The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) has given The University of Texas-Pan American the approval for a doctorate in philosophy degree program in rehabilitation counseling.
"With the approval of this degree, UTPA now has three doctoral granting programs," Dr. Bruce Reed, dean of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services said. "This doctorate will focus on a specialty area of counseling focusing on the needs of people, especially adults with disabilities."
Reed said the approval is significant because there is a clear and urgent demand in the profession to produce doctoral level rehabilitation counselor educators.
According to the President for the National Council on Rehabilitation Education Linda Holloway, it is expected that approximately 50 percent of the estimated 670 rehabilitation educators across the United States will retire within the next 10 years.
Reed said the main goal of the program will be to prepare educators in the field.
"The primary goal of most graduates will be to become faculty members; however, additional careers include researchers, licensed professional counselors, and administrators/directors of community-based nonprofit organizations," he said.
The National Council on Rehabilitation Education (NCRE) said there were 26 universities across the country that offer a doctoral degree in a rehabilitation counseling related field. Of these, just 10 offer a Ph.D. curriculum specifically in rehabilitation counseling, and only three with a degree reading rehabilitation counseling, but none of these programs exist in the state of Texas.
"It is the only Ph.D. in rehabilitation counseling in Texas," Reed said. "With a focus on assisting people with disabilities, potential students can also be drawn from fields such as psychology, social work, education, occupational therapy and communication disorders."
The Ph.D. program, which starts fall 2009, is a 66 semester credit hour program for rehabilitation counseling graduates consisting of 12 hours of dissertation, 12 hours of doctoral level research statistics and 15 hours of electives. Students holding unrelated master's degrees may be required to take an additional 27 semester credit hours of leveling courses based on academic and experiential backgrounds.
UTPA has the No. 24 top ranked rehabilitation counseling program in the nation according to the U.S. News & World Report 2009 edition of America's Best Graduate Schools. With 13 full-time faculty members, the UTPA rehabilitation department is one of the 10 largest rehabilitation counseling programs in the country.
For more information about the doctorate in rehabilitation counseling, call 956/316-7036.