Disability Studies, Minor

Program Code: DBLTY_UMNR

Program Description

The Disability Studies minor is designed for students to learn about the lived experiences, cultural history, social systems, and institutional forces of ableism surrounding disability. In addition to the requirements of the student's major department, the minor consists of 18 credits selected from several colleges and departments. For those majoring in health care disciplines (e.g. speech and communication, psychology, special education, rehabilitation and human services, nursing and pre-med), a Disability Studies minor provides relevant interdisciplinary links that broaden exposure to conversations around disability beyond the clinical and administrative realms. For students in the humanities (e.g. history, philosophy, political science, and literature), Disability Studies offers important new dimensions of and challenges to dominant accounts of human value and political agency. For students with personal experience of disability and their allies, the minor provides an academic grounding and community for disability advocacy and intersectional activism on personal, community, and national levels.

What is Disability Studies?

The minor includes courses on disability culture, activism, and history. It asks the following questions: what counts as "normal" and why? What are the racialized and class dimensions of "ability"? How do people with disabilities navigate a largely inaccessible world? What does disability look like on a global scale? What are the lived experiences of disability, and how are they central to American history and culture? How is disability coded by gender or sexuality? What is the value of learning about the lives and contributions of people with disability? How is disability related to environmental studies, bioethics, animal studies?

You Might Like This Program If...

  • You are interested in the engineering or architecture of built environments, health care professions, art and performance, social history, social justice activism, the political philosophy of citizenship, contemporary literature, legal studies, community advocacy, universal design. The list is endless, since Disability Studies is a genuinely multidisciplinary field. All students are welcome.

Program Requirements

Requirement Credits
Requirements for the Minor 18

Requirements for the Minor

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the minor, as specified by Senate Policy 59-10. In addition, at least six credits of the minor must be unique from the prescribed courses required by a student's major(s).

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
ENGL 228Introduction to Disability Studies in the Humanities Keystone/General Education Course3
RHS 100Introduction to Disability Culture Keystone/General Education Course3
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
Select 3 credits from ENGL 496, or an equivalent independent research course or internship approved by the faculty member in charge3
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Supporting Courses and Related Areas: Require a grade of C or better
Select at least three courses for at least 9 credits from an approved department list in consultation with adviser9

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university's academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.


University Park

Liberal Arts Academic Advising
Use the Liberal Arts Meet the Academic Advisers web page to see the contact information for the specific adviser(s) of this program

Career Paths

Ph.D. in Disability Studies, supportive courses for graduate degrees in Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, Social Work, medical school, design engineering, others.


Coordinator for diversity and accessibility programs within universities, corporations, or non-profit organizations; OT, PT, Speech Therapy, disability programming, community education and outreach, consultation.


University Park

434 Burrowes Building
University Park, PA 16802