Disability studies is an academic discipline that examines the meaning, nature, and consequences of disability as a social construct. Disability Studies examines the concept of disability as a social, cultural, and political phenomenon. In contrast to medical, clinical, or therapeutic perspectives on disability, Disability Studies focuses on how disability is defined and represented in society.

Disability studies courses include work in disability history, theory, legislation, policy, ethics, and the arts. However, students are taught to focus on the lived experiences of individuals with disabilities in practical terms. Disability Studies includes a diverse group of people. People who are blind or deaf, or who use wheelchairs, have chronic pain, or learn at a slower pace than other people, and so on have vastly different experiences and perspectives.

Yet, they share in common society’s definition of them as disabled, with consequences for how they are viewed and treated by the majority which is presumed to be nondisabled. The field is focused on increasing individuals with disabilities access to civil rights and improving their quality of life.

As a field of study, Disability Studies is interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary.


The UGA Disability Studies Certificate Program was ranked #17 (of 60) on the Top 20 Best Deals for Disability Studies by Great College Deals in 2016. Points were awarded based on the presence of:

  • Comprehensive disability studies curriculum that is relevant to the current state of disabled society;
  • Highly experienced faculty in the field;
  • Campus organizations or events dedicated to disability education; and
  • Internships or scholarships in the field.