The Ph.D. program in rehabilitation counselor education prepares graduates to serve as university professors in rehabilitation counseling and closely related academic programs. The program is a leader in preparing Ph.D. professionals who go on to serve in teaching, research, and program administration at universities throughout the US and internationally.

Through a rigorous program combining scholarly inquiry with opportunities for university level teaching practice and applied internship practice, students gain outstanding research, leadership and professional skills. Employment opportunities following graduation include public and private educational, rehabilitation, and mental health agencies, colleges and universities, and research settings. 

Faculty members work closely with doctoral students on research projects including several Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers, technical assistance projects focused on promoting evidence-based practices in vocational rehabilitation and program evaluation, and the Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Quality Employment (VRTAC-QE). In addition, faculty routinely involve students in a full array of professional activities. These may include serving as editors or editorial board members for journals, preparing materials for litigation involving civil rights violations of persons with disabilities, preparing research and training grant applications, preparing training materials, and involvement in clinical cases.

For more information on current research projects, visit the department's Featured Research Projects page

Financial support is available to qualified graduate students and may include scholarships, traineeships, teaching assistantships, and research/project assistantships.

Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline January 1
Spring Deadline January 1
Summer Deadline This program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Required.*
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) *Miller Analogies Test accepted as alternative to GRE.
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Complete application information is available on the program website.

Applicants are expected to meet general requirements for admission to the Graduate School. The following factors will be considered by the admissions committee: aptitude for doctoral-level study, relevance of prior academic work and career goals, stated goals for doctoral study, employment history, potential success in forming effective counseling relationships, respect for cultural differences, evidence of writing and research skill, letters of recommendation, and scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

Prospective students should see the program website for funding information.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.


Minimum Credit Requirement 66 credits beyond the Master’s degree
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 33 credits beyond the Master’s degree
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 33 credits must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (http://my.wisc.edu/CourseGuideRedirect/BrowseByTitle).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.50 GPA required for formal admission to the program.
Other Grade Requirements The Graduate School requires that students maintain a graduate grade-point average (GPA) of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) for all graduate courses (excluding research) to receive a degree. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.
Assessments and Examinations Formal admission to doctoral study
Preliminary examinations
Dissertation final oral committee examination
Language Requirements No language requirements.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements Ph.D. students in the Rehabilitation Counselor Education program may elect and in some rare cases may be required to develop a minor area of concentration. This minor is optional for most students. Students who wish to complete a cohesive body of work outside the major may wish to obtain a doctoral minor. Students are expected to consult with their advisors concerning minor/breadth requirements.

Required COURSES

Meet requirements of master’s-level content in basic psychology, statistics and research design, rehabilitation counselor education core, assessment, intervention, disability and human behavior, and supervised experience.

66 post-master’s graduate degree credits to include:

Understanding Behavior
COUN PSY/RP & SE/PSYCH 729 Advanced Social Psychology3
ED PSYCH 533 Thinking, Feeling, & Learning3
ED PSYCH 542 The Biological Basis of Behavior3
RP & SE/​COUN PSY/​ED PSYCH  736 Seminar in Psychology of Individual Differences3
Measurement, Statistics and Research Design
ED PSYCH 760 Statistical Methods Applied to Education I3
ED PSYCH 761 Statistical Methods Applied to Education II3
ED PSYCH 771 Test Construction3
RP & SE 940 Rehabilitation Counselor Education - Supervised Research3
RP & SE 985 Advanced Methodologies in Disability & Rehabilitation Research3
3 cr. Advanced Course in Measurement, Design, Statisics, or Qualitative Methods selected in consultation with major advisor and approved by Rehabilitation Counselor Education faculty; examples include Regression Analysis, Advanced Measurement, Research Design, Qualitative Research Methods3
Rehabilitation Counselor Education Theory and Research Core
RP & SE 870 Rehabilitation Counselor Education - Assessment Theory & Research3
RP & SE 903 Rehabilitation Counselor Education - Psychosocial Theory & Research3
RP & SE 983 Rehabilitation Counselor Education - Leadership & Professional Issues3
RP & SE 984 Rehabilitation Counselor Education - Counseling Theory & Research3
Other Core Courses in Rehabilitation Counselor Education and Rehabilitation Counseling Practice
RP & SE 735 Legal & Ethical Bases of Counseling3
RP & SE 920 Rehabilitation Counselor Education - Counseling Supervision3
RP & SE 930 Rehabilitation Counselor Education - Teaching3
RP & SE 980 Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling - Advanced Assessment Practice3
Practicum and Internship
RP & SE 900 Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling - Supervised Practicum III3
RP & SE 945 Internship in Rehabilitation Counselor Education I3
RP & SE 955 Internship in Rehabilitation Counselor Education II3
RP & SE 990 Research or Thesis3

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits taken as an undergraduate are allowed to count toward the post-master’s credits for the degree.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval , students are allowed to count no more than 15 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student toward the minimum graduate degree credit requirement; those courses numbered 700 level or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student may count toward the minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School. The Rehabilitation Counselor Education program maintains a higher satisfactory progress standard than the Graduate School.  This program requires a cumulative GPA of 3.5 for formal admission to doctoral candidacy.  Students are placed on probation if they do not maintain a 3.5 cumulative GPA and may be dismissed from the program.


Students are assigned a faculty advisor upon admission to the program.


15 credits

Time Constraints

Doctoral students have five years from the date of passing the preliminary examination to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation.

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination within five years after passing the preliminary examination is required to take another preliminary examination and be admitted to candidacy a second time.

Deposit of the doctoral dissertation in the Graduate School is required.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

School of Education Grievance Policy and Procedures

The following School of Education Student Grievance Policy and associated procedures are designed for use in response to individual student grievances regarding faculty or staff in the School of Education.

Any individual student who feels they have been treated unfairly by a School of Education faculty or staff member has the right to file a grievance about the treatment and receive a timely response addressing their concerns. Any student, undergraduate or graduate, may use these grievance procedures, except employees whose complaints are covered under other campus policies. The grievance may concern classroom treatment, mentoring or advising, program admission or continuation, course grades (study abroad grade complaints are handled through International Academic Programs), or issues not covered by other campus policies or grievance procedures. 

For grievances regarding discrimination based on protected bases (i.e., race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, etc.), contact the Office of Compliance (https://compliance.wisc.edu/eo-complaint/).

For grievances or concerns regarding sexual harassment or sexual violence (including sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, stalking and sexual exploitation), contact the Sexual Misconduct Resource and Response Program within the Office of Compliance.

For grievances that involve the behavior of a student, contact the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards in the Dean of Students Office at https://conduct.students.wisc.edu/).

For grievances about, or directed at, faculty or staff in a School of Education department, unit, or program, students should follow these steps:

  1. Students are strongly encouraged to first talk with the person against whom the concern is directed.  Many issues can be settled informally at this level.  If students are unable to resolve concerns directly or without additional support, step 2 or 3 should be pursued.
  2. If unresolved after taking or considering step 1:
    1. If the concern is directed against a teaching assistant (TA), and the student is not satisfied, the student should contact the TA's supervisor, who is usually the course professor.  The course professor will attempt to resolve the concern informally.
    2. If the concern involves a non-TA instructor, staff member, professor, academic department, or School of Education office or unit, the student should contact the chair of the department or the director of the office or unit, or their designee. The chair or director, or their designee, will attempt to resolve the concern informally. If the concern is about the department chair or office/unit director, the student should consult the School of Education Senior Associate Dean for guidance.
  3. If the concern remains unresolved after step 2, the student may submit a formal grievance to the chair or director in writing within 30 business days1 of the alleged unfair treatment. To the fullest extent possible, a formal written grievance shall contain a clear and concise statement of the issue(s) involved and the relief sought.  
  4. On receipt of a written grievance, the chair or director will notify the person at whom the grievance is directed with a copy of the written grievance. The person at whom the complaint is directed may submit a written response, which would be shared with the student.
  5. On receipt of a written grievance, the chair or director will refer the matter to a department, office, or unit committee comprised of at least two members. The committee may be an existing committee or one constituted for this purpose. The committee, or delegates from the committee, may meet with the parties involved and/or review any material either party shares with the committee.  
  6. The committee will provide a written description of the facts of the grievance and communicate recommendations to the department chair or office/unit head regarding how the grievance should be handled.
  7. The chair or director will offer to meet with the student who made the grievance and also will provide a written decision to the student, including a description of any related action taken by the committee, within 30 business days of receiving the formal grievance.

    For the purpose of this policy, business days refers to those days when the University Offices are open and shall not include weekends, university holidays, spring recess, or the period from the last day of exams of fall semester instruction to the first day of spring semester instruction. All time limits may be modified by mutual consent of the parties involved.

If the grievance concerns an undergraduate course grade, the decision of the department chair after reviewing the committee’s recommendations is final. 

Other types of grievances may be appealed using the following procedures:

  1. Both the student who filed the grievance or the person at whom the grievance was directed, if unsatisfied with the decision of the department, office or unit, have five (5) business days from receipt of the decision to contact the Senior Associate Dean, indicating the intention to appeal.   
  2. A written appeal must be filed with the Senior Associate Dean within 10 business days of the time the appealing party was notified of the initial resolution of the complaint.
  3. On receipt of a written appeal, the Senior Associate Dean will convene a sub-committee of the School of Education’s Academic Planning Council. This subcommittee may ask for additional information from the parties involved and/or may hold a meeting at which both parties will be asked to speak separately (i.e., not in the room at the same time).
  4. The subcommittee will then make a written recommendation to the Dean of the School of Education, or their designee, who will render a decision. The dean or designee’s written decision shall be made within 30 business days from the date when the written appeal was filed with the Senior Associate Dean.  For undergraduate students, the dean or designee’s decision is final.

Further appealing a School of Education decision – graduate students only

Graduate students have the option to appeal decisions by the School of Education dean or designee by using the process detailed on the Graduate School’s website.

Questions about these procedures can be directed to the School of Education Dean's Office, 377 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1763.




Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Articulates research problems, potentials, and limits with respect to theory, knowledge, or practice within the field.
  2. Formulates ideas, concepts, designs, and/or techniques beyond the current boundaries of knowledge within the field.
  3. Creates research, scholarship, or performance that makes a substantive contribution to the field.
  4. Communicates complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner.
  5. Demonstrates breadth within their learning experiences in the doctoral program in rehabilitation psychology.
  6. Shares knowledge and research in the field with students in a clear and engaging manner; effectively communicates with students within and outside of class; advances contributions of the field to society.
  7. Participates in public and professional service.
  8. Serves as a model of ethical and professional conduct. Promote the ethical and professional conduct of researchers, educators, and practitioners of rehabilitation psychology and rehabilitation counseling.


Rehabilitation Psychology:
Malachy Bishop, Jina Chun, Kyesha Isadore, Sang Qin, David Rosenthal, Susan Smedema, Timothy Tansey, and Susan Wiegmann

Special Education:
Zhe An, Aydin Bal, Heather Dahl, Bonnie Doren, Hailey Love, Carlyn Mueller, Andrea Ruppar, Susan Syverud, Beverly Trezek, Ashley White, and Kimber Wilkerson

For more information about faculty in the Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education Department, see: https://rpse.education.wisc.edu/fac-staff/


Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)

Accreditation status: Accredited. Next accreditation review: 2027

Professional Certification/Licensure Disclosure (NC-SARA)

The United States Department of Education requires institutions that provide distance education to disclose information for programs leading to professional certification or licensure about whether each program meets state educational requirements for initial licensure or certification. Following is this disclosure information for this program:

The requirements of this program meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming; District of Columbia; American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

The requirements of this program do not meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:

Not applicable

The requirements of this program have not been determined if they meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:

Not applicable