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B.S. in Recreational Therapy

Doing something stimulating and joyful makes a world of difference for someone in a wheelchair or suffering from illness. You'll learn how to use movement, art, and other activities to engage people in their own healing and quality of life. This growing field is gaining respect and practitioners of all ages.

What you'll study
Recreational therapy has grounded interventions and techniques that you'll want to master. From anatomy to program planning, the curriculum emphasizes clinical interventions that assist individuals with illnesses or disabling conditions in improving their physical and emotional well-being. You'll also choose a concentration centered on children, adults, or management.

How you'll learn more
NSU's health care facilities and range of coursework are augmented by caring professors who are experts in biology, psychology, and human services. Two field placements provide the direct experience you need to enter the workforce and become proficient in caring for distinct communities. Taking certain courses online gives you freedom to complete the recreational therapy degree on your own terms.

Where it can take you
Therapy changes lives. As a professional, you will gain credentials as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and improve your chances of working in your preferred community. Common settings include schools and centers for young children, the disabled, and the elderly.

Review the approximate annual cost of tuition, housing, studying part-time, and other options.

Tuition and Fees

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The bachelor's program in Recreational Therapy comprises 120 credit hours. The program consists of a general education section, a core course section and the concentration(s) selected by the student.

General Education Requirements (30 credits)

Students are required to complete 30 credit hours as part of the General Education Program.

Recreational Therapy Major Requirements (54 credits)

The Bachelor of Science in Recreational Therapy, including the concentration and field experience is a 120 credit program. The program consists of 30 credits in general education, and 54 credits within the major, which includes 6-credits of supervised field experience in Recreational Therapy. In addition, students will be required to complete one of the three 12 credit concentrations within the program, and may choose up to 24 credits of open electives. The open elective courses may be selected to count toward an additional 12-credit concentration(s) of their choice, which will be recorded on the student’s transcripts.


RT 1100 - Recreational Therapy: Theory and Foundations (3 credits)

This course examines the history, concepts, theories, and foundations of therapeutic recreation. It introduces the role of therapeutic recreation for disadvantaged populations and persons with disabilities and illnesses in health care and community settings. Students will examine the application of therapeutic recreation in prevention services and the link between social, psychological, and physical health. Students will also gain a basic understanding of the disabilities, impairments and illnesses most often encountered in the provision of therapeutic recreation services. Students will gain a basic understanding of the principles and techniques in therapeutic recreation programming to include: client assessment, individual programming planning, behavioral techniques, activity analysis, documentation, specific program design, and program evaluation.


RT 1200 - Recreational Therapy with Physically Disabled Individuals (3 credits)

Addressing physical and psychological needs of individuals with physical disabilities. This course will also provide appropriate recreational therapy techniques and methods used in providing services to individuals in clinical and community settings.


RT 1400 - Current Trends in Recreational Therapy (3 credits)

This course will examine the most recent trends in the field of Therapeutic Recreation. Topics that will be discussed will include: the current settings in which recreational therapists are typically employed, various treatment modalities, collaboration entities that are beneficial to clients treated in recreational therapy environments, and future developments within the Therapeutic Recreation field, including evaluation of current research in this area.


HS 1300 - Interpersonal Assessment Skills in Human Relations (3 credits)

This course provides an opportunity to learn basic skills essential for the assessment of interpersonal relations. Students will examine interpersonal dynamics and communication in families, the workplace, community organizations, and social settings. An emphasis is placed on developing skills in listening, observation, and analysis. Case studies will be used to explore a variety of presenting problems and appropriate assessment strategies.


RT 2000 - Recreational Therapy: Processes and Techniques (3 credits)

An introduction to the processes and techniques of therapeutic recreation to meet the unique needs of people with disabilities. This course is designed to discuss the assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation strategies utilized in recreational therapy. The course will also take an in-depth look at the challenges associated with the recreational treatment process and examine the various methods used in overcoming these challenges.


RT 2100 - Recreational Therapy for Individuals with Mental Illness (3 credits)

This course will address psychiatric, social, behavioral, and addiction difficulties through recreational therapy interventions in behavioral and mental health settings. This course will discuss the therapeutic recreation strategies and techniques that can improve functional abilities, enhance recreation skills and attitudes, build confidence, ease fears, promote greater self-reliance, strengthen interpersonal skills, manage stress and emotional difficulties, and enrich the client’s quality of life. Prerequisite: PSYC 3260.


RT 2200 - Multicultural Issues in Therapeutic Recreation Settings (3 credits)

This course examines multicultural competence and helps students develop awareness, knowledge, and skills that will enable them to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. The course will also discuss the challenges and ethical considerations associated with working with diverse populations in a therapeutic recreation environment and the various methods used in overcoming these challenges.


PSYC 2350 - Life Span Human Development  (3 credits)

This course is designed to provide the student with an understanding of systematic changes within the individual from conception through death. Unlike many studies of development, this course is structured around issues of development rather than examination of development from a chronological perspective. This structure will allow the student to more completely grasp life-span issues. Family, social roles, lifestyle, psychological disorders, mental abilities, and death and dying will be examined. Prerequisite: PSYC 1020 or PSYC 1020H. Frequency: Every Fall and Winter.

RT 3050 - Clinical Assessment and Evaluation in Recreational Therapy (3 credits)

This course will examine the importance of reliable assessment and evaluation in the recreational therapy treatment planning process. There will be a focus on assessment, developing measurable treatment goals, evaluating outcomes, and documentation. Frequency: Every Fall.


RT 3250 - Human Anatomy & Physiology (3 credits)

This course deals specifically with form and function of human systems. The course stresses human anatomy and physiology. A comprehensive coverage of the musculoskeletal system, articulations and the neural system is discussed. The application of kinesiological principles to the analysis of movement and the description of movement in anatomical terms is also a focus of the course. Frequency: Every Fall and Winter.


HS 2100 - Administration of Recreational and Leisure Services (3 credits)

This course will discuss contemporary recreational therapy program organizational principles and administrative issues, such as assessment, instruction, evaluation, and supervision of staff and clients in recreational activities as part of a therapeutic/rehabilitative program. Frequency: Every Winter.


LED 3000 - Introduction to Leadership (3 credits)

Welcome to Introduction to Leadership! This course is designed to introduce students to major leadership concepts and demonstrate effective application of the theoretical knowledge to real world business environment. Upon the completion of the course, students are expected to develop a comprehensive knowledge of leadership principles and acquire an understanding of current challenges and opportunities associated with this particular competency. Through interactive discussions, case analysis and practical applications, students will develop a working knowledge of relevant leadership skills and behaviors. Frequency: Every Fall and Winter.

HS 3330 - Human Behavior and the Social Environment (3 credits)

This course will examine theories of how the environment affects human behavior. Interactions between individuals and groups of people, impact of culture and society on one?s values, perceptions of the world, and beliefs will be explored. Additionally, influence of gender, sexual orientation, religion, spirituality, and socioeconomic class, on perceptions, experiences, and development across the lifespan will be discussed as well. Students will have the opportunity to self-reflect on how the multiple dimensions of the environment impacts their behavior and how it makes sense in context. The application of theoretical frameworks, such as the ecological model, to assessment and intervention practices in social work will also be examined. Frequency: Every Fall and Winter.


BHS 3110 - Health Care Ethics (3 credits)

This course is designed to introduce ethical thinking and concepts regarding health care to prepare the student with the essential vocabulary and thought processes to understand, evaluate and participate in ethical decision making. Students will be introduced to the idea that ethical problems are largely a matter of reason and that progress toward solutions can be gained through an application of normative ethical (philosophical) theory. Prerequisite: COMP 1500. Frequency: Evey Spring, Every Summer I, Every Fall and Every Winter.


HS 4250 - Program Planning and Evaluation (3 credits)

This course provides an overview of the competencies necessary to critically plan, implement and evaluate human service programs. Relevant program evaluation models are reviewed and a primer of quantitative and qualitative research methods is provided. Data collection techniques and the ethics and standards of evaluation practice are also covered. Social and human service trends relevant to program planning are also addressed in order to assist in the development of human service programs to meet future societal needs. Frequency: Every Winter.


HS 4100 - Rehabilitation Principles and Case Management (3 credits)

The purpose of this course is to study the progression of rehabilitating individuals with disabilities in our society today. The relationship that exists among the different agencies and entities in the rehabilitation process will be highlighted and emphasized along with factors that facilitate or hinder the collaborative process. Principles and current practices in the process of rehabilitation will be introduced. These may include: the goals and models of case management in rehabilitation, client/consumer interviewing and assessment, planning for appropriate and effective intervention strategies, services, and benefits included in a rehabilitation plan, monitoring & evaluation of client progress, and follow up and closure. Frequency: Every Winter.


RT 4120 - Field Placement in Recreation Therapy (6 credits)

The field experience will be individually arranged and will provide a supervised on-site training experience (560 hours). Students will select their choice of a Community Based Organization (CBO) and will complete their field experience in this site. This experience will provide a hands-on implementation of principles and theory learned as they relate to recreational therapy settings. Students will be supervised by an onsite supervisor who is NCTRC CTRS certified on a weekly basis. Prerequisite: completion of 90 or more credit hours. Frequency: Every Fall and Winter.



Courses can be applied toward other undergraduate majors or minors at NSU and toward elective credit. Courses will also serve to meet requirements for certification as a therapeutic recreation specialist. Upon completion of the program, students will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreational Therapy. Additionally, successful completion of Concentration Emphasis Areas will be reflected on the student's transcript.



PSYC 2370 - Early Childhood Growth and Development

Students in this course will critically examine theories and research concerning the cognitive, social-emotional, and physical development of the typical and atypical child from birth to age eight. Emphasis will be placed on the ability to observe and describe child behavior and to understand the principles and processes that govern growth and development in the early childhood years. Implications of knowledge of child development for parental behavior, professional practices, and social policy will also be considered.

PSYC 2360 - Adolescent Psychology (3 credits)

This course will provide an overview of the principles, theories, and research pertaining to the development of the adolescent. Topics include physical, emotional, social, intellectual, moral, and personality development, as well as the importance of the home, school, and community. Prerequisite: PSYC 1020 or PSYC 1020H.

PSYC 2300 - Behavior Modification

This course will review behavior modification techniques applied to diverse areas such as mild and severe behavior problems in children and adults, behavior medicine, organizational behavior, sports psychology, and self-management.

RT 3100 - Recreational Therapy Services for Children and Adolescents

This course will address physical, psychological, and social needs of children and adolescents through recreational therapy. The course will also take an in depth look at assessment, treatment, and evaluation considerations when working with children and adolescents. Age-appropriate activities to provide support, pain management, and coping education for medical and therapy procedures will be discussed, as well as activities that involve families to facilitate coping skills for the child and the family.



RT 2020 - Introduction to Gerontology for Recreational Therapists

This course will focus on aging, providing evidence-based, comprehensive and holistic knowledge about growing old. In addition, this course will explore practical applications of that knowledge to enhance the vitality of older adults in settings in which recreational therapy is or can be provided. As recreation therapists, your work may primarily be oriented toward older adults. In this course, you will gain knowledge about the factors influencing the health and wellness of older adults, as well as health promotion, an important aspect of health and wellness.   Additionally, you will gain an awareness of individual differences and cultural differences that affect aging. 

PSYC 2390 - Adulthood and Aging

This course examines the developmental experiences of maturity and addresses the physiological and psychological aspects of aging.

BHS 4110 - Health Care and Aging

This course examines the psychosocial and cultural variations associated with maturing and aging. Topics covered will include an overview of life choices, living wills, and treatment, as well as cultural implications of senior care.

RT 3200 - Recreational Therapy Services for Older Adults

This course will address the physical, psychological, and social needs of older adults through recreational therapy. This course will also take an in depth look at assessment, treatment, and evaluation considerations when working with the older adult population.



MGT 2050 - Principles of Management

This course provides an overview of management history and theory, schools of management thought, the functions and processes of management, and the environment within which the modern manager operates.

MGT 4170 - Organizational Behavior

The class material will include both theory and practical application of Organizational Behavior in organizations. OB is the study of how individuals and groups impact the behavior within an organization. It is a field of systematic study that focuses on improving productivity and quality, and assisting practitioners to develop methods to empower people as well as to design and implement change programs. We live in a world characterized by rapid change, globalization, and diversity. OB offers insights in these areas while providing guidance for managers in creating an ethically healthy work climate.

HRM 4300 - Managing Workplace Diversity

This course prepares students to manage in the diverse work place. Emphasis is on practical, experiential classroom activities designed to help students understand the range of cultural behaviors and expectations found in the workplace.

RT 3300 - Supervision in a Therapeutic Recreation Setting

This course will examine specific management, supervision, and leadership skills when overseeing therapeutic recreation practice. Operational and program evaluation procedures specific to therapeutic recreation settings will be discussed, including components such as developing quality improvement measures, directing and advising staff, and managing conflicts with clients and staff.


Coursework for this program is available at NSU’s Main Campus in Fort Lauderdale and online subject to course availability.

See the entire program at a glance. The four-year plan of study will assist you in planning your future at NSU. It presents an overall idea of the order in which courses might be taken in a four-year plan during a student's college career.



The academic program and curriculum requirements listed on this page are from the NSU Undergraduate Student Catalog. Students are bound by policies and curricula published in the catalog in effect the semester they enter the university, unless an agreement is made with appropriate NSU administration officials allowing them to abide by policies published in a later catalog.

Courses can be applied toward other undergraduate majors or minors at NSU and toward elective credit. Courses will also serve to meet requirements for certification as a therapeutic recreation specialist. Upon completion of the program, students will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreational Therapy. Additionally, successful completion of Concentration Emphasis Areas will be reflected on the student's transcript.

The academic program and curriculum requirements listed on this page are from the NSU Undergraduate Student Catalog. Students are bound by policies and curricula published in the catalog in effect the semester they enter the university, unless an agreement is made with appropriate NSU administration officials allowing them to abide by policies published in a later catalog.

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