Rehabilitation Psychology is the academic home to students interested in the health or helping professions. Students examine various types of disabilities and other short-term or long-term barriers, including physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, and developmental disabilities. Students majoring in Rehabilitation Psychology hold a specific interest in supporting the needs of individuals living with chronic illness and disability.

Coursework in the Rehabilitation Psychology program offers training related to the complex experience of living with physical and mental health conditions, in addition to the services and supports beneficial for collaborating with individuals in pursuit of quality-of-life goals. Courses in psychology, social work, and sociology are also an important part of the major.

A key highlight of the major is a required 240-hour, six-credit, community-based internship. Through this internship, students gain direct experience serving individuals with disabilities in a professional setting of the student’s choice. Internship experiences frequently assist students with defining their long-term career goals, serve as a stepping stone into graduate study, and often result in permanent employment.

Upon graduation, students typically go on to serve individuals living with CIDs within dynamic helping, healthcare, and sociopolitical settings, or choose to pursue related graduate study in areas such as rehabilitation or mental health counseling, occupational therapy, physical therapy, special education, or other health and human services related programs.

How to Get in

Rehabilitation Psychology Declaration

New first-year students and off-campus transfers are admitted directly to the Bachelor of Science–Rehabilitation Psychology degree program.

On-campus students starting at UW-Madison in other majors can declare Rehabilitation Psychology at any time of the year, and at any point in their academic career. First-semester students who have not established a GPA at UW-Madison may declare Rehabilitation Psychology.

Students are strongly encouraged to meet with the department's undergraduate program coordinator or an advisor in the School of Education Student Services office before declaring Rehabilitation Psychology. See the Overview page for contact information.

Eligibility to Declare Rehabilitation Psychology

The on-campus declaration form is located on the School of Education's Undergraduate Admissions page, along with other information about current eligibility requirements and deadlines to declare (if any). Students should consult this site prior to submitting a declaration as this information may be modified from one year to the next.

Off-campus students wishing to transfer directly into Rehabilitation Psychology must be admitted to UW-Madison. See Transfer Students and Students with a Bachelor’s Degree, below.

Students may not complete both Rehabilitation Psychology and the Certificate in Disability Rights and Services.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Earn a minimum 2.50 cumulative GPA based on all college coursework attempted or a 2.50 last 60 credits GPA by the end of the term prior to the declaration semester. This GPA must be maintained at the end of the declaration semester. 1

Last 60 Credits Rule - Two grade point averages may be calculated to determine a candidate's eligibility to declare. A GPA may be calculated using (1) UW-Madison and all other all transferable college level coursework attempted and (2) the last 60 credits attempted. The higher GPA of these two calculations will be used for determining eligibility. Once declared, students must earn a semester GPA of 2.50 each semester after declaration. More information on this rule is available here.

Transfer Students and Students with a Previous Degree

Transfer students and second degree candidates (students who already hold a Bachelor’s degree) must be admitted to UW-Madison to enroll in a School of Education program. Admission to the campus has its own application, admission process, and application deadlines; see Office of Admissions and Recruitment for campus application information.

Second degree candidates in the School of Education are changing their academic direction and wish to complete a degree that is unrelated to their first. A large number of credits are usually required to complete the new degree requirements and a second undergraduate degree is awarded upon its completion; more information is available here.

All off-campus students are strongly advised to meet with an advisor in the School of Education Student Services office in advance of their declaration. Consultations with advisors are available in person, virtually, or via telephone; email studentservices@education.wisc.edu or call 608-262-1651 to schedule an appointment.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

School of Education Liberal Studies Requirements

All students are required to complete a minimum of 40 credits of Liberal Studies coursework. This requirement provides an opportunity to do some academic exploration beyond the scope of the major. Students take courses in areas of particular interest and also have an opportunity to sample the wide selection of courses offered across the university. Coursework is required in humanities, social studies, science, and cultural and historical studies. Some elective coursework is also needed to reach the required number of credits.

The School of Education’s Liberal Studies Requirements automatically satisfy most of the University General Education Requirements outlined above, including ethnic studies, humanities/literature, social studies, and science. Students pursuing most School of Education degree programs may also complete Communication Part B, Quantitative Reasoning Part A, and Quantitative Reasoning Part B through courses required by their degree program. If a student cannot complete a General Education Requirement within the curriculum of their chosen School of Education program, academic advisors can offer suggestions for courses that meet the requirement and augment the student’s primary area of study.

A basic outline of the liberal studies is included below. Students must consult the detailed version of the requirements for information about course selection and approved course options.

Humanities, 9 credits

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Literature
  • Fine Arts
  • Humanities Electives

Social Studies (Social Science)

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits. Teacher certification programs and Kinesiology have unique requirements in this category.


All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Biological Science
  • Physical Science
  • Laboratory Science
  • Science Electives

Cultural and Historical Studies

All students must complete three requirements (9 credits) met by separate courses. Any of these courses can also be used to meet the Humanities or Social Studies (Social Sciences) requirements if it has the relevant breadth designation.

  • Ethnic Studies
  • U.S./European History
  • Global Perspectives

Complete Liberal Studies Electives to total 40 Credits.

Program Structure

The Bachelor of Science (BS) degree program in Rehabilitation Psychology has four components: 

  • Liberal studies courses expose students to a broad range of academic disciplines. The university-wide General Education requirements also encourage this breadth of study.
  • Related coursework comes from departments related to Rehabilitation Psychology—Psychology, Educational Psychology, Sociology, Social Work, and Gender and Women's Studies.
  • Rehabilitation Psychology coursework offers an in-depth study of working with people with disabilities, including multiple opportunities for supervised field experience. In addition, at least 12 credits of electives in Rehabilitation Psychology are required, giving students some flexibility to tailor the program to their specific interests.
  • Elective coursework is taken to meet the minimum of 120 credits required for the degree.

Related Course Requirements

Psychology/Educational Psychology

Complete 12 credits selected from Educational Psychology and/or Psychology to include PSYCH 405 Adult Psychopathology.

Sociology/Social Work/Gender and Women's Studies

Complete 6 credits selected from SociologySocial Work, and/or Gender and Women's Studies. Recommended areas include social disorganization, deviant behavior, alcohol and other drug abuse, community development, and issues in social welfare.

Rehabilitation Psychology Course Requirements

Didactic Core

Complete the following 21 credits:

RP & SE 125 Health and Rehabilitation Professions3
RP & SE 316 Health Promotion for Individuals with Disability and Chronic Illness3
RP & SE 325 Self Management of Chronic Illness and Disability3
RP & SE 500 Rehabilitation-Counseling Psychology: Foundations3
RP & SE 501 Rehabilitation-Counseling Psychology: Applications3
RP & SE 505 Biological, Psychosocial, and Vocational Aspects of Disabilities3
COUN PSY 655 Clinical Communication Skills3

Supervised Field Experience

Complete 6 credits of RP & SE 630 Internship in Rehabilitation or Special Education; once in conjunction with RP & SE 501 Rehabilitation-Counseling Psychology: Applications. The remaining 3 credits may be completed in another semester or during the summer.

Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education Electives

Complete 12 credits from the following:

RP & SE 121 Disability and Substance Abuse3
RP & SE/​LEGAL ST  135 Disability and the Criminal Justice System3
RP & SE 300 Individuals with Disabilities3
RP & SE 310 Positive Psychology and Well Being3
RP & SE 311 International Perspectives on Disability in Australia3
RP & SE 330 Behavior Analysis: Applications to Persons with Disabilities3
RP & SE 335 Introduction to Sport Psychology3
RP & SE 355 Remote Service Provision Strategies for Health and Rehabilitation Providers3
RP & SE 390
RP & SE 405 Current Topics in Special Education (Related topics only - approval required)1
RP & SE 520 Case Management and Community Resources3
RP & SE 535 Introduction to Forensic Rehabilitation3
RP & SE 630 Internship in Rehabilitation or Special Education (Maximum 3 additional internship credits allowed in electives)2-3
RP & SE 660 Special Topics (Related topics only - approval required)3

Elective Coursework

Complete additional coursework to reach the minimum of 120 credits.

GPA and Other Graduation Requirements

Graduation Requirements

Based on UW–Madison coursework.

  • 2.50 minimum cumulative grade point average. This may be modified by the Last 60 Credits Rule.
  • 2.50 cumulative grade point average in all major coursework. This GPA includes all coursework from the RP & SE department and COUN PSY 655.
  • Major Residency. The rehabilitation psychology program requires that students complete 15 credits of the Didactic Core and Supervised Field Experience coursework while in residence on the UW–Madison campus.
  • Senior Residency. Degree candidates must complete their last 30 credits in residence on the UW–Madison campus, excluding retroactive credits and credits granted by examination.
  • Total Credits. A minimum of 120 degree credits are required for graduation.

Degree Audit (DARS)

UW–Madison uses “DARS” to document a student's progress toward the completion of their degree, including any additional majors and certificates. A DARS (Degree Audit Reporting System) report shows all the requirements for completing a degree and, against courses that are planned or completed, shows the requirements that have been met, and those that are unmet. A report can offer suggestions about courses that may be taken to meet specific requirements and can assist in the academic planning and enrollment process. Students can access a DARS report in the Course Search & Enroll app or Student Center via My UW.

DARS also has a "what-if" function. This feature makes it possible to request a DARS report as if pursuing another program, major, or certificate. It is an excellent tool if considering a new or additional area of study. School of Education students in a pre-professional classification such as Pre-Elementary (PRE) or Pre-Kinesiology should request a "what if" DARS report of their professional program of interest.

More information on how to request a DARS report is available on the Office of the Registrar’s website.

DARS is not intended to replace student contact with academic advisors. It creates more time in an advising appointment to discuss course options, research opportunities, graduate school, or issues of personal interest or concern to students.

DARS is used as the document of record for degree program, major, and certificate completion in the School of Education.

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Analyze complex social issues using skills gained through the study of communication, quantitative reasoning, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, ethnic studies, history and global issues.
  2. Apply knowledge of models and concepts of disability and chronic illness to education, employment, rehabilitation, and healthcare services.
  3. Identify basic theories in the field of psychology and recognize the importance of theoretical foundations in psychology for the study of rehabilitation, disability, and health.
  4. Develop knowledge of the health and human services delivery systems and demonstrate pre-professional skills in communication, teamwork, problem solving, and ethical issues through engagement with the healthcare and rehabilitation services professional community.
  5. Demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary for graduate study in a variety of health and human service fields related to disability and rehabilitation or for entry-level positions in disability and related human services agencies.

Four-Year Plan

Rehabilitation Psychology: Sample Four-Year Plan

This four-year sample graduation plan is designed to guide your course selection throughout your academic career; it does not establish a contractual agreement. Use it along with your DARS report, the Guide, and the Course Search and Enroll app to create a four-year plan reflecting your placement scores, incoming credits, and individual interests. You will likely revise your plan several times during your academic career here, based on your activities and changing academic interests. Consult with an academic advisor to develop a personalized plan of study and refer to the Guide for a complete list of requirements.

Communication A (fall or spring semester)3Communication A (fall or spring semester)3
RP & SE 1253Ethnic Studies3
Sociology, Social Work, or Gender and Women's Studies course3Quantitative Reasoning A3
Liberal Studies course work6-9PSYCH 2023
 Liberal Studies course work3-6
 15 15
Sociology, Social Work, or Gender and Women's Studies course3PSYCH 4053
RP & SE Elective3RP & SE Elective3
Quantitative Reasoning B3Liberal studies course work9
Liberal Studies course work6 
 15 15
RP & SE 3163RP & SE 3253
RP & SE 5003RP & SE 501 (also meets Communication B)3
COUN PSY 6553RP & SE 6303
Liberal Studies or General Elective course work6Liberal Studies or General Elective course work6
 15 15
RP & SE 5053RP & SE 6303
RP & SE Elective3RP & SE Elective3
Educational Psychology or Psychology course3Educational Psychology or Psychology course3
Liberal Studies or General Elective course work6Liberal Studies or General Elective course work6
 15 15
Total Credits 120

Advising and Careers

Rehabilitation Psychology Advising

Students not yet admitted to Rehabilitation Psychology meet with their assigned advisor in the School of Education Student Services office, Room 139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall (see below). Students are assigned an additional faculty advisor when admitted to the professional component of their degree program.

Academic Advising in the School of Education

Dedicated to supporting and promoting student success, academic advisors are here to assist students with the adjustment to college, understanding their degree and career goals, and connecting them to resources. Advisors support prospective and current School of Education students in all programs through:

  • Course selection
  • Mentoring and advocacy for underrepresented and international students
  • Understanding degree requirements and progression
  • Interpreting academic policies
  • Helping students recognize their strengths and suggesting ways to expand their skills
  • Expanding learning through activities such as study abroad, volunteering/work/internship, and by assuming leadership roles

To schedule an appointment: Current students can schedule an appointment online through the Starfish app in MyUW. Appointments can also be made through email at studentservices@education.wisc.edu, by calling 608-262-1651, or in person.

Career Advising in the School of Education

Through individual appointments, events, courses, and online resources, the Career Center provides students and alumni with the tools needed to be successful in their career development.

Career and Internship Advisors are prepared to help students with:

  • Exploration of career and academic pathways
  • Resumes
  • Cover letters
  • Job/Internship search
  • Interview preparation
  • Mock interviews
  • Graduate school search, applications and decisions
  • Negotiating job or internship offers
  • Professional networking
  • Connecting with employers

Students are encouraged to meet with their Career and Internship Advisor early in their college experience to take full advantage of the resources and support available.

To make an appointment: log into Starfish from the MyUW dashboard.

For more information, visit the School of Education Career Center website or reach out at career-center@education.wisc.edu.

Potential careers for Rehabilitation Psychology majors include: adaptive fitness; rehabilitation services (social, mental, behavioral, and physical); disability education, policy or advocacy; community health and wellness; independent living; supported employment; and correctional services. Our graduates also pursue graduate degrees in rehabilitation counseling, mental health counseling, occupational therapy, physical therapy, nursing, special education, social work, and other human services and health professions.

Students develop important skills that employers look for, including:

  • Communication
  • Critical thinking/analytical skills
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Client-centeredness/empathy
  • Influencing in support of diversity, equity, and inclusion at individual, community, and systemic levels

Applied experiences, including community-based internships, career treks, and professional networking events, are available to UW Rehabilitation Psychology students.

Additional Resources

Students interested in graduate study may also want to consult the following resources:


Information about faculty, staff, and other contributors to the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education can be found on the department's website.

Resources and Scholarships

Information about scholarships, academic and career advising, study abroad opportunities, student diversity services, and other resources for students in the School of Education can be found on the school's Resources page.