating full-time at an accredited U.S. university, use mobility devices regularly, and hold a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better. The application process involves writing an essay describing the biggest challenges of living with a mobility disability.
Karman Healthcare Mobility Disability Scholarships
19255 San Jose Avenue
City of Industry, CA 91748
11. Lurie Doctoral Fellowship Program
Deadline: January 1st
At Brandeis University, the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy offers a three-year, full-time Doctoral Fellowship to cover tuition and bestow a stipend for advanced scholars in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Future policymakers must be admitted for the Ph.D. in Social Policy program with a concentration in Behavioral Health, Children and Youth, or Assets and Inequalities with hopes of improving the disability service system. Fellows are assigned mentors to complete a disability-focused research project.
Lurie Doctoral Fellowship Program
415 South Street MS 035
Waltham, MA 02453
12. Marie Newton Sepia Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: March 15th
The Pilot International Foundation initiated the Marie Newton Sepia Memorial Scholarship for $1,500 to assist 10 outstanding graduate students who are preparing for careers helping youth diagnosed with disabilities, especially neurological disorders. Eligible master’s and Ph.D. programs include nursing, health science, disability studies, special education, rehabilitative therapy, and psychology. Selection is based upon academic merit with a minimum 3.25 GPA and dedication to encouraging brain safety.
Marie Newton Sepia Memorial Scholarship
102 Preston Court
Macon, GA 31210
13. Mary Switzer Research Fellowships
Deadline: May 15th
The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) created the competitive Mary Switzer Research Fellowships in 1973 to provide up to $75,000 for doctoral candidates who are undertaking projects relevant to disability studies. Early-career fellows affiliated with accredited U.S. graduate schools could conduct research on psychiatric rehabilitation, assistive technology, special education, disability rights, and similar topics. The 12-month fellowship is full-time for 40 hours per week.
Mary Switzer Research Fellowships
400 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20202
14. Michael Morrison Visionary Scholarship
Deadline: February 10th
Founded in 2008, the Michael Morrison Visionary Scholarship honors the dedicated disability rights advocate at the Vision Center in Columbus by providing $500 to $1,000. The Ohio Rehabilitation Association (ORA) seeks “Buckeye State” residents who are matriculated full-time in accredited undergraduate or graduate programs related to the rehabilitation profession, including disability studies. Applications must include a typed, 500-word scholarship essay, which will be published in the Interchange newsletter.
Michael Morrison Visionary Scholarship
6111 Chaney Drive
Toledo, OH 43615
15. NAJA Graduate Scholarship Program
Deadline: February 1st
Since 1962, the National Association of Junior Auxiliaries (NAJA) Inc. has honored Betty W. Robbins’ memory by providing over $1.24 million in graduate scholarships to students intending to serve the special needs of exceptional children. United States citizens hailing from the Southeast from Florida to Missouri can only apply. These scholarships for disability studies welcome diverse majors though, such as speech pathology, psychology, special education, school counseling, and hearing impairment.
NAJA Graduate Scholarship Program
845 S. Main Street
Greenville, MS 38702
16. Price Benowitz Social Justice Scholarship
Deadline: March 1st
Disability studies majors could pursue the $1,000 Social Justice Scholarship from Price Benowitz LLP, a Baltimore-based personal injury law firm. Interested applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED, register full-time at accredited U.S. colleges, maintain a cumulative “B” average or better, and actively work to make the world a more equitable place. The application and resume must be accompanied by a 750-word essay describing the major challenges people with disabilities face.
Price Benowitz Social Justice Scholarship
108 W. Timonium Road Suite 333-A
Timonium, MD 21093
17. Rehabmart.com Disability Studies Scholarships
Deadline: May 31st
Rehabmart.com, a medical supplies retailer, contributes $25,000 annually to providing Disability Studies Scholarships to disabled and non-disabled students who are majoring in education or healthcare fields to work with individuals with disabilities. Qualified recipients can receive $250 to $2,500 based on unmet financial need to attend any accredited two- or four-year college in America. Scholarship essays must clearly explain how medical technology improves the lives of disabled children or adults in 250+ words.
Rehabmart.com Disability Studies Scholarships
1353 Athens Way
Elberton, GA 30635
18. Rick Fleetwood Scholarship Fund
Deadline: March 31st
Worth $1,500, the Rick Fleetwood Scholarship Fund is one of several disability studies scholarships managed by the Arkansas Rehabilitation Association (ARA) to reward students who care deeply about disabled persons. Appropriate applicants must be full-time undergrad (12+ credits) or graduate (9+ credits) with at least junior standing who hold a minimum 3.0 major GPA in studies like rehabilitation science, speech therapy, and deaf education. There’s also the R. Lewis Urton Scholarship and Vincent H. Bond Scholarship.
Rick Fleetwood Scholarship Fund
525 W. Capitol Avenue
Little Rock, AR 72201
19. Scott and Paul Pearsall Grant
Deadline: October 1st
The American Psychological Foundation (APF) awards the Scott and Paul Pearsall Grant for $10,000 each year to M.S. and Ph.D. students from diverse majors who have devoted their graduate research to studying the psychological effects of stigma on physical disabilities like cerebral palsy and Down syndrome. Eligible candidates must submit a project proposal with IRB verification, one-page budget plan, faculty mentor recommendation, and curriculum vitae.
Scott and Paul Pearsall Grant
750 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
20. William and Dorothy Ferrell Scholarship
Deadline: March 25th
The Association for Education and Rehabilitation (AER) of the Blind and Visually Impaired gifts the William and Dorothy Ferrell Scholarship for $1,000 yearly. It’s designed to support post-baccalaureate scholars who are legally blind with visual acuity of 20/200 or worse. Funding can reduce tuition at any accredited post-secondary institution worldwide for career training to serve blind individuals. Don’t forget to attach two references, physician certification, and an autobiographical sketch.
William and Dorothy Ferrell Scholarship
1703 N. Beauregard Street SUite 440
Alexandria, VA 22311
Being committed to lessening the negative emotional and social consequences of disability is a noble goal. Altruistic students majoring in disability studies may struggle under the burden of rising collegiate tuition though. Disability studies degrees in the United States are primarily found at private, nonprofit institutions where costs are higher. For example, Syracuse University charges $33,312 yearly on average for its M.S.Ed and Ph.D. in Disability Studies. Scholarships, along with fellowships and grants, are extremely helpful to lower costs without building insurmountable debt. Consider these scholarships for disability studies that generously support tomorrow’s social justice pioneers.