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Institute on Disabilities at Temple University


Disability Studies

Disability Studies Program

Upcoming Courses

Course listing updates in progress. Check back soon.

How to apply


The Graduate Certificate in Disability Studies can be earned at Temple in conjunction with master's or doctoral coursework in a wide variety of subjects. The Certificate can also be earned through a freestanding course of study not linked to a graduate degree. In either case, students complete the Graduate Certificate in Disability Studies as a professional credential that signifies the centrality of disability within their academic or professional field.

Students will be required to take four courses (12 credit hours) in order to earn the Graduate Certificate in Disability Studies. These courses will be offered on a two-year rotation. Students will be able to complete the requirements within two years.

The program is not intended to provide professional certification, or instruction in direct service or clinical areas.

Required Course Work

Course numbers and credit hours may be found in Temple University's Graduate Bulletin.

  • Disability Rights and Culture
    This course provides a socio-historical survey of the political, economic, social, and culturally-based relations between people with disabilities and those without disabilities in America. Topics such as the social construction of disability and the changing experiences of people with disabilities are discussed in the context of other civil rights movements and the broader evolution of social policy.
  • Field Work in Disability Studies
    In this course, students are provided with experiential learning opportunities through investigations into the lives of people with disabilities. Students are required to work with and be mentored by people with disabilities and their families, as they investigate individuals with disabilities in specific settings and/or sets of life experiences. Throughout this course, students are supervised by a faculty member.

Elective Courses—students will choose two of the following

  • Action Research
    In this course, students explore the foundations of collaborative and action research. There is a focus on the sets of beliefs that lead to and underlay action research, and how these beliefs are different from traditional paradigms. Students work on the practical means by which those affected by research are included in its design. Readings and discussion focus particularly on disabilities and include considerations of gender, race, class and sexual orientation.
  • Disability and Social Policy
    In this course, students examine public policy in the United States, particularly the influence of recent Congressional actions and judicial decisions in the areas of education, health care, human development, rehabilitation and employment of individuals with disabilities. Students examine the origins, goals, and target populations directly affected by these policies and the extent to which policies are consistent with each other. Students assess the efficacy of policies and the impact they have on people’s real lives, particularly people with disabilities, family members and professionals.
  • Disability Studies in the Humanities
    The focus and content of this course will depend upon the interests of faculty and graduate students. Health and Disability in American history, Disability in Performance Studies, Disability and American Literature, Imaging Bodies in world films, and cross-cultural disability studies are a few examples of possible topics covered in this course.

How to Apply

For students already enrolled in a Temple University graduate degree program: If the Certificate is to be obtained in conjunction with a master's or doctoral degree, students will be accepted to the Graduate Certificate in Disability Studies Program on the basis of an internal application and graduate transcripts. Application for students enrolled at Temple (online application).

For students not enrolled in a Temple University graduate degree program: Students who are applying for the freestanding certificate must submit:

  1. a completed external application form (online application);
  2. an official transcript of all previous college work, showing a baccalaureate degree from an accredited university and an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 (on a four-point scale);
  3. two letters of recommendation from persons in a position to evaluate the applicant's academic ability and accomplishments;
  4. a 1-2 page personal statement indicating interests, plans and objectives within the field of disability studies.

Application deadline for spring admission: December 15

Please send all application materials in one envelope to: Graduate Certificate in Disability Studies - Application
Institute on Disabilities
1755 North 13th Street
Student Center, Room 411S
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Program faculty and staff