Rehabilitation Psychology Graduate Programs and Degrees

Rehabilitation Counseling Programs explore the many ways to help people with disabilities live more independent, productive, and fulfilled lives. Students may learn how to coordinate care, assess individual needs, create rehab programs, and advocate to ensure people receive support.i Classes could cover not only basic theories and methods of rehabilitation counseling, but also ethics, research and related legal and policy issues. You might also study the social, emotional and personal impacts of living with a disability on employment and daily life.ii

Rehabilitation Counseling Programs Basics

What Is Rehabilitation Counseling?

Rehabilitation Counseling is a type of counseling focused on empowering people with disabilities so they can become more independent and better adjusted. The goal is to help clients find work, be economically self-sufficient, and integrate into their community, and society as a whole. While traditional counseling emphasizes the relationship between the counselor and the client, a rehabilitation counselor works to connect their client to others. These could mean finding transition services for children within school systems or ways to help the elderly adjust to their changing lifestyles.iii

Rehab counseling is also based on advocacy and protecting the rights of the disabled. This way they may live in a community and work in the career of their choice.ii

Types of Graduate Rehabilitation Counseling Programs

Rehabilitation Psychology Graduate Programs may offer certificates, masters, and doctorate degrees. While covering similar topics, each degree level may have different requirements and depths of study. Consider your career goals, level of experience, and interests to find a perfect match for you.

It is important to note that clinical rehabilitation is, in some university programs, a division of its Mental Health Counseling program. This is due to the accreditation process for rehabilitation counselors. Contact schools directly to learn more.

Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling

Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling programs may require between 18 and 24 months to complete, and may contain both academic courses and clinical fieldwork. Clinical training consists of a practicum and at least 600 hours of supervised internship experience. This may be completed in community, state, federal, and private rehabilitation-related programs.iii

As most rehabilitation counseling careers require at least a masters degree, the Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling degree is somewhat of a gateway degree. It also functions as a platform for a doctorate degree.ii Upon graduation, most students wishing to practice pursue either certification or licensure. Certification means that you have met educational and work experience requirements and passed an exam. Licensure is a state credential that regulates the title and/or practice of professional counselors.ii Some masters in rehabilitation counseling programs may be designed to prepare students to pursue licensure. Programs and state requirements vary, so contact schools directly if this interests you.


Most employers require a masters degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related field. A bachelors degree in most fields is acceptable to enter a masters degree program. iii

Doctorate Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling

Those interested in research, teaching, or leadership roles may wish to earn a Doctorate in Rehabilitation Counseling or a related area.iv Doctorate programs are the most advanced form of study in rehab counseling. They are therefore often longer and more research intensive than masters programs. In addition to advanced coursework, many may require students to complete a dissertation. Some programs are more heavily focused on research and teaching, while others emphasize leadership or policy. Programs and requirements vary, so read descriptions carefully to find a match for you.

Graduate Certficate in Rehabilitation Counseling

Graduate Certificates in Rehabilitation Counseling may be a great option for those looking to focus their studies on a specific aspect of the field. Many are designed for working rehabilitation counselors who wish to expand their knowledge and explore new ways to help their clients.

These shorter, non-degree programs often have more concise coursework and may therefore be completed in less time. Some certificates might also be applied toward a full degree program later on. Every school is different so follow up directly to see what options might be available to you.

How To Prepare for Graduate Rehabilitation Counseling Programs

Rehabilitation Counseling draws on many different areas, such as medicine, psychiatry, law, social work, and education. This is one of the factors that sets it apart as a unique field. Due to this, prerequisite education for Rehabilitation Counseling Programs may vary by school.

Generally, masters programs require a bachelors degree from an accredited college. Some students may have a Bachelors degree in Psychology, Counseling, >Human Services or Sociology. Doctorate programs often require a masters degree in related fields.

Accreditation for Rehabilitation Psychology Graduate Programs

Accreditation for Rehabilitation Psychology Graduate Programs may come from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) in addition to the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). As a specialized accreditation organization that is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), CORE is a member of the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors.

While curriculums vary, the educational requirements and student learning outcomes for Rehabilitation Counseling are quite specific.

The educational requirements and student learning outcomes for Rehabilitation Counseling span areas such as:iv

  • Human growth and development
  • Ethics, ethical behavior professional identity
  • Psychosocial aspects of disability
  • Cultural diversity
  • Medical, functional and environmental aspects of disability
  • Rehabilitation Services
  • Case Management
  • Clinical practicum, internship
  • Research methods, statistics
  • Assessment
  • Group work, family dynamics
  • Counseling skills, approaches, principles
  • Employment and career development (worker’s compensation, assistive technology)

Accreditation may be one way to evaluate a program for quality and ensure you are ready to meet industry standards. Some employers may even prefer graduates from accredited programs. Graduation from an accredited program may also be a factor when pursuing licensure. States vary, so look into the states where you wish to work to learn more.

Campus or Online Rehabilitation Counseling Degree?

There are a couple of ways to refine your search for Graduate Rehabilitation Counseling Programs. The first is the degree level, as discussed above. The second is program format, or how you wish to study. Are you interested in combining a social and interactive component with learning? If so, start thinking about graduate schools and where you might like to study.

On campus learning

On campus learning could be a great fit for Rehabilitation Psychology Graduate Programs as it is such an interactive and personal profession. You might be able to practice with classmates or connect with local organizations for hands-on experiencenot to mention access other facilities on campus to enhance your education. If this sounds like a perfect scenario, conduct a location search by city, state, or country using the menu bar to find a school near you.

Online learning

More inclined to distance learning? Online rehabilitation counseling programs may suit you if you are a working student, have a family, or live too far from grad school. These programs typically cover similar coursework but in a more flexible format. You could access assignments, lectures, and other resources anywhere with an internet connection. And you may still have ready access to professors and peers through chat rooms, email, and social media.

A mix of both

The other choice is a partially online (hybrid) format. Hybrid programs blend the face-to-face aspects of campus programs with the ease of online learning. Some programs may have mostly online courses with brief stays on campus for intensives or clinical components. Others may allow for a mix of both online and campus courses. Every program is different, so follow up for details.

What Does a Rehabilitation Therapist Do?

Rehabilitation therapists work with diverse groups to help them overcome their disabilities and live their life with more independence. Clients may include veterans and the elderly, as well as those with learning and physical disabilities, or autism and substance abuse issues. Rehabilitation counselors are tasked with helping these clients integrate into their communities and cope with personal, social, and employment challenges. They also act as advocates and provide support in accessing resources and services.

Rehabilitation counselors are specifically trained via Rehabilitation Counseling Programs to do the following.ii

  • Evaluate client needs
  • Help plan careers (Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor)
  • Builds bridges between their client and the services they need
  • Coordinate services to assist their clients in coping with their limitations
  • Work with cognitive impairments, learning difficulties, environmental and societal discrimination and obstacles, psychological conflicts, and loss of physical mobility

Additional Career Opportunities

Graduate Rehabilitation Counseling Programs may be designed to prepare students for potential careers as Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors, Certified Rehabilitation Counselors (CRCs), and Human Services Specialists. i These careers typically require a masters degree for entry-level positions. With a 9% growth rate in employment predicted from 2014 to 2024, the job outlook for rehabilitation counselors is above average.ii Now could be a great time to find out more about graduate Rehabilitation Counseling Degrees.

So Get Started Here!

Ready to leverage your strengths and learn precise techniques and practices by earning a Rehabilitation Counseling Degree? Begin by reviewing Rehabilitation Counseling Programs here.

You can also filter your search by program format, location, or degree level. When you find programs you like, make sure to request more information by clicking the link and filling out the online form. Your future may be only a few clicks away!

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