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 U.S. 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. Further evidence of the quality and recognition of the graduate programs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is provided by the current number one ranking of the rehabilitation counseling program by U.S. News & World Report.

Faculty members work closely with doctoral students on research projects including the PROMISE grant, several Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers, and technical assistance projects focused on promoting evidence-based practices in vocational rehabilitation and program evaluation. 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.

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

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 (
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 processes 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


Minimum Credit Requirement 60 credits beyond the Master’s degree
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits beyond the Master’s degree
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 30 credits must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. 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 All doctoral students are required to complete a minor of 10–12 credits.

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.

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

Understanding Behavior
ED PSYCH 542 The Biological Basis of Behavior3
ED PSYCH 533 Thinking, Feeling, & Learning3
COUN PSY/RP & SE/PSYCH 729 Advanced Social Psychology3
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 985 Advanced Methodologies in Disability & Rehabilitation Research3
RP & SE 940 Rehabilitation Counselor Education - Supervised 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/​COUN PSY/​ED PSYCH  735 Legal & Ethical Bases of Counseling 3
RP & SE 980 Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling - Advanced Assessment Practice3
RP & SE 920 Rehabilitation Counselor Education - Counseling Supervision3
RP & SE 930 Rehabilitation Counselor Education - Teaching3
Practicum and Internship
RP & SE 900 Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling - Supervised Practicum III3
RP & SE 660 Special Topics (Topic: Internship in Rehabilitation Counselor Education I)3
RP & SE 660 Special Topics (Topic: Internship in Rehabilitation Counselor Education II)3
10-12 credits
RP & SE 990 Research or Thesis3

Major-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

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.


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


15 credits

Time Constraints

A doctoral degree requires 32 graduate credits (300 level or above, no audits or pass/fail) taken as a graduate student at UW–Madison.

Doctoral students have five years from the date of passing the preliminary examination to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation. In some departments, if the professor(s) in charge is satisfied with the preparation, the preliminary examination may be construed as the final examination.

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

Rehabilitation psychology minimum degree requirements and satisfactory progress chart March 2014 candidacy a second time.

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



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. Serve 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,  Brian Phillips, David Rosenthal, Susan Smedema, and Timothy Tansey

Special Education:
Zhe An, Aydin Bal, Bonnie Doren, Taucia Gonzalez, Melinda Leko, Andrea Ruppar, and Kimber Wilkerson

For more information about faculty in the Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education Department, see: