West Virginia University is uniquely qualified to offer the state's first comprehensive interdisciplinary disability studies program resulting in a Certificate in Disability Studies. The University offers degrees in programs that are closely aligned with the aims of the certificate and houses the state's only federally recognized Center for Excellence in Disabilities (CED). The certificate may be awarded at either the undergraduate or graduate level.

Purpose of the Certificate

The Certificate in Disability Studies prepares students, as citizens, to cope with the complex economic and social issues related to disabilities by learning directly from persons with disabilities and their families. Students will be trained to enter the workforce with the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to provide state-of-the-art services to persons with disabilities and their families, and to interact with co-workers who have disabilities.

Through the certificate program, students collaborate with, and learn from experts in the disability arena, including pediatric neurologists, geneticists, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, special education leaders, social workers, physical and occupational therapists, and others. These professionals, who are experienced clinicians, researchers, and educators, provide didactic instruction, clinical instruction, and mentorship to students.

Students will also have the opportunity to gain leadership and management skills that prepare them to enter the workforce with increased professional independence. The certificate program exposes students to social justice issues, Appalachian concerns, principles of practice, and cultural diversity while developing their expertise in rural practice environments. As part of the certificate program, students have the opportunity to observe clinics that serve those with disabilities and their families.

Program Description

The Certificate Program at the undergraduate level consists of 19 credit hours divided into three major components:

  1. Six hours are obtained from two, 3-credit hour "core" courses that focus solely on disabilities: DISB 380 Disabilities and the Family and DISB 385 Disability and Society.
  3. Twelve hours are by arrangement with the student, the student’s major advisor, and course instructors for required courses and electives in the student’s own major field of study. No more than 9 hours can come from a single course prefix area. Within the non-core courses a project, clinical experience, or research that relates the student’s major area of study to persons with disabilities is required.  At least a B- is required in all course work a student wishes to apply toward the Certificate.
  5. A final capstone experience (DISB 486) results in a portfolio and final essay documenting the growth of the student in Disability Studies that is presented to members of the Interdisciplinary Certificate Committee. (1 hour credit).

The Certificate Program at the graduate level requires the completion of 15 credit hours.

  1. Students must take the two, 3-credit hour mandatory interdisciplinary courses, offered through the College of Education and Human Service (CEHS), DISB 580 Disabilities and the Family and DISB 585 Disability and Society.
  3. Six hours may be elective courses that cover subject matter related to persons with disabilities or courses within the student’s own academic discipline for which they have received prior approval from the Certificate Program director and the course instructor. Students will be required to complete a project that applies course work to issues relating to persons with disabilities.
  5. Two credit hours are earned through 30 volunteer hours (DISB 682) in which the student has direct interaction with persons who have disabilities.
  6. One credit hour is the capstone experience (DISB 685), which includes samples of the student's accumulated work in disabilities, a final essay, and an oral presentation.


The Interdisciplinary Program in Disability Studies is administered through the Center for Excellence in Disabilities in collaboration with the College of Education and Human Services in collaboration with representatives from the Department of Psychology; Division of Physical Therapy; Division of Occupational Therapy; Eberly College of Arts and Sciences; Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology; Department of Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling and Counseling Psychology; Division of Social Work; College of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences; Department of Special Education; West Virginia Developmental Disabilities Council.

Funded in part by the Administration for Children and Families / Administration on Developmental Disabilities.