The RHS major trains students interested in improving quality of life for persons impacted by disabilities.
RHS professionals work with a variety of people across the lifespan who experience problems in psychosocial, physical, mental, educational, vocational, and recreational aspects of their lives. Examples of client groups RHS professionals work with include people with mental, cognitive, developmental, addiction, sensory, and/or physical disabilities and chronic illness; people experiencing violence; people living in poverty; and people who are homeless.
RHS students learn a variety of professional skills, including advocating for others; assessing client needs; conducting educational and related support groups; consulting with professionals from other agencies and settings; developing client treatment plans; identifying and using community resources; interviewing clients and family members; managing client caseloads; and resolving conflicts. Graduates work in a variety of settings including community mental health programs, group homes, schools, drug and alcohol programs, hospitals and medical settings, corrections facilities, and rehabilitation centers.
About a third of RHS alumni go on to graduate school to study in a variety of fields including counseling (e.g., mental health, school, rehabilitation, addictions), psychology, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.
Resources for Prospective Undergraduate Students
The RHS major prepares students for entry-level positions in a variety of human service settings, including agencies serving people with physical, mental, alcohol and other drug, and cognitive disabilities. Students enter employment in a variety of settings:
- Programs for children and youth
- Drug and alcohol programs
- Programs for older people
- Community mental health programs
- Programs for people with autism
- Rehabilitation centers
- Corrections programs, including prisons
Graduates will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Education with a major in Rehabilitation and Human Services. All RHS students take a core set of courses that provide the foundation for working in a variety of human service settings including: introduction to rehabilitation and human services, case management, client assessment, group work, counseling skills, community mental health, children and family interventions, medical aspects of disability and courses related to working with people from different cultural backgrounds. RHS students also develop core skills in writing, communication and critical thinking.
Recent trends in RHS have directed efforts and attention to expanding resources for a variety of clients, including people with disabilities. As the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 continues to be implemented, there will be increased emphasis on services to persons with severe disabilities, as well as on independent living, supported employment, and transitional services.
Students in RHS receive a solid foundation of specialized education in the rehabilitation and human services field. As a Science degree, students engage in coursework that focuses on biological functioning. Additional coursework will allow students to learn more about culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, and diversity. Rehabilitation and Human Services majors are reminded that, although the major is located in the College of Education, the degree does not lead to certification for employment in public schools. Neither is it a program for any rehabilitation or human service specialty requiring certification.
Many students choose a minor to enhance their interest and ability in a specific area. Some frequently chosen minors include the following:
Both the department in which the student wishes to pursue a minor and the student's advisor in Rehabilitation and Human Services must approve of the student's plan and sign the necessary documents, which can be obtained from the Department offering the minor.
RHS 300 Introduction to RHS
RHS 301 Introduction to Counseling
RHS 302 Client Assessment in RHS
RHS 303 Group Work in RHS
RHS 400W Case Management
RHS 401 Community Mental Health
RHS 402 Children and Family in RHS
RHS 403 Medical Aspects of Disability
RHS 495A RHS Internship
The following outline provides a general guideline for students to schedule classes to complete their studies in Rehabilitation and Human Services. It assumes that a first-semester freshman begins in the fall and continues on a fall/spring schedule, but students may enroll or transfer into RHS during ANY semester.
One of the advantages of the RHS major is the flexibility of course offerings and numbers of elective courses available (14-18 credits). This flexibility allows students to pursue a broad background in human services training with a diverse range of courses to select from across the university. It also allows students who started out in different majors to bring the expertise they have begun to develop in their previous studies to RHS, usually without having to add too many extra courses or extend their graduation deadlines.
To support students who already have a targeted career goal such as Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy or Physician’s Assistant, the program has developed specific interest areas with suggested course options to help students develop a curriculum for their specific career goals. These emphasis areas can also provide students with similar interests an opportunity to get to know each other and network as they progress through the major.
As you review the information available on this site, please keep in mind that the RHS faculty are available to answer questions and to support you to reach your fullest potential. Please take a look at the emphasis areas that we offer as a starting point then schedule an appointment with your academic adviser to discuss further. Please note, students are NOT required to complete an interest area.
Below are current interest areas that students can pursue. Please review the recommended courses associated with each interest area. Students can also create their own interest area in consultation with their RHS advisor.
Occupational Therapy Interest Area
The RHS interest area in occupational therapy provides a broad foundation for students interested in pursuing a career as an occupational therapist.
To pursue a career in occupational therapy students must first complete a bachelor’s degree in a related area that provides a broad educational background while also preparing students for the academic training required at the post-baccalaureate level.
To satisfy the requirements to be accepted into an occupational therapy graduate degree program, students are required to take a concentration of statistics and science-related courses and will need to complete volunteer work observing a professional occupational therapist in an actual work setting. Students will integrate what they have learned by completing a one-semester internship working in a community or medical setting under the supervision of an experienced practitioner.
Most students choosing this interest area will likely pursue graduate training to become licensed occupational therapists; however, with the broad focus of the RHS major, students will also be able to pursue a variety of human service or case management jobs in community or health settings.
Courses Related to the Occupational Therapy Interest Area
If students want to apply for a specific OT graduate program, they are advised to review the specific application criteria for their school of choice and to plan their coursework accordingly. Below is a list of courses typically required of all graduate programs in Occupational Therapy followed by a list of courses that are recommended by many programs. In addition to formal course work, Occupational Therapy graduate schools often require that applicants have 20-50 hours of observing an Occupational Therapy, usually in a variety of clinical settings.
Requirements for almost all programs:
- Anatomy (BIOL 129 or KINES 202)
- Physiology (BIOL 141) Physiology Lab (BIOL 142)
- Introduction to Psychology (PSYCH 100)
- Developmental (Lifespan) Psychology (PSYCH 212)
- Abnormal Psychology (PSYCH 270)
- Statistics (STAT 100 or STAT 200)
- Introduction to Sociology (SOC 001)
Recommended for some programs:
- Introduction to Biology, sometimes with lab (BIOL 110)
- Medical Terminology (RHS 403)
- Physics, sometimes with lab (PHYS 001)
- Chemistry, sometimes with lab (CHEM 101, CHEM 106, or CHEM 110, LAB CHEM 111)
- CHEM 111 Experimental Chemistry Pre-req. (CHEM 110 or CHEM 106)
Occupational Therapy Notes for Consideration and Planning
- OT programs are competitive and students should have a minimum 3.0 GPA
- Students should have strong natural science and social science backgrounds
- GREs should be at least in the 50th percentile (1000-1100)
- Students should complete their internship in an OT facility
- Work, volunteer, or other OT experience is highly recommended
- Positive letters of recommendation are needed. Get to know faculty members so you can obtain strong letters of support.
- Students should review the American Occupation Therapy Association website
- http://www.aota.org to learn more about the profession.
Physical Therapy Interest Area
The Physical Therapy interest area provides a broad foundation in RHS for students interested in pursuing a career as a Physical Therapist. Students must first complete a bachelor’s degree program in a related area that provides a broad educational background while also preparing students for the academic training required at the post-baccalaureate level.
Students in the Physical Therapy interest area take a core set of courses that provide the skills needed to work effectively with physical therapy patients. To satisfy the requirements to be accepted into a physical therapy graduate degree program, students in this track are required to take a concentration of statistics and science-related courses and will need to complete volunteer work observing a professional physical therapist in an actual work setting. Students will integrate this content by completing a one-semester internship working in a community or health setting under the supervision of an experienced practitioner.
Most students choosing this track will likely pursue graduate training to become licensed physical therapists; however, with the broad focus of the RHS major, students in this track will also be able to pursue a variety of human service or case management jobs in community or health settings.
Courses Recommended for the Physical Therapy Interest Area
Students who select the Physical Therapy interest area need to complete courses consistent with the graduate school requirements of leading Physical Therapy training programs. If students want to apply for a specific graduate program, they are advised to review the specific application criteria for their school of choice and to plan their coursework accordingly. Below is a sample course sequence for courses typically required of graduate programs in Physical Therapy followed by a chart of course requirements at several Physical Therapy graduate programs. In addition to formal course work, PT graduate schools often require that applicants have 60-100 hours of observing a PT, usually in a variety of clinical settings.
Notes for Consideration and Planning: Physical Therapy
- PT graduate programs are extremely competitive and students often need a minimum 3.0 GPA
- Students should have extremely strong natural science backgrounds, with excellent grades in these courses
- Students should consider taking a wide range of natural science courses including lab courses whenever possible
- GREs should be at least at the 50th percentile (1000-1100)
- Students should complete their internship in a PT facility
- At least 60-100 hours of work, volunteer, observation, or other PT experience is highly recommended
- Positive letters of recommendation are needed. Get to know faculty members so you can obtain strong letters from them
- Interns complete a 600-hour (15 credit) internship at a facility, agency, or other employment setting consistent with their professional goals and interests. A complete description of internship requirements and application procedures are described in the
- Students must be familiar with all of the policy and procedures described in this manual.
RHS Internship Database- A complete list of sites where students have completed internships in the past 8 years and contact information is available.
Internship Application Forms- Forms to be completed once students have selected an internship site.
Penn State advises students to carry professional liability insurance while on internship. The following company provides a policy of malpractice and personal liability insurance specifically for students. The enrollment dates should include internship semester. Applications are available on-line.
Marsh U.S. Consumer
PO Box 14576
Des Moines, IA 50306
1-800-503-9230 (7:30 AM to 5:00 PM Central, M-F)
For more information on internships, review our
Here is an article by Dr. James T. Herbert that talks about jobs that RHS majors may acquire after they graduate. Click on the title to access the article.
The need for qualified RHS professionals is expected to remain strong. Students are expanding their horizons and often establish careers in agencies like:
- Programs for children and youth
- Private non-profit rehabilitation centers
- Mental health agencies
- Private-for-profit rehabilitation agencies
- Rehabilitation hospitals
- Alcohol and other drug treatment centers
- Correctional facilities
- Public welfare agencies
- Social service agencies
- Vocational rehabilitation programs
While the bachelor's degree provides many opportunities for careers, students also have the opportunity to pursue graduate work in more advanced fields, including:
- Counseling (Mental Health, Rehabilitation, or School)
- Occupational Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Speech Therapy
- Alcohol and Drug Counseling
- Recreational Therapy
- Speech-Language Pathology
Psychology (clinical, counseling, industrial)
Students desiring additional information relating to career opportunities in the RHS field are encouraged to direct their questions to your academic or visit Career Services to meet with a career counselor.
Resources for Current Students
RHS Minor Overview
The minor in Rehabilitation and Human Services (RHS) supplements the educational needs of students across disciplines who wish to gain advanced knowledge and skills related to health, disability, and interpersonal interactions. In today’s society, due to medical advances and an aging population, more people are living longer with chronic illnesses and disabilities, and many jobs require advanced interpersonal skills and knowledge of health, disability, and human service skills.
The minor in RHS is responding to this growing need by providing students with specific applied knowledge about living and working with a disability or chronic illness, as well as adjusting to a variety of social needs and problems, such as poverty, addiction, family violence, and homelessness. The minor is appropriate for any student interested in learning how to effectively work with people, particularly as they adapt and adjust to life with a disability. The minor enhances the education of students majoring in social and behavioral sciences, as well as business majors who work in settings that hire and maintain work environments for persons with chronic illnesses and disabilities. The minor will also enhance graduate study preparation for many students interested in working with people in applied settings.
Please email the RHS Minor Advisor, Dr. Leigh Cundari at email@example.com for additional information. Please put "RHS Minor" in your subject line.
Requirements for the Minor
For the minor in RHS, a minimum of 18 credits is required, 15 in RHS, including 6 of which must be at the 400 level. Students can take courses in any order. There are no official prerequisites. Students register themselves for the RHS minor using the Minor Declaration application on eLion once they have attained 5th semester standing (60 credits).
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MINOR:
18 credits (15 credits in RHS, including 6 which must be at the 400 level)
RHS 100(3), RHS 300(3), RHS 403(3)
Selected 6 credits from RHS 301(3), RHS 302(3), RHS 303(3), RHS 401(3), RHS 402(3), RHS 403W(3)
Selected 3 credits from CMDIS, HPA, DISAB STUD, HRM, HD FS, PSYCH, SOC, NURN, CLJBA (approved by RHS Minor Advisor)
Student Organizations and Clubs
Education and Human Services
…. is a mutually collaborative community of students who share a passion for making a difference in the lives of others. This organization provides social and educational opportunities that promote professional identity and pride, mentorship and involvement among faculty, alumni, staff, and students, networking opportunities to explore employment and graduate programs; and service-learning. All students are invited to organization meetings to discuss upcoming events, leads for employment or internships, plan service-learning and social events, and to just spend time getting to know other students, faculty, and staff.
For more information, contact the program coordinator:
Dr. Debra Miller
For admissions information, contact the Lehigh Valley Admissions Office at 610-285-5051.