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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Therapeutic Recreation Emphasis

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Welcome to the Therapeutic Recreation (TR) program. TR is a profession where you help people with disabilities, illnesses and limiting conditions discover and nurture their recreation and leisure passions. This, in turn, contributes to their living well and flourishing as human beings. Through recreation and leisure, people find meaning and purpose, become healthier and improve their functioning.


The curriculum consists of general recreation courses and five TR courses. Students who want to become nationally certified must complete an additional 18 credits of supportive coursework. Supportive courses include human anatomy and physiology, abnormal psychology and human development across the lifespan. The remaining credits are earned in the social sciences and humanities. Examples of such courses include: Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Sociology, Sensitivity to Disability, and Ethics. [DOCX] This document (13 KiB) identifies MSU, Mankato courses that fulfill general education requirements and oftentimes the supportive coursework requirement for national certification.

Prerequisites to the Major

RPLS 272 Introduction to Recreation, Parks and Leisure Services (3 credits)

RPLS Professional Core

Required for MajorStudents Kayaking

Descriptions of the courses listed below are available on the Undergraduate Bulletin’s page.

  • RPLS 277 Recreation Leadership (3 credits)
  • RPLS 302 Pre-Practicum Seminar (2 credits)
  • RPLS 375 Recreation Technology (3 credits)
  • RPLS 376 Program Planning in RPLS (4 credits)
  • RPLS 377W Public Relations (3 credits)
  • RPLS 379 Recreation Management: Facility Resources (3 credits)
  • RPLS 473 Recreation Management: Financial Resources (3 credits)
  • RPLS 483 Recreation Management: Human Resources (3 credits)
  • RPLS 495 Practicum (9 credits)
Therapeutic Recreation Career TrackMan on a mountain
  • RPLS 274 Therapeutic Recreation Services (3 credits)
  • RPLS 440 Therapeutic Recreation Assessment (3 credits)
  • RPLS 447W Therapeutic Recreation Process (3 credits)
  • RPLS 450 Therapeutic Recreation Techniques (3 credits)
  • RPLS 489 Advancement of the Therapeutic Recreation Profession (3 credits)
Required for National Certification:

Please see Dr. Wise, Advisor for Therapeutic Recreation.

  • BIOL 220 Human Anatomy (4 credits)
  • KSP 235 Human Development (3 credits) or PSYC 343 Introduction to Developmental Psychology (4 credits)
  • HP 348 Structural Kinesiology and Biomechanics (3 credits) or BIOL 310 Basics of Human Physiology or BIOL 330 Principles of Human Physiology
  • PSYC 455 Abnormal Psychology (4 credits)

National Certification

Students can pursue certification upon graduation. To qualify to take the exam administered by the National Council on Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC), students must demonstrate an appropriate degree consisting of relevant coursework and complete an approved practicum (all possible through MSU). Certification is awarded upon passing the exam.

Certification is voluntary and the credential is not required to practice therapeutic recreation in 46 states. However, in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Utah, professionals must be licensed before they can legally call themselves therapeutic recreation specialists and deliver services. In these states and district, passing the national certification exam is one requirement to becoming licensed. More information about national certification is located on the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification website (