Rehabilitation Psychology is the academic home to many students interested in the health or helping professions. Rehab Psych students enjoy working with people with disabilities. They gravitate toward psychology and other coursework in the social sciences.

In this major, students learn how to promote and support the independence and full inclusion of people with disabilities in employment and the community. Various types of disabilities examined in the major include physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, and developmental disabilities. Graduates are prepared to provide quality entry-level general services in a variety of community settings, including advocacy, behavioral support, independent living, and supported employment.

Many students go on to complete graduate programs in rehabilitation counseling, mental health counseling, occupational therapy, physical therapy, nursing, special education, social work, and other human services and health professions.

The rehabilitation psychology program emphasizes course work in the following areas:

  • Psychology and educational psychology
  • Sociology and social work
  • Rehabilitation services and community supports for individuals with disabilities
  • Biological, psycho-social, and vocational aspects of working with individuals with disabilities
  • Positive psychology and health promotion for individuals with disabilities
  • Working collaboratively with community agencies advocating and supporting individuals with disabilities

The culminating experience in the degree program is the community-based internship. Students complete six credits of internship working with agencies that serve individuals with disabilities.  Graduates receive a bachelor of science degree with a major in rehabilitation psychology.

Visit the departmental website for more information about the undergraduate program, the field of rehabilitation psychology, and what current students have to say about the program.


Students are admitted to the rehabilitation psychology undergraduate program twice a year, for the fall and spring semesters. Students usually apply for admission to the rehabilitation psychology program during their sophomore year. Selection to the program will be made at the end of the fall and spring semesters, after the previous semester grades are reported.

Entering the School of Education

New and Current UW–Madison Students

New freshmen and transfer students interested in rehabilitation psychology are admitted directly to the School of Education with a “pre-professional” classification.  This classification indicates that a student is interested in a program offered by the School, but has not applied and been admitted to the professional program. Students interested in rehabilitation psychology receive the "pre-professional" classification of PSR.

On-campus students wishing to be admitted to the school while working on eligibility requirements and application can apply for admission to the School of Education by completing a Pre-Professional Application. A minimum GPA of 2.5, based on UW–Madison coursework, is required to transfer into the school. This GPA may be modified by the Last 60 Credits rule (detailed below). It is not necessary to be a "pre-professional” student before applying to a professional program. Admission as a “pre-professional” student does not guarantee admission to the professional program.

It is strongly recommended that students interested in a School of Education program meet with an academic advisor in Education Academic Services (EAS), 139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall. Students may call 608-262-1651 to schedule an appointment with an advisor.

Prospective Transfer Students

Applicants not already enrolled on the UW–Madison campus must be admissible to the University to enroll in a School of Education program. Admission to UW–Madison requires a separate application and admission process. See UW–Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment for application information. Prospective transfer students are strongly advised to meet with an Education Academic Services advisor in advance of their application; to schedule, call 608-262-1651.

Students with a Previous Degree

Prospective applicants who already hold an undergraduate degree are strongly encouraged to meet with an School of Education advisor in advance of their application. Consultations with advisors are available in person and via telephone; to schedule, call 608-262-1651.

Applicants who already hold an undergraduate degree are admitted to the School of Education as either an Education Special student or a second degree student, depending on their interests and academic background. Admission as an Education Special student indicates that the student has an interest in pursuing certification in a subject area studied during the initial degree; another degree is not awarded for this "certification only" coursework. Second degree students are seeking a second, unrelated degree from the School of Education, which may, or may not, include teacher certification. Candidates for limited enrollment programs must meet all admission eligibility requirements for the program and must compete with the eligible applicants for program admission. More information is available here.


Eligibility for Admission to the Professional Program

Requirements and selection criteria may be modified from one application/admission period to the next. Potential applicants should consult the School of Education's Apply to a Program page for application deadlines and detailed information regarding current eligibility requirements and selection criteria prior to submitting an application.

To be eligible for admission, applicants must:

  • complete at least 54 credits of transferable college-level coursework by the end of the semester the application is filed.
  • complete RP & SE 300 Individuals with Disabilities by the end of the program-application semester.
  • earn a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale) based on all transferable college-level coursework attempted.1
  • submit completed program application form(s), transcripts, and all other related application materials by the application deadline specified on the School of Education's Apply to a Program page.

Last 60 Credits Rule

Two grade point averages will be calculated to determine candidates' eligibility to the program. GPAs will be calculated using

  • all transferable college level coursework attempted, and
  • the last 60 credits attempted.

The higher GPA of these two will be used for purposes of determining eligibility. If fewer than 60 credits have been attempted, all credits will be used to calculate the GPA. Graded graduate coursework will also be used in all GPA calculations. ("Attempted" coursework indicates coursework for which a grade has been earned.) More information on this rule is available here.

Application Review and SELECTION

Selection to the program will be made at the end of the fall and spring semesters, after the previous semester grades are reported. The number of applicants admitted each semester will be determined by the faculty according to available resources. While all eligible applicants have been admitted to the professional program in recent years, this may not always be the case; see stipulations below. Admission is not final until all acceptance related materials are received by EAS and criminal background investigation results are reviewed.

If the applicant pool exceeds the resources available for any admission period, admission will become limited and competitive. Selection will be based upon cumulative grade point average. Remaining students will be placed on a waiting list based on ranked order of cumulative grade point average.


Criminal background investigations will be conducted for all students admitted to this program. Detailed instructions on how to complete the required criminal background check will be included in offers of admission. This is not completed until after an applicant has been offered admission.

Results of criminal background checks may be shared with other agencies when required by state code, or with a cooperating school or other agency in which the student has been assigned to complete field experiences. Students should be aware that criminal background checks may be initiated by other agencies or organizations when they are seeking employment or a professional license. Field site administrators have the right to determine the appropriateness of a student placement.

An individual who is deemed ineligible to participate in field or clinical experiences based on the results of their background check may not be able to complete the requirements for their degree or certification. Students with questions about these processes should contact the academic dean in Education Academic Services.

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, Athletic Training, and Kinesiology; Exercise and Movement Science 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 (B.S.) degree program in rehabilitation 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 Educational Policy Studies.
  • Rehabilitation Psychology coursework offers an in-depth study of rehabilitation psychology, including multiple opportunities for supervised field work. In addition, at least 6 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 18 credits selected from Educational Psychology and/or Psychology to include PSYCH 405 Abnormal Psychology

Note: Effective fall 2017, the course number of Abnormal Psychology changed from Psych 509 to PSYCH 405.

Sociology/Social Work

Complete 9 credits selected from Sociology and/or Social Work. Recommended areas include social disorganization, deviant behavior, alcohol and other drug abuse, community development, and issues in social welfare.

Educational Policy Studies

Complete a 3-credit course from Educational Policy Studies.

Recommended Courses
ED POL 300 School and Society3
ED POL 460 Immigration, Education, and Equity3
ED POL 500 Topics on Social Issues and Education3
ED POL/​ANTHRO  570 Anthropology and Education3

Rehabilitation Psychology Course Requirements

Didactic Core

Complete the following 18 credits:

RP & SE 300 Individuals with Disabilities3
RP & SE 316 Health Promotion for Individuals with Disability and Chronic Illness3
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 650 Theory and Practice in Interviewing3
or COUN PSY 655 Clinical Communication Skills

Supervised Field Experience

Students are required to take 6 credits of RP & SE 630 Internship in Rehabilitation or Special Education; once in conjunction with RP & SE 501. The remaining 3 credits may be completed in another semester.

Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education Electives

Complete 6 credits from the following:

RP & SE 125 Health and Rehabilitation Professions3
RP & SE 310 Positive Psychology and Well Being3
RP & SE 330 Behavior Analysis: Applications to Persons with Disabilities3
RP & SE 401 Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Assistive Technology for Students with Disabilities1
RP & SE 402 Methods in Teaching Functional Skills1
RP & SE 405 Current Topics in Special Education1
RP & SE 660 Special Topics (Positive Psychology, Substance Abuse and Sport Psychology topics only)3

The course options listed below can also be applied toward this requirement, but only if taken summer 2017 or earlier. These include any courses from the departments of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special EducationCounseling Psychology, Psychology, Educational Psychology, Sociology, Social Work, and the following:

KINES/​CURRIC  501 Theory-Based Health Education and Health Promotion Programs3
KINES/​CURRIC/​ELPA  541 Organization and Administration of School Health Programs3
KINES/​CURRIC  561 Teacher Education in Human Sexuality3
KINES/​CURRIC  567 Issues, Materials and Methods in Health Education3
KINES 508 Workshop in Kinesiology 11-3
GEN&WS 371 Disability and Gender in Film3

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 650.
  • 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)

At UW–Madison, a DARS report is used to document a student's progress toward the completion of their degree. This degree audit identifies the requirements that have already been completed, and also those that remain unsatisfied. A DARS report can offer suggestions about appropriate courses that may be taken to meet specific requirements and can assist in the academic planning process. 

Students can access DARS reports through their Student Center in My UW–Madison. Go to the Academics tab and find DARS on the dropdown menu.

DARS also has a "what-if" function. This feature makes it possible to request a DARS report as if pursuing another program or major on campus. 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) should request a "what if" DARS report of their professional program of interest.

DARS is not intended to replace student contact with academic advisers. 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 the document of record, i.e., certifying document of degree completion, for program areas 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.
  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. Understand the concept of disability in American society and demonstrate basic knowledge of issues that affect education, rehabilitation, and healthcare services for individuals with chronic illnesses and disabilities.
  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. Successfully engage with the healthcare and rehabilitation services professional community to develop knowledge of the health and human services delivery systems, and pre-professional skills in communication, teamwork, problem solving, and ethical issues.
  5. Prepared for graduate study in a variety of health and human service fields related to disability and rehabilitation, or for entry-level positions in a variety of disability and related human services agencies.

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 and the Course Guide 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 3003Ethnic Studies3
Sociology or Social Work course3Quantitative Reasoning A3
Liberal Studies course work6PSYCH 2023-4
 Liberal Studies course work3-6
 15 15
Sociology or Social Work course3PSYCH 4053
Educational Psychology or Psychology course3Educational Psychology or Psychology course3
Quantitative Reasoning B3Liberal studies course work9
Liberal Studies course work6 
 15 15
RP & SE 5003RP & SE 3163
COUN PSY 650 or 6553RP & SE Elective3
Educational Policy Studies course3Sociology or Social Work course3
Liberal Studies or General Elective course work6Liberal Studies or General Elective course work6
 15 15
RP & SE 5013RP & SE 6303
RP & SE 5053RP & SE Elective3
RP & SE 6303Educational Psychology or Psychology course3
Educational Psychology or Psychology course3Liberal Studies or General Elective course work6
Liberal Studies or General Elective course work3 
 15 15
Total Credits 120

Rehabilitation Psychology Advising

Students not yet admitted to rehabilitation psychology meet with their assigned advisor in Education Academic Services (EAS) and/or the Office of Undergraduate Recruitment and Retention (OURR), see below. Students are assigned an additional departmental advisor when admitted to the professional component of their degree program.. For general information about the program and degree requirements, contact Virginia Waddick, RP & SE Student Services Coordinator,, 608-263-4608.

General School of Education Advising

All undergraduate students in the School of Education are served by three offices devoted to academic and/or career advising. Each student in the School of Education is assigned at least one advisor and is encouraged to meet with the advisor on a regular basis. Students will also be assigned a faculty or staff advisor when admitted to the professional component of their degree program. Departmental advisors provide more in-depth knowledge of the major and of courses offered by the department.

Undergraduate Advising and Academic Dean's Office—Education Academic Services (EAS)

139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall; 608-262-1651

Education Academic Services (EAS) is the undergraduate dean's office for students in the School of Education. Staff members interpret school regulations, policies, and program requirements; take exceptions around requirements and deadlines; advise current and prospective students; monitor students having academic difficulties; coordinate field placements; facilitate the program admissions process; and maintain the official files of students in the school.

Students should meet with an advisor during their first semester on campus (if not before) and are encouraged to meet with an advisor at least once a semester. This is particularly important during the freshman and sophomore years. Appointments may be arranged by calling or visiting the office.

EAS advisors answer questions and provide guidance to current and prospective students. They consult with and refer students to faculty members and departmental advisors. Once a student is admitted to a professional program within the School of Education, he or she will also be assigned a faculty or staff advisor. Advising then becomes a partnership, with EAS and OURR advisors continuing to help students with course selection, degree progress monitoring, academic difficulties, and interpretation of policies and procedures.

Program advisors help students select and plan a program of study in the major, negotiate issues within the department, and, in the case of certification programs, follow the students' progress through their professional courses. These divisions are flexible, and students are encouraged to consult with all advisors who can help with a situation or answer a question.

OURR: Office of Undergraduate Recruitment and Retention (Student Diversity Programs)

105 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-8427 or 608-262-1651

The UW–Madison School of Education is committed to promoting equity and increasing diversity in its programs. OURR staff work collaboratively with Education Academic Services and campus and community partners to support underrepresented students interested in majors in the School of Education.

OURR staff perform outreach, recruitment, and advising on behalf of the School. OURR staff also support current students with their personal and professional growth, their transition from high school to college, financial aid, and career exploration.  

OURR works to build a network of students and graduates who may strengthen, transform, and lead their communities through education, service, and other contributions. Students are invited to visit OURR staff at 105 Education Building—stop in, or call one of the numbers listed above to set up an appointment.

School of Education Career Center

L107 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1755

  • Exploring career options linked to School of Education majors
  • Seeking a major that fits you and helps you reach your career goals
  • Researching graduate schools and preparing application materials
  • Beginning your job search and not sure where to start
  • Want assistance with your résumé, cover letter, or interviewing skills
  • Want to connect with potential employers

The Career Center provides resources and individual consultations to assist you in reaching your career goals.  A plethora of resources can be found on the Career Center website

Explore career possibilities for specific majors in Career Exploration - Resources. This section of the website provides tools for clarifying your personal criteria for success, identifying specific career options linked to majors, identifying steps for career/major selection, and includes strategies for making the most of your academic and student experience.

  • Confirm your decisions. Gain hands-on experience in the career field you are pursuing. Assess the perceptions of your career and major options for accuracy and develop professional and soft skills.  The Career Exploration – Gain Experience and Evaluate website section provides strategies for gaining real-world experience.
  • Prepare to gain entry into the next phase of your career. Learn about graduate school requirements and the application process.  Develop your promotional materials for employers and graduate schools, and obtain feedback and suggestions for enhancing them. Visit the website sections Applying to Graduate School, Creating Application Materials, and Career and Job Link Resources for details.  
  • Implement your plans for your future. Investigate strategies for Conducting a Job Search. Attend Fairs & Events planned especially for you. Apply for graduate school acceptance or for job opportunities.  Practice and polish your Interviewing skills. Negotiate job and graduate school offers.

Personalized career assistance is available through individual appointments with consultants in the Career Center.  Schedule an appointment here.

Targeted career-related events and workshops are conducted each semester. 

The Career Center also coordinates teacher recruitment fairs each fall and spring semester and collaborates with career centers across campus to provide campus-wide career fairs at the beginning of each semester. 

Additional Resources

Students interested in occupational and physical therapy may also want to consult the following resources about graduate programs:

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

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.