United States Rehabilitation Counseling Masters Programs & Schools
Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling programs take a holistic approach to helping people with physical, mental, developmental or emotional disabilities to live and function independently. Rehabilitation Counselors use client-centered therapeutic approaches help people find and maintain jobs, live independently, and integrate and participate in their communities. A masters degree in rehabilitation counseling is typically considered entry-level, making it an essential step if you’re interested in pursuing this path.[i] If you have a patient and compassionate nature, and tend to be a good listener, communicator, and critical thinker, why not leverage these talents to help others?
Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling Program Essentials
Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling programs focus on the theoretical knowledge and counseling techniques used to provide clinical mental health counseling to people with disabilities. This means being able to assess and evaluate client needs, designing and implementing rehabilitation treatment plans, and understanding the medical, psychological and social implications and aspects of various disabilities.
Students may be able to complete a rehabilitation counseling masters in around 2-years of full time study. However, specific program lengths may vary. To apply, students interested in a Rehabilitation Counseling program often need a bachelors degree from a related field, such as a Bachelor in Human Services. In addition to coursework, it’s common for masters programs to require an internship or period of supervised clinical experience. This is usually between 2,000 and 4,000 hours, and forms part of state licensure requirements.[ii]
DID YOU KNOW? Licensure for Rehabilitation Counselors typically requires a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. In addition, counselors must pass a
state-recognized exam. To maintain their licensure, counselors must complete annual continuing education credits.[iii]
Choosing a Rehabilitation Counseling Master’s Program
Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling programs are commonly offered as either Master of Arts or Master of Science in rehabilitation counseling (MA and MS respectively). The one you select often reflects whether you have an undergraduate arts or science degree. However, the specific differences between degree types may vary by school. It is also possible that your program may allow you to focus on honing specific skills for working in different settings. Examples include vocational rehabilitation services, government, individuals and family services, nursing and residential care facilities, and youth guidance.
Specialization in Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling Programs
Some rehabilitation counseling masters programs may offer students the option of taking additional courses in one particular subject. Rehabilitation counselors may specialize in a variety of areas, which often map either to specific patient populations, professional roles, or practice types. A few examples include:
- Individual or group counseling
- Vocational Counseling
- Medical or psychosocial diagnoses, analyses, and treatment
- Rehabilitation research
- Mental, physical, emotional, or social disabilities or disadvantages
- Counseling for Veterans, the elderly or populations with impairments
Concentration options and other paths of study offered in your program may vary. Contact your selected schools for additional details.
Rehabilitation Counseling Masters Program Formats
One important factor in choosing your preferred rehabilitation counseling programs is how well each one might fit into your lifestyle, or meet your learning needs. Typically, programs might either be offered on-campus in graduate school settings, or online.
In the event you would prefer to earn your masters in rehabilitation counseling graduate schools, an easy way to find them is a location search by city, state or country. Studying online may offer a community atmosphere, as well as access to resources and opportunities to collaborate with your peers and professors in person.
If you are a working student, online master degree programs in rehabilitation counseling may be more convenient for your lifestyle. These programs are often flexible in terms of scheduling from week to week, meaning they could be accessed on the go when it’s convenient for you, provided you have access to a compatible internet-enabled device.
Some of the online master’s degrees may be only partially online (called hybrid), and they tend to offer most of your courses through a web portal with scheduled visits to campus. Use these program formats to refine your search, it makes things a bit easier.
CACREP and CORE Accreditation
Course curriculum varies between schools, however, accredited programs do tend to follow guidelines vis a vis the material they present. The Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) has recently merged with the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education (CHEA) and the U.S. Department of Education. They now have what is called “CACREP/CORE dual accreditation which “infuses disability concepts into the counseling core curriculum”[iv]In terms of looking for a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling, universities may present these programs as Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling or Clinical Mental Health Counseling with specific guidelines in terms of what is taught.
Coursework in Rehabilitation Counseling
As part of the counseling profession, rehabilitation counseling masters programs typically offer training in counseling ethics, theories and practices. Students in these programs may also study topics as set forth by CORE[v]. This includes but is not limited to:
- Medical and psychosocial aspects of disability
- Etiology, diagnosis, treatment and referral for medical disabilities
- How to use assistive technology
- Counseling, prevention and intervention
- How to promote client understanding of community-based resources
- Implications of diversity
- Public policy
- Assessment and diagnosis of individual needs
- Human development
- Vocational counseling
Licensing, Certification and Continued Education
Specific requirements for licensure or certification may vary by state and the type of services you intend to provide your clients. Different states and licensing organizations may issue education and experience requirements in addition to examination. As such, it may be useful to compare the requirements in your state to the experiences offered by your program of choice. Once earned, licensed rehabilitation counselors may need to maintain their credential by completing annual continuing education credits.
Some employers also prefer to hire Certified Rehabilitation Counselors[vi]. CRC certification is offered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification.
Search for Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling Programs
If you aspire to help different populations cope with personal, social or vocational challenges, earning your masters degree could be an important academic step. GradSchools.com has collected sponsored program listings here to help you get started! Narrow your options by selecting your preferred program format or location. Then click on the names of the programs that sound promising to learn more! Remember to request more information from the prospective graduate schools, they each have unique features and program descriptions.
sources: [i] onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1012.00 |[ii] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/rehabilitation-counselors.htm |[iii] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/rehabilitation-counselors.htm |[iv] cacrep.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/final-Dual-Accreditation-Policy-Document.-4.29.16.pdf |[v] core-rehab.org/Files/Doc/PDF/Clinical%20Rehabilitation%20Counseling%20Standards.%20FINAL.pdf |[vi] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/rehabilitation-counselors.htm
University of Southern California
The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers a 35-credit advanced standing MSW program with both full-time (three semesters) and part-time (five semesters) options. Admission to the advanced standing program allows students to complete th...
Lasell’s Master of Science in Rehabilitation Science program is designed for educators and registered, certified and/or licensed health and rehabilitation professionals interested in expanded roles in professional practice, administration, research and...
- Chicago, ILChicago, IL
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
- Virginia Beach, VAVirginia Beach, VA
- Savannah, GA
- Glen Allen, VA
- High Point, NC
- Columbia, SC
- Warrensville Heights, OH
- Royal Palm Beach, FL
- Chicago, ILChicago, IL
Illinois Institute of Technology
The Rehabilitation Psychology Division offers an M.S. degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, a Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Counselor Education, and a Ph.D. in combined Clinical/Rehabilitation Psychology. The mission of the Rehabilitation Counseling program is...
- Jackson, MSJackson, MS
Jackson State University
- Albany, NYAlbany, NY
University At Albany (S.U.N.Y.)
- Pittsburgh, PAPittsburgh, PA
University of Pittsburgh
This program prepares students to practice the profession of rehabilitation counseling.
- Mobile, ALMobile, AL
University of South Alabama
Master of Science degree in Community Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling, Instructional Design and Development, Exercise Technology, Therapeutic Re...
- Mankato, MNMankato, MN
Minnesota State University - Mankato
- San Bernardino, CASan Bernardino, CA
California State University, San Bernardino
- College Park, MDCollege Park, MD
University of Maryland - College Park
The George Washington University
Please see program description...
- Monmouth, ORMonmouth, OR
Western Oregon University
- Greensboro, NCGreensboro, NC
North Carolina A&T State University
The Human Resources (Rehabilitation Counseling) program is designed to...
- Tucson, AZTucson, AZ
University of Arizona
The Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation is dedicated to advancing human and economic development through the empowerment and effective inclusion of culturally diverse individuals with disabilities and special abilities across the age span...
- New Orleans, LANew Orleans, LA
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
The Rehabilitation Counselor Education (RCE) program at LSUHSC is fully accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) to provide gradua...
- Winston-Salem, NCWinston-Salem, NC
Winston-Salem State University
Master of Rehabilitation CounselingThis program prepares students with the knowledge, skills and competencies required by the...