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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

                              Why choose Recreation Therapy? (click each icon below)

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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. Foundations of Recreation Therapy
  • RA 144A. Assessment and Documentation in Recreation Therapy
  • RA 144B. Facilitation Techniques in Recreation Therapy
  • RA 148. Process and Principles in Recreation Therapy
  • RA 149. Trends and Issues in Recreation Therapy
  • RA 184I. Internship in RPT
  • BIOL 33. Introductory Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • PSYCH 66. Abnormal Psychology
  • CFS 38. Life Span Development

*38 units total 

  • PSYCH 101. Child Psych
  • PSCH 102. Adolescent Psych
  • COUN 174. Introduction to Counseling
  • CFS 131. Family Theories
  • CFS 136. Adolescence
  • CRIM 100. Criminology
  • CRIM 120. Juvenile Delinquency
  • SOC 143. Deviance and Control
  • SOC 147. Medical Sociology
  • SOC 168. Interpersonal Relationships
  • GERON 103. Psychology of Aging
  • GERON 132. Alzheimer's Disease
  • GERON 161. Multicultural/Aging (Area M/I)
  • PHTH 105. Medical Terminology for Health Professionals

*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 (48 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
559.278.2838 (main office)
PHS 127

Dr. Nisbett will be on Sabbatical
for Spring 2024


Dr. Jody Hironaka-Juteau, CTRS
PHS 233

Please email to schedule an appointment.