Lynch Disability Resource & Cultural Center with students studying.

New Master of Arts in Disability Studies Announced

Loras College is proud to introduce a groundbreaking addition to its academic offerings—a Master of Arts in Disability Studies. The online, asynchronous program will begin in August 2024.  

The Master of Arts in Disability Studies is designed to equip individuals for roles in community-based or governmental agencies. The content in the program provides students with the necessary skills to initiate or advance careers focused on working with a diverse range of individuals with disabilities. The program is well-suited for administrators, social service professionals, educators, scholars specializing in disability studies, individuals with disabilities, and family members and advocates.

The primary goal of the new graduate degree is to furnish current and future professionals with intellectual and methodological tools, enabling them to take on leadership roles in service provision, formulation or modification of disability policy, and advocacy for removing barriers to full inclusion in public and private organizations and society at large.

“The Disability Studies program builds upon the deep experience that has existed at Loras for decades in supporting students with disabilities,” states Donna Heald, provost and academic dean. “This new graduate program will foster the development of future leaders who can contribute to effecting change and advocating for individuals with disabilities.”

This innovative program aligns seamlessly with Loras College’s commitment to inclusivity and Catholic Social Teaching by serving and supporting individuals often living on the margins of society.

In 1986, the Lynch Disability Resource and Cultural Center was established to serve students with disabilities. Evolving beyond individualized accommodations and primary learning disability or attention deficit disorder support, the center expanded services to include the Autism Resources for Career in Higher Education (ARCH) program.

“Recognizing a growing number of students on the spectrum, we adapted our approach to provide not only academic support but also essential social and career preparation,” stated Lynn Gallagher, disability studies program director. “The master’s program is the next evolution for us.”

Gallagher further expressed her enthusiasm, stating, “Disability studies is my passion, and I’m thrilled that Loras is embracing it, considering the limited number of programs in the country. Disability studies explores the way individuals with disabilities experience the world, challenging stereotypes and misconceptions, thereby reshaping our traditional perspectives. It operates on a social model rather than a medical one, emphasizing acceptance without an aim to ‘fix’ anyone.”

For more information, visit the about Loras’ disability studies program.

About Loras College
Established in 1839, Loras College draws on its historic legacy as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River, and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges. Located in Dubuque, Iowa, Loras is a pioneer and leader in Catholic liberal arts education, shaping students to be active learners, reflective thinkers, ethical decision-makers, and responsible contributors. The College offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Press Resources

Loras College has prepared a media kit to accompany this release with campus photos.


Loras leadership is available for comment.

Demeri Mullikin
Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Communications

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