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Pauline Patrick (left), Coordinator of the B.S. in Rehabilitation Studies Degree Program, chats with student Morgan Colvin about the new degree.


TU debuts first completely online bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation studies

Thomas University students can now earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Rehabilitation Studies completely online. The new program starts Fall Semester, which begins Wednesday, Aug. 14. TU’s program is the only completely online undergraduate degree in rehabilitation in the nation and one of only a few undergraduate degrees in rehabilitation services in the region.

Across the nation, there’s an increased need for employees with bachelor’s degrees to work as vocational rehabilitation technicians, explained Pauline Patrick, Coordinator for the B.S. in Rehabilitation Studies Degree Program. Technicians working with state Vocational Rehabilitation offices often qualify for programs that will cover the expense of obtaining a master’s degree in the field.

The bachelor’s degree includes four concentration options: School-to-Work Transitions, Addictions, Gerontology and Criminal Justice.

The School-to-Work Transitions concentration prepares graduates to help people access the workforce after the person with a disability leaves the school setting. Graduates with this concentration will be able to work in a variety of settings, such as case managers, case coordinators, job coaches or direct care.

The Addictions concentration prepares graduates to work with people who struggle with alcohol and drug abuse. Students with this concentration can also take the state exam to become an Associate Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor.

Graduates with the Gerontology concentration will be prepared to work in agencies focusing on people in their older adult years. This concentration provides graduates the skills to work with the elderly population and with an understanding of the issues related to the changing roles and responsibilities older adults.

The Criminal Justice concentration will provide graduates with skills in both rehabilitation and criminal justice. This concentration will enable graduates to pursue jobs as probation officers, in security, with social services agencies, and as guardian ad litems.

The BS in Rehabilitation Studies is open to students who already hold an associate degree or to students who hold no degree.

“There’s such a need for technicians,” Patrick said. “Mental health, vocational rehabilitation, childcare agencies – they all need people who have bachelor’s degrees. This program is a way for these agencies to gain access to qualified employees and then to train their employees in the skill sets they need. From there, those employees can advance academically to the master’s degree level.”

Students completing the bachelor’s degree program at TU will have advanced standing if they choose to enroll in TU’s Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling degree program. Students with advanced standing are able to exempt nine hours of classes in the master’s degree program.

Because of the increased demand for employees in vocational rehabilitation, TU now offers advanced standing status for the master’s degree program to non-TU graduates who already hold a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation services or rehabilitation counseling.

TU has offered the Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling since 1999. Originally a hybrid program that contained both in-person and online courses, the program moved to a completely online format three years ago. The MS program’s enrollment has grown from 14 students in 1999-2000 to 106 in 2012-13.

For more information about TU’s bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation Studies or master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, visit

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