Disability Studies Certificate

Equity, inclusion, and understanding are at the heart of Disability Studies. As a powerful challenge to the assumptions about people with disabilities, Disability Studies looks at disability as a facet of society and culture, and as an individual experience that is not solely governed by a medical model. The significance of disability is important in all professional and academic contexts such as cultural studies, law, health research and practice, and education.

This 18-credit, interdisciplinary undergraduate certificate is offered in partnership with the Writing Institute and housed in the College of General Studies. Our program offers a diverse course selection representing a range of academic departments from English Composition to Rehab Sciences, from Film Studies to Sociology. Understanding the history and experiences of people with disabilities is valuable across career paths in our increasingly diverse society.


The CGS Difference

The Disability Studies certificate gives students a flexible framework of courses, bringing a Disability Studies lens to their home fields of study and engaging with Disability Studies as a rich interdisciplinary field in its own right.  

Who Should Participate

  • Those who identify as disabled and want to gain perspective and engage with the idea of disability. 
  • Those who interact with individuals with disabilities in the course of their daily work (therapists, teachers, health providers, care givers, technologists, legal counselors). 
  • Those who wish to more accurately and fully represent the experiences and perspectives of people with disabilities. 
  • Those who work in any setting and who recognize that disability is a form of diversity and want to be better, more informed allies.  
  • Those who want to work in advocacy roles for constituencies that include people with disabilities. Students already enrolled in the College of General Studies or other University programs who want to concentrate on communication skills

Program Expectations

Graduates of this program will be able to:

  • Ethically represent people with disabilities in expressive forms such as writing, film and television media, and music.
  • Identify barriers to access for people with disabilities, including environmental, attitudinal, policy, and social barriers.   
  • Develop strategies for increasing accessibility in a variety of public, professional, and institutional settings. 
  • Advocate for social, legal, educational, and other concerns impacting populations with disabilities. 
  • Critically examine the intersection of disability and other identity and cultural constructs, such as gender, sexuality, and race. 

Program Requirements

  • The Disability Studies certificate requires 18 credits, including one core course, and five elective courses. Courses must be taken from at least three (3) subjects. No more than nine (9) total credits (Core Course and two [2] Electives) can come from ENGCMP; no more than six (6) credits can come from any other single subject code (ENGFLM, GSWS, SOC, etc.). 
  • Credits earned at other accredited educational institutions may be eligible for transfer on a case by case basis.  
  • A minimum of nine (9) credits must be earned at the University of Pittsburgh. 
  • A cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher is required in courses being applied to the certificate.  

Required Course: (3 credits)


Electives: (15 credits)

Five elective courses must be taken from at least three different academic departments (ENGCMP can count as one of these three departments). Courses must be approved for Disability Studies credit. With permission of the director, students will be able to count the internship or independent study courses in their majors as electives. Consult Pitt's Course Catalog for current listings. Some approved courses include:

Note: Cross-listed with LING 1721
Note: Cross-listed with FMST 0790
Note: Cross-listed with FMST 1261
Note: Cross-listed with FMST 1533
Format: F2F and Web

Program Planning Checklist

Download our handy Disability Studies checklist (PDF)  to plan and track your progress in the program.

Important: Course Overlap Rules

As you plan your certificate coursework, please make sure to review the CGS Course Overlap policy for information on how many courses can be double-counted if a student elects to pursue a CGS certificate in combination with other CGS and non-CGS majors, minors, and certificates. If you have questions, please contact your CGS advisor or CGS Advising at CGSAdv@pitt.edu.


Sam Pittman, MFA
Director, Disability Studies Certificate
526 Cathedral of Learning
Department of English
University of Pittsburgh