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Recreation Therapy


Recreation therapy programs prepare people to use leisure activities to promote health and healing in patients with disabilities.

Recreation therapy programs teach people counseling and leisure program planning. Students learn about human growth and ways to work with people with special needs

Recreation therapy programs include topics such as:


A few community colleges offer certificate and associate degree programs in recreation therapy. An associate degree program usually takes two years of full-time study.

Many colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees in recreation therapy. A bachelor's degree usually takes about four years of full-time study.

Several universities offer graduate degrees in recreation therapy. A master’s degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor’s degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master’s degree.

See schools that offer this program.

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Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

In addition, many recreation therapy programs require volunteer experience. You can volunteer for community groups, schools, hospitals, or other similar organizations. This gives you experience interacting with people from all walks of life. It also shows schools that you are dedicated to working with people.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores.

Additional requirements at some schools include:

Typical Course Work

Program Courses

This undergraduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

Graduate Program Courses

Graduate programs that lead to a master's or doctoral degree typically include:

Nearly all recreation therapy programs require you to obtain a specific number of hours of clinical experience. Typically you do this through an internship at a hospital, rehabilitation center, nursing home, or other similar organization. You work under the supervision of a certified recreation therapist. You work with patients by meeting with them, assessing their needs, and creating treatment plans. You also monitor patient progress and write reports.

Things to Know

After completing this program you are eligible to get a national certification. You must graduate from an accredited program, gain a specific number of hours of direct client contact, and pass an exam. Many states require you to be certified before you can work with clients and patients.


King-Snohomish Area

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Spokane Area

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West Side Area

Western Washington University