Campus News

UK Launches College and Career Studies Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

University of Kentucky student Ann Switzer at the 2021 HDI Summer Leadership Experience.
University of Kentucky student Ann Switzer at the 2021 HDI Summer Leadership Experience.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 7, 2022) — The University of Kentucky’s application to establish a Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary (CTP) Program for students with intellectual disabilities has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education. The CTP at UK will be known as the College and Career Studies Program.

“As Kentucky’s flagship institution, the university is pleased to lead by example in welcoming students with intellectual disabilities, a population conspicuously underrepresented in higher education, to this campus and community,” said UK Provost Robert DiPaola. “UK’s CTP program will help advance our mission and will contribute richly to our efforts toward becoming an increasingly more diverse community characterized by inclusion, fairness and equal opportunity.”

CTPs were created by the Higher Education Opportunity Act in 2008 and are college programs for students with intellectual disabilities who want to continue academic, career and technical, and independent living instruction to prepare for competitive integrated employment.

Recent data show that only seven percent of Kentucky students with intellectual disabilities are enrolled in a college or university in the year following their exit from high school.

This new College and Career Studies program, offered as part of the University of Kentucky Supported Higher Education Partnership (UK-SHEP), will provide students with intellectual disabilities a fully inclusive college experience. With chosen supports and person-centered planning, students will engage in all areas of campus life, from classes and clubs to social events and activities.

The program also includes a full-time coordinator who will maintain contact with students throughout the program, from application to completion, and provide support to faculty and staff as needed or upon request.

While over 300 inclusive higher education programs are offered at colleges and universities around the country, only 131 have CTP status. Being a CTP enables UK College and Career Studies students to access federal financial aid for which they qualify as well as state financial aid from the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES), Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship, and College Access Program grant programs. Students and families can contact the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) at (800) 928-8926 for help with the financial aid process. They may also contact the UK Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships at (859) 257-3172 or The UK College and Career Studies program will accept up to five students in the 2022-23 academic year.

As home to the Human Development Institute (HDI), our state’s University Center on Disability, UK is uniquely positioned to offer and grow a CTP program. HDI also serves as the statewide technical assistance center supporting CTP programs at Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University, and Bluegrass Community & Technical College, as well as a resource to other Kentucky institutions of higher education interested in establishing a program.

Other university partners include the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT), the Stuckert Career Center, and the Disability Resource Center.

“For so many reasons, this announcement comes at just the right time,” said HDI Executive Director Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Ph.D., “Just this year, Kentucky passed Employment First legislation, making employment in the general workforce the presumption for all people with disabilities. UK’s new College and Career Studies program is one of the ways the University of Kentucky will help to advance our state’s efforts toward building a truly inclusive workforce.”


For more information about UK College and Career Studies Program, including how to apply, contact Erin Fitzgerald (

To learn more about inclusive higher education in Kentucky, contact Johnny W. Collett ( or visit


As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.