Diploma in Intellectual Disability Studies


The Diploma in Intellectual Disability Studies is a series of five distance-education courses for professional and personal development. Courses are theory and values based, designed to build on the experience of the participants; they are not “how-to” or skills based courses. Each of us contributes to living as community and this program explores how individual gifts can be nurtured and celebrated.

The intent of the program is to build on the current knowledge and skills participants have regarding community living and human care. It provides an opportunity for deeper understanding and commitment to practice, enriching not only the participant's life, but also the life of persons for whom she or he cares and their family and friends.

Current participants include parents and siblings of children or adults who have an intellectual disability, L’Arche assistants, group home leaders and workers, residential care facility coordinators, employment counselors, residential counselors, teaching assistants, and CACL staff.

Diploma in Intellectual Disability Program FAQ’s

1. Why did the University develop this program?

Members of L'Arche had taken part in another distance education program through StFX both as participants and instructors. Based on that experience representatives of L'Arche Canada approached StFX Continuing & Distance Education to develop a program focused on individuals who live and/or work with people who have an intellectual disability. StFX staff then approached representatives of government and private sector residential care facilities and asked them to join us in an advisory capacity in developing this program.

2. What curriculum does it encompass?

This non-credit, 5-course program is for both personal and professional development and provides a historical perspective on society's treatment of persons with disabilities. It provides an outline of the psychological principles of development and explores the care of persons with disabilities within the context of community. Individual course themes include a historical perspective on disability and care-giving; discussion of relationships, advocacy and vision as it relates to care; physical, psychological and emotional development; as well as an exploration of models of developing community.

3. Is this program right for me?

This program is geared toward students who work with an individual(s) who have an intellectual disability, or have a close family member that has an intellectual disability. This 2.5 year diploma program will provide you with a valuable context for the inclusion of person's with an intellectual disability within the community. It is not a technical or health-care based program, but rather a theoretical and values-based program.

The diploma is a progressive way of addressing some of the toughest challenges in the field of disability and assisted living; the online discussion is an excellent forum for combining education and experience in the field through dialogue about theory and practice. Coming from a variety of backgrounds, the participants in the Diploma in Intellectual Disability Studies program share from the richness of their first hand experiences.

4. What are the expectations of each course? (Readings, assignments, etc?) 

Each course has its own unique set of readings, assignments, and discussion opportunities.  Students are expected to critically engage in the readings by reflecting on their own experiences and participating in discussions (at least twice a week) with both the professor and other class members. There are two written assignments that must be submitted. The first assignment is due at the midpoint of the course and the final assignment is due at the conclusion of the course.  The assignments are expected to be university-level in terms of critical analysis and clarity. Proper citing and referencing is strongly enforced. Examples of APA formatting are available in your student handbook that is available online.  Additional help with writing and referencing is available from both the professor and the StFX Writing Center.

5. How much time should I expect to commit to this course per week?

The expectation is generally 10-12 hours/week, depending on the assigned readings and assignments. It is important to incorporate a studying schedule early on in your daily/weekly routine to ensure you do not fall behind.

6. Will there be classes in person? 

Classes are not held in person but asynchronously through Moodle.  The professor provides a schedule to guide you through the course and indicates which lessons you need to work on in a given week along with assignment due dates.

7.7. I'm not familiar with Moodle. What support will I have?


Moodle is an asynchronous (anytime/anywhere) learning platform. If you are comfortable with sending/receiving email, then you should transition easily to Moodle.

Continuing and Distance Education offers support at cdesupport@stfx.ca.

StFX IT Services also provides a number of Moodle guides and tutorials at http://sites.stfx.ca/itservices/guides_and_tutorials.

8.  How many will be in my classes?

Classes generally have 12 students, from various backgrounds and locations around the world.

9.  I have been away from school for a number of years.  What kind of support will I have?

Your Professor will be available via email and Moodle. Skype and phone calls may also be arranged. You are encouraged to contact your Professor either by phone or email to introduce yourself prior to the course start date.  Many Professors appreciate knowing students’ backgrounds, as it is helpful for guiding discussions and providing relevant/related examples. This initial introduction is valuable as you progress through the course, during which your Professor will offer timely and informative feedback on your work, and resources to help you navigate proper referencing protocols. It is encouraged that you communicate with your Professor regularly.

 Program Office - Participants may contact the program office Mon-Fri, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (AST) toll free within North America or by email or fax at any time.

10.  What prerequisites do I need to apply?

Participants must have a minimum of Grade XII academic and one year experience working or living with a person/people with a developmental disability. Those who do not have Grade XII may qualify under the Mature Student Policy.

11.  Do I apply for the program through Continuing and Distance Education or through StFX Admissions?

Individuals looking to enroll in the INDS program can apply through the StFX Continuing and Distance Education department.  Although it is important to share previous education, you do not need to provide a copy of academic transcripts. Applications can be found here: http://sites.stfx.ca/continuingeducation/sites/sites.stfx.ca.continuingeducation/files/inds-application-online.pdf

Once accepted into the program, course applications (for the Fall and Winter term) need to be submitted, which can be found here: http://www.sites.stfx.ca/continuingeducation/INDS/applications

12.  Are there payment options available? What about bursaries?

You are not required to pay for all five courses at once. There is a non-refundable program application fee of $50 that must accompany your application. Cheques are made payable to St. Francis Xavier University. Courses are $515 each. A deposit of $150 is required to hold your seat at the beginning of each course, with the remaining tuition to be paid in full by the end of October (Fall term) or February (Winter term).

Payment options are possible and may be arranged through the StFX CDE office.

Please direct inquiries to:

Diploma in Intellectual Disability Studies

Continuing & Distance Education Department
St. Francis Xavier University
P.O. Box 5000
Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5  Canada
Local: (902) 867-3319
Toll Free (within Canada and Continental US): 877-867-5562
Fax: (902) 867-5154
E-mail: inds@stfx.ca


Trudy Delorey


Program Assistant:

Cindy MacEachern