The Disability Studies Major


Disability studies is a multidisciplinary field that examines the nature, meaning, and consequences of disability. The scholarship and teaching in the field of disability studies advances an understanding of disability as not only individual experiences of ‘impairment,’ but also a dynamic and ubiquitous human experience that can be examined from social, cultural, historical, artistic, legal, and political perspectives. In recent years, the field has examined how ableism intersects with other forms of oppression, such as racism and sexism, to shape the projected and lived experiences of anyone whose body and/or mind deviates from societal ideals of normalcy and ability.

The Disability Studies Major embraces a methodology that examines disability as a social, cultural, and aesthetic construct, manifest in and shaped by artistic practices of representation and embodiment, that influences the perception of whose lives are valuable to society, and that serves as the basis for a range of policies, norms, and practices.

The Disability Studies major is a designated capstone major. Students have the option of completing a capstone seminar (Disability Studies 191) or independent research project (Disability Studies 199A/B or 198A/B) that enables them to use knowledge and skills acquired through previous coursework to engage, under the guidance of a faculty member, in a research or creative project that result in a final paper or other product.


Upon completion of the Disability Studies major curriculum, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of disability studies concepts, theories, history, and political movements.
  • Integrate multiple perspectives on disability through interdisciplinary inquiry.
  • Develop professional skills through academic and applied experiences.
  • Use theory to inform practice through participation in community-engaged learning activities.
  • Conduct and communicate research to various audiences.

Note to 2024 graduates: Students graduating this Spring or Summer, must declare the major by Friday, October 20, 2023.

Pre-Major Requirements


Students must complete all pre-major courses with a 2.0 grade-point average. The following requirements constitute the preparation coursework for the Disability Studies Major.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: Students must complete all pre-major courses before applying to the Disability Studies major. Students must apply for the major by the end of Spring quarter of their junior year.

Course Title/Description Units
Disability Studies 1 The Construction of (Dis)ability and Ableism in the U.S.
4 Additional Lower Division Preparation Courses Select one approved course from each of the categories

Social Theory: Anthropology 3, Public Affairs 10 or 80, Sociology 1

Race, Identity & Society: African American Studies 1 or 6, American Indian Studies M10, Asian American Studies 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50, Chicano Studies 10A or 10B, Chicano/a & Central American Studies 20, Clusters 20B, 80B, M72B, Communication M72B, DESMA 10, Education 11, Gender Studies 10, Labor Studies 10, Society and Genetics M72B, Sociology M72B, WACD M23

Humanities & Ethics: Clusters M71B or 73B, Comparative Literature 1E, DESMA 10, MCDB 60, Philosophy 22 or 22W, Society and Genetics 5 or M71B

Data Analysis: Education 35, Life Sciences 40, Political Science 6, Public Affairs 60, Statistics 10 or 13

5 Courses 25-27 Units

Upper Division Major Requirements


Each course must be taken for a letter grade. Students must earn a grade of C or better in Disability Studies 101W. Disability 101W and one quarter of Disability Studies 195CE or 196 must be taken prior to the capstone (Disability Studies 199A or 198A or 191). The following requirements constitute the upper division requirements for the Disability Studies major.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: Students must complete all pre-major courses before applying to the Disability Studies major. Students must apply for the major by the end of Spring quarter of their junior year.

Course Title/Description Units
Disability Studies 101W Perspectives on Disability Studies
2 Disability-Centered Electives Select from our approved list of quarterly course offerings.
4 Courses in Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Disability Select one approved course from each of the following categories.

Health Humanities & Bioethics:

Anthropology 137P or 149, Asian American Studies M117, M129 or M161, Community Health 100 or M140, Comparative Literature 180, Disability Studies 138XP, M139, M148, M166, M172&M172XP or M183, Education 132, Health Policy and Management M110, English Composition 131C, History 179A, 179B or 179C, Honors M183, Nursing M172&M172XP, Philosophy 173, Public Affairs 131 or 134, Psychology M107, 127A, 127B, 127C, or M139, Society & Genetics M166 or M183, Sociology M148.

Access & Social Change: Community Engagement and Social Change 172XP, Disability Studies 145, M148, M149, M166 or M172&M172XP, Design Media 171, Education 104A, Gender Studies 152, Nursing M172&M172XP, Psychology 132A, Society and Genetics M166, Sociology M120 or M148.

Representation, Embodiment, and Disability Cultures: American Sign Language M115, Comparative Literature 180, Disability Studies M103, 111, M114 M115, M121, M139, or M161, English M103, Gender Studies 104, M121 or M161, Psychology M139, Theater M114.

Global & Historical Perspectives: Anthropology 137P or 149, Community Health Sciences 132, Comparative Literature 180, Disability Studies M103, English M103, Gender Studies 152, History 179A, 179B, or 179C.

Internship or Research Practicum Select from one of two options.

Option 1: 2 quarters of DS 195CE- Community Internships in Disability Studies

Option 2: 2 Quarters of DS 196- Independent Research Apprenticeship

Capstone Select one of the three options.

Option 1: Research Seminar

5-unit, 1 quarter Disability Studies 191

Option 2: Independent Research

6-unit, independent research project over 2 quarters (2 unit 199A in first quarter, 4 unit 199B in second quarter.)

Option 3: Honors Research Project

6-unit independent research project over 2 quarters (2 unit 198A in first quarter, 4 unit 198B in second quarter.)

10-11 Courses 42-43 Units
Major Application


To enter the major, students must:

  • complete all preparation courses
  • have a UC grade-point average of 2.0 or better in preparation courses and an overall GPA of 2.0
  • submit an application form and modeled DAR with Disability Studies Major

Incoming first-year students may be admitted as Disability Studies pre-majors on acceptance to UCLA. All other continuing students must first complete Disability Studies 1, and then contact the undergraduate counselor in A265 Murphy Hall to request pre-major standing.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: Pre-major students must apply for major standing by the end of Spring quarter of their junior year.

Transfer applicants to the Disability Studies major with 90 or more units must complete the following preparatory courses prior to admission to UCLA: one social theory course; one race, identity, and society course; one humanities and ethics course; and one data analysis course. Disability Studies 1 (offered Winter quarters) must be taken at UCLA once a transfer student is admitted to the University. DS 101W is offered Fall, Winter, and Summers and ideally would be taken after DS 1. Transfer DS majors are provisionally approved into the DS major until a “C” or higher grade earned in DS 1 and DS 101W.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: Transfer students must apply to the Disability Studies major by the end of Spring quarter of their first year at UCLA. 


The application for the Disability Studies Major will become available at the start of each academic term (Week 0 or 1) and will remain open through Friday of Week 3.

Applications must be submitted by Friday of Week 3 (by 11:59PM PT) to be considered for admission to the major during the term in which you apply. Any applications received after Friday of Week 3 will not be reviewed until the following academic term.

All applications will be reviewed during Weeks 4 and 5 of each academic term. Each applicant will be notified of their application results no later than Friday of Week 5.


Disability Studies Major FAQ

Departmental Honors


All honors students must complete their capstone requirement by taking courses 198A and 198B, in which they research, write, and present an honors thesis. To receive honors at graduation, students must have at least a 3.5 GPA in courses applied toward the major (including 198A and 198B) and an overall GPA of 3.0.

Departmental Honors are noted on official transcripts and diplomas.

Internship Guidelines


All majors in Disability Studies must complete two consecutive quarters of an internship experience. Over a span of 20 weeks at one community-based agency, students obtain both breadth and depth in their understanding of the conceptual and practical implications of disability. Throughout the internship, students apply ideas learned in DS courses, in particular ableism/paternalism and the social model vs. medical models of disability, and directly witness how disability is constructed and framed by different agencies.

Internship Requirements

  • At one community-based agency that provides direct services for persons with disabilities or a government agency responsible for policies on disability issues
  • The Disability Studies 195CE internship course is 4 units/quarter and letter-grade only
  • The Internship must involve 160 hours spread throughout two consecutive quarters (8-10 hrs/wk; Fall/Winter or Winter/Spring quarters)
  • Professional work environment
  • Supervised off-campus location (UCLA-affiliated centers are RARELY approved, and internship work must involve interaction with community stakeholders, not peers)
  • Connection to the major and your interests
  • Attend bi-weekly meetings with the internship coordinator at the Center for Community Learning. Writing assignments and a final research paper will be required

Information about 195CE Course Requirements: Visit the UCLA Center for Community Learning.

Types of internships

  1. Direct service internships offer a hands-on opportunity to work with disabled adults or children. Examples include a teaching assistant position in a special education classroom or work with adults at a local regional center.
  2. Policy internships are generally affiliated with government agencies. The Los Angeles Mayor’s office has responsibility for ADA compliance and places students in internships that support those efforts.
  3. UC Center Sacramento  or UCLA Quarter in Washington  are alternative options for completing the DS 195CE internship requirement. The affiliated internship must work directly with the disability community or be responsible for policies on disability issues. UC Center Sacramento is the only internship option available in the summer.

Internship Preparation and Planning

Given the two-quarter commitment for completion of Disability Studies 195CE, students are encouraged to reflect on the bullet points below to ensure an internship site will be a good fit and provide a positive learning experience.


  • Job Duties
  • Scope/Field of site (e.g., legal, physical therapy, education, etc.)
  • Alignment with personal goals
  • Opportunity to explore new/different areas

Getting to Know the Site

  • Clear understanding of expectations of interns
  • Clear timeline/deadline to complete work
  • Opportunities to receive feedback for growth
  • Work environment/culture
Additionally, as students reflect on the points above, they can follow the points below to find and secure an internship for enrollment in Disability Studies 195CE for an upcoming quarter.
  • Explore and seek potential internships at least one or two quarters before the term you intend to officially enroll in DS 195CE.
    • Use the DS 195CE Internship Information Guide as a reference.
    • Be prepared to share a resume with possible sites. (For help with resumes, cover letters, or interview preparation, please consult the UCLA Career Center.)
    • You can always consult with the DS academic counselor or CCL DS internship coordinator if you have questions or need help in your search for an internship.
  • Contact potential internship sites and apply, interview, etc.
    • Research internship site (Have an idea of the work that you may be doing)
    • Start with an email to the site recruiter/supervisor of the internship
    • In your introduction email be sure to address the following:
      • Introduction (brief and related to your current standing and goals).
      • Interest Message (tie it back to what you know of the organization or position).
      • Closing statement (a closing sentence or two to welcome further discussion or lead to your contact information).
      • You can find a sample email template here.
    • Wait a reasonable amount of time to send a follow-up. Be sure to not put all your eggs in one basket and apply to other internship opportunities that you see as being good fits.
    • Contact another internship site and repeat this process until you hear back from an internship site of your interest for an opportunity to interview.
  • Secure an internship by being offered a two-quarter position that will allow you to work 8-10 hours per week for a minimum total of 80 hours during an academic quarter (160 total hours over two quarters). Lastly, be sure that the internship site is a good fit for you before starting the Disability Studies 195CE enrollment process.


Enrollment Steps

  1. Create a 195CE Course Contract following steps listed on this website (step 4). Please follow the step-by-step guidelines.
    1. The contract must be signed by your internship supervisor.
    2. Petition your academic counseling unit to go over 19 units, if needed.
  2. Request your internship supervisor’s signature on the Letter of Agreement (available on step 6 of website to download.)
  3. Schedule an intake appointment with the DS Graduate Student Instructor during Weeks 8-10 of the quarter preceding your internship or Weeks 0-2 of the quarter when you want to enroll**
    1. Schedule an intake appointment via MyUCLA (Academics > Appointments)
    2. For your intake appointment, please have the required information:
      1. Name and location of your internship site
      2. Name and email address of your supervisor at the internship
      3. Description of internship duties from the organization (i.e. offer letter or position ad)
      4. Signed 195CE Contract AND Letter of Agreement by your Site Supervisor
  4. Submit the signed DS 195CE contract to the DS Graduate Student Instructor during your intake appointment.
    1. The DS Graduate Student Instructor will forward the signed DS 195CE contract to the DS academic counselor for enrollment. The deadline for enrollment is Friday, Week 2.
  5. Verify enrollment on yourMyUCLAstudy list and Degree Audit Report by the end of Week 2 (or Week 3 if you turn in paperwork late).

NOTE: For the second quarter of your internship, you will need to follow steps 4 – 7.

**International students are asked to schedule intake appointments for Week 8-10 of the quarter preceding their internship course. Domestic students are asked to schedule intake appointments for Week 0-2 of the quarter in which they will be enrolled. All intake appointments must be completed by Wednesday of Week 2.

Disability Studies 196: Research Apprenticeship

In lieu of DS 195CE, DS majors can complete two terms of Disability Studies 196. Research apprenticeships offer the opportunity to work under the guidance of faculty affiliated with the Disability Studies major. Majors will collaborate with DS faculty on their research in an area related to disability studies. Individual contract required and Letter grading only. Examples include assisting a faculty member on researching and assessing a local non-profit. DS 196 research apprenticeship opportunities are rare. If available, they will be announced by the DS academic counselor.

Capstone Guidelines


The senior capstone is designed to integrate and synthesize learning from earlier coursework and previous research as well as the internship experience. See more information on Capstone Expectations . The requirement can be fulfilled with one of the following:

  1. Disability Studies 191 – Senior Research Seminar
    In-depth study of major themes in disability studies research. Themes vary by instructor and term. Students pursue independent research related to course theme, with guidance from instructor, then share and critique other student works in progress. This course is only offered in Spring quarters.Minors are manually enrolled into this course.
  2. Disability Studies 199A/B – Directed Research in Disability Studies
    Disability Studies 199A (2 units) and 199B (4 units) is two terms of supervised independent research or investigation designed by the student and under the guidance of a faculty mentor. The two-term course culminates in a paper or project.Individual contract required and created through MyUCLA.
  3. Disability Studies 198A/B – Honors Research in Disability Studies
    Disability Studies 198A (2 units) and 198B (4 units) is two terms of supervised individual research or investigation designed by the student and under the guidance of a faculty mentor. The two-term course culminates in an honors thesis or comprehensive research project.Individual contract required and created through MyUCLA.


Enrollment Steps

  1. Secure a faculty mentor before the quarter you want to start your independent research
  2. For the 1st quarter of your project, create a contract for DIS STD 199A or 198A on MyUCLA
    • Meet with your faculty mentor to review the contract and have them sign it
    • Submit the signed contract to Myrna Dee Kikuchi by Friday, Week 2
  3. For the 2nd quarter of your project, create a contract for DIS STD 199B or 198B on MyUCLA and repeat the process.


2023-24 DS Electives

DS Capstone Expectations

UCLA Library Disability Studies Research Guide

Research Tips & Strategies

Cornerstone Research Workshop Series