The Top 10 Most Affordable Accredited Online Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling Programs 2016

By Kirsten Hughes
April 2016

This ranking is designed for students interested in pursuing a career in the field of rehabilitation counseling. The online programs offered here aim to be flexible and accessible for everyone. These online degrees allow you  to work from home while maintaining your current personal and professional commitments. The programs listed enable you to obtain a high quality, accredited, and affordable master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling. We’re confident you will find the program to meet your educational and professional goals here.

Rehabilitation counseling is a specialized area of general counseling focused on supporting individuals with disabilities as well as their families. Rehabilitation counselors support individuals in achieving personal and career goals including independence, accessing resources, education and employment, and being empowered and respected members of our society. Rehabilitation counselors focus on the impact of the disability on the whole person with the ability to assess and help people with cognitive, physical, and psychiatric disabilities. Rehabilitation counselors attend to the vocational impact of disabilities and assist individuals in reaching their highest potential for independence and productivity in the workforce. Rehabilitation counselors are trained to provide assessment, individual and group counseling, referral, case management, and services coordination, advocacy, and program development all while being culturally competent and capable of supporting individuals and their families from all cultural and racial backgrounds.

Rehabilitation counselors are employed in a variety of settings including: vocational rehabilitation agencies; medical centers and hospitals; community mental health agencies; substance abuse programs; Veterans Administration; college and university resource centers; independent living centers; transitional living programs; correctional facilities; and private practice. The job outlook for rehabilitation counselors is good with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that employment for rehabilitation counselors is forecasted to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is reportedly faster than the average for all occupations.

All of the programs on our list are accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). CORE accredits undergraduate and graduate programs that prepare students for careers in professional rehabilitation counseling. Because all of the programs are CORE accredited they all meet certain standards such as providing a required number of supervised internship and practicum hours and preparing graduates for national certification as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC). Some programs also prepare students for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor. National certification and licensure can vary from state to state. Students should consult the licensing board of the state they plan to practice in for specific requirements. For information about how this ranking was developed, see the methodology statement at the bottom of the article.

Funding is available for qualified applicants at many of the programs listed here. Many of the scholarships available through these programs are funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), U. S. Department of Education.

The RSA seeks to strengthen the workforce in the field of rehabilitation counseling with highly qualified, culturally diverse, and skilled professionals to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities in communities across the country. In many cases recipients of scholarships are expected to commit to working (for full pay and benefits) in the field of rehabilitation counseling following graduation for two years for every year of the scholarship.

#10 Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond, VA

Masters of Rehabilitation Counseling

Virginia Commonwealth University offers an online Masters of Rehabilitation Counseling. This degree is available online with an asynchronous format so students have the flexibility to engage in the courses at times that are convenient for them. Students will interact with each other and faculty through online group discussions. The program does require two on-campus skill development courses offered in an intensive one week format. This program requires the completion of 48 credit hours along with the internship and practicum experience.

Courses include: American sign language; foundations of substance abuse rehabilitation; introduction to rehabilitation counseling; counseling theories in rehabilitation; group counseling theories and techniques; counseling, death, and loss; human growth and development; appraisal and evaluation in rehabilitation; case management in rehabilitation; psychiatric information for rehabilitation counselors; alcohol and human behavior; and multicultural counseling in rehabilitation.

  • Credits Required: 48
  • Cost: $677 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

#9 Winston-Salem State University

Winston-Salem, NC

Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling

Winston-Salem State University offers a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling. This 60 credit hour program can be completed in two years of full time study plus one summer session, along with the practicum and internship experiences. The distance education format is made up of online and on-campus courses. The program aims to prepare graduates  to be professionals in the field of rehabilitation counseling, who will be ready to pass the national Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) exam and go on to provide services to individuals with disabilities. Graduates will also have a strong understanding multicultural perspectives and respect for diversity.

Courses include: foundations of rehabilitation counseling; theories and techniques of counseling; group counseling; vocational assessment; vocational placement; medical aspects of disability in rehabilitation counseling; ethics in rehabilitation counseling; human growth and development; vocational rehabilitation services planning; and psychological and cultural diversity issues in rehabilitation.

  • Credits Required: 60
  • Cost: $672.21 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

#8 Thomas University

Thomasville, GA

Master of Sciene in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling

Thomas University offers an online Master of Science in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling. This is a 63 credit hour program. Students can also complete 12 more credits (for a total of 75) for a specialization in addictions and alcoholism counseling. Students will be paired with an academic advisor for support while in the program. Thomas University is able to offer scholarships, grants, and assistantships to qualified clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling students. See the department website for further information. Graduates will be prepared to take the National Certified Rehabilitation Counselor exam. Graduates will also have met academic requirements (which vary by state) to work towards becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).

Courses include: introduction to counseling; medical aspects of disability; psychosocial aspects of disability; theories and techniques of counseling; case management and community resources; assessment and evaluation; legal ethical and cultural issues in counseling; theories and techniques of group counseling; occupational information and vocational analysis; human growth and development; crisis counseling; family counseling; and human sexuality.

  • Credits Required: 63
  • Cost: $635 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

#7 University of Kentucky

Lexington, KY

Master’s in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling Accelerated Distance Learning Program

The Master’s in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling Accelerated Distance Learning Program at the University of Kentucky has been described as “visionary” by reviewers for the accreditation process. This program can be completed in as few as 16 months, meaning that students can start in the fall and complete the program at the end of the following fall semester. The online program offers the same high quality education as the campus-based program through asynchronous web-based instruction. Supervision for internship and practicum experiences is offered through live web based interaction between the student and supervisor. The distance program requires the completion of 60 credits and courses are generally taught in blocks of 8 weeks. Some scholarships are available to online students through a grant from the Rehabilitation Services Administration, more information is available through the accelerated distance learning programs website.

Courses include: principles of rehabilitation counseling; rehabilitation counseling theory and practice; medical and psychosocial aspects of disability; human growth, disability, and development across the lifespan; cultural diversity in rehabilitation counseling; crisis, disaster, and trauma response for persons with disabilities; case management in rehabilitation counseling; group and family counseling; mental health diagnosis and treatment planning; and transition, supported employment, and independent living.

  • Credits Required: 60
  • Cost: $617 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

#6 University of Wisconsin-Stout

Menomonie, WI

Master of Science in Vocational Rehabilitation with a concentration in Rehabilitation Counseling

The University of Wisconsin at Stout offers an online Master of Science degree in Vocational Rehabilitation with a concentration in Rehabilitation Counseling. This distance education program is designed for individuals who have at least two years of experience working in the field of rehabilitation or with individuals with disabilities. This program is intended to be completed in three years on a part-time basis, allowing students to maintain current employment. This program follows an asynchronous learning model, allowing students to participate at their convenience. Practicum and internship experiences are designed taking into consideration each student’s interests, needs, and local options. The courses and requirements for this program are the same as the on-campus program, which is accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). Graduates of this program will be prepared to complete the National Certified Rehabilitation Counselor exam.

Courses include: introduction to rehabilitation; psychosocial aspects of disability; community-based rehabilitation services; vocational assessment applications in rehabilitation; rehabilitation and criminal justice; rehabilitation and chemical dependency; psychiatric rehabilitation; adolescent substance use and abuse; group processes in rehabilitation settings; sexuality and disability; and assistive technology.

  • Credits Required: 48
  • Cost: $536 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commision

#5 Emporia State University

Emporia, KS

Master of Sciene in Rehabilitation Counseling

The Department of Counselor Education at Emporia State University offers an online Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. This is a 48 credit hour program that includes the completion of an internship in the student’s home town. Students are supervised in their internship experience by nationally certified faculty through distance technologies. The Rehabilitation Counseling program was established in 1966 and began following a distance education format in 2014. Students have the option of taking one-to-three courses per semester over  seven semesters. Academically qualified students may be eligible for funding including tuition and other benefits. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. Graduates of this program will be prepared to pass the national exam and provide rehabilitation counseling through individual, family, group, and vocational counseling to diverse populations.

Courses include: psychosocial development and disability; foundations of rehabilitation counseling; counseling theories; employment issues in rehabilitation; group processes in counseling; career counseling and development; analysis of research; vocational information and assessment; advanced case management; medical aspects of disability; and internship in rehabilitation counseling.

  • Credits Required: 48
  • Cost: $436.75 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commision

#4 Utah State University

Logan, UT

Master of Rehabilitation Counseling

Utah State University offers a distance education program for the Master of Rehabilitation Counseling degree. An on-campus program is also available. Students in this program will enhance their learning experience through the completion of a clinical internship. The program reports that 99% of Utah State University graduates pass the national Certified Rehabilitation Counselor examination the first time they take the exam. Almost 100% of graduates find employment as rehabilitation counselors. This distance education program requires attendance and participation in synchronous online courses as well as three one-week summer sessions on campus at Utah State University.

Unique feature: applicants interested in this program are encouraged to contact the department to see what scholarships are available. Scholarship opportunities vary from year to year but the Rehabilitation Counseling Program does have a limited number of scholarships available that are funded through the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration. Additional funding opportunities are also available.

  • Credits Required: 52
  • Cost: $381 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Northwest Accreditation Commission

#3 The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL

Master of Arts in Rehabilitation Counseling

The University of Alabama offers an online Master of Arts in Rehabilitation Counseling degree. This 48 credit program can be completed in two calendar years and requires the completion of a practicum and internship experience. A 60 credit option of study is also available. Students who have access to the University of Alabama main campus interested in taking additional classes in the classroom may complete the program in four semesters. Courses are offered through a live virtual classroom and require weekly participation. Students will complete an internship under the supervision of a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. Graduates of this program will be prepared to support individuals with disabilities and their families. The program emphasizes training graduates to serve diverse populations through individual and group counseling, advocacy, and consultation.

Courses include: counseling: theories and process; career development; counseling skills; group: process and procedures; orientation to rehabilitation counseling; medical, functional, and environmental aspects of disability; vocational rehabilitation case management and placement; multicultural counseling; advanced seminar- substance abuse counseling; research methods in education; and lifespan development.

  • Credits Required: 48
  • Cost: $360 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

#2 Southern University and A & M College

Baton Rouge, LA

Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling

The Department of Rehabilitation and Disability Studies and Southern University and A & M College offers a Master of Science Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. The program offers three areas of specialization: rehabilitation of ethnic minorities (REM); vocational evaluation and work adjustment (VEWA); and assistive technology (AT). The program also has a distance education component, Rehabilitation Counseling Online. The department is able to offer scholarships and assistantships to qualified applicants. The faculty for this program are engaged in research in the field of rehabilitation counseling and serve on national and international professional organizations.

Courses include: introduction to rehabilitation counseling; theories and techniques of counseling; rehabilitation assessment and evaluation; medical and psychosocial aspects of disability; research methods and statistics; occupational information and vocational analysis; medical and psychosocial aspects of disability; and job development and placement.

  • Credits Required: 42
  • Cost: $353 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

#1 Fort Valley State University

Fort Valley, GA

Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling and Case Management

Fort Valley State University offers a Master of Science Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and Case Management. This 52 credit degree is available fully online as well as  on-campus. Students are admitted in the summer and fall. This program emphasizes preparing graduates to enter the field of rehabilitation counseling as culturally competent practitioners ready to provide advocacy and support for all individuals with a disability. Students are required to have a 3.0 grade point average, or higher, and to pass the Final Written Comprehensive Examination to graduate from the program. The program reports that for the 2014-2015 reporting period 86% of graduates were employed within 6 months of graduation.

Courses include: introduction to rehabilitation; introduction to case management; psychiatric rehabilitation; counseling theories and process; medical case management; rehabilitation assessment and evaluation; cultural diversity in counseling; group theory and process; vocational rehabilitation; private sector rehab; lifespan development in rehabilitation; and research and program evaluation.

  • Credits Required: 52
  • Cost: $219 / Credit Hour
  • Regional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Methodology: To develop the ranking of The Top 10 Most Affordable Accredited Online Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling Programs, we used information gathered from the Institute of Education Sciences’ College Navigator to evaluate colleges and universities offering programing in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling/Counselor. Next, we checked the schools for regional accreditation with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and program accreditation with the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), only programs accredited by both agencies were retained. Finally, we sorted the schools by tuition (cost per credit hour) as listed on each programs web sites and we present the top 10 schools in our ranking.

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