Best online master degree programs in rehabilitation counseling

In a world that is increasingly acknowledging the importance of mental health and well-being, the demand for qualified rehabilitation counselors is on the rise.

Rehabilitation counseling is a specialized practice that focuses on helping individuals with disabilities achieve their personal, career, and independent living goals.

If you have a passion for making a difference in people’s lives and are considering a career in this rewarding field, an online master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling might be the right path for you.

Why do people choose Rehabilitation Counseling?

Rehabilitation counselors play a crucial role in society by assisting individuals with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities to lead fulfilling lives.

They help clients manage or overcome the effects of disabilities on employment, independent living, and overall well-being.

Seeing a client transition from a state of dependence to independence is one of the most rewarding experiences that this career offers.

Addressing a Growing Need

The World Health Organization estimates that over a billion people, or approximately 15% of the global population, have some form of disability.

As the population ages and medical advances extend lifespans, this number is expected to grow. Rehabilitation counselors are increasingly in demand to meet the needs of this diverse group, which includes individuals with physical disabilities, substance abuse issues, mental health conditions, and more.

Versatility in Employment Settings

Rehabilitation counselors work in various settings— from hospitals and rehabilitation centers to schools and private practices.

This offers a wide range of career paths and specializations, such as vocational rehabilitation, substance abuse counseling, or working specifically with veterans, the elderly, or children with disabilities.

A Holistic Approach to Wellness

Rehabilitation counseling goes beyond simply addressing the immediate needs of individuals with disabilities. The approach is often holistic, considering the client’s psychological, social, and environmental circumstances.

Job Security and Career Growth

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of rehabilitation counselors will grow faster than the average for all occupations between 2020 and 2030.

Many counselors also find that their skills are transferable to other areas within social services and healthcare, offering opportunities for career advancement.

Ethical and Cultural Competency

Rehabilitation counseling not only prepares you to understand the intricacies of disabilities but also trains you in ethical practices and cultural competency.

In an increasingly diverse society, these skills are invaluable for any counselor aiming to provide equitable and effective services to all clients, regardless of their background.

Personal Fulfillment and Satisfaction

Many rehabilitation counselors express a high degree of job satisfaction. The work can be emotionally challenging, but the personal and emotional rewards are immense.

Whether it’s through helping a client find employment, aiding in the development of life skills, or simply being a supportive presence during a difficult transition, the impact you can make as a rehabilitation counselor is both profound and fulfilling.

Empowerment and Advocacy

Rehabilitation counselors are also advocates for social change. They actively work to break down societal barriers and stigmas that often prevent individuals with disabilities from fully participating in community life.

Advantages of Online Master’s Program in rehabilitation counseling

Online education has revolutionized the way we learn by offering a flexible and accessible alternative to traditional, on-campus programs. Online master’s programs in rehabilitation counseling provide several advantages:


Online programs allow you to study from anywhere in the world, making it possible to balance your education with other commitments, such as work or family.


With the advancement of technology, quality education is now accessible to a broader audience, breaking down geographical barriers.

Diverse Learning Environment

Online programs often attract students from diverse backgrounds, providing a rich learning environment that exposes you to different perspectives and experiences.

Key Features of Online Master’s Programs in Rehabilitation Counseling

Most online master’s programs in rehabilitation counseling require 60-63 credit hours of coursework, which includes a combination of core courses, electives, and a supervised internship.

Key areas of study typically include counseling theories and techniques, assessment and evaluation, medical and psychosocial aspects of disabilities, case management, and ethical and legal issues in rehabilitation counseling.

Upon completion of the program, graduates are typically eligible to sit for the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) exam, a nationally recognized certification that is often required by employers.

How to Choose the Right Program

When choosing an online master’s program in rehabilitation counseling, it’s important to consider the following factors:

  • Accreditation: Make sure the program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). This ensures that the program meets the highest standards of quality and prepares you for professional licensure.
  • Faculty Expertise: Look for programs with faculty members who have experience in the field of rehabilitation counseling and are actively engaged in research or professional practice.
  • Internship Opportunities: Consider programs that offer support in securing internship placements, as this is a critical component of your training and professional development.
  • Alumni Network: A strong alumni network can provide valuable connections and opportunities in the job market after graduation.

Online masters in psychology counseling

For those looking to make a real difference in people’s lives, an online Master’s in Psychology Counseling is an excellent path to follow.

Best online master degree programs in rehabilitation counseling
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

This advanced degree offers flexibility, affordability, and comprehensive training for those aiming to excel in this rewarding field.

Essential Components of an Online Master’s in Psychology Counseling

  • Curriculum

Typical coursework may include Psychotherapy Techniques, Counseling Ethics, Developmental Psychology, and Research Methods, among others.

  • Internship

An online Master’s in Psychology Counseling often requires a clinical internship or practicum. This hands-on experience is crucial for applying theoretical knowledge in real-world settings.

  • Accreditation

Make sure the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting body, such as the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). This ensures that the program meets the necessary educational standards.

Career Opportunities with a Master’s in Psychology Counseling

  • Licensed Counselor

After completing the necessary state licensure requirements, you can work as a licensed counselor in various settings including hospitals, mental health clinics, and private practice.

  • School Counselor

With an emphasis on child psychology, you can opt for a career as a school counselor helping students navigate academic, social, and emotional challenges.

  • Corporate Counselor

Companies are increasingly focused on employee well-being, creating opportunities for psychology counselors to work in corporate settings.

  • Researcher

For those more academically inclined, a Master’s degree can also pave the way for research roles or further studies like a Ph.D.

Best online master degree programs in rehabilitation counseling

Below, you will find the top schools that offer affordable online master’s in rehabilitation counseling. These high-quality programs are accredited by either CACREP or CORE, preparing graduates for the national Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) exam. CRCs assist people with various disabilities.

  1. University of Wisconsin-Madison
  2. Fort Valley State University
  3. Utah State University
  4. Emporia State University
  5. Texas Tech University
  6. SDSU
  7. University of North Texas
  8. Winston-Salem State University
  9. University of Kentucky
  10. Assumption College
  11. USF


The M.S. in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling equips students to work with adolescents and adults with various disabilities, including mental health issues and substance use disorders, across both public and private sectors.

The program focuses on enhancing the life quality and community inclusion for individuals with disabilities, ranging from physical and psychiatric to sensory and age-related.

Emphasizing hands-on training, students undergo supervised field placements and can cross-train in both rehabilitation counseling and counseling psychology.

The program is CACREP-accredited, meeting standards for national CRC certification and Wisconsin’s training license for professional counselors. Financial aid options like scholarships and assistantships are available for eligible students.

Graduates find employment in diverse settings, from nonprofit and state agencies to educational institutions. The program is part of a highly-ranked educational institution, offering access to interdisciplinary views, professional resources, and current research.

Fort Valley State University

This school offers an online Rehabilitation Counseling and Case Management Graduate Program. The Master of Science degree is offered online and designed to train students in developing an ethical and multi-culturally competent practice of rehabilitation counseling.

Graduates will be well-versed in the medical and emotional aspects of disability, equipped to help people with disabilities reach their objectives in various life facets such as social, work-related, and financial.

They will also be ready to seek credentials as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor or licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor. The curriculum includes courses like Basics of Rehabilitation, Intro to Case Handling, Theories and Practices in Counseling, Medical Case Coordination, and Group Dynamics and Procedures.

Cost: $219 / Credit Hour

Utah State University

Utah State University provides a Master of Rehabilitation Counseling program that is available online and accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE).

The program aims to prepare students for careers as certified rehabilitation counselors. Coursework can be undertaken through the online distance education platform, featuring live class sessions. Online students are required to visit the Logan, UT campus during the summer term to participate in three one-week courses.

Upon completion, graduates will be well-equipped to explore career opportunities in various environments including: Veterans Affairs offices, centers for independent living, mental health facilities, substance abuse treatment centers, legal and forensic arenas, as well as private practice.

    • Cost: $431 / Credit Hour
    • Credits Required: 52

Emporia State University

Emporia State University provides a fully online Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling program that is CORE-accredited.

This 48-credit course prepares students to work across different rehabilitation settings by imparting skills in evaluation, intervention, and prevention tailored for diverse populations. Each student’s educational journey is thoughtfully customized to reflect their specific academic and occupational background.

The program includes mandatory supervised practicum and internship experiences to offer hands-on training. After completing the program, graduates will be qualified to pursue a professional certification in rehabilitation counseling.

    • Cost: $470 / Credit Hour
    • Credits Required: 60

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center offers a Master of Science in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling with a focus on preparing rehabilitation counselors to serve diverse populations in rural areas.

The program imparts clinical expertise along with ethical guidelines essential for becoming professional rehabilitation counselors capable of delivering evidence-based services to individuals with mental, physical, or emotional challenges.

This program has received accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), and graduates will be ready to take the national certification exam. They will also be qualified to seek certification as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor or licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor.

    • Cost: $540 / Credit Hour
    • Credits Required: 60


Initially, the Center for Distance Education in Rehabilitation (CDER) was established through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration, as part of the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD).

The primary objective was to provide the necessary education and training to rehabilitation counselors employed in state Vocational Rehabilitation agencies who lacked formal qualifications. After the original funding period concluded, the demand for such specialized education persisted.

As a result, CDER transitioned into a self-sustaining program, enabling students outside of the San Diego area to obtain a 60-unit Master of Science degree entirely through online distance learning.

The program admits students in cohorts, and each cohort completes the three-year curriculum by taking two or three courses per semester continuously for three years.

The online program maintains the same standards for admission, retention, curriculum, student learning outcomes, and graduation as its on-campus counterpart. Students enrolled in the CDER program come from various locations across the United States, including territories like American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.

Estimate Cost Total Estimated Cost: $35,580

$593 Total Cost/Unit

Completion Time: 3 Years

University of North Texas

The University of North Texas offers a Master of Science program in Rehabilitation Counseling, which is available both online and on campus, allowing students to choose the learning format that suits them best.

In this program, students are trained to work collaboratively with and advocate for individuals with disabilities, aiming to help them achieve their goals and enhance their overall well-being.

The program provides the opportunity to engage closely with distinguished faculty who are experts in rehabilitation counseling. These faculty members are actively involved in various research areas, including the effects of disability on diverse ethnic and cultural groups, prevention of substance abuse recovery, and the influence of resilience on health outcomes.

The program’s curriculum features a wide range of courses, such as: Seminars on Recovery; An Overview of Drugs and Addictions; Research Experience through the Honors College; Techniques of Microcounseling; Disability in Social Context; Rehabilitation Case Management; Courses on Addictions, Drugs, and Alcohol; Different Models of Addiction Treatment; The Intersection of Substance Abuse and Disability; Fundamentals of Psychiatric Rehabilitation; Group Therapy in Addiction Counseling; Employment Services in Rehabilitation; Specialized Studies in Rehabilitation; and Practical Experience in Rehabilitation.

    • Cost: $643 / Credit Hour
    • Credits Required: 60

Winston-Salem State University

Winston-Salem State University provides a Master of Science program in Rehabilitation Counseling that is accessible both online and on campus.

The program can be completed in two years of full-time study. For students interested in specializing within the field, the program offers Areas of Emphasis that require 9-15 credits of elective coursework. These specializations include Rural Vocational Rehabilitation, Transition Services, Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and Vocational Evaluation.

Participants in the program will acquire essential clinical competencies through supervised practicums and internships. Upon graduation, they will be equipped to work in diverse settings and with various population groups.

    • Cost: $672 / Credit Hour
    • Credits Required: 60

University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky’s College of Education provides an Accelerated Distance Learning Program for a Master’s degree in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling.

This online program features courses that are organized into focused eight-week segments, delivered through asynchronous online teaching. This format is designed to give students the flexibility to focus on their coursework and complete tasks at times that suit them, although within certain deadlines.

In addition to the asynchronous content, virtual office hours are available to facilitate interaction between students and instructors. Those who enroll full-time can expect to complete the program in just 16 months, while part-time students can finish within three years.

    • Cost: $674 / Credit Hour
    • Credits Required: 58

Assumption College

Assumption College’s Graduate Studies Program offers a Master of Arts in Rehabilitation Counseling. Students have the option to pursue this degree either on campus as full-time or part-time students, or online on a part-time basis.

Both pathways require the completion of 60 credit hours. The online program is designed to prioritize a student-centric educational experience and facilitates interaction between students and faculty throughout the course of study.

    • Cost: $691 / Credit Hour
    • Credits Required: 60


The University of South Florida (USF) offers a completely online Master of Arts program in Rehabilitation Counseling and Disability Sciences (RCDS).

This program is designed to address the growing need for Certified Rehabilitation Counselors who can assist people with various types of disabilities, including physical, mental, emotional, and chemical. In Florida alone, there are currently 100 unfilled positions in rehabilitation counseling, which exacerbates the challenges faced by those who require such services.

The online nature of the program provides flexibility, making it accessible for individuals who may be working full-time, living outside the Tampa Bay area, or facing constraints that make it difficult to attend a traditional educational setting.

Dr. Chih Chin Chou, the director of the new RCDS program, noted that state and CDC data indicate that 23.5% of working-age adults in Florida report having disabilities, a percentage higher than the national average. He emphasized the urgent need to develop strategies to boost the number of skilled rehabilitation professionals to serve this population.

The RCDS program will focus on providing training across various dimensions of disability, including psychological, social, medical, and vocational aspects. It will also aim to enhance skills in personal adjustment counseling.

With a 60-credit structure, the online program is crafted to be interactive and engaging. It encourages students to not only acquire knowledge but also to think critically about contemporary issues affecting people with disabilities. Graduates of this program are expected to become advocates, counselors, educators, and researchers in the field of Rehabilitation Counseling and Disability Sciences.

Conclusion on the online master degree programs in rehabilitation counseling

Pursuing an online master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling can be a rewarding investment in your future.

It offers the flexibility, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness that many students need while providing a comprehensive education that prepares you for a fulfilling career in rehabilitation counseling.

By considering key factors such as accreditation, faculty expertise, internship opportunities, and alumni network, you can choose the right program that aligns with your career goals and personal circumstances.


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