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Top Universities for Disability Studies in 2022-2023

Apr 28, 2022

Best colleges and universities for Disability Studies in the world

About Disability Studies

Disability studies is an academic and interdisciplinary field. It examines the concept of disability in social, cultural, historical, and political contexts. Disability is often viewed as a deviation from generally accepted norms. This discipline relies on social sciences and humanities rather than the medical aspect. 

Students learn to address the conditions of the disabled across different social scenarios. They advocate civil rights and work towards improving their lives. Since the 1980s, some of the best disability studies programs have emerged in the US, UK, and Canada.

Popular Disability Studies programs in the world

Academically, disability studies intersect with several other relevant subjects. Programs in this area often explore the relationship between disability and aspects of society and culture: race, ethnicity, gender, and social class. 

The following bachelor’s programs are available in disability studies.

  • Bachelor of Arts in Disability Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Health Sciences (People, Society, and Disability Major)
  • Bachelor of Arts in Human Services (DS Major)
  • Bachelor of Arts in Education, and DS

Disability studies are also offered as optional modules or minor subjects in several programs. Some universities include disability studies as a part of teacher education programs or as a specialization within early education degrees. As a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary area, disability studies often gets placed within programs in the faculties of Arts, Social Sciences, Humanities, Education, Health Sciences, and even Law.

The best disability studies graduate programs are available as

  • Masters of Disability & Community Studies
  • Postgraduate Diploma in DS
  • MSc Psychology & Disability
  • MSc Rehabilitation & DS
  • MA of Disability, Ethnicity and Racism

Disability Studies syllabus

An undergraduate program in disability studies may focus on the following courses.

  • Introduction to Disability
  • Disability Studies: Theory and Culture
  • Communication Diversity and Support
  • Critical Issues in Disability
  • Community Approaches, Advocacy, and Empowerment
  • Employment and Disability
  • Professional Ethics
  • Early Childhood Intervention
  • Social Justice in Action 

Students should note that this is not a complete list of subjects in the disability studies curriculum. Universities may include topics from other disciplines (race, ethnicity, gender, foreign languages) to supplement the program. 

Duration of Disability Studies programs

Country Bachelor’s level Master’s level
United States 4 years 1-2 years
United Kingdom 3 years 1 year
Canada 4 years 2  years
Australia 3-4 years 2 years

Best-ranking universities for Disability Studies in the world

QS Ranking US News Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
19 6 Columbia University United States Click here Click here
27 58 University of Manchester United Kingdom Click here Click here
32 4 University of California Berkley United States Click here Click here
40 14 University of California Los Angeles United States Click here Click here
62 92 University of Bristol United Kingdom Click here Click here
85 7 University of Washington United States Click here Click here
90 91 University of Birmingham United Kingdom Click here Click here
92 149 University of Leeds United Kingdom Click here Click here
120 52 Ohio State University United States Click here Click here
132 187 Lancaster University United Kingdom Click here Click here
173 244 University College Dublin Ireland Click here Click here
202 330 University of Reading United Kingdom Click here Click here
205 253 University of Aberdeen United Kingdom Click here Click here
235 169 University of Calgary Canada Click here Click here
283 218 Deakin University Australia Click here Click here
284 556 Massey University New Zeland Click here Click here
285 227 University of Illinois Chicago United States Click here Click here
290 201 Griffith University Australia Click here Click here
340 376 University of Hawaii at Manoa United States Click here Click here
407 439 Flinders University Australia Click here Click here
494 456 York University Canada Click here Click here
531-540 346 University of Delaware United States Click here Click here
601-650 387 University of Manitoba Canada Click here Click here
651-700 383 Syracuse University United States Click here Click here
701-750 1111 University of Windsor Canada Click here Click here
701-750 668 Northumbria University United Kingdom Click here Click here
701-750 NA City University NY United States Click here Click here
751-800 303 Temple University United States Click here Click here
801-1000 933 Ryerson University Canada Click here Click here
801-1000 756 University of Wyoming United States Click here Click here
1001-1200 1296 Sheffield Hallam University United Kingdom Click here Click here

Disability Studies in the US

Most universities offering programs or courses in disability studies are in the US. Syracuse University was among the very first universities to expand its programs to include a range of disability studies courses. Most universities in the US offer a minor in disability studies in their bachelor’s programs:

  • Minor in Disability Studies
  • BA Major/Minor in Deaf Studies

Full-length master’s programs, doctoral programs, and graduate certifications are offered by American universities-

  • M.A. in Deaf Studies
  • Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization in DS
  • MSc Education in DS
  • Ph.D. in Disability and Equity in Education

Top-ranking universities for disability studies in the US

QS Ranking US News Ranking University Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
19 6 Columbia University Click here Click here
32 4 University of California Berkley Click here Click here
40 14 University of California Los Angeles Click here Click here
85 7 University of Washington Click here Click here
120 52 Ohio State University Click here Click here

Disability Studies in the UK

Most universities in the UK offer disability studies in conjunction with other subjects. Unlike in the US, students in the UK have several options to major in disability studies. Some undergraduate programs include

  • BA in Disability Studies and Advice, Guidance, and Counselling
  • BA in Disability Studies and Childhood Studies
  • BSc in Deaf Studies
  • BA in Theatre, Education, and Deaf Studies
  • BA in Learning Disability Studies

The duration of a typical undergraduate degree in the UK is three years.

Postgraduate diplomas, certifications, and one-year master’s degrees with and without research are available for disability studies:

  • MSc in Psychology & Disability
  • MSc in Disability Studies (Research)
  • MSc in Deaf Studies
  • MA/Diploma in Disability and Special Education
  • MA/Diploma in Disability, Ethnicity, and Racism

Top-ranking universities for disability studies in the UK

QS Ranking US News Ranking University Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
27 58 University of Manchester Click here Click here
62 92 University of Bristol Click here Click here
90 91 University of Birmingham Click here Click here
92 149 University of Leeds Click here Click here
132 187 Lancaster University Click here Click here

Disability Studies in Canada

Canada has been one of the forerunners in raising awareness about the disabled population. It has been involved in projects on a national and international scale to promote inclusive societies for all. In addition, reputed universities in Canada, such as the University of Manitoba, have programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Most bachelor’s programs are offered as a Bachelor of Arts in Disability Studies or a minor subject in undergraduate degrees of other relevant disciplines.

Master’s programs in disability studies are available as

  • Masters of Disability & Community Studies
  • Interdisciplinary Masters in Disability Studies
  • MA in Critical Disability Studies

Top-ranking universities for Disability Studies in Canada

QS Ranking US News Ranking University Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
235 169 University of Calgary Click here Click here
494 456 York University Click here Click here
601-650 387 University of Manitoba Click here Click here
701-750 1111 University of Windsor Click here Click here
801-1000 933 Ryerson University Click here Click here

Academic requirements for Disability Studies programs

Undergraduate level

  • Certificate of secondary education with at least 70%
  • Proof of English proficiency with an IELTS score of at least 6.0 or equivalent 
  • Statement of purpose (required by some universities)

Graduate level

  • Relevant bachelor’s degree with a GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Proof of English language proficiency with an IELTS score of 7.0 or equivalent.
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Two or three years prior work experience (required by some programs)

Careers after graduating Disability Studies

Students who wish to make a career in disability studies are often individuals with high empathy and compassion. They want to enhance lives through advocacy and support. 

Careers in disability studies are often placed in rehabilitation centers, senior homes, government offices, educational institutions, and support organizations.

After a degree in disability studies, students can choose the following careers:

  • Social workers/Human services professionals
  • Occupational therapists
  • Special education teachers
  • Researchers
  • Counselors

Disability studies can also lay an excellent foundation for careers in law, journalism, politics, nursing, and psychology.

Average salary after Disability Studies degree

Country Average Annual Salary in USD*
United States $45,000
United Kingdom $32,600
Canada $38,100
Australia $46,300

* Average annual salaries are converted from the local currencies to USD at the current exchange rate. Please note that exchange rates vary periodically.

Frequently Asked Questions

Entry criteria for disability studies are general. Students should complete the 12th standard with at least 70%. Students should also prove English language proficiency. The IELTS score should be at least 6.0 or equivalent.

No. Universities do not have any entrance examination scores for undergraduate degrees in disability studies.

Depending on the university and country, the annual tuition fee for an undergraduate degree in disability studies can range from USD 10,000 to 30,000. Note that most US universities offer a disability studies minor.

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