Master's-level recreational therapy programs are usually offered as a Master of Arts or a Master of Science and prepare students for administrative positions, educational careers and research-related occupations. The curriculum covers special patient populations, modification and recreation for disabled individuals, patient evaluations, educational and therapeutic recreation, records maintenance, leisure activity theories and group therapy. Also included are internships, practicum, independent studies and clinical experiences, which require students to learn about research methods and statistical data analysis.
Most programs can be completed in 1-2 years and mandate a related bachelor's degree for admission. Applicants with an undergraduate degree in another area may have to complete supplemental coursework.
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Master's Degree in Recreational Therapy
Students in a graduate-level recreational therapy program usually take courses relating to anatomy and physiology, psychology, interventions in recreational therapy and disabling ailments. Other typical classes may include:
- Program management
- Statistical analysis
- Evaluation and documentation
- Recreational therapy issues and developments
- Financial administration
- Risk management
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that employment of recreational therapists should grow at a rate of 12% over 2014-2024. The mean annual salary for these professionals was $47,790 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).
Recreational therapy degree holders may choose to sit for the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) certification exam provided by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC). Completion of a monitored internship of at least 480 hours is a qualifier. While certification is optional, the BLS states that employers generally favor applicants who possess the CTRS credential. Doctoral programs in recreational therapy are not available.
Students pursuing a master's degree in recreational therapy take courses in such areas as anatomy and physiology, intervention strategies and risk management. These courses are combined with clinical experiences and an internship in order to prepare students for careers as recreational therapists, a field which is expected to see strong employment growth during the 2014-2024 decade.