About DDHS

The University of Massachusetts (Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences) has partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to offer a letter of specialization in Developmental Disabilities and Human Services (DDHS). The DDHS specialization offers undergraduates across disciplines the opportunity to obtain the skills needed for careers in the disability and broader human services field. A combination of coursework and internship experience prepares students to work with and support individuals with disabilities in a variety of settings, bringing a broad range of knowledge and skills to human service work and educational settings. The DDHS program also organizes volunteer opportunities, field trips, invited speakers, and career panels among other activities.

Required Courses

Students are required to complete three courses. The courses can be taken in any order, however it is recommended to take PSYCH 480 before, or concurrently with, the other courses. Some students choose to complete all of the courses in the same semester, but it is recommended that you space out the courses. These are challenging seminar courses with a considerable reading and assignment work load. You cannot take any of these courses Pass/Fail. You must get a C or higher in each of the required courses to receive the letter of specialization.

  1. Intellectual Disability: Concepts and Controversies (PSYCH 480) or International Disability Rights (PSYCH 391DR)
  2. Impact of Disabilities on Families (PSYCH 481)
  3. Applied Behavior Analysis (PSYCH 581), Autism Spectrum Disorder (PSYCH 397D), Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders (COMMDIS 540), or Behavior Analysis in Applied Settings (EDUC 532)


In addition to taking these courses, students are required to complete 120 hours (3 credits) of internship experience at a direct service site (PSYCH 398F). Students approximately 8-9 hours per week at their internship site (travel time is not included). Most students complete the internship at one site over the course of one semester, but students can choose to spread their internship hours across sites and semesters. Students can complete the internship during any semester. Students are expected to complete journals and a final reflection paper (guidelines are provided). Grading for the internship is pass/fail. Students are encouraged to select an internship site from a pre-approved list, however new sites can be approved by the program director.

The internship requirement is currently waived due to COVID-19 concerns


How can I apply?

Applications should be submitted online.

When can I apply?

Applications are reviewed twice per year: November 1st (to start the following spring) and March 1st (to start the following summer/fall).

Who can apply?

The program is open to all majors. Students of all grade levels can apply. First semester Freshmen can apply, but will only be provisionally accepted until they have a GPA.

How many students are admitted to the program?

Approximately 40 students are admitted to the program each year. Admission is competitive. Students are selected based on the relevance of this program to their career goals and their ability to handle the challenging required courses.

Do I need to reapply each year?

No, once you are admitted to the program, you are in the program until you graduate. Students are required to attend a program meeting each semester, or provide a legitimate excuse for not doing do (e.g., class, work). Students who fail to attend the program meeting for two consecutive semester without communicating with the program director will lose their registration priority in the required courses.

Can I reapply if I don’t get in?

Yes, you are encouraged to do so if you still think this program will help prepare you for a career working with individuals with disabilities.

Is there a GPA requirement?

In order to complete an internship in the Psychology Department, you must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. It is recommended that students with GPAs below 3.0 come see the program director before submitting their application.

Where can I get more information?

Before you apply, be sure to read the information on this website about the program components (e.g., classes, internship). You can meet with the program director during office hours (information on office hours is found here).