Welcome to the Department of Rehabilitation and Counselor Education. This Handbook is intended to assist students in planning each phase of their studies and to assist faculty in their advising of students. The materials contained in this Handbook were assembled from various sources for the convenience of present and prospective graduate students in the Department of Rehabilitation and Counselor Education. This Handbook is not an official publication of The University of Iowa and is superseded by the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College.

This Handbook includes information concerning the Department, College of Education, various services students can get in the university, policies, and procedures. The policies within the department are considered binding only within the Department of Rehabilitation and Counselor Education of the College of Education and can be revised at any time by action of the faculty. Certain program requirements are legitimately more stringent than those of the Graduate College and the Department of Rehabilitation and Counselor Education, and do not constitute a conflict. The remaining policies are those of The University of Iowa College of Education and are taken from various official University publications. A student's program is governed by the regulations operative on the date of the student's initial matriculation, unless the student chooses to be regulated by policies adopted subsequently.

You are advised to consult the following for more complete coverage of the policies and procedures for graduate students

Department Mission

The Department of Rehabilitation and Counselor Education prepares graduate students to facilitate human development across the life span, advocate for their clients and students, and serve local, national and international communities through the delivery and creation of state of the art counseling services. These goals are achieved through the advancement of knowledge, skills, and attitudes appropriate for effective and ethical professional counseling practices, and by conducting and disseminating related research.

Statement of Core Values

We believe in:

  • Respect for individual dignity
  • Human diversity including persons, programs and perspectives
  • Holistic approach to development over the life span
  • Academic programs which embody professional excellence
  • Blended curriculum of theory, reflection, research and supervised practice
  • Professional ethical practice and personal integrity
  • Communication
  • Cooperative, constructive process within a (multidisciplinary) community of consumers, scholars and practitioners
  • Systemic inquiry as a basis for teaching and practice

The Department of Rehabilitation and Counselor Education (RCE) assumes there are fundamental, common areas of knowledge and skills necessary for the preparation of all professional counselors regardless of the setting or population served. These fundamental and common areas are referred to as the department core. The department core at the M.A. and Ph.D. level consists of both knowledge areas and skill training. Department Comprehensive Examinations are designed by comprehensive exam committee to evaluate students at the M.A. and Ph.D. level on their mastery of the departmental core requirements as well as their program specialty.

Upon completion of an academic program in the Department, students will be evaluated and expected to have awareness, knowledge, and skills in the following areas:

  • current definitions, professional standards, and appropriate professional practices regarding multiculturalism,
  • what it means to be a multiculturally competent helping professional,
  • integrated feedback into practice and professionalism in interpersonal interactions,
  • personal limitations and strengths (that could ultimately support or harm a client/student),
  • a personal plan for future practice in the field regarding multicultural relationships.

Department Programs & Accreditation

Master's Degree Programs

Doctoral Degree Programs


The Counselor Education and Supervision Program (Ph.D.) and School Counseling Program (M.A.) are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The M.A. program in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling is accredited as a Rehabilitation Counselor Education Program by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) and as a Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program by CACREP. The Ph.D. program in Couple and Family Therapy is seeking accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).

CORE, CACREP, and COAMFTE/AAMFT have established standards for the accreditation of graduate programs in our field. These standards are carried out in a number of ways: through continued curriculum development and implementation; by fostering relationships between students and faculty; and competitive staffing of our graduate programs. Students benefit by participating in a program that is nationally recognized for its quality and high academic standards.

Curriculum Plan, Plan of Study, and Course Waivers

The Curriculum Plan, a working contract between the advisor and student, should be completed during the first year of study. The curriculum plan should reflect not only department and program requirements, but the professional goals of the student as well. Forms for curriculum plans are available on each program’s website.

If a department core course is to be waived, the advisor and the department chair must sign a department waiver form.


Assignment of Advisor

Students are assigned a faculty member advisor at the time of their admission to one of the graduate degree programs in the Department. The advisor will assist the student in planning a program of study and selecting electives. Advisors also offer guidance concerning registration, comprehensive examinations, and other academic issues. Advisors also serve as general consultants to their advisees and refer those with special needs to Special Support Services.

Student Responsibilities

Students are expected to make appointments with their advisors prior to registration and other significant dates and activities. It is the student’s responsibility to keep track of important dates and meet deadlines, acquire appropriate signatures, and follow regulations of the University, the College of Education, and the Graduate College.

Changing Advisors

A student may find it in his/her best interest to change advisors. Student should identify a faculty member who is willing to serve as advisor, fill out a PDF iconChange of Graduate Advisor form and notify their current advisor of the change. Forms are available in the Department office (N338 LC), or the Office of Student Services (N310 LC).

Review of Students

All M.A. and Ph.D. students in the Department are reviewed each year by their program faculty. It is the responsibility of the academic advisor and program coordinator to provide his/her advisees with an annual evaluation assessing progress toward their degree.

Annual Review of Doctoral Students

Each doctoral student will be reviewed by the program faculty annually. The focus of the review is on the student's progress in the Ph.D. program. The results of the review are to be sent to the student in writing.

Requirements for maintaining good academic standing include:

  • A 3.0 grade point average in Curriculum Plan course work must be maintained.
  • Successfully complete the practicum, internship, or equivalent professional experiences.
  • Students must maintain professional behavior consistent with the ACA Code of Ethics and/or any additional code of professional ethics outlined by any program or agency in which the student is completing a practicum or internship.
  • A student must demonstrate progress toward the degree as demonstrated by successful completion of hours as specified in the curriculum plan. Progress toward the degree requires active registration each session. The advisor may approve exceptions.

Students will be notified of the results of their annual review by July 1. Students who wish to appeal a review may request a meeting with the program faculty. The request is to be in writing to the major advisor with a copy sent to the Department Chair.

Probation Status

Any Ph.D. student who receives less than a 3.0 GPA overall will be placed on academic probation by the Graduate College. The student on probation, and his/her advisor, are notified in writing by the Dean of the Graduate College that they have 8 semester hours to improve their GPA to 3.0 or they will be denied permission to register. If the conditions of probation are not met, the student may be removed from his/her program.

Student Review and Retention Policy

Students must be familiar with the PDF iconStudent Review and Retention Policy,

Maintaining Good Academic Standing - M.A.

All graduate students must meet the following standards in order to maintain their candidacy for degree:

  1. Maintain necessary GPA level in their curriculum plans. M.A. - 3.0
  2. Successfully complete a practicum, internship, or equivalent professional experience.
  3. Maintain professional behavior consistent with the ACA Code of Ethics and/or any additional code of professional ethics outlined by any program or agency in which the student is completing a practicum or internship.
  4. Demonstrate progress toward the degree as demonstrated by successful completion of hours as specified in the curriculum plan. Progress toward the degree requires active registration each session. The advisor may approve exceptions.

Comprehensive Examinations

General Collegiate and Department Information

All degree programs in the Department of Rehabilitation and Counselor Education require comprehensive examinations. For information about specific areas covered in these examinations, see the requirements for each subtrack degree program.

PhD Counselor Education and Supervision

Students in the Ph.D. Program in Counselor Education and Supervision who were enrolled prior to Fall 2012, may elect to prepare an e- Portfolio or may opt to decline using this format and participate in the ‘written’ comprehensive examination if they wish to do so. Students in Counselor Education and Supervision admitted on or after Fall 2012 will be required to use the new e-Portfolio format.

PhD Rehabilitation Counselor Education

Students in the Ph.D. Program in Rehabilitation Counselor Education are required to complete written comprehensive exams in major and minor areas. The major area exams are to be completed during a 3 day period at the time scheduled by the Graduate College for exams administered to doctoral candidates. Students must meet with their advisor to determine how exams will be distributed and returned for evaluation. The minor area exam format and timeline is to be determined by the minor area advisor in conjunction with the student’s major area advisor. Students in the Ph.D. Program in Rehabilitation Counselor Education, who were enrolled prior to Fall 2013, have the option to prepare for an exam which will be conducted in the Lindquist Center for a total of 9 hours in a two day period to be scheduled by the Graduate College.

PhD Couples and Family Therapy

Students in the Ph.D. Program in Couple and Family Therapy are required to use the e-Portfolio format.

Students should consult with their advisors to determine their program's specific requirements and which faculty members are eligible to serve on their comprehensive examination committee. It is the student’s responsibility after consultation with their advisor to ask faculty members if they will serve on the comprehensive examination committee. Students should also consult with each committee faculty member about recommended readings, references, and other guides to prepare for the comprehensive examination. Faculty with clinical appointments and faculty without a doctoral degree cannot be members of the Comprehensive Exam Committee.

The Office of Student Services (N310 LC) administers comprehensive examinations for the College of Education. Doctoral students must complete a Graduate College Plan of Study, as well as a Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination Application. Master’s students must similarly complete a Non-doctoral Comprehensive Exam Application. The Plan of Study must be signed by the student, advisor and Department Chair.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree Examination

The doctoral comprehensive examination is intended to be an inclusive evaluation of the candidate's mastery of the major and related fields of study, including the tools of research.

The Written Examination

The student’s committee members will read the written examination and evaluate each response on the following scale:

4 = honor pass
3 = pass
2 = minimal pass
1 = fail

An average across the responses across readers will be computed. A student must achieve an overall average of 2.0 or better to sit for the oral examination. This evaluation should be completed and returned to the departmental secretary no later than 14 days.

The criteria for evaluation of responses include the following:

  • adequacy of student’s knowledge base
  • familiarity with empirical findings
  • order and logic of thinking and presentation
  • synthesis, integration, and application of materials and ideas

In the event that a student’s responses fail to achieve an average rating of 2.0, the student’s committee will convene and determine the extent of further examination. Students should consult with their advisor after the comprehensive examination in order to determine whether their written responses were judged to be satisfactory by the committee.

Oral Examination

The function of the oral examination is to allow the student’s committee to determine his or her competence across a variety of areas. It is not intended to allow students a “second chance” to respond adequately to the questions presented in the written comprehensive examination. Any domain of the student’s major or minor field of study may be covered by questions from the student’s committee during the oral examination period, which typically lasts about two hours.

The final evaluation of the comprehensive examination, both written and oral portions, culminates following the oral examination. This evaluation will be conducted according to the rules and regulations of the Graduate College as follows:

The comprehensive examination will be evaluated by a convened meeting of the committee and reported as satisfactory, satisfactory with reservations, or unsatisfactory to the Graduate College within fourteen days after the completion of the examination. Two “unsatisfactory” votes will make the committee report unsatisfactory.

In the event of a report with two or more votes of “satisfactory with reservations,” the exact stipulations of the committee should be recorded with the report form. If the stipulations involve further examination in a particular area of study, the statement should be specific in defining the area, in requiring additional courses or other procedures, and in specifying the time and method of satisfying the stipulation. The candidate will not be admitted to the final oral examination until such stipulations have been satisfied. The Department Chair should promptly send a written report to the Graduate College giving date of removal of the reservations.

In case of a report of “unsatisfactory” on a comprehensive examination, the committee may grant the candidate permission to present himself or herself for reexamination not sooner than four months after the first examination. The examination may be repeated only once, at the option of the department.

Other Policies and Procedures

  1. Students must complete (or be enrolled in) all required course work (including ME or Research Practicum) prior to sitting for the comprehensive examination.
  2. Comprehensive exams are administered in the fall and spring. Because of the unavailability of faculty during the summer months, there is no guarantee that students will be allowed to complete exams during the summer semester.
  3. It is the student’s responsibility -- in consultation with the faculty advisor -- to select committee members in accordance with graduate college policies.
  4. It is the student’s responsibility to invite committee members and confirm in writing with the advisor the faculty members’ agreement to serve on the committee. At least five faculty members serve on a student's examining committee for Ph.D. comprehensive examinations, including the student’s minor advisor.
  5. Students must participate in a mandatory comprehensive examination orientation coordinated by the department before sitting for the written examination.
  6. Oral exams – usually two hours in duration -- are to be arranged with the comprehensive examining committee as soon as possible after the written exam, and before the end of the semester. It is the student’s responsibility to arrange the date, time, and location of the orals; this should be done in consultation with the advisor. Oral examinations are closed meetings with the student and the selected committee members present.
  7. The responsibility for discussing a student’s performance on the comprehensive examination with him or her lies with the faculty advisor.
  8. Responsibility for reporting to the student in a timely manner the outcomes of the comprehensive exams will be that of the faculty advisor or designee.
  9. Students will not be allowed to register for dissertation hours (7C493) until they have successfully completed their comprehensive exams.

Dissertation and Thesis

As they consider developing their own research interests, students can obtain information about professors’ research interests from faculty and other students. The Department Web page provides a profile of faculty listing selected publications and research interests.

Choosing a research advisor involves more than selecting a professor whose area of expertise intrigues the student, although that is a part of the selection process. Changing advisors is an accepted practice within the Department of Rehabilitation and Counselor Education. After completing course work and passing comprehensive examinations, doctoral students may wish to change advisors in preparation for the dissertation.

The student, in consultation with the research advisor, selects the thesis committee. For M.A. theses and ME research projects, the usual committee has three members, at least two from the student’s program. Dissertation committees consist of at least five qualified faculty members (as defined by graduate college policies and the student’s Dissertation Committee Chair), one of whom must be from outside the Department. The members of the committee are involved in the review, development and approval of research projects and dissertation. Students may select a research advisor from their program faculty.

Master's Degree

Students must substantially complete (or be enrolled in) all required course work or have the approval of their advisor prior to sitting for the comprehensive examination. The requirements for master's degrees will include a final examination consisting of a written part and an oral part. If the committee unanimously evaluates the written part as satisfactory, it may recommend a waiver of the oral part. Such an examination will not duplicate course examinations. M.A. students must complete six hours of written comprehensive examinations. These exams are offered during the fall and spring of each year, and are not taken until the student has completed or enrolled in all degree requirements. Summer comprehensive exams are not available. Students take two three-hour examinations (one each in the Department Core (RCE) and the subtrack program (CE)). Students may choose to form study groups; ask your classmates. Students should obtain material from the Department office and/or look at the Department web page to guide them in preparing for M.A. comprehensive exams. A meeting of all students taking the exam in the next semester may be required. Check with your advisor.

Students should meet with their advisor during the semester prior to that in which the exam will be taken to make sure all deadlines and requirements are met. It is up to the student to acquire two faculty readers, in addition to the advisor. Early in the designated semester, with their advisor, students should complete the Comprehensive Examination Request Form (available from N310 LC). The Comprehensive Examination Committee, identified by the student on the Comp Exam Request Form, will evaluate written exam answers on the basis of accuracy, thoroughness, depth, and organization. Statements, conclusions, and citations should be accurate. Answers should cover a broad range of relevant information. Ideas, concepts, and assumptions should reflect efforts to synthesize information. The logic and flow of ideas should be orderly.

The exam - in its totality -- will be evaluated by the Comprehensive Examination Committee as satisfactory or unsatisfactory. If the committee unanimously evaluates the written part as satisfactory, it may recommend a waiver of the oral part. In the event of one or more unsatisfactory votes, the committee must conduct an oral part of the exam. In the event of two unsatisfactory votes on the oral exam, the committee must judge the exam as unsatisfactory. The report of the final oral examination is due in the Graduate College not later than 48 hours after the oral examination, and by the deadline date established by the Graduate College.

Further questions about the exam should be directed to your advisor.

Program Evaluation and Student Input

Internal and external program evaluation of the Department of Rehabilitation and Counselor Education is an on-going process. Within the department, students always have the opportunity to provide informal feedback concerning curricula, grades, supervision and agency assignments. In addition, students provide formal feedback through the University of Iowa class evaluation instrument (referred to as ACE, Assessing the Classroom Environment). These forms are completed anonymously in every class on campus. The results are given to the individual faculty member for self-evaluation, and are used by the Department in making promotion and salary decisions. Also, faculty peer review processes are required in which colleagues are invited to review course materials and attend class, solicit comments from the students while the instructor is absent, and then provide feedback to the instructor concerning his/her performance and the content of the course. In addition to providing feedback to the faculty, this is an opportunity for student growth, i.e., learning to give intentional constructive feedback.

Thus through student comment, ACE, and faculty peer review, the Department of Rehabilitation and Counselor Education obtains feedback and evaluation related to its faculty, curricula and policies. Qualitative as well as quantitative data is collected with the ACE data representing the most objective and consistent data bank. The accreditation processes and internal self-study also provide a valuable source of on-going evaluation and recommendations.

Communicating with Faculty, Staff, and Students

Student Mailboxes

All students may receive messages and campus mail in their program mailbox located in N338 LC along the west wall. 


Each graduate student is entitled to a University of Iowa personal email account. For information on obtaining your UI email account, visit the Get Started with Technology Guide - Students.

Iowa Courses Online (ICON)

ICON is the course management system at The University of Iowa.

Department Bulletin Boards

Across from N339 LC, the Department Bulletin Board reserves sections for each program. Job opportunities, schedules for professional meetings, program announcements, opportunities for professional development, and other items of general interest to students in each program or the entire Department are frequently posted there.

Student Directory

The University publishes an online directory, which provides the phone numbers and addresses of all departments, staff, faculty, and students.