Shape a More Inclusive World With Our Disability Studies Concentration
Our bachelor’s in human services Disabilities Studies concentration can empower you to make a profound difference in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Gain a deeper understanding of the nature of disabilities, positive intervention strategies, disability law and policy, advocacy, and how to support individuals and families of those who have a disability.
Walden’s Disability Studies online program concentration helps students develop the skills to work with children and adults with disabilities in a variety of settings. Our program academically prepares you to seek National Association of Qualified Intellectual Disability Professionals (QIDP) certification.
Engage in immersive learning technologies—including virtual simulations—to practice and apply what you learn in class.
Build skill sets essential to effecting meaningful change for diverse people with disabilities.
Strengthen your résumé with practical direct-service skills as well as the leadership mastery to potentially work in administrative roles
Optional fieldwork and practicum opportunities help you gain valuable, in-person experience.
Degree Completion Requirements
- 181 total quarter credits
- General education courses (46 cr.)
- Core courses (45 cr.)
- Concentration courses (30 cr.)
- Elective courses (55 cr.)
- Capstone course (5 cr.)
Students may be eligible to transfer up to 135 credits. At least 45 credits must be completed at Walden.
This sequence represents the minimum time to completion. Time to completion will vary by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. For a personalized estimate of your time to completion, call an Enrollment Specialist at 855-646-5286.
First Term Course
Living and Learning in a Technological World
Imagine life without cell phones, television, or the Internet. Recent technological developments have significantly altered all aspects of human life: at work; in play; and in personal, family, and social interactions. In this course, students examine the advantages, disadvantages, and controversies of living and learning in an ever-changing technological environment. By exploring multiple perspectives, students discover how technology is changing media, culture, business, health, human behavior, and overall access to information. In a dynamic, reflective, and engaging classroom environment, students use a variety of audio, visual, literary, and artistic resources, to engage in open dialogue. Students are also introduced to the tools essential to success at Walden. Students complete the course with a personalized success plan that provides a customized roadmap and tools that they can use immediately on their journey toward the completion of their bachelor's degree. *Note: virtual, cyber, digital, and asynchronous are used to describe online environments in this course.
The Human Services Professional Practitioner: The Humanitarian in Practice
The human services field provides rewarding and challenging situations as professionals support diverse populations in an effort to change the lives of individuals, families, and communities. Students in this course explore the profession and the role of a human services professional practitioner as a humanitarian in this increasingly diverse and complex world. As students explore the range of humanitarian efforts, they self-assess their own aspirations, abilities, skills, characteristics, ethics, and cultural identity in preparation for their future in the human services. Students also explore ethical issues that can arise when working in diverse cultures around the globe. Applying foundational concepts, students also investigate current trends in the field of human and humanitarian service.
Developing the Helping Relationship
Human services professional practitioners must be able to demonstrate helping skills and approaches that lead to productive relationships with service users, no matter the context. These skills include basic communication skills, active listening, empathy, trust building, and cultural humility. Students in this course examine their existing skill set and then build on it through a series of written exercises, reflections, and interactive video-based responses to human services scenarios. They also receive instruction on holistic appraisal, collaborative advocacy, and goal setting as key activities in the helping relationship. The course culminates with students filming and evaluating themselves in the role of a practitioner engaging with a service user. (Prerequisite(s): HUMN 1030.)
Understanding Urban Culture and Community Assessment
[Under development] (Prerequisite(s): ENGL 1010.)
Crisis and Positive Intervention
In this course, students examine situational procedures and techniques necessary in defusing situations identified as crises. Students work toward gaining skills to evaluate crisis experiences by combining active listening with an understanding of crisis patterns. Through class activities, such as case studies and comparative analyses, they learn how to work through difficult emotional, social, and health crises. Students also assess concepts and share perspectives through peer discussion on related topics, such as intervention models and strategies; system crisis intervention; collaboration; countertransference; secondary traumatic stress disorder and vicarious trauma; burnout prevention; and referral resources. (Prerequisite(s): PSYC 1001, or PSYC 1002, or PSYC 1003.)
Person-Centered Planning and Case Management
This course is designed to provide students with practical skills for organizing and brokering community resources for human services clients. This includes emphasis on needs assessment for different client communities, developing plans for comprehensive care services, and utilizing formal and informal networks to maximize client access to services. Emphasis is placed on interagency coordination as well as human services community resource building to achieve success in service delivery. (Prerequisite(s): HUMN 1030 and HUMN 2007.)
Measuring Effectiveness of Human Services Delivery
Human service professionals engage clients with a variety of needs. How can students be certain, though, that their services are effective in preventing recidivism in a population of drug-addicted persons, or that they have provided the necessary life skills training for a homeless person to transition into the workplace? This course is designed to provide skills for community needs assessment, program development, design, implementation, and evaluation across a variety of human services domains. Specific focus will be given to planning quality measures that demonstrate a program's effectiveness to all key stakeholders.
Cultural Humility and Diversity
Learning to work effectively with diverse individuals and communities requires a clear understanding of one's own culture, status, and power in society, as well as the values and beliefs of others. In this course, students recognize, reconstruct, and analyze the unique cultural setting out of which they themselves developed. Students then apply this self-awareness to their interactions, both within the course and in their personal and professional lives. Through directed journaling and applied assignments, students explore how to recognize bias, oppression, and power imbalances as they exist in our everyday lives and gain a broad understanding of the importance of cultural humility. Students leave the course with an action plan for how best to continue their own growth as well as apply their new understandings as social change agents engaged in multicultural practice. (Prerequisite(s): HUMN 1030.)
Mental Health Crisis Response
The ability to effectively respond to people in mental health and substance use crisis is especially important for professionals on the front lines of human services. In this course, students study how to identify the signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use disorders in adults. They then analyze and apply approaches to deescalate scenarios involving various mental health problems and contexts. By the end of the course, students have a set of guidelines to follow and referral resources to use in the practice of mental health crisis response in their own communities and workplaces. (Prerequisite(s): HUMN 1030 and HUMN 2007.)
Advocacy in the Global Community
Students in this course explore how groups and organizations are making a difference by serving the global community. Students examine the function, operation, and relationship between organizations that address global issues, such as disaster relief, HIV, hunger, education, women's rights, and healthcare; such organizations include intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Students examine the strategies and techniques that successful organizations use in responding to global challenges. They also consider current issues that have potential to become global crises, and they discuss the future of public service in the global community. Applying concepts of service and related governance issues, students complete a final research project on a major issue currently affecting the global society. (Prerequisite(s): HUMN 1030.)
Motivation and Emotion
What drives people to do what they do? In this course students have the opportunity to answer this question as they explore basic theories of motivation and emotion. They also explore bodily needs, such as hunger, thirst, and sex, that drive people to action; concepts in motivation, such as achievement, altruism, and conflict; and concepts related to emotion, including happiness, hormonal influences, and mood. Students assess content and share different perspectives through peer discussions on related topics, such as sources of motivation, hunger and eating, need for power, extraversion, goals, and decision making.
Understanding the Ability in Disability
Working with people with disabilities represents an exciting and evolving opportunity for human services professional practitioners. In this introductory course, students use their practitioner lens to explore disability in the context of community inclusion and human rights. Students examine and debunk common myths related to disabilities before going on to trace the history of the disability system, including the abuse and neglect that occurred in 20th-century institutions. Students research different types of disabilities and the characteristics, challenges, and abilities inherent in them. Applied assignments involving simulations, legislative advocacy, and outreach to nonprofit leaders highlight the role of human services professional practitioners as partners and advocates. Students can come away from the course with a foundation for continuing their disability studies.
Disabilities and Family
Working with an individual is only part of the human services professional practitioner's role. People with disabilities often have family members who support, grow, and learn alongside them. This course celebrates the human services professional practitioner as family partner. As such, students explore the family experience across the lifespan of the individual with disabilities, from diagnosis through transitions in services to adulthood and future planning. Throughout the course, students apply skills, strategies, and tools to two cases involving family members with different types of disabilities, family structures, and dynamics. They also become familiar with family-focused planning materials they can use in future practice.
Proactive Intervention Strategies for People With Disabilities
Students in this course explore proactive intervention strategies to prevent undesirable behaviors and promote goal behaviors in people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. While acknowledging reactive strategies, the course focuses on proactive strategies to manage behavior and support independence. Emphasis is placed on understanding why certain behaviors occur in order to appropriately move toward the goal behavior. Other topics include how to operationally define and measure behavior; how to identify antecedents, consequences, and functions of behavior; and how to use a person-centered approach when developing a behavior support plan. For the final project, students generate a behavior support plan based on a fictional case and consider methods for implementing, monitoring, and adapting the plan over time.
American Sign Language and Communication Behavior
Learning to communicate in another language takes practice. American Sign Language is the language used by the Deaf and hard of hearing community. Students in this course have the opportunity to learn the basics of American Sign Language, including fingerspelling, ASL vocabulary, emergency signs, counting, and how to communicate everyday needs. Students also explore communication behavior, including facial grammar and body shifting. Students will examine the origins of sign language and develop an understanding of the Deaf community.
Advocacy, Policy, and Disability Law
Human services professional practitioners who assist individuals and families in need of disability services must navigate complex federal, state, and local laws, as well as the regulations and policies that govern those who receive disability services. Students in this course explore the laws and policies that ensure equal access to services for those who have varying disabilities. Students examine legal cases, identify areas within disability services that require support and advocacy, and explore how this drives policy. Students examine the intersectionality of advocacy, policy, and disability law to help meet the needs of those who require disability services and those who work in the field of disabilities.
In this course, students synthesize information and experiences gathered over the course of the Bachelor of Science in Human Services program. Students will identify a human service gap in their local area and develop a detailed proposal for addressing the needs of the client population who are affected. This will include a background literature review, description of the problem area and the history of the community's response, and a detailed plan for addressing the gap with attention given to multicultural considerations. In accordance with Walden University's mission, students will be expected to demonstrate clearly the social change implications of the plan that they develop.
Choose 11 courses from either general education or other Walden bachelor’s degree programs. At least 10 elective credits must be at the 3000–4000 level. Your elective credits should total 55 to meet your program requirements. You may also be eligible to transfer previous credit to meet your elective requirements. Note on minors: Electives can also be used to complete a six-course minor.
|VIEW ALL COURSES Less Courses|
Tuition and Fees
|Tuition||181 quarter credit hours||$325 per quarter hour||$58,825|
|Technology Fee||Per quarter||$160||$2,560|
*Tuition reflects the minimum time to completion. Time to completion varies by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. Tuition and time to complete may be reduced if transfer credits are accepted, or if you receive grants, scholarships or other tuition reductions. Walden may accept up to 135 transfer credits. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 844-768-0109.
Tuition and fees are subject to change. Books and materials are not included and may cost up to an additional $5,000.
Admission is considered for adult students who hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. Applicants must also meet one of the following criteria:
- You are 21 years of age or older.
- You are less than 21 years of age with 60 quarter credit hours.
- You are an active member of the military or a veteran with documentation of service.
You are concurrently enrolled in an approved partner institution with an articulation agreement with Walden.
More information for international applicants.
Meet Your Academic Team
With Walden since 1998, Dr. Barkley has been a full-time core faculty member in the online PhD in Human Services program since 2011. He was on the faculty of Vanderbilt University in the Human Development Counseling and Community Development and Action graduate programs for 30 years.
Kristin Faix WilkinsonProgram Director
Dr. Faix Wilkinson holds certification as a Human Services-Board Certified Practitioner (HS-BCP). She began her 20-year human services career in vocational rehabilitation as a program specialist and working with children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
A bachelor’s in human services with a Disability Studies concentration can help you become more confident in your ability to work directly with individuals with disabilities. Pursue a number of non-licensed direct service or entry-level leadership roles in government and community settings. Help those with disabilities reach their potential while building a rewarding career in the human services field.
A BS in Human Services – Disability Studies program can prepare you to pursue career options such as:
- Social and community service manager1
- Social and human service assistant2
A BS in Human Services – Disability Studies program can prepare you to work in settings such as:
17%through 2029—much faster than the average for all occupations.1
- Community and vocational rehabilitation services
- Residential facilities
- State government
- International community service organizations
Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.
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