Vocational Rehab Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Rehabilitation counselors work with individuals who have mental, physical and developmental disabilities in order to help them live independent, productive lives. This can include vocational counseling. Read on to learn more about educational options for rehabilitation counselors.

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most employers require rehabilitation counselors to hold a master's degree and professional licensure. However, there are also bachelor's and doctoral degree programs that offer relevant education, as well as graduate certificates in the field.

Schools with Vocational Rehab Programs

Here's a list of schools with available programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
University of Florida Gainesville, FL 4-year, Public Graduate Certificate $4,814.10
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 4-year, Public Master's
$16,122 in-state;
$31,674 out-of-state (graduate)
University of South Florida Tampa, FL 4-year, Public Master's
Graduate Certificate
$8,350 in-state;
$19,047 out-of-state (graduate)
University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI 4-year, Public Bachelor's
$10,415 in-state (undergraduate);
$10,728 in-state (graduate)
Florida State University Tallahassee, FL 4-year, Public Master's $9,684 in-state;
$24,116 out-of-state (graduate)
University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 4-year, Public Bachelor's
$11,403 in-state (undergraduate);
$11,040 in-state (graduate)
San Diego State University San Diego, CA 4-year, Public Master's
Postgraduate Certificate
$6,738 in-state;
$15,666 out-of-state (graduate)
University of North Texas Denton, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's
$9,730 in-state (undergraduate);
$5,450 in-state (graduate)
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA 4-year, Public Master's
$10,710 in-state;
$21,933 out-of-state (graduate)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

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School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when looking for vocational rehab schools:

  • Students should enroll in vocational rehabilitation programs accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE).
  • Prospective students who plan to seek licensure may want to find out what the pass rate is for graduates on the state licensure exam and/or the professional certification exam offered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC).
  • Students may want to look for schools that have on-campus vocational rehabilitation centers where students can work. It can also be helpful to find out where off-campus internships are offered, in order to ensure that students can experience in a setting where they might like to work in the future, such as a hospital, nonprofit organization or international human service agency.
  • It is important for prospective students to make sure that they meet the program's admissions requirements; for instance, some graduate-level programs require counselors to be licensed before they can enroll.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

In Bachelor of Science (BS) in Rehabilitation Studies programs, students learn about physical and developmental disabilities and the counseling techniques used to support disabled individuals. In addition, students gain real-world experience through a supervised internship with a human service agency. Although this degree does not prepare individuals for the licensure exam, it may be pursued in conjunction with a rehabilitation studies certificate that includes exam preparation. There are also schools that offer five-year dual bachelor's/master's degree programs in the field; graduates are eligible for licensure.

Master's Degree Programs

Master of Science (MS) programs in rehabilitation counseling provide career-specific training for future counselors, as well as preparation for the licensure exam. In addition to classroom-based and hands-on clinical training, students may also work on faculty-supervised research projects in relevant topics such as counseling service delivery and substance abuse counseling. Prior to graduation, students may be required to submit a thesis.

Doctoral Degree Programs

PhD programs in rehabilitation counseling provide research training and prepare rehabilitation counselors for teaching or leadership positions in the field. Over the course of these programs, students take advanced courses and write a dissertation in a particular area of interest. It is important to note that applicants must hold a master's degree or have completed a significant amount of coursework in rehabilitation counseling.

Graduate Certificate Programs

Graduate certificate programs are available for individuals who already hold a graduate degree in a field related to rehabilitation counseling and want to prepare for the licensure exam. For instance, trained family therapists or social workers may pursue a certificate in order to redirect their careers toward rehabilitation counseling or expand the services they currently offer. Topics of study include counseling assessments, placement practices and case management.

Vocational rehabilitation programs can be found at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students should look for accredited programs that include experiential learning opportunities.

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