Professional Development Opportunities for DHS Staff
Tuition-Supported Masters and Related Programs in RehabilitationCounseling
January 14, 2010
Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling
Are you interested in the field of Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling? There is a high demand for
Masters Degree graduates in this field. Numerous tuition-supported graduate programs in
rehabilitation counseling exist, using both distance and onsite learning formats, for which some or all
tuition is paid by federal funds. In some cases, stipends are also provided. The Rehabilitation
Services Administration (RSA) scholarship requires that following graduation, participants work for
a state or federal Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program (or contractor who directly serves VR
clients) for 2 years for every year of support accepted.
It is not necessary to be working for a VR or state agency to be accepted into an RSA supported
masters program. All accredited Rehabilitation Counselor (RC) Education programs require students
to complete classroom and field-based experiences, including a 600-hour internship involving
counseling and guidance of individuals with disabilities through a VR agency or program that
contracts with or has entered into agreements with a VR agency. A list of the current RSA supported
graduate programs can be found at
A wide variety of University programs exist that prepare students not just for work in VR but in
rehabilitation counseling in general. Check individual University websites for more information.
Qualifying for a State of Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) Vocational
Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) Position with a Related Degree: DHS is one employer of RC
Masters degree graduates; however, persons may qualify for a DHS Office of Vocational
Rehabilitation (OVRS) Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Position with combinations of degrees,
certificates and experience other than a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling. Please see the State of
Oregon Jobs page job classification descriptions for more information. In addition, many universities
offer graduate level coursework for persons with related Masters, Specialist or Doctoral degrees to
qualify to take the national certification exam for Rehabilitation Counselors and earn the Certified
Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) credential. For more information about the CRC credential, visit the
Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification’s webpage at www.crccertification.com.
Questions and Answers Regarding
Tuition-Supported Rehabilitation Counseling Masters & Related
Question: If I already have a degree in counseling, is a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling
(RC) required to qualify for a position as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) with
the Oregon Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (OVRS)?
Answer: No. Persons may qualify with combinations of degrees, certificates and experience other
than a Masters in RC. Please see the Oregon JOBS page classification descriptions for more
Question: What is the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) designation mentioned in the
Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselor classification description?
Answer: The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) sets standards for
quality rehabilitation counseling services, including ethical standards and offers a CRC professional
credential. Persons with a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling (RC) qualify to take the exam to
obtain the CRC as well as persons with related Masters with qualifying graduate coursework. Many
universities offer graduate level coursework for persons with related Masters, Specialist or Doctoral
degrees to qualify to take the CRC exam. See the CRCC website for details on coursework required.
Question: What does a tuition-supported Masters or related program fund and is there an
Answer: Depending on the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) grant received by the
University, RSA provides all or a percentage of the tuition, but does not pay for books, fees or other
expenses. Students sign an agreement, upon accepting RSA funding, to work in an approved program
providing direct counseling and guidance as a VRC or with an organization that provides direct
services to VR clients. For every year of RSA funding accepted by the student, two years of
employment in an approved setting is required. During employment in an approved setting the
employee still receives the pay and benefits provided by the position.
Question: Is it possible to complete a Masters in RC or coursework for a related program while
Answer: Many people complete their degree or coursework while working by completing a distance
or combined distance/onsite program, although it can be challenging. Some complete onsite
programs if their work allows flexible work hours. Many programs require approximately 2 hours of
homework a day with multiple papers, activities and projects to complete. Many working students
use vacation time to complete special projects. Working students report the first year as the most
difficult. Students need good internet access and to be able to overcome computer technical
difficulties at home. Phone conferences may be required which may conflict with work, so knowing
the curriculum requirements and whether your employer will allow flexibility in work hours is
important to determine ahead of time.
Question: How do working students in combined onsite/distance programs meet the onsite
Answer: Some students use vacation time to attend the onsite sessions, during which students
generally stay and eat at the dorms. Some programs offer stipends to fund the expenses of travel to
the onsite sessions.
Question: Is it possible to complete the 600 hour internship required for the Masters while
Answer: Some students work four10-hour days and participate in internship on Friday and Saturday.
Others quit their jobs to complete their internships. Some students, particularly those who have prior
experience working with people with disabilities, succeed in obtaining employment as VRCs part
way through their masters and complete their internship hours while working, assuming that this
meets their University’s requirements. Students who are current employees of a VR agency (or an
organization that provides direct services to VR clients) often can combine their internship
experience with existing employment.
Question: How do I find out more about the work of a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor?
Answer: Many University Rehabilitation Counselor Education websites provide information on this
topic. It can sometimes be possible to arrange for a job shadow or informational interview. A
facebook page titled Rehab Counseling is also a good resource,
http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=24754100136 and many Rehabilitation Counselor
Education programs maintain websites and Facebook fan or group pages as well.