$1 million grant to support master’s program in rehabilitation counseling
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The College of Education’s top-rated Rehabilitation Counseling program was recently awarded a five-year, $1 million training grant by the U.S. Department of Education that will support the recruitment, admission, training and employment of 40 new master’s level students interested in serving people with disabilities.
The grant provides master’s students a stipend of $22,500 for the first year of the Counselor Education program, which requires four semesters and one summer session. During the second year of study, students are eligible to receive a paid internship through the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.
Project directors Jim Herbert, professor of education, Wendy Coduti and Jason Gines, assistant professors of education, drafted the grant application to help alleviate the critical shortage of qualified vocational rehabilitation counselors in the United States.
Data collected by the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) revealed Pennsylvania’s national region, including six states on the east coast, projects a need to hire at least 270 vocational rehabilitation counselors.
“While there are a number of rehabilitation counseling graduate programs in the region, Penn State’s Rehabilitation Counseling program has been consistently rated by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top five programs in the U.S. for the past 30 years and its faculty have received a number of national awards for their research, teaching and professional service contributions,” Herbert said.
The curriculum promotes the skill development necessary for entry-level state vocational rehabilitation counselors through both didactic and experiential learning. Students complete additional coursework specific to becoming state vocational rehabilitation counselors, and work directly with people with disabilities. As part of their training, students also complete a 600-hour internship experience affiliated with a state vocational rehabilitation agency.
“Students will receive direct training in work roles performed by state vocational rehabilitation counseling including assessment, case management, career and personal counseling, client advocacy and job placement,” Herbert said.
Upon graduation, students supported by the grant must fulfill a federal requirement to work full-time for any state vocational rehabilitation office within the United States for two years. After the two-year employment period, the person may leave to pursue other career opportunities if desired.
“As the rehabilitation counseling program has a long history of being awarded these training grants, we find that the overwhelming majority of RSA scholars remain with the state vocational rehabilitation program and have distinguished careers as counselors, supervisors and administrators,” Herbert said.
Current master’s students in the Counselor Education Program (rehabilitation counseling emphasis) and prospective students applying for next year’s admission class at University Park are eligible to apply for the grant. Interested students must maintain satisfactory academic progress throughout the program, pursue graduate training on a full-time basis and indicate a strong interest and commitment to working with people with disabilities.
By Samantha Schwartz (January 2014)