students in caps and gowns gather with families on campus after ceremony

About Leadership & Career Studies

Leadership & Career Studies (L&CS) at Temple University is a four-year certificate program for young adults with intellectual disability or intellectual disability and autism. It offers an authentic college experience while developing our students' academic abilities, career aspirations, community engagement, and self-determination.

All L&CS students...

  • Take academic courses and explore college life
  • Use the Charting the LifeCourse model, including Person-Centered Planning to explore their interests, plan for the future, and imagine what supports they need to help them live their best life
  • Complete employment experiences based on goals and interests
  • Participate in Temple's activities, events, and organizations
  • Match with peer mentors who are matriculated Temple students

Admission Guidelines: Students must...

  • Have intellectual disability or intellectual disability and autism as documented through the Office of Intellectual Disabilities in the county where the student lives
  • Be registered with the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Be age 18 to 26 when they start the program
  • Be able to pay for classes through service funds or privately
  • Have transportation to Temple's campus
  • Be available to attend day and evening classes
  • Be available to spend 10 hours per week engaging in college life with peer mentors

How much does it cost?

This, and more information can be found on the Think College website.

What funding supports are available?

  • The Pennsylvania Inclusive Higher Education Consortium (PIHEC) offers a helpful overview of options to pay for inclusive postsecondary education.
  • Temple University is able to offer federal financial aid for students in Leadership & Career Studies, a Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP).
  • Students on an eligible Medicaid Home and Community-Based Waiver may be able to cover tuition and fees and peer support costs as education support services. Students and families can work with their supports coordinator to discuss how education support services may fit into their service plan.
  • Students eligible for supports from the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) may be able to fund services within L&CS in their individualized plan for employment. This PIHEC resources includes detailed guidance.

What courses do L&CS students take?

Students are required to take 12 electives and four core courses:

  1. Interpersonal Communication
  2. Leadership and Communications
  3. Introduction to Special Education
  4. Understanding Urban Communities

What credential do students earn?

Students earn a certificate of completion.

Does L&CS offer housing through Temple University?

Currently, L&CS does not have a residential component. Students may live near campus in non-Temple housing.


The L&CS Student and Family Newsletter is emailed to students and families four times per semester. It contains program news, opportunities, and some fun photos featuring our students.

students relax together on lawn near Temple's bell tower

For Students and Families

L&CS students spend four years at Temple University engaging with ideas, learning about themselves and others, and enjoying the college experience. They choose their courses based on their interests and direct the support they need.

During their time in L&CS, students complete five semesters of employment experiences located both on and off Temple's Main Campus. They will have a variety of internships, both paid and unpaid, designed to lead to competitive paid employment.

Students also develop relationships with other Temple students and work together on academic, career, and personal goals.

What does it take to be an L&CS student?

To be considered for admission, students must...

  • Have intellectual disability or intellectual disability and autism as documented through the Office of Intellectual Disabilities in the county where the student lives
  • Be registered with the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Be age 18 to 26 when they begin the program
  • Be able to pay for classes through service funds or privately
  • Have transportation to Temple's campus
  • Be available to attend day and evening classes
  • Participate in extracurricular activities at least 10 hours per week

Student Clubs

Temple University offers hundreds of clubs and activities for all students. Learn about Temple's clubs and activities.

Disability Resources and Services

Students register with Temple's Disability Resources and Services office in addition to the supports they receive through L&CS.

Resources for Students and Families

  • PNC Financial Training: PNC Bank offers free articles and webinars to educate students about financial health through My Finance Academy.
  • Assistive Technology: L&CS students are encouraged to learn about and borrow assistive technology from TechOWL.
  • Wellness: Temple's Wellness Resource Center offers creative and innovative programs that give students an opportunity to learn and grow.
  • Think College: an organization dedicated to expanding research and practice in inclusive higher education for students with intellectual disability. Think College made a brief video that introduces post-secondary programs like Temple's L&CS.

For Faculty

L&CS works with faculty across the university to support students in the classroom. A dedicated coordinator will support the faculty member to ensure the best outcome for the student, their classmates, and the instructor.

Who are students in L&CS?

L&CS students are predominately residents of Philadelphia and surrounding areas. They have earned a high school diploma or equivalent and...

  • May have accommodation(s) directed by Temple's Disability Resources and Services department
  • Will have an individualized learning plan, for example, instead of completing an assigned 10-page term paper, L&CS students may instead substitute a Power Point presentation
  • Are eager to learn and are excited by the opportunity to be part of the university experience

Training, Support, and Engagement Opportunities

  • The L&CS Academic Relations Coordinator, Erin Metzinger, will work with faculty as they support students to successfully complete courses.
  • One of the most helpful resources for faculty is Think College, the national coordinating center for inclusive postsecondary education programs for students with intellectual disability. The Think College fact sheet is a great place to start.

Other Resources for Faculty

Plain Language

Faculty Champions

L&CS staff depend on faculty champions, who have experience supporting our students. We are building a listing of our champions to share.

What is Intellectual and Developmental Disability?

The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) defines intellectual "disability as a condition characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual function and adaptive behavior, manifesting before the age of 22." More detailed information about this definition of intellectual disability can be found on the AAIDD website.

What is the difference between learning plan modification and accommodation?

At Temple University, accommodations are issued by DRS using guidance from the Americans with Disabilities Act.

An individualized learning plan, established through the collaboration of L&CS staff and faculty, may include modifications to course requirements. These modifications are designed to respect course requirements while also supporting the student’s achievement of learning outcomes.

Helpful Abbreviations

  • CAT: Center for Advancement in Teaching
  • CEHD: College of Education and Human Development
  • DRS: Disability Resources and Services
  • IOD: Institute on Disabilities
  • ODP: Office of Developmental Programs
  • OVR: Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
  • PCP: Person-Centered Planning
two students inside pizza parlor

Peer Mentors

Each student in L&CS is matched Temple students who serve as peer mentors. Peer mentors support student in accessing the college student life, from academics to social events. Current Temple students in good standing are recruited, hired, trained, and supervised by L&CS staff at the Institute on Disabilities to serve as effective and supportive mentors. Peer mentors support students as they participate in academic, recreational, and social activities.

diverse group of about 30 students around a table in student lounge

Program History

Leadership & Career Studies started at the Institute on Disabilities in 2008 as the Academy for Adult Learning.

The Academy for Adult Learning (AAL) was developed to give students with intellectual disability an opportunity to experience an authentic college experience. Between 2008 and 2016, the AAL was a two-year program, which welcomed between three and eight students each year. In 2017, the program was restructured as a four-year program and renamed Leadership & Career Studies.

L&CS Staff

  • Kathryn Burke, Associate Director
  • Cheryl Torsney, Program Manager
  • Erin Metzinger, Academic Relations Coordinator
  • Emily Trott, Coordinator of Student Supports
  • Jenna Doran, Career Development Specialist
For more information about the program, as a student, family member, or peer mentor, please contact:

Cheryl B. Torsney, PhD
Program Manager, Leadership and Career Studies
Telephone: 215-204-1356