April 18, 2018

SIU’s Rehabilitation Counseling Program earns a top national ranking again

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The tradition of excellence continues. Once again, Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Rehabilitation Counseling program has earned a top five ranking from “U.S. News & World Report,” coming in at the No. 4 spot on the 2018 Best Rehabilitation Counseling Programs list, released recently.

History of greatness

SIU’s master’s degree program in rehabilitation counseling is the oldest of its type in the country and it has been continuously ranked by various ranking organizations among the top five percent of the nation’s rehabilitation education programs since its inception in the 1950s. It was the first program within the university’s Rehabilitation Institute, which is one of the oldest university rehabilitation departments in the United States.

The program has earned a top five designation from U.S. News and Report for at least 20 years, according to Thomas Upton, Rehabilitation Institute professor.

“We have a very strong program, a strong history of teaching, research and service and a strong   faculty,” Upton said. “We are quite visible in the field of rehabilitation counseling. Our students are go-getters who get good jobs and do a lot of presentations around the country.”

The program is also accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

Rehabilitation counselors help people overcome disabilities and illness

You’ll find rehabilitation counselors working in a variety of places, according to Upton. They help patients overcome physical, mental, emotional or developmental disabilities or chronic illnesses in social services agencies, rehabilitation centers, supportive living facilities, substance abuse treatment centers, neuro-restorative facilities and with the Veterans Administration or other state or federal governmental agencies.

After successfully completing the rehabilitation counselor training program curriculum at SIU, graduates are eligible to test to become a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Illinois.

“You can find careers doing many different things in many different places,” Upton said. “We have a very good job placement rate, too.”

Finish quickly and get paid to learn

Students can complete their master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling in just two years. And, the program has sufficient funding to be able to offer graduate assistant positions to all of its students. Moreover, Upton has successfully obtained grants during his tenure at SIU that enable rehabilitation counseling students to receive paid tuition and fees as well as a stipend.

The university is currently in year three of a five-year, $1 million Rehabilitation Long-term Training grant from the Rehabilitation Services Administration to provide support training for students. In exchange for having their master’s degrees fully paid for and receiving a stipend, the recipients of the scholarships agree to provide two years of salaried service to a state or federal rehabilitation-related agency for each year of funding.

“In addition to the financial benefits, our students receive extensive practical training,” Upton said. “They learn job development and placement skills, how to teach life skills to people, how to help others become as independent as possible and much more.”

Thanks to the grant funding, SIU students are also able to attend a national conference each year, where they can learn more about their chosen field, network and get exposure to the latest rehabilitation counseling news.

Inquiries welcome    

“In my 18 years as a faculty member here, we have had outstanding students and continue to train great clinicians,” Upton said. “I would love to talk to anyone who is interested in learning more about our rehabilitation counseling program.”

To learn more, visit the website at https://ehs.siu.edu/rehab/ or contact Upton at tupton@siu.edu or 618/453-8287.