Students with disabilities in U.S. community colleges continue to disproportionately experience lower degree attainment compared to students without disabilities. Furthermore, students with disabilities are twice as likely to choose community colleges for postsecondary education compared to four-year colleges. Students with disabilities in postsecondary education endure learning barriers including inflexible instruction, inaccessible content, and intimidating and unsafe learning environments. The purpose of this study is to address the increasing achievement gaps for students with disabilities in community colleges. Specifically, this study intended to answer the question to what extent, if at all, does online course-taking impact degree attainment for students with disabilities in U.S. community colleges? Even though the current study did not find statistically significant results, there was a directionality for the odds of positive degree attainment when students with disabilities participated in online course-taking, specifically for certificate and associate’s degree. Since online course-taking can be a conceivable option to help students with disabilities, the researcher points to previous research for educational policy makers to consider: online learning can provide flexible instruction, accessible content, and a safe learning environment. Recommendations for postsecondary education policies are discussed. Implications of this study has global impact because the number of people with disabilities around the world are increasing. Because disabilities disproportionately impact poor and developing countries, it is proposed that globally responsible organizations consider online learning to be a part of existing inclusive education initiatives such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4. Recommendations for global education policies are discussed.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

College students with disabilities; Community colleges--United States; Web-based instruction

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

H. Eric Schockman