Graduate Certificate in Interdisciplinary Disability Studies

The University of Maine Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies is now offering a 3-course Graduate Certificate in Interdisciplinary Disability Studies.

The certificate program is a progressive 9-credit graduate-level curriculum in which individuals from a variety of disciplines and professional backgrounds can study with students and professionals from other fields to acquire specialized knowledge in disability theory, policy and research.

Three online asynchronous courses examine disability theory, policy, and practices that address disability needs, rights and interventions. The Graduate Certificate in Interdisciplinary Disability Studies provides a valuable credential for those currently working in direct services (i.e., rehabilitation, nursing, social work or education); the creation of accessible environments and products (web designer, landscape architect, or engineer); or those interested in or involved with disability and human rights policy. The program is open to individuals who have obtained a baccalaureate degree, including those who seek only the certificate; individuals who want to study in one or more of the courses without seeking the certificate; and students currently matriculated in masters and doctoral programs.

View or download the Graduate Certificate in Interdisciplinary Disability Studies (PDF)

Student Learning Outcomes for Graduate Certificate in Interdisciplinary Studies

PLO 1. Students will articulate the history and current definitions, treatment, and policies specific to embodied impairment.

PLO 2. Students will critically evaluate how each definitional model drives responses.

PLO 3. Students will master varied analytic and design tools as the basis for creating innovative, disability inclusive and rights action.

PLO 4. Students will apply knowledge and skills mastered in the certificate program to individual disciplines, scholarship, and career foci.


Elizabeth DePoy, Ph.D., IDS Professor
Stephen Gilson, Ph.D., IDS Coordinator and Professor

The course sequencing is designed to allow a student to complete the graduate certificate in 12 months or less. Students complete the following three courses to obtain the Graduate Certificate in Interdisciplinary Disability Studies:

DIS 500 – Contemporary Disability Theory (typically offered during the Summer semester)

Critically examines historical and contemporary context of disability and analyzes the emergence of disability as a contemporary category of human diversity. Identification and analysis of the political, social, economic, intellectual, and technological trends relevant to disability rights. Analyzes universal principles as the next paradigmatic framework for the promotion of socially just community responses to diversity and difference. Credits: 3

DIS 520 – Disability: Advanced Interaction of Human Diversity and Global Environments (typically offered during the Spring semester)

Examination and analysis of the service, support, and community contexts in which people with disabilities live, work, and participate. Distinction between and analysis of the concepts of accommodation and universal design/access. Critical examination of service and community responses to diversity and difference. Collaborative leadership strategies to improve inclusion and social justice for all people including those with disabilities. Credits: 3

DIS 530 – Disability Policy (typically offered during the Fall Semester)

Analyze the historical context of current disability policy. Critically examine the major federal legislative policies that guide disability responses. Apply, compare, and contrast multiple models of policy analysis to the examination of policy and identification of needed policy change and policy advocacy. Credits: 3

A few examples of individuals who would benefit from this sequence of study in the certificate program include the following:

  • An engineer interested in crafting sporting equipment for adaptive kayaking and canoeing;
  • An artist examining the changes in depiction of people with disabilities in painting;
  • An educator interested in progressive technology for educating students with disabilities in public education;
  • social worker interested in advocating for civil rights for marginalized populations including people with disabilities;
  • musician interested in studying alternative ways to perform to audiences who cannot hear;
  • student enrolled in graduate education in the professional fields, humanities, and all sciences who is interested in disability-related research and scholarship.

For more information, please contact Dr. Stephen F. Gilson, Graduate Coordinator and Professor of Interdisciplinary Disability Studies at 207.581.1263 or email:

To enroll in the certificate courses and/or apply for the Graduate Certificate in Interdisciplinary Disability Studies, please visit the University of Maine Graduate School or call at 207.581.3291.