Buffalo Online Graduate Programs in Rehabilitation Counseling

Online Rehabilitation Counseling Programs provide a focused area of study within the larger context of behavioral health and human services. Rehabilitation Counseling is a distinct type of counseling. It is devoted to learning about therapeutic support of people who have disabilities.

Students who pursue a rehabilitation counseling degree online might take courses that address the medical, emotional, and environmental impacts of disability. Those who want to follow other avenues, but still in an assistive capacity, might consider related programs in mental health counseling, social work, and rehabilitation science.

What Is a Rehabilitation Counselor?

Online Rehabilitation Counseling programs may prepare students to pursue a career as a Rehabilitation Counselor. i Rehabilitation Counselors are mental health professionals. As counselors, they work with, and advocate for, disabled groups. Their unique skill set includes an in-depth grasp of what people face when they are disabled. As counselors, they assess a client’s situation. Then they come up with strategies to help their clients manage, overcome, or adapt to their challenges.

For instance, they might help someone with limited mobility learn to navigate a transportation system so that the person can run errands or keep their job. At heart, a Rehabilitation Counselor’s goal is to help groups such as the elderly, veterans, the unemployed, and students live independent lives despite their obstacles.

Rehabilitation Counseling Degree Online

Types of Online Rehabilitation Counseling Programs

Online Rehabilitation Counseling Programs may be available at the Masters, Doctorate and Graduate Certificate Levels. Masters programs are common as they may provide the course of study necessary to pursue a career as a licensed or certified rehabilitation counselor. While state regulations vary, licensure is dependent on several things. For one, students must have a Masters degree and about 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical practice.

Also, future counselors must pass a state-recognized exam.i Doctoral programs in Rehabilitation Counseling may highlight mental health research or, prepare students for leadership. Furthermore, they might provide current counselors with added expertise to help them refine a clinical area of focus. For those who prefer a shorter program that may target a therapeutic intervention, a graduate certificate might be a worthwhile endeavor.

DID YOU KNOW?

Rehabilitation counselors are the only professional counselors educated and trained at the graduate level specifically to serve individuals with disabilities.ii

Online Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling

An online Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling degree program typically provides the core skills and theory that may prepare students to pursue a career as skilled Rehabilitation Counselors. Some online Rehabilitation Counseling Masters degree programs may be offered in a part-time, 100% online format. In these programs, a student who took two courses per semester (fall, spring, and summer) might complete their degree in less than three years. 

Applicants to some programs usually need a bachelors degree in a related field (BA or BS). Material such as a minimum GPA, personal essay, and reference letters are usually needed, however GRE scores might not be a factor.

Online Rehabilitation Counseling Course Topics

Online Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling programs tend to provide both a theoretical and clinical knowledge base. Coursework often covers basics such as how to interview, make a diagnosis, and help clients set goals. Also, a course of study might take a deeper look at trauma, and psychiatric disabilities. Students might also acquire the therapeutic techniques to address specific types of clientele. Public offenders, addicts, troubled youth, and the blind are several examples.

Also, a course of study might help future counselors grasp some of the more administrative aspects. This includes things such as caseload management, vocational placement, and community liason. Aside from their courses, students usually take part in counseling internships and may be required to write a final thesis. While each school may have unique courses, this general sample may give you some insight into other topics that may be covered.

What Is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor?

The Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) is a credential designed for rehabilitation counselors who have meet the strict standards of the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC). While there are different eligibility requisites, one is to graduate from a Master’s in Rehabilitation Counselor Education (RCE) program accredited by CORE, or, from a Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling (CLRC) program dually accredited by CORE and CACREP. In addition, individuals must have completed a rehabilitation counseling internship of 600 hours supervised by a CRC.ii

What Is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor?

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors focus on employment issues. Online rehabilitation programs tend to provide coursework in career development. However, there are also specific requirements called “core competencies” that address the skills required to provide this type of counseling to disabled clients.iii These might be highlighted in an online Master of Science degree in Vocational Rehabilitation.

For instance, the course of study might address job placement, interpersonal skills, and life care planning. Also, courses could cover sign language, rehab for the older disabled worker, and work adjustment services.

Online Master of Social Work

An online Master of Social Work may prepare students to fulfill state requirements of licensed clinical social workers (LCSW). Clinical social workers help people solve problems and cope with lifespan issues. They also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.   

Applicants to online Social Work programs usually choose a program that aligns with their current education.

  • The traditional MSW is oriented to students who hold an undergraduate degree, but it is not in social work. The path to an MSW typically includes more than 1,000 hours of field education.
  • An advanced Standing MSW is typically a 37-credit program that is designed for applicants who have their Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). Full-time students might expect to complete this type of degree in about one year.

Some online MSW programs offer tracks where students might focus their studies in areas such as families and children, mental health, military, substance abuse, or community. This means that aside from graduate-level social work courses, students take courses that relate to their major. Usually, the area of emphasis mirrors a population they hope to engage with.

Online Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling

An online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling may help students fulfill state requirements for mental health counselors.iv Mental health counselors may provide treatment to individuals, groups, and families.

The issues they address often span anxiety, depression, grief, low self-esteem, and stress. Often a 60-credit program, students in online counseling programs may take courses in human development, assessment, and counseling techniques.

Online PhD in Rehabilitation Counseling

An Online PhD in Rehabilitation Counseling is a research-based degree. It is often designed for counselors who want to enhance their ability to lead, teach, or research. Applicants tend to need a masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from a CORE-accredited program in order to apply. Or, in some universities, they must have completed basic coursework in counseling theories, principles of rehabilitation, or the medical and psychosocial aspects of disability. Also, they must have finished their counseling practicum and internship. 

While PhD students often have to identify an area of study for their independent research (dissertation), their course of study is often rigorous and may include several key topics. These revolve around core counselor courses, core rehabilitation courses, and doctoral seminars that span educational psychology and instruction methods. Subjects may include:

  • Advanced Research on Disability and Human Behavior
  • Cultural and Diversity Issues in Mental Health Treatment and Research
  • Professional Issues in Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Advanced Career Counseling and Vocational Development

Online PhD in Rehabilitation Science

An online PhD in Rehabilitation Science is a research-based degree. Rehabilitation Science is a multi-faceted field that focuses on human function and disability. PhD programs in Rehabilitation Science often cover basic and applied research from the health sciences, social sciences, engineering, and related fields. As a result, they may appeal to students with a background in physical or occupational therapy.

In fact, apllicants typically need a background in one of these disciplines: occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language pathology, rehabilitation counseling, prosthetics & orthotics, medicine, nursing, engineering, or other fields related to rehabilitation science.

Online PsyD in Mental Health Administration

An online Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Mental Health Administration is a professional practice degree that may prepare students to take a proactive stance in service delivery. While devoted to independent research, students might also be required to take courses and seminars. Some of these might explore the psychology of leadership and the biological bases of behavior. Other courses could cover adult psychopathology, treatment, and ethical leadership.

Online Rehabilitation Counseling Graduate Certificate

An online graduate certificate in Rehabilitation Counseling might address a specific therapeutic modality. Often designed around the busy lives of human services professionals, some programs entail about 12 credits. Applicants may need some work experience, along with a bachelors degree and possibly, related prerequisite courses.

As a stand-alone program, a graduate certificate might enhance credentials and offer new techniques. For instance, a graduate certificate in horticultural therapy might explore the use and impact of healthcare gardens.

Why Pursue a Rehabilitation Counseling Degree Online?

Many rehab online programs mirror the quality of a university’s on-campus programs, but try to meet the needs of busy adults. They usually do this through a flexible format. For instance, some schools coordinate with students to allow them to complete practicum, fieldwork and internships within their local community. And, while coursework is delivered over the Internet, there may not be set log in times; this arrangement could provide a convenient alternative to set class times.

Apply What You Learn

The ability to take courses online might allow you to apply what you learn to your current career, or help you develop skills to transition into a new occupation. For instance, you might fine-tune your ability to listen actively, assess clients, and think through treatment strategies given the insight into new research and multiple theories and techniques.

Career Outlook

Per the BLS, employment of rehabilitation counselors is anticipated to grow by 9 percent from 2014 to 2024.i This means that there should be a need for professionals who have the skills to work with disabled veterans, autism spectrum disorders, substance abuse, and learning disabilities.

Find Accredited Online Rehabilitation Programs

Online Rehabilitation Counseling programs may be found at regionally-accredited universities and online graduate schools. Individual programs may be professionally accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) or by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE).

Narrow Your Search

Compare online Rehabilitation Counseling programs as you scroll through the programs on this page. Narrow your results as you select the degree level: Masters, Doctorate, or Graduate Certificate. Then, contact the schools you like with the on-page form.

Check it out now! Many online universities have rolling admissions and multiple start dates, and you don’t want to miss out.


[i] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/rehabilitation-counselors.htm | [ii] .crccertification.com/eligibility-requirements | [iii] asorc.org.au/resources/asorc-core-competencies |[iv] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm

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