Graduate Academic Programs

Master's Degree Programs

Master of Science in Recreation Degree (MSR), Recreational Therapy Major

Description of Program

The major in recreational therapy prepares students to assume positions as recreational therapists. Using a variety of techniques, including arts and crafts, animals, sports, games, dance and movement, drama, music, and community outings, therapists treat and maintain the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of their clients. Professionals assess individuals' needs, plan and implement specific interventions to meet those needs, and document and evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions. All students graduating from the major are eligible to sit for the National Council on Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) examination.  This degree program may be completed online. 

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 35 credit hours is required for this program. The Master of Science in Recreation degree must include a minimum of 20 credits from the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies. A minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA) is required for graduation. A minimum grade of C is required in each course. All electives for completing the degree must be approved by the advisor.

Complete the following list of requirements:

Public Health Foundations Requirement (0 credits)
All new Master's degree students must complete the Public Health Foundations online course no later than the end of their first semester of graduate study. Complete details and registration information for this course can be found at the following website:

Recreational Therapy Foundation Courses (12 credits)
Complete each of the following courses:

  • SPH-Q 501 Introduction to Statistics in Public Health (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 510 Philosophy of Leisure and Recreation (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 512 Administration Theory and Management Practices in Parks, Recreation, Tourism, and Public Lands (3 cr.)
  • SPH-X 590 Introduction to Research in Health, Kinesiology, and Recreation (3 cr.)

Recreational Therapy Emphasis Courses (15 credits)
Complete each of the following courses:

  • SPH-Y 560 Professional Development of Therapeutic Recreation (3 cr.)
  • SPH-Y 561 Advanced Therapeutic Recreation Processes (3 cr.)
  • SPH-Y 562 Social Psychology of Therapeutic Recreation (3 cr.)
  • SPH-Y 563 Program Development and Consultation in Therapeutic Recreation (3 cr.)
  • SPH-Y 564 Advanced Facilitation Techniques in Recreational Therapy (3 cr.)

Capstone Courses (3-5 credits)
Complete one of the following courses:

  • SPH-R 599 Master's Thesis (5 cr.)
  • SPH-R 697 Internships in Recreation and Parks (3 cr.)

Remaining Electives (3 – 5 cr.)
Complete electives to reach the required minimum 35 graduate-level credits. Electives must be selected with advisor approval

Recommended but not required:

  • SPH-R 550 Special Concerns in Parks and Recreation (3 cr.)

Note: Students entering the degree program without eligibility for national certification in recreational therapy are required to complete an internship that meets requirements for national certification. Students entering the degree program with national certification eligibility or national certification in recreational therapy may elect to meet emphasis requirements through an internship. Students who do not have a background or preliminary coursework in recreational therapy may be required to take Anatomy and Physiology, Life Span Development, Abnormal Psychology, and Techniques in Recreational Therapy.

Special Opportunities

The major in recreational therapy provides students with opportunities for direct experience with clients with disabilities through local agencies. Through class practica, projects, internship opportunities, and field experiences, students learn intervention planning, therapeutic communication skills, service planning, and intervention techniques. Students in both undergraduate and graduate programs have opportunities to participate in faculty research.


Careers for M.S. degree-Graduates with an M.S. degree may assume positions as master clinicians who work directly in client care services as well as administrative positions supervising departments or service lines.

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