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2021-2022 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Recreational Therapy

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Health Professions section in this catalog.


Degree Offered

Bachelor of Science in recreational therapy

Recreational therapy is an allied health profession involved in the care of patients/clients with a variety of diagnoses and functional limitations across the lifespan. Recreational therapy uses a continuum of services which include recreational therapy (treatment), education, and adapted recreation. These services are provided by using a variety of recreation and leisure activities in order to improve functional abilities and maximize opportunities for persons with special needs to access and become engaged in their communities, thus impacting their overall quality of life.

Recreational Therapy at Grand Valley

The recreational therapy major leads to a Bachelor of Science degree. The program offers a highly articulated and sequenced curriculum. All students must seek advising from a program faculty member before embarking on the program. The baccalaureate curriculum provides educational opportunities that prepare students for entry-level positions in therapeutic recreation. Graduates are prepared to meet patient/client health needs in a dynamic and culturally diverse world by completing a comprehensive curriculum that includes theoretical and practical experience and application. Students need to be able to use clinical reasoning skills such as problem solving, formulating concepts, making judgments, analyzing behaviors and tasks, and determining appropriate intervention. The following abilities are important for students to possess for the therapeutic recreation profession: commitment to learning, interpersonal skills, communication skills, effective use of time and resources, use of constructive feedback, professionalism, responsibility, critical thinking, and stress management skills.


Students who have been accepted by Grand Valley State University through the Admissions Office will follow the outlined procedures: All undergraduate students interested in recreational therapy (RT) can declare therapeutic recreation as their designated major at Grand Valley. During their first and second years, students will make progress toward completing the general education and prerequisite coursework that are required of RT majors and that are pertinent to admission into the recreational therapy program. Students apply to the RT program during the winter semester of their second year through a 'secondary admission' process, at which time, if offered a seat in the program, the student's status will be updated from RT declared to RT admitted.

Transfer students will follow the same process and must meet the same application criteria. For a list of courses that will transfer to GVSU, transfer students from Michigan community colleges can refer to: Students should consult with the College of Health Professions Student Services Office to ensure selection of transferable coursework.

Transfer students who have completed specific recreation/therapeutic recreation prefixed courses at other universities should provide a copy of the course syllabus for any recreation/therapeutic recreation classes they want to transfer to Grand Valley. The RT program will review the course syllabus and determine course transferability on a case by case basis.

Application Information

The recreational therapy (RT) program at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) is a secondary admission program which means that any person interested in taking courses within the RT program must first be admitted to GVSU and upon meeting admission prerequisites (see as follows), are required to submit a secondary application.

The admission process for therapeutic recreation consists of three phases. These phases are outlined as follows.

Secondary Application Instructions

Phase One - Prerequisites

The following prerequisites must be met or in progress at the time of application:

Phase Two - Application and Supplemental Materials

The completed application and supplemental materials should be mailed or hand delivered to the College of Health Professions Student Services Office no later than February 15 of the intended year of fall semester entry. The materials are described further in the Application Packet and include the following:

  • RT application
  • Essay explaining why the applicant has selected recreational therapy, including leadership and disability experience
  • Statement of professional goals (one to two pages)
  • Verification of completion of 50 hours (minimum) of volunteer or paid work in a therapeutic setting
    • Note: 20 of those hours must be under the supervision of a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS)
  • Two recommendation forms completed by a therapeutic recreation specialist/recreation therapist, or related health care practitioner with whom the applicant has completed volunteer and/or paid hours

Phase Three - Applicant Notification

Upon completion of Phases I and II, applicants will be notified of provisional admission into the program and will be asked to set up an advising appointment with a member of the therapeutic recreation faculty to register for the first semester of RT coursework (RTX 300, RTX 302, RTX 304, and RTX 389). Upon successful completion of these four courses (80 percent competency/B- in each course), students will be granted full admission into the therapeutic recreation program.

Contact Valinda Stokes by phone: (616) 331-5900 or email: [email protected] with questions.

Submit application and supplemental materials by February 15 to:

GVSU College of Health Professions
Attn: Valinda Stokes
Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences
301 Michigan St. NE, Suite 113
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Program Requirements

The following program is available:

If you are in need of assistance please submit any questions or comments.