Program Requirements

This program is designed to provide students with individualized continuing education to develop competencies specifically related to recreation career development and professional growth. The emphasis is on individualizing the student’s program. The Master of Science degree in recreation is available in two emphasis areas:
            (1) Recreation Management: (
            (2) Therapeutic Recreation: (

Graduate Program Director:


The Master of Science degree in Recreation Management prepares students for positions in public, private, and commercial recreation agencies. The curriculum consists of learning experiences critical for assuming high-level management positions in the leisure service profession.

Graduates are prepared to:
-  plan, develop, and manage recreation programs in public and private agencies, commercial enterprises, and tourism
-  use diverse community, natural, institutional, and human service resources to enhance programs
-  apply common and innovative management techniques for budgets, service pricing, cost analysis, business feasibility,
    market analysis, and promotions
-  use leadership strategies to strengthen leisure experiences for all, including those with special needs
-  apply evaluation, survey, and research methods to ensure continued improvement in leisure services
-  apply management techniques for recruitment, selection, training, and evaluation of staff and volunteers

Graduates are employed in:
-  local recreation and park agencies; federal natural resource agencies
-  resorts, cruise ships, ski resorts, private campgrounds, and hospitality and travel industries
-  private corporations and tourism agencies
-  health clubs and recreational fitness centers
-  youth agencies
-  Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YM/YWCA
-  condominium developments, convention/visitor bureaus, ice arenas, marinas, golf courses, and theme parks

Admission Requirements
The program welcomes students without an undergraduate degree in Recreation, but some prerequisite courses may be required. Students may take deficiency courses prior to beginning the graduate program or they may begin the program and take the courses within the first two semesters of their graduate program. Prerequisite courses include:

REC 150 Foundations of Recreation 3
REC 300 Program Planning in Recreation  OR 3
REC 302 Recreation Leadership and Supervision 3
ACC 221 Accounting Principles I   OR  3 
ACC 235 Survey of Accounting  
MTH 145 Elementary Statistics    4

If all of the above courses have not been previously taken, the recreation graduate program director will determine program deficiencies on an individual basis. The review will be based on previously taken courses as well as prior work experience. The graduate program director also will determine which deficiency courses need to be taken for credit (auditing of courses might also be recommended).

 Students accepted into this program come from a variety of backgrounds including:
-  Biology
-  Business Administration
-  Elementary/Secondary Education
-  Forestry
-  Horticulture/Landscape Architecture
-  Natural Resources/Resource Management
-  Physical Education
-  Public Administration
-  Recreation Administration
-  Recreation Leadership
-  Therapeutic Recreation

Recreation Management Curriculum
(30 credits)
Required Courses: (15 credits)   

REC 520 Commercial Recreation Management 3
REC 701 Philosophical Foundations of Leisure, Play, and Recreation 3
REC 710 Entrepreneurship in Recreation  3
REC 711  Management of Leisure Services Organizations 3
REC 720

Research Methods for Recreation, Parks, and Leisure                           

Research Options: Thesis, Graduate Project, or Internship  (6 credits)
Students are allowed to choose from one of three options in the program. They are:

Option A - Thesis   Credits
REC 799 Research: Master’s Thesis 6
Option B - Graduate Project  
REC 761  Graduate Project in Recreation 6
Option C - Internship  
REC 700  Internship 6

Elective Courses:  (9 credits)
Recommended elective graduate courses in the department of recreation management and therapeutic recreation include:

REC 502   Risk Management in Leisure Service Organizations 3
REC 580    Outdoor Education 3
REC 581 Outdoor Pursuits   3
REC 706 Public Education and Recreation 2
REC 713 Recreation Planning and Facility Development 3
REC 780  A comparative Approach to Leisure and Society  3
REC 795 Independent Study in Recreation Management 1-3
REC 797 Special Projects in Recreation Management 1-3
RTH 562 Inclusive Recreation Program Administration 2-3
RTH 570  Facilitation Techniques in  Therapeutic Recreation      3


(30-36 Credits)

The Master of Science degree in Therapeutic Recreation prepares students for certification as Therapeutic Recreation Specialists. Students learn to develop and implement treatment, leisure education, and recreation programs for individuals with special needs.

Graduates are prepared to:
-  assess the need for therapeutic recreation intervention
-  plan and evaluate individual and group treatment, leisure education and recreation participation programs
  supervise interdisciplinary teams and human service providers
  organize and manage services
-  direct outreach, advocacy, and public relations activities
  assist individuals in the development of life-long leisure independence
  address therapeutic recreation professionalization issues
  take the national examination to become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
  use advanced knowledge as a clinical administrator or consultant

Graduates are employed in:
hospitals and physical rehabilitation facilities
  county, state, and national mental health treatment centers
  residential settings
  long-term care or nursing home facilities
-  community-based centers and human service agencies
  recreation agencies, including national associations for disabled sport competitors (i.e., Special Olympics)
  human service areas needing therapeutic recreation consultants

Admission Requirements
Students without a previous background in therapeutic recreation, as well as those who are certification eligible as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification, will be admitted into the program after fulfilling university graduate school admission requirements. Deficiencies will be determined based on the student’s educational background and work experience.

The minimum undergraduate prerequisite course and competency requirements for admission to the Master of Science degree program in Therapeutic Recreation are:

Undergraduate Prerequisite Course Requirements
(or equivalent knowledge)

RTH 250 Introduction to Therapeutic Recreation 3
RTH 326  Therapeutic Recreation Populations I OR     3
RTH 327 Therapeutic Recreation Populations II 3
MTH 145 Elementary Statistics 3-4
ESS 205 Human Anatomy and Physiology 3
PSY 304   Abnormal Psychology    3
PSY 212  Life Span Development    3

The above courses may be taken at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse during the first two semesters of the graduate program.

Prerequisite Competency Requirement
Knowledge of and experience with a disability group in a therapeutic recreation setting (minimum 50 documented hours of acceptable experience).

To become eligible to sit for the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) exam through the professional academic path, a total of 18 semester units or 27 quarter units of supportive course work must be successfully completed with at least three units in the content of abnormal psychology, three units in the content of anatomy and physiology, and three units in the content area of human growth and development across the lifespan. The remaining semester units or quarter units of course work must be fulfilled in the content of “human services” as defined by NCTRC (human services is defined to include courses supportive to the practice of therapeutic recreation such as: psychology, sociology, related biological/ physical sciences, adaptive physical education, special education, education, ethics and other disciplines of study supportive to the practice of therapeutic recreation). Students must fulfill the most current NCTRC requirements for certification eligibility. Fulfilling the most recent NCTRC requirements for eligibility is the responsibility of the student.

Program of Study
Upon admission, the student will be classified into one of two groups based upon previous academic background, certification status, and professional experience in the field of therapeutic recreation. The student will be classified either as a student without a previous background in therapeutic recreation or as a student with a previous background (certification eligible) in therapeutic recreation.

A. Program of study for a student with a background (certification eligible) in therapeutic recreation:

The program of study involves a minimum of 30 credits. A program of study includes the required courses, one of three research options, and electives. The program of study will be jointly developed by the student and the graduate program director.

Therapeutic Recreation Curriculum
Required Courses:
 (18 credits) 

REC 701    Philosophical Foundations of Leisure, Play, and Recreation 3
REC 710 Entrepreneurship in Recreation  3
REC 711 Management of Leisure Services Organizations                                                     3
REC 720 Research Methods for Recreation, Parks, and Leisure 3
RTH 593 Therapeutic Recreation Trends and Issues   3
RTH 730 Advanced Clinical Aspects in Therapeutic Recreation  3

Research Options:
Thesis, Graduate Project, Comprehensive Examination
Students will select one of three research options to this graduate program. The options are:

Option A - Thesis Credits  
REC 799  Research: Master’s Thesis  6
Option B - Graduate Project Credits
REC 761 Graduate Project in Recreation 3-6
Option C - Comprehensive Examination
Option C includes all required courses, plus additional elective courses from graduate program offerings to total 30 semester credits (36 credits for those entering the program without a background in therapeutic recreation). A comprehensive examination, developed and graded by the graduate faculty, must be written successfully.

B. Program of study for a student without a previous background in therapeutic recreation:
This program of study requires a minimum of 30-36 credits, the number depending upon related undergraduate coursework. A program of study includes the required graduate courses, therapeutic recreation core courses, one of three research options, and electives. Additional credit(s) may be required to fulfill the sitting requirements of the NCTRC. A program of study will be developed by the student and the graduate program director.

In addition to the required courses, the following are required core courses for the student without a previous background in therapeutic recreation:

RTH 556 Program Design and Administration of Therapeutic Recreation 3
RTH 570  Facilitation Techniques in Therapeutic Recreation  3
RTH 576 Assessment and Treatment Planning in Therapeutic Recreation   3
RTH 580 Leisure Education      3
RTH 700 Internship   6
(Required only if NCTRC field placement requirements are not met)  

At the discretion of the graduate program director, previously taken equivalent undergraduate courses (therapeutic recreation core courses) may not have to be repeated on the graduate level.

Elective Courses:
Additional elective courses may be required to fulfill the minimum (30-36) number of credits to graduate. The elective course(s) will be determined jointly by the student and the graduate program director.