25 Great Scholarships for Disability Studies

Scholarships for disability studies give college students the financial backing to examine the social, cultural, political, education, and legal dimensions of disability.

According to the UH Institute on Disability, over 56.6 million U.S. citizens report at least one disabling condition. That’s approximately 18 percent of the nation’s total population. The most prevalent disabilities are mobility, cognitive, visual, hearing, and chronic health impairments.

Currently, 21 colleges offer disability studies majors in the United States to expand knowledge on this historically marginalized population. Earning a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in disability studies prepares students for various careers removing barriers for disabled persons. Disability studies open doors for social work, child welfare, public policy, research, university teaching, counseling, and more.

Become an inclusion advocate by applying for some of these 25 great disability studies scholarships.

1. APAGS Disabilities Grant Program

Deadline: December 1st

The American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) sponsors a Disabilities Grant Program for master’s or PhD scholars majoring in psychology, social work, disability studies, or related human services. The $1,000 grant must fund research projects that promote the training, education, and job recruitment of persons diagnosed with disabilities. Eligible APAGS members who are enrolled at least half-time at accredited U.S. universities may apply.


APAGS Disabilities Grant Program
750 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 336-6014
Scholarship Link

2. Beth Miller Schieck Scholarship

Deadline: August 1st

At the University of Wyoming, the Institute for Disabilities funds a $1,000 Beth Miller Schieck Scholarship to support full-time undergraduate students studying disability studies to investigate societal issues related to disability. Qualified recipients must carry a minimum 2.5 GPA, demonstrate financial need, have completed at least 60 credits, and be dedicated to working with disabled individuals. Preference is given to bachelor’s students who graduated from high schools in Laramie County.


Beth Miller Schieck Scholarship
1000 East University Avenue
Laramie, WY 82071
(888) 989-9463

3. Bethesda Lutheran Communities Scholarships

Deadline: May 1st

The Bethesda Lutheran Communities presents two $3,000 scholarships each year to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors who are attending an accredited four-year U.S. institution to pursue majors related to intellectual or developmental disabilities, including disability studies. To apply, candidates must be active, communicant Lutherans, possess a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, have at least 100 volunteer hours with the disabled, and submit four letters of recommendation. Undergraduate disability studies scholarships for $500 are offered to high school seniors.


Bethesda Lutheran Communities Scholarships
600 Hoffmann Drive
Watertown, WI 53094
(920) 206-4427

4. Chris Bell Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: April 5th

Ranging from $500 to $1,000, the Chris Bell Memorial Scholarship is presented by the Society for Disability Studies (SDS) to honor the beloved activist who founded the People of Color Caucus. Eligible candidates must self-identify with a non-white racial minority, meet low-income guidelines, be conducting disability research related to ethnicity, attend an accredited U.S. graduate school, and plan to present at the SDS Annual Conference. Other disability studies scholarships include the Irving K. Zola Award and Tyler Rigg Prize.


Chris Bell Memorial Scholarship
538 Park Hall – University of Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14260
(716) 645-0276

5. Daniel and Lois Gray Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: February 15th

Created by the Autism Society of Delaware, the Daniel and Lois Gray Memorial Scholarship awards $1,000 annually to full-time undergraduate or graduate students majoring in special education, psychology, disability studies, speech pathology, or related fields. Qualified applicants must be enrolled full-time at the University of Delaware, show interest in serving people with autism spectrum disorder, maintain a cumulative GPA above 3.0, and intend to remain in-state after graduation.


Daniel and Lois Gray Memorial Scholarship
924 Old Harmony Road Suite 201
Newark, DE 19713
(302) 224-6020

6. Daniel and Margaret Carper Scholarship

Deadline: April 4th

The College of Social & Behavioral Sciences at Eastern Washington University funds the Daniel and Margaret Carper Scholarship to provide $18,500 to full-time seniors who express desire to attend graduate school, preferably for a doctorate. Acceptable majors include social work, psychology, international affairs, disability studies, anthropology, and justice studies. Eligibility criteria requires completing 135+ credits, having unmet financial need, and carrying a cumulative GPA of 3.6 or better.


Daniel and Margaret Carper Scholarship
526 Fifth Street
Cheney, WA 99004
(509) 359-2314

7. Disability Rights Scholarship Program

Deadline: November 2nd

With its Human Rights Initiative, the Open Society Foundation established the Disability Rights Scholarship Program to provide two full-tuition awards to international students pursuing master’s study related to disability rights in the United States. Citizens of Argentina, China, Colombia, Malawai, Mexico, Mozambique, Peru, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Zambia can apply. Interested applicants must have work experience in disability advocacy, be eligible for a visa, and provide proficient TOEFL scores.


Disability Rights Scholarship Program
224 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 548-0379
Scholarship Link

8. Dr. Ted Daniels Scholarship Award

Deadline: August 12th

The National Council on Rehabilitation Education gifts the Dr. Ted Daniels Scholarship Award for $1,000 to students currently enrolled in CORE-accredited undergraduate or graduate programs in rehabilitation counseling for serving persons with disabilities. Eligible disability studies students must achieve a minimum overall GPA of 3.5, attach two letters of reference, provide a professional resume, and write a 500-word essay describing career goals in disability rehabilitation.


Dr. Ted Daniels Scholarship Award
1099 East Champlain Drive
Fresno, CA 93720
(559) 278-3422

9. Edward and Lorraine O’Neill Scholarship

Deadline: April 16th

For residents of Massachusetts’ Barnstable County, the ARC of Cape Cod awards $750 annually through the Edward and Lorraine O’Neill Scholarship to fund college degrees in special education, disability studies, occupational therapy, social work, nursing, and more. To qualify, applicants must be active volunteers, have unmet financial need, intend to work with children or adults with developmental disabilities, attend any regionally accredited U.S. college, and display academic merit.


Edward and Lorraine O’Neill Scholarship
P.O. Box 428
Hyannis, MA 02601
(508) 790-3667

10. Epi-Hab Disabilities Studies Scholarships

Deadline: February 19th

At the University of Southern Indiana, the Epi-Hab Disabilities Studies Scholarships gift $1,000 to six undergraduate or graduate students who are dedicated to making a difference for people with disabilities, especially epilepsy. Disability studies majors who have completed at least 12 credits, possess volunteer experience with disabled individuals, and maintain a cumulative GPA over 2.7 are highly qualified. Application packets must include two letters of recommendation and a 1,000-word career aspirations essay.


Epi-Hab Disabilities Studies Scholarships
8600 University Blvd.
Evansville, IN 74412
(812) 464-1961

11. Frederick J. Krause Scholarships

Deadline: November 15th

The American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) provides one of the most prominent disability studies scholarships for $1,000 in honor of Frederick J. Krause. Deserving recipients are full-time juniors, seniors, and graduate students with disabilities who are pursuing majors related to health promotion, including disability studies. Eligible applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal residents, attend accredited universities, have a history of community service, and strive to improve quality of life for disabled persons.


Frederick J. Krause Scholarships
110 North Washington Street
Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 545-6140

12. Harlan Hahn Awards for Disability Studies

Deadline: May 18th

Since 2010, the University of Washington has offered the Harlan Hahn Awards for Disability Studies in memory of a disability activist who pioneered for the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. For the $500 to $5,000 scholarship, applicants must be enrolled full-time in the Disability Studies program, maintain a minimum 3.0 major GPA, be committed to social justice, and exhibit potential for resolving disability issues. Applications should include a resume/CV, unofficial transcript, project proposal, and one-page personal statement.


Harlan Hahn Awards for Disability Studies
1410 NE Campus Parkway
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-7580

13. Ida and Leonard Ruben Scholarship

Deadline: July 1st

Due to workforce shortages, the Maryland General Assembly initiated the Ida and Leonard Ruben Scholarship to award $4,000 each year to college undergraduates pursuing bachelor’s degrees in human services, including disability studies. Successful applicants must be attending an in-state higher learning institution, have resided in Maryland for 12+ months, intend careers in the developmental disabilities field, and agree to work at least one year post-graduation in statewide community agencies.


Ida and Leonard Ruben Scholarship
6 North Liberty Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 767-3301

14. JCC of North America Graduate Scholarship

Deadline: February 1st

Valued at $10,000, the Jewish Community Centers (JCC) of North America Graduate Scholarship supports master’s study for full-time students majoring in relevant fields, such as physical education, social work, nonprofit management, and disability studies. Eligible applicants must attend an accredited U.S. or Canadian institution and complete an internship at a Jewish Community Center. Committing to two years of JCC employment is required, or scholarship money must be repaid.


JCC of North America Graduate Scholarship
520 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018
(212) 786-5093
Scholarship Link

15. Jennifer Wells Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: March 11th

Each spring, the Jennifer Wells Memorial Scholarship is granted by the University of North Texas’ Disability and Addiction Rehabilitation Department for $1,000 to disability studies or rehabilitation counseling majors. Selected scholars must maintain full-time enrollment, achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, have eligibility for need-based assistance, demonstrate commitment to volunteering, and pursue careers advocating for disabled persons. Other graduate disability studies scholarships include the Dr. Genie Davis Award and Ken Miner Scholarship.


Jennifer Wells Memorial Scholarship
410 Avenue C Suite 218
Denton, TX 76203
(940) 565-2488

16. Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship

Deadline: February 29th

The Disabled American Veterans (DVA) provides the Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship for $5,000 to $20,000 annually to five undergraduates under 21 years old who are pursuing higher education in fields focused on helping returning veterans, including disability studies. To become eligible, candidates must enroll full-time at an accredited U.S. college, complete at least 100 volunteer hours at a VA hospital, and write an essay describing what working with veterans means to them.


Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship
807 Maine Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 554-3501

17. Linda Cowden Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: April 1st

Funded by Bridges for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Linda Cowden Memorial Scholarship grants $1,000 to hearing students who are accepted into an accredited undergraduate or graduate program for serving the hearing impaired, such as disability studies. Applications are accepted from residents in the 16-county Middle Tennessee region. Eligible candidates must attend an accredited U.S. university, have United States citizenship, send two recommendation letters, and answer four short essay questions.


Linda Cowden Memorial Scholarship
935 Edgehill Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 248-4797

18. Lurie Institute Doctoral Fellowship

Deadline: January 1st

Brandeis University’s Lurie Institute for Disability Policy presents a full-tuition, three-year Doctoral Fellowship with an annual stipend to full-time PhD students in the Heller School who are devoted to disability policy research. Doctoral candidates must declare concentrations in health and behavioral health, youth and families, assets and inequalities, or global health and development. Chosen fellows must complete a research project with a Heller mentor each fellowship year.


Lurie Institute Doctoral Fellowship
415 South Street Suite 035
Waltham, MA 02454
(781) 736-3820

19. Marcus Raper Zimmerman Scholarship

Deadline: August 15th

Established in 1984 by the Winston-Salem Foundation, the Marcus Raper Zimmerman Scholarship awards $1,00 annually to North Carolinians who are pursuing their first associate or bachelor’s degree at an accredited U.S. institution. Human services majors, including disability studies, are required. Qualified recipients must reside in Forsyth County, take at least six credits per term, have U.S. citizenship, have a cumulative GPA better than 2.0, and plan to work with the handicapped.


Marcus Raper Zimmerman Scholarship
751 West Fourth Street Suite 200
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
(336) 714-3445
Scholarship Link

20. Mary Switzer Research Fellowships

Deadline: May 15th

The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) administers the Mary Switzer Research Fellowships to provide $75,000 over 12 months to doctorate candidates who are engaging in dissertation study pertinent to disability studies. Full-time PhD students must be affiliated with accredited U.S. universities, be early-career researchers, and display academic merit. These lucrative doctoral disability studies scholarships support research in vocational rehabilitation, special education, assistive technology, rehabilitation engineering, etc.


Mary Switzer Research Fellowships
550 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20202
(202) 245-6211
Patricia Barrett@ed.gov

21. National AMBUCS Scholarship Program

Deadline: April 15th

Granting over $8 million since 1955, the National AMBUCS Scholarship Program offers several one-time awards for $500 to $6,000 to upper-division undergraduates or graduate students pursuing a disability-related degree, including physical therapy, speech pathology, and audiology. Disability studies majors must be accepted into an accredited U.S. college, show a compassionate character, have unmet financial need, be committed to serving individuals with disabilities, and actively participate in community service.


National AMBUCS Scholarship Program
P.O. Box 5127
High Point, NC 27262
(800) 838-1845

22. Paul Block Sr. Humanities Scholarship

Deadline: March 25th

The University of Toledo’s College of Arts & Letters bestows the Paul Block Sr. Humanities Scholarship for $2,000 annually to students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary majors like psychology, sociology, political science, global studies, disability studies, and communication. Eligible freshmen and transfers must have distinguished academic records, maintain full-time enrollment, and carry an overall GPA above 3.0. Scholarship money is renewable annually through the senior year.


Paul Block Sr. Humanities Scholarship
2801 West Bancroft Street
Toledo, OH 43606
(419) 530-2164

23. Rudolph Dillman Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: April 1st

Worth $2,500, the Rudolph Dillman Memorial Scholarship is presented by the American Federation for the Blind (AFB) annually to four undergraduate or graduate students who are pursuing majors, including disability studies, to serve persons who are blind or visually impaired. Preference is given to students who are legally blind with corrected visual acuity of 20/200 or less. Along with the application, interested applicants should send an official transcript, personal essay, and two letters of recommendation.


Rudolph Dillman Memorial Scholarship
2 Penn Plaza Suite 1102
New York, NY 10121
(800) 232-5463

24. Samuel Oschin Disability Studies Scholarship

Deadline: Varies

At the University of California-Los Angeles, the Samuel Oschin Disability Studies Scholarship offers up to $7,000 to disability studies majors and minors who demonstrate sincere dedication to advocating on important issues for disabled individuals. Qualified students must have completed at least one disability studies course, maintain an overall 3.0 GPA or greater, and be volunteers in the Los Angeles community. Application instructions include a resume, official transcript, and 750-word goals essay.


Samuel Oschin Disability Studies Scholarship
405 Hilgard Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90095
(310) 825-4321

25. Scott and Paul Pearsall Scholarship

Deadline: October 1st

Disability studies majors should apply to American Psychological Foundation’s (APF) Scott and Paul Pearsall Scholarship, which distributes $10,000 annually. Eligible recipients must be full-time graduate students pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree, have good standing at accredited U.S. institutions, and receive IRB approval for research that addresses the psychological pain felt by adults with physical disabilities. Online applications must include a well-written project proposal, CV, budget, and advisor recommendation.


Scott and Paul Pearsall Scholarship
750 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 336-5843
Scholarship Link

Disability studies is a relatively young, interdisciplinary major for investigating the policies and practices that affect disabled persons. Pioneering efforts to remove the stigma of disability is noble, but you’ll first have to afford four or more years of post-secondary education. America’s student loan debt has reached epic proportions and passed $1.2 trillion. Limiting your loans by earning scholarships and grants is extremely smart. Scholarships offer free tuition coverage and help support a debt-free financial future. These 25 great scholarships for disability studies offer generous funding to end misconceptions about individuals with special needs.

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