Doctoral Portfolio in Disability Studies

Steve Hicks School of Social Work, Texas Center for Disability Studies, School of Nursing, College of Education, College of Fine Arts, and College of Liberal Arts

The Doctoral level portfolio program in Disability Studies (DS) is designed to broaden a student’s conception of disability with a focus on the social context and cultural representations of disability. Disability Studies is an interdisciplinary approach that adds breadth to the traditional, primarily medical, view of disability. Disability Studies reframes the study of disability with a social/cultural/political paradigm, using a minority group model to critically examine existing beliefs, images, ideologies, policies, and stereotypes about disability. The Doctoral level portfolio program is designed to support future researchers in Disability Studies as well as develop leaders in this emerging field.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the DS Doctoral Portfolio program will be selective and the DS Steering Committee reserves the right to admit or reject applicants.

Successful applicants to the DS Doctoral Portfolio will have met the admission standards required by the Graduate School and by their primary Doctoral degree program. Students may enter the DS portfolio program at any point in their graduate work, but it is recommended that they do so as soon as they decide to pursue the portfolio. The application should include:

  1. A statement of purpose, including previous experience related to individuals with disabilities, relationship of DS to the student’s program of studies, and relationship of DS to future career goals.
  2. Proof of enrollment and good academic standing in an approved graduate degree program.
  3. Consent from the student’s Graduate Advisor or Dissertation Supervisor for participation in the DS portfolio area.

Course Requirements

Coursework for the DS Doctoral Portfolio will consist of four (4) thematically related courses, or twelve (12) semester hours. At least two courses will be from the DS core courses offered through the Steve Hicks School of Social Work, and at least two of the courses will be outside the student’s academic department.

Research Experience Requirements

In addition to the successful completion of the course sequence, students will participate in a research-based experience. This research may be part of a student’s dissertation; however, it should have one or more of the following:

  1. Involve the conceptualization and production of a research proposal involving individuals with disabilities and/or family members.
  2. Involve actual data collection or data analysis on a project involving individuals with disabilities.
  3. Create a written product, i.e., a literature review, a research grant proposal, or an article for publication.

DS Doctoral Portfolio Plan

Once a student is accepted into the DS Doctoral Portfolio program, the student will meet with a designated faculty DS Steering Committee member to develop an individualized course plan. The DS Doctoral Portfolio Program Plan includes course selections and a research experience description. Students will be responsible for verifying the course plan with their Graduate Advisor or Faculty Advisor, and updating and maintaining the plan in concert with the designated DS Steering Committee member.

Students must keep the steering committee representative updated each semester on their progress. In addition, when nearing graduation, students must obtain approval from the DS Portfolio committee for their completed portfolio.

Upon Completion

Students satisfactorily completing the requirements of the DS Doctoral Portfolio and their primary Doctoral degree program will be awarded a Portfolio Certificate and notation on their official university transcript.

Getting Started

To begin your application, e-mail us with your interests and intentions. Upon approval submit a brief letter of intent and purpose, proof of active full time enrollment at The University of Texas at Austin, and approval from your academic advisor.  Additionally, complete as much as you can of the Disability Studies Doctoral Portfolio Program Plan (download the document from "additional resources" section on this webpage) and submit all materials either in person (by appointment) or U.S. Mail; because the application includes confidential student information, it is preferred that you not e-mail your application.  After your application is reviewed, you will be contacted for any further information and discussions and, if accepted, you will be welcomed into the program and assigned to an advisor.