Rehabilitation Counseling Graduate Programs & Schools

Rehabilitation Psychology Graduate Programs focus on helping people with disabilities live more independent, productive, and fulfilled lives, through the application of psychology research and methods. Rehabilitation psychology programs may be offered at the masters and doctoral level, with a variety of approaches to suit different types of students and patient populations.

Rehabilitation Counseling Graduate Programs

Rehabilitation Counseling Graduate Programs

Students may learn how to coordinate care, assess individual patient needs, create rehab programs, and advocate for their patients to ensure they receive the support they need.i These programs may not only basic theories and methods of rehabilitation counseling, but also ethics, research and related legal and policy issues. Courses may even touch on social, emotional and personal impacts of living with a disability on employment and daily life.ii

What Is Rehabilitation Psychology?

Rehabilitation psychology uses psychology research and counseling strategies to help with disabilities become more independent and better adjusted. Overall, the goal is to help patients live independently. This could include finding work, self-sufficiency, and integrating into the community, and society as a whole.

While traditional counseling emphasizes the relationship between the counselor and the patient, 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 may also involve advocacy to protect the rights of the disabled. This way they may live in a community and work in the career of their choice.ii

Types of Rehabilitation Psychology Graduate 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 counseling 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.

Popular Rehabilitation Counseling Programs

ProgramInstitutionDegree Awarded
Rehabilitation CounselingUniversity At Albany (S.U.N.Y.)MRC
Rehabilitation CounselingGeorgia State UniversityMRC
Rehabilitation ServicesJackson State UniversityMS
Department of Rehabilitation CounselingLouisiana State University Health Sciences CenterMS
Rehabilitation PsychologyIllinois Institute of TechnologyMS
Rehabilitation CounselingMinnesota State University - MankatoMRC
Rehabilitative SciencesClarion University Of PennsylvaniaMS
Rehabilitation ScienceUniversity of AlbertaMRC
Mental Health Counseling (Rehabilitation)North Carolina A&T State UniversityMS
Rehabilitation Counseling Master's ProgramAuburn UniversityMS
Rehabilitation AdministrationHofstra UniversityN/A
Graduate Certificate in AddictionsPurdue GlobalN/A
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Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling Programs

On campus and online master degree programs in rehabilitation counseling may require between 18 and 24 months to complete. Doing so may involve both academic courses and fieldwork. Clinical training often 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, rehabilitation psychology maters programs may often be geared toward students with little or no professional experience. Some programs may also function as platform for a doctorate degree.ii

Upon graduation, many students may choose to pursue certification or licensure. To qualify for certification, candidates typically need to satisfy educational and work experience requirements and pass 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

Rehabilitation Psychology PhD Programs

Programs offering a Doctorate in Rehabilitation Counseling may support students who wish to get involved with research, education, or leadership roles.iv Typically offering either a PhD or a PsyD degree upon completion, doctoral programs are typically terminal degrees and the most advanced path of study in rehab counseling. As a result, they tend to be longer and more research intensive than masters programs.

In addition to advanced coursework, many rehabilitation psychology doctoral programs may require students to complete either a dissertation or fieldwork. Specific requirements vary based on the goals of the program (e.g. whether it’s clinical or research focused) and the preferences of that school, so read descriptions carefully to find a match for you.

Graduate Certificate in Rehabilitation Counseling

Rehabilitation Psychology Graduate Certificate Programs may be a great option for those looking to focus their studies on a specific aspect of the field. Many of these 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 Rehabilitation Counseling Graduate Programs

Rehabilitation Counseling Programs draw on many different areas, including medicine, psychiatry, law, social work, and education. This is one of the factors that sets it apart as a unique field. Different schools may emphasize each of these disciplines in different ways. As a result, prerequisites to attend different Rehabilitation Psychology Programs may vary by school.

At the masters level, rehabilitation psychology programs may require a bachelor's degree from an accredited college. Some schools may prefer applicants to hold a degree in a related program like Psychology, Counseling, Human Services or Sociology. Doctorate programs often require a masters degree in related fields.

Finding Accredited Rehabilitation Counseling Programs

Accreditation for Rehabilitation Psychology Graduate Programs may come from a few different industry-specific organizations. In particular, this includes the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) and 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
  • Substance abuse
  • Employment and career development (worker’s compensation, assistive technology)
  • Career development

Accreditation may be one way to evaluate a program’s quality and ensure that it might prepare you 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. The requirements in each state may vary, however, so look into the states where you wish to work to learn more.

Rehabilitation Psychology Graduate Program Formats

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, and the types of programs that might fit into your lifestyle. For example, are you interested programs that offer a social and interactive experience? Or do you need as much flexibility as you can find? Rehabilitation counseling program formats you may consider are described below.

Rehabilitation Psychology Schools

Rehabilitation psychology graduate schools offer a campus-based learning experience. This could be a great fit for aspiring rehabilitation counselors, as it is such an interactive and personal profession. As a campus student, you might be able to practice with classmates or connect with local organizations for hands-on experience—not 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.

Rehabilitation Counseling Online Programs

More inclined to distance learning? Online rehabilitation psychology 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.

What Does a Rehabilitation Therapist Do?

While specific roles and responsibilities may vary, in general, the scope of rehabilitation psychology is broad. As a rehabilitation psychologist, you may work with diverse patients to help them overcome the challenges related to their disabilities, develop important skills, and to live their life with more independence. Patient populations 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 ​

Rehabilitation Psychology Graduate 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 10% growth rate in employment predicted from 2016 to 2026, the job outlook for rehabilitation counselors is above average. In 2016, the median salary for rehabilitation counselors was $34,670. However, this may vary considerably by state, level of experience, work environment, and other factors. ii

Top Salary Metro Areas in the United States: Rehabilitation Counselors
Metro AreaAnnual Mean SalaryEmployment
Anchorage, AK$65,560220
Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ$61,08030
Olympia-Tumwater, WA$61,010170
New Haven, CT$57,640290
Jackson, MI$57,54070

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Now could be a great time to find out more about graduate Rehabilitation Counseling Degrees.

[i] | [ii] | [ iii] | [iv]

Top 19 Rehabilitation Psychology Graduate Programs ​

  • Offering two quality, competency-based online learning formats: FlexPath & GuidedPath
  • Online degrees in business, counseling, education, health administration, human services, information technology, nursing, public health, psychology and social work.
  • 97% of alumni agree FlexPath provided the flexibility they needed to pursue their degree (Alumni Outcomes Survey 2017)
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