Rehabilitation Counseling (MS)

Program Overview

UMass Boston's School for Global Inclusion and Social Development is home to the highest-rated rehabilitation counseling program in New England (U.S. News & World Report).

Rehabilitation counselors support people with disabilities to lead productive and fulfilling lives, including working at integrated and competitive jobs in their communities. Our 60-degree master’s program develops professionals to advance educational access and economic and social participation for individuals with disabilities.

We prepare our students to become leaders who promote inclusion in diverse settings and with varied populations. Students integrate classroom content with real-world application via their fieldwork.

Guide to Online Schools 2020 Best Online Colleges for Value in Master's - Counseling

UMass Boston's Rehabilitation Counseling MS program was recently ranked #6 in Guide to Online School's 2020 Best Online Master's in Counseling list.

U.S. News & World Report Best Online Programs Grad Education 2022

Ranked as one of the Best Online Graduate Education Programs by U.S. News & World Report.

Mission Statement and Program Objectives

The mission of the Rehabilitation Counseling program at UMass Boston is to recruit, educate and graduate diverse students to be competent rehabilitation counselors with the knowledge, skills, and dispositional standards required according to our professional certification. Rehabilitation counselors support and empower persons with a range of disabilities including physical, mental, emotional, educational and developmental disabilities to participate fully in society. Our rehabilitation counseling graduates are prepared to work in a wide range of rehabilitation settings including vocational rehabilitation, mental health, educational, advocacy, independent living and other settings that support the well-being of individuals with disabilities. We believe in the value and worth of all individuals, the right of all persons to self-determination, and that the attitudinal and environmental barriers faced by people with disabilities are fundamental obstacles to full inclusion that must be acknowledged and addressed.

In carrying out this mission, the faculty has to obligation to:

  1. Create a culture of intellectual excellence that is supportive of a diverse range of students
  2.  Promote social justice through their teaching, research and service
  3.  Maintain a curriculum that incorporates evidence-based and best practices from the field and that thoroughly covers all knowledge domains specified by CACREP.
  4. Pursue grants that will further this mission

Program Objectives
Graduates of the program will:

a. Demonstrate an ability to empower individuals with disabilities to select and implement life goals that are congruent with individual values, beliefs, and lifestyles. For many persons with disability this includes support for access to meaningful education, employment and independent living arrangements that match their interests and abilities.

b. Be able to conceptualize and implement rehabilitation counseling services and interventions for people with disabilities from a holistic and developmental perspective.

c. Develop a professional counseling identity, and demonstrate the ability to function ethically and effectively within settings that offer vocational rehabilitation, counseling, advocacy, and/or related services to diverse populations.

d. Identify and implement a range of assessment, counseling and case management strategies applicable in a pluralistic society with individuals and groups to promote change and growth.

e. Demonstrate respect for the impact of social and cultural factors on human behavior and the role of individual differences in establishing and working toward counseling objectives.
 

Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling Track

The clinical rehabilitation counseling track prepares students to work with people with mental health disabilities, as well as other disabilities. The track is certified through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Programs (CACREP), as a Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling and Mental Health Counseling program.

This track focuses on evidence-based interventions for people with mental health disabilities, including psychiatric rehabilitation principles and practicesmotivational interviewing, and the Individual Placement and Support model, to facilitate employment in addition to standard courses related to the clinical aspect of counseling.

Students who graduate from the clinical rehabilitation counseling track will be able to sit for the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) exam. With appropriate practicum, internship, and post-master’s supervision requirements fulfilled, students in the clinical track may also be eligible to become a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) in Massachusetts or another state, based on meeting all requirements for licensure in that state.

Graduates also can pursue counseling careers in designated federal programs that require students to graduate from a CACREP-accredited mental health counseling program, such as Veterans Affairs and TRICARE.

Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling Track

The vocational rehabilitation counseling track prepares students to work in the federal/state vocational rehabilitation system and in community rehabilitation programs. The track is certified through the  Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Programs  (CACREP), as a Rehabilitation Counseling program.  

This track offers more flexibility than the clinical track in terms of class options.

Students who graduate from the vocational rehabilitation counseling track will be able to sit for the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) exam. They may also take electives in special areas of interest, such as transition of youth from school to work, human rights, organizational management, supporting individuals with visual impairments, or gerontology.  

Alternatively, students can select electives from other schools and colleges within the university.  

Students in the vocational track are also eligible to become Licensed Rehabilitation Counselors (LRCs) in Massachusetts.  

Admission Criteria

The deadlines for admission review, published on the website are the following:

  • Feb 1st for priority admission for the summer semester, April 1st for regular review
  • July 1st for Fall admission
  • November 1st for Spring admission

All admission materials are submitted by students through the Graduate Admissions Portal and admission interviews will be conducted for candidates in February, April, June and November.

Core Faculty assess the applicants’ suitability for the program based on the following:

  • (a) relevance of career goals (established during the interview and statement of intent),
  • (b) aptitude for graduate study (GPA) and likelihood of successfully completing the program, (undergraduate GPA greater than 3.0 or evidence of successful graduate study).
  • (c) potential success in forming counseling relationships (resume, interview, references),
  • (d) respect for cultural differences (interview), and
  • (e) consideration of the number of students the program.

The admission decision options are: admit, provisional admission pending a B average for the first two courses or reject. The program does not keep a waiting list.
 

Admission Review Dates

Application materials need to be received by review date

  • Feb 1st for priority admission for the summer semester, April 1st for regular review
  • July 1st for Fall admission
  • November 1st for Spring admission

Rehabilitation Counseling Faculty

Core Rehabilitation Counseling Faculty

Dr. Sheila Fesko, PhD, CRC, Associate Dean and Director of SGISD. Rehabilitation Administration and Special Education, Boston College. Specializations: Workforce development system, inclusive employment for people with disabilities, education of rehabilitation counseling professionals, flexible workplaces and universal design. Email: Sheila.fesko@umb.edu

Dr. Dimity Peter, PhD, CRC, Associate Professor. Rehabilitation Counseling and Disability Studies, Syracuse University. Specializations: empowerment and societal participation of people with disabilities, cultural diversity, advocacy and social justice issues for people with disabilities. Email: Dimity.Peter@umb.edu

Dr. James Soldner, PhD, CRC, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director. Rehabilitation, Southern Illinois University. Specializations: Applications of behavior analysis to rehabilitation, clinical and administrative supervision in rehabilitation, evidence-based practice in rehabilitation, rehabilitation administration and leadership, brain injury rehabilitation, scholarship of teaching and learning. Email: James.Soldner@umb.edu

 

Part-time Rehabilitation Counseling Faculty

Dr. David Hershenson, PhD, CRC, Senior Lecturer. Psychology, Boston University. Specializations: Rehabilitation counseling history and theory, work adjustment and disability, community counseling, aging and disability. Email: David.Hershenson@umb.edu

Kelli Collomb, MS, CRC, LMHC, Associate Lecturer. Rehabilitation Counseling, University of Massachusetts Boston. Specializations: Transition to adult services and mental health counseling.  Email: Kelli.collomb@umb.edu

Elaine Davey, MS, CRC, LMHC, Associate Lecturer. Rehabilitation Counseling, Salem State University. Specializations: Transition to adult services and mental health counseling. Email: elaine.davey@umb.edu   

Fabienne Renelien-Hannigan, MA, Associate Lecturer, Rehabilitation Counseling, Boston University. Specializations: State/federal rehabilitation counseling policy and practices. Email: f.renelienhannigan@umb.edu

Scholarship Opportunities

Download our scholarships flyer for a quick overview.

The rehabilitation counseling master's program offers scholarships from the Rehabilitation Services Administration. These scholarships help address the national shortage of qualified rehabilitation counselors by making degree programs like ours available to a wider range of applicants.

Scholarship funding covers 70% or more tuition and fee remission, as well as a small stipend.

The program is available online and on campus, depending on the needs of the student. The scholarships may be applied to either format.

For every year of scholarship, students are required to work for two years for the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission or an affiliated community rehabilitation program, or for another state/federal rehabilitation program in the continental or intercontinental U.S.

To be eligible, a student must be a U.S. citizen and not be in default on any federal loan. Students must be fully admitted into the rehabilitation counseling program before scholarships are awarded. Selection will take into account undergraduate GPA (which must be above 3.0), relevant work experience, and references.

Applications close February 1, and scholarships begin the following summer. Scholarships may be available after February 1 on a space-available basis.

Courses

The Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling (both the vocational track and the clinical track) require 60 credits.

Courses are primarily provided online, except for the one-week intensive program on the UMass Boston campus that students take in the first summer they are in the program. This allows students to complete the requirements of foundational, skill-based counseling classes that are only taught in a face-to-face format.  Online courses meet through zoom in Blackboard once a week at a scheduled time throughout the semester, when students interact with the instructor and other students. Students can choose to take a selection of courses in a face-to-face format, but some courses are only available online.

Required courses for each track are listed below.

Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling Track Courses

COUNSL 601: Research and Evaluation (available online and in-person)
COUNSL 605: Principles of Vocational, Educational, and Psychological Assessment (available online and in-person)
COUNSL 608: Abnormal Psychology (available online and in-person)
COUNSL 613: Vocational Development and Career Information (available online and in-person)
COUNSL 616: Group Counseling and Group Dynamics (in-person only during summer one week intensive)
COUNSL 620: Human Development: Research, Theory, and Practice (available online and in-person)
COUNSL 653: Cultural Diversity in Counseling (available online and in-person)
COUNSL 674: Psychopharmacology for Counselors (available online and in-person)

REHAB 602: Medical, Psychological, & Educational Aspects of Disabilities (available online only)
REHAB 603: Foundations of Rehabilitation (available online only)
REHAB 610: Case Management and Planning in Rehabilitation (available online only)
REHAB 612: Vocational Rehabilitation and Placement (available online only)
REHAB 688: Practicum (3 credits) (available online only)
REHAB 698: Internship (2 semesters, 4 credits each semester) (available online only)
REHAB 614: Motivational Interviewing (part of the summer one-week intensive)
REHAB 615: Counseling Theories (available online only)
REHAB 609: Psychiatric Rehabilitation (available online only)
REHAB 611: Rehabilitation Counseling Portfolio (1 credit) (available online only)

Plus 1 elective from the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development or the College of Education and Human Development (e.g., substance abuse, transition leadership, vision studies, global inclusion and social development, study abroad), or other approved graduate courses from other UMass Boston schools or colleges (3 credits).

Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling Track Courses

COUNSL 601: Research and Evaluation (available online and in-person)
COUNSL 605: Principles of Vocational, Educational, and Psychological Assessment (available online and in-person)
COUNSL 613: Vocational Development and Career Information (available online and in-person)
COUNSL 616: Group Counseling and Group Dynamics (part of the summer one-week intensive) COUNSL 620: Human Development: Research, Theory, and Practice (available online and in-person)
COUNSL 653: Cultural Diversity in Counseling (available online and in-person) REHAB 602: Medical, Psychological, & Educational Aspects of Disabilities(available online only)
REHAB 603: Foundations of Rehabilitation (available online only)
REHAB 610: Case Management and Planning in Rehabilitation (available online only)
REHAB 612: Vocational Rehabilitation and Placement (available online only)
REHAB 688: Practicum (3 credits) (available online only)
REHAB 698: Internship (2 semesters, 4 credits each semester) (available online only)
REHAB 614: Motivational Interviewing (part of the summer one-week intensive)
REHAB 615: Counseling Theories (available online only)
REHAB 611: Rehabilitation Counseling Portfolio (1 credit) (available online only)    Plus 4 electives from the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development or the College of Education and Human Development (e.g., substance abuse, transition leadership, vision studies, global inclusion and social development, study abroad), or other approved graduate courses from other UMass Boston schools or colleges (12 credits total).

Fieldwork

Students will be required to complete documented fieldwork experiences aligning with their chosen track.

The vocational rehabilitation counseling track requires 100 total practicum hours and 600 total internship hours. The practicum must be completed over a minimum of 10 weeks. The internship hours are split over two semesters (300 hours per semester).

The clinical rehabilitation counseling track requires 100 total practicum hours and 600 total internship hours and must receive supervision from a licensed mental health counselor. The internship hours are split over two semesters (300 hours each semester).

To complete the internship hours, students typically work 20 hours at their site during the academic semesters. Typically, these hours need to be completed during the work day.

Students who are working full time will need to take a leave or arrange flexible work hours to complete their internship. In our experience, it has NOT been possible for students to complete the practicum and internship experiences on the weekends or after regular work hours.

Learn more in the Field Placement Handbook.

Certification and Licensure

The University of Massachusetts Boston is regionally accredited through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Both tracks in rehabilitation counseling are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

All graduates of the Rehabilitation Counseling program are eligible to sit for the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) exam. Both tracks also meet the Massachusetts educational requirements for licensure as a rehabilitation counselor (LRC). Additional post-graduate supervised employment hours within the field are required for licensure as an LRC.

With appropriate practicum, internship, and post-master’s supervision requirements fulfilled, students in the clinical track may also be eligible to become a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) in Massachusetts.

Additional post-graduate supervised employment hours within the field are also required for licensure as an LMHC in Massachusetts or equivalent licensed counselor in another state.

Our programs are designed to meet the Massachusetts requirements for licensure. However, we cannot confirm that the courses or program meets the licensure or certification requirements of the state where you reside. Please contact the state entity that licenses counselor and allied health professionals to determine whether the course or program meets the state licensure or certification requirements.

For additional details about certification and licensure for our clinical and vocational tracks, please see the Field Placement Handbook.

Program Outcomes

September, 2020–August 31, 2021

Total number of students in program: 46

Clinical track:

  • Current students: 26
  • Number of students who graduated in the past year: 4
  • Number of students who did not complete the program: 0
  • Number of graduates who found employment in the past year: 4
  • Number of students receiving RSA scholarships: 11


Vocational track:

  • Current students: 20
  • Number of students who graduated in the past year: 7
  • Number of students who did not complete the program: 1
  • Number of graduates who found employment in the past year: 6
  • Number of students receiving RSA scholarships: 16

 

For the year 10/12/2019-7/31/2020 the pass rate for the CRCC exam was 83%.

Click here for 2020-2021 Annual report

What You'll Learn

The primary goal of our program is the preparation of professional rehabilitation counselors for employment in state/federal agencies, private nonprofit agencies, hospitals, and private companies.

Our students acquire knowledge and skills in the following areas:

  1. Applying theories and techniques of individual, group, and family counseling
  2. The theoretical basis of behavior, including human growth and development
  3. Environmental and attitudinal barriers that persons with disabilities face, and the influence of multicultural differences and gender on persons with disabilities
  4. Case management, including how to identify and use community resources
  5. Independent living services
  6. The history and philosophy of rehabilitation
  7. Legislation affecting people with disabilities, including the Americans with Disabilities Act
  8. The organizational structure of vocational rehabilitation
  9. Legal and ethical standards for the practice of rehabilitation counseling
  10. Ways in which current and past societal events can impact the rehabilitation process
  11. Career development theories as they apply to persons with disabilities
  12. Labor market trends and occupational information
  13. Medical aspects of various disabilities, including functional assessments and appropriateness of various interventions
  14. Psychosocial aspects of disabilities, including the effects on the person with the disability, their family, and their social network
  15. Evaluation approaches, including techniques and interpretation of results, as well as vocational evaluation
  16. Job analysis, job modification, and job restructuring
  17. Job development, job placement, and follow-up or follow-along services
  18. Supported employment practices
  19. Rehabilitation research literature and methods of analyzing research quality in professional journals
  20. Statistical methods and types of research analyses
  21. Research designs, including survey methods and needs assessment approaches
  22. Issues and practices of transition from school to work
  23. State and federal entitlements for persons with disabilities

Careers for Graduates

Rehabilitation counselors have excellent career opportunities available to them. They work in diverse settings, such as:

  • State/federal vocational rehabilitation agencies
  • Veterans Administration
  • Community-based programs for people with specific disabilities, such as mental health disabilities, intellectual disabilities, autism, or brain injury
  • Outpatient agencies
  • Residential treatment facilities
  • Schools
  • Insurance companies

 

The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification has recently completed a survey of wages of Rehabilitation Counselors. The average wage for a Rehabilitation Counseling in the North East is $76,000. You can read more here.

FAQ

Download the program fact sheet here.

How long does it take to complete the program?
Students can complete the program in two years attending full time (summer course work may be necessary), but have the option to complete the degree part time. Students who attend part time typically complete the degree in 3-4 years. Some of the required courses may need to be taken online.

What time of the day are classes held?
Face-to-face classes meet once a week during the fall and spring and summer semesters, and are held between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Online courses involve scheduled weekly synchronous web conferencing at varying times, typically in the evening. The cohort of Rehabilitation Counseling students begin the program with a one-week residential program in early summer to complete the requirements of the counseling classes that are only taught in a face-to-face format. Students who are unable to attend the week-long program can take the two in-person classes on campus during the fall and spring semesters.

Can I have a flexible program and take a combination of online and face-to-face classes?
Yes, you can choose a program schedule that meets your needs. Some classes must be taken online, but you can choose to take others face to face on campus or online. There are two classes that must be taken face to face. You can choose to do this by attending the one-week residential program, or come to campus each week to attend class.

How do I get licensed and certified?
Our program prepares you to sit for the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) exam, which you can take after having successfully completed 75% of the course work. The CRC exam is a national certification that is recognized across the country. Licensure requirements vary from state to state. Once you have completed your degree and passed the CRC exam, you meet the educational requirements for Massachusetts licensure as a Licensed Rehabilitation Counselor. Students who complete the Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling track are also eligible to sit for the National Certified Counselor and National Certified Mental Health Counselor exams. If you have completed the appropriate practicum and internship requirements, you may also be eligible for licensure as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in Massachusetts after completing the post-master’s supervision requirements. LMHC licensure requirements vary from state to state.

Can I get licensed in another state as a rehabilitation counselor?
Licensure is a state issue, and the requirements vary widely from state to state. Our vocational track is fully accredited as a Rehabilitation Counseling program by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Education Programs (CACREP). The clinical program is fully accredited by CACREP as a clinical rehabilitation counseling and mental health counseling program which increases the likelihood of licensure in another state.

What about accreditation?
Our university is regionally accredited through NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges). In addition, the Rehabilitation Counseling Program is accredited as a Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling and Mental Health Counseling program (clinical track) and Rehabilitation Counseling (vocational track) program with the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Education Programs (CACREP).

What type of settings do rehabilitation counselors work in?
Rehabilitation counselors work in a variety of settings, including state-federal rehabilitation services; Veterans Administration; community-based programs for people with specific disabilities such as mental health disabilities, intellectual disabilities, autism, or brain injury; outpatient agencies; residential treatment facilities; schools; and insurance companies. Some choose to become self-employed. You can read more about the salaries and employment settings for rehabilitation counselors on the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification website at https://crccertification.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/2021-Salary-Report-FINAL.pdf

How many courses do I have to take to complete the master's degree program?
Students take a total of 20 courses. Three of the courses include practice on the field: a practicum, and two semesters of internship.

How many courses do I have to take to complete the rehabilitation counseling certificate?
The rehabilitation counseling certificate consists of 7 classes. Many students who already have a master’s degree choose this certificate to help them become a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC). There are additional requirements to certification that you can review at the Certified Rehabilitation Counseling Commission website.

Is there a culminating final project required for the master's degree program?
Yes. Students complete a capstone project during the internship seminar. The capstone can be an extended case analysis, a research project or a professional project. Students apply theories and skills they have learned throughout their course work to their capstone project. In all cases, your advisor will need to approve your choice of capstone project.

How many practicum and internship hours do I complete?
The practicum is a total of 100 hours and the internship is a total of 600 hours (300 hours/semester).

What is the difference between the practicum and internship?
The practicum is an introduction to clinical practice as a rehabilitation counselor. Therefore, students begin by observing a professional in the field. During the internship, the student begins undertaking the professional role of a counselor in that organization, and by the end of the internship has been managing a small caseload of their own.

Where can I complete the practicum and internship?
Students complete the placement at a variety of locations, including state–federal rehabilitation services; Veterans Administration; community-based programs for people with specific disabilities, such as mental health disabilities, intellectual disabilities, autism, or brain injury; outpatient agencies; residential treatment facilities; schools; or insurance companies. Students are provided support to identify sites that match their interests and needs. It is possible to complete the practicum and internship at two different locations or at the same location. Students who are working full time will have to take a leave or arrange flexible work hours to complete their internship. In our experience, it has NOT been possible for students to complete the practicum and internship experiences on the weekends or after hours.

Can I take a class or two to see what the program is like?
It is possible to take courses as a non-degree student as long as there is space available in the course and you have met the pre-requisites. Students can transfer up to six graduate credits (two courses) taken at UMass Boston into the program as long as a grade of B or better is earned, the classes were completed in the past 4 years, and you are accepted into the program. Typically, non-degree registration is held just before the semester begins. Contact Kaitlyn Siner-Cappas at Kaitlyn.Siner@umb.edu to discuss this process.

How much does it cost to attend?
The online classes and summer residential classes are offered through Continuing and Professional Studies. CAPS provides information on the cost of each class. The cost for the traditional face-to-face classes can be reviewed at found through the Office of the Bursar.

What opportunities for funding exist?
Training scholarships are available to eligible graduate students via a long-term training grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). Please contact the program director, Dr. James.Soldner, at james.soldner@umb.edu for information and scholarship application materials.

Students can also apply for financial aid through the UMB financial aid website. Unfortunately, graduate and teaching assistantships are not typically available for students in the Master’s program.

How do I know which track is better suited for me?
For students who wish to work for the state–federal rehabilitation services, the vocational rehabilitation track will best meet their needs. For students who have a particular interest in a more clinical emphasis and working with individuals with psychiatric disabilities, the clinical track is recommended. You will receive support from your academic advisor about the best track to select based on your career aspirations.

Is it possible to switch tracks?
Yes, it is possible to switch tracks. You should discuss this with your advisor. You may need to take additional classes depending on how far along in the program you are.

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School for Global Inclusion and Social Development
in the College of Education and Human Development
617.287.3070
sgisd@umb.edu