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Therapeutic Recreation

TR student paddle board yoga training

Matriculating within a cohort, students develop a deepened sense of community and collaborative learning. As the only therapeutic recreation program in the state, students have the opportunity to collaborate with professionals in a variety of service settings and consistently pass the national certification exam at a rate that exceeds the national average.

Recreation therapists apply theory and practice of therapeutic recreation to support the health-related quality of life of persons with disabilities.

 Contact The Graduate College for general questions about getting started with your application, funding your degree, and more.
If you have program-specific questions after reviewing the program details, we encourage you to contact the following:

Graduate Advisor
Dr. Jan Hodges
Jowers Center (JOW), Room A173

“Therapeutic recreation is a unique profession with broad and endless opportunities. If you’re someone who enjoys experiencing something new every day and have a passion for people, this is for you!ˮ

— Katelyn Fischer, M.S.R.L.S ’16

Course Work

Students selecting the therapeutic recreation course of study may choose either thesis or non-thesis programs. The non-thesis option, intended for students who are seeking certification as a recreation therapist, includes 33 hours of course work followed by a full-time, three-credit-hour internship as a culminating experience. The 30-hour thesis option is best suited for students who already meet certification eligibility requirements and are seeking advanced specialization in the profession. Students complete 24 hours of course work and thesis credit. Electives in both options are determined in concert with faculty to enhance the students’ specific goals within the profession.

Degree Hours Thesis Option Minor Option
M.S.R.L.S. 36 Non-Thesis No minor
M.S.R.L.S. 30 Thesis No minor
Jowers Center building

Students in each cohort include people with different backgrounds and career goals. This cohort environment contributes to collaborative peer learning and the development of lifelong professional affiliations.

Program Mission

The program in therapeutic recreation prepares graduates to apply the theory and technique of using activity-based interventions as part of a systematic education or rehabilitation process. Students will develop professional competency grounded in evidence-based practices and experiential learning, appropriate for attaining the state and national certifications required for practice. The breadth of studies will prepare students to work in diverse settings supporting persons with a variety of disabling conditions.

Visit program website ›

Program Faculty

Faculty in therapeutic recreation hold the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential and participate regularly in professional organizations and continuing education forums. Research interests include efficacy studies related to a variety of interventions along with current work in the use of yoga, adaptive sports, and outdoor experiences. Their scope of research spans both facility and community-based programming and supports the inclusion of persons with disabling conditions in meaningful leisure experiences. Faculty proactively research collaboratively with students, leading to frequent co-presentations and publications.

Meet our faculty ›

Career Options

Therapeutic recreation, also known as recreation therapy, is an allied health profession that contributes to a broad scope of healthcare needs. Using experiential activities, the recreation therapist contributes to goals for improved functioning, prevention of secondary health conditions, and enhanced living. Graduates work in treatment and residential facilities, community agencies, and other agencies promoting the quality of life of persons with disabling conditions.

Application Process

Step 1

Review Requirements

Application Deadlines

Deadlines U.S. Citizen International
Fall - Priority February 1 February 1
Fall - Standard June 15 June 1
Spring No Admission No Admission
Summer I No Admission No Admission
Summer II No Admission No Admission

Application Deadline
This program has a flexible deadline, which means applications received after the posted deadline may be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis, with no guarantees for admission consideration.

Funding Information
Applications must be complete by the priority deadline to be considered for certain types of funding.

Decision Timeline
This program reviews applications on a rolling basis.

Application Requirements

The items required for admission consideration are listed below. Additional information for applicants with international credentials can be found on our international web pages.


  Review important information about the online application.

Application Fee

  • $55 nonrefundable application fee
  • $90 nonrefundable application fee for applications with international credentials

  Review important information about application fees.

Transcripts & GPA

  • baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university
  • a copy of an official transcript from each institution where course credit was granted
  • minimum 2.75 GPA in your last 60 hours of undergraduate course work (plus any completed graduate courses)
  • background courses required in:
    • Anatomy & Physiology
    • Abnormal Psychology
    • Human Growth and Development Across the Lifespan

  Review important information about transcripts. Official transcripts, sent directly from your institution, will be required if admission is granted.

GRE Scores

  • GRE not required


  • statement of purpose (maximum 500 words) addressing the following:
    • What experiences have led you to pursue graduate studies in therapeutic recreation?
    • What qualities, values, characteristics do you possess that will enable you to meet the academic rigors of graduate education?
    • What are your career goals relating to obtaining a master’s degree?

  Review important information about documents.


Applicants are required to submit TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS scores that meet the minimum program requirements below unless they have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or the equivalent from a country on our exempt countries list.

  • official TOEFL iBT scores required with a 78 overall
  • official PTE scores required with a 52 overall
  • official IELTS (academic) scores required with a 6.5 overall and
    • minimum individual module scores of 6.0

  This program does not offer admission if the scores above are not met.

  Review important information about official test scores.