How to Choose a School with a Recreation Therapy Program

Dec 07, 2019

Colleges and universities across the U.S. offer bachelor's and master's degree programs in recreational therapy. Continue reading to learn more about school and program options for recreational therapy.

The field of recreational therapy combines health care, counseling and rehabilitation. Programs for individuals who want to go into this field can be found at 4-year colleges and universities.

Recreational Therapy Programs

The following 4-year schools offer recreational therapy degrees:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)*
Brigham Young University-Provo Provo, UT 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's $5,620
University of North Carolina Wilmington Wilmington, NC 4-year, public Bachelor's $7,091 (In-state) $21,156 (Out-of-state)
CUNY Lehman College Bronx, NY 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's $7,210 (In-state) $14,880 (Out-of-state)
Temple University Philadelphia, PA 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's $16,970 (In-state) $29,066 (Out-of-state)
Indiana Institute of Technology Fort Wayne, IN 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's $26,900
Ithaca College Ithaca, NY 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's $43,978
Texas State University San Marcos, TX 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's $10,280 (In-state) $21,900 (Out-of-state)
Southern University and A&M College Baton Rouge, LA 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's $9,122 (In-state) $16,472 (Out-of-state)
Grand Valley State University Allendale, MI 4-year, public Bachelor's $12,484 (In-state) $17,762 (Out-of-state)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Students looking for recreational therapy programs should consider the following:

  • Upon graduation, recreational therapy majors must take national and state licensing exams, so students should look for schools recognized by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC), whose curriculum is aligned with exam topics and who have a record of high passing rates.
  • Students seeking a specialization may look for schools offering an emphasis in pediatric care, therapeutic arts or recreation administration.
  • Graduate students may become recreational therapy research assistants during their studies, working with professionals in the field. Therefore, students may want to consider programs with former recreational therapists as professors.
  • Some schools may offer extracurricular recreational therapy organizations, which can benefit students by sponsoring workshops and helping students with career planning.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

A Bachelor of Science in Recreational Therapy degree is offered at some colleges and universities. This degree program may require 71 hours specifically in recreational therapy courses, including clinical training and an internship. Other degree program options for aspiring recreational therapists include a bachelor's degree in recreation with an option to specialize in recreational therapy. This program may have more of a focus on leadership and group management. A similar option is a Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Sports Management with a concentration in recreation therapy.

Master's Degree Programs

Master of Science in Recreational Therapy degree programs are available for aspiring recreational therapists as well as working professionals who wish to continue their education. Many programs require students to complete an evidence-based therapy project or a written thesis as a graduation requirement. An internship or practicum is also typically required.

Undergraduate and graduate degree programs in recreational therapy are available at 4-year public and private schools. Future students may want to consider things like program specializations, extracurricular organizations and more during the selection process.

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