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Department of Recreation Administration

Woman tossing therapy ball

Recreation Therapy

Explore Recreation Therapy

Recreational therapists are allied-health professionals who plan, execute, and evaluate the use of evidence-based recreation interventions determined through client assessment to facilitate targeted client outcomes.

Recreational therapy, also known as therapeutic recreation, is a systematic process that utilizes recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the assessed needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions, as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery and well-being. (ATRA, May 2015)

The Recreation Therapy option prepares students for a career as a Recreation Therapist. With the assistance of their advisor, students graduate with eligibility to apply for both national (National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification) and state (California Board of Recreation and Park Certification) certification.

Recreation Therapy: The Story of Rigo & Alivia

Experience in your Profession

Our program culminates with a semester-long 600 hour internship working under a certified recreation therapist. Students complete internships in California and beyond. Recent placement examples include UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Institute in Los Angeles, City of Hope in Duarte, the Children’s Home in Sacramento and Atascadero State Hospital, in Atascadero.

Students are also required to get experience while taking classes by completing pre-internship hours. The Central California Adaptive Sports Center, Valley Children's Adaptive Sports Program, Community Behavioral Health, Veteran's Administration- Central California Healthcare System, and Kaweah Delta Mental Health are a few examples of local agencies we rely on to provide these great experiences.

Job Placements and Career Outlook

A bachelor’s degree is the entry-level degree for recreation therapy. Graduates are eligible to be hired as recreation therapists upon obtaining national or state certification, which can be completed during internship.

Typical job placements include the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), Department of State Hospitals (DSH), behavioral health hospitals, physical rehabilitation hospitals, adapted sports, city/county recreation departments, and the department of Veteran’s Affairs.

Our professional organization, ATRA provides a job board for members, and federal and state jobs can be found an sites such as , , and

For outlook information check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as California-specific data.



Major requirements (68 units)
The following core program courses are required of all candidates for this degree. Additional required courses dependent upon the selected option area.

RA 55. Foundations and Careers in RPT

RA 60. Technologies in RPT

RA 73S. Leadership in RPT

RA 77S. Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Programming

RA 80. Lifelong Learning in the Natural Environment

RA 101. Leisure and Human Behavior

RA 125. Diversity and Inclusive Practices in RPT

RA 128. Legal and Financial Aspects of RPT

RA 179. Supervision and Administration in RPT

RA 180. Professional Placement in RPT

*27 units total

  • RA 142
  • RA 144A
  • RA 144B
  • 148
  • RA 149
  • RA 184i
  • BIOL 33
  • PSYCH 66
  • CFS 38

*38 units total 

  • PSCH 101, 102
  • COUN 174
  • CFS 131, 136
  • CRIM 100, 120
  • SOC 143, 147, 168
  • GERON 103, 132, 161
  • PHTH 105

*Select 3 units

In addition, to be eligible for state and national certification, students need a total of 18 units of support coursework (14 upper division). These units can be found by selecting appropriate general education and other courses required by the university. It is essential for students to meet with their advisor to determine the coursework needed to fulfill this requirement.

General Education requirements (49 units)

Other requirements (9 units) American Governments and Institutions (PLSI 2), Multicultural and International (MI), and Upper-division writing

Sufficient elective units to meet required total units (varies)

Total units (120)*


Contact Us

Dr. Nancy Nisbett, CTRS, RTC, Option Coordinator
PHS 127
To schedule an appointment go to: Dr. Nisbett appointments



Dr. Jody Hironaka-Juteau, CTRS
PHS 233
Please email to schedule an appointment