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Grand Valley State University    
2018-2019 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog 
  Aug 23, 2019
2018-2019 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Therapeutic Recreation - Program Description

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 therapeutic recreation


Therapeutic recreation is an allied health profession involved in the care of patients/clients with a variety of diagnoses and functional limitations across the lifespan. Therapeutic recreation uses a continuum of services which include recreation 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.

Therapeutic Recreation/Recreation Therapy at Grand Valley

The therapeutic recreation 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 therapeutic recreation (TR) can declare therapeutic recreation as their designate major at Grand Valley. During their freshmen and sophomore years, students will make progress toward completing the general education and prerequisite coursework that are required of TR majors and that are pertinent to admission into the therapeutic recreation program. Students apply to the TR program during the winter semester of their sophomore year through a ‘secondary admission’ process, at which time, if offered a seat in the program, the student’s status will be updated from ‘TR declared’ to ‘TR 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 TR program will review the course syllabus and determine course transferability on a case by case basis.

Application Information

The therapeutic recreation (TR) program at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) is a ‘secondary admission program’ which means that any person interested in taking courses within the TR program must first be admitted to GVSU and upon meeting admission prerequisites (see below), 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 I - Prerequisites

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

  • Overall GPA of 2.7 or above
  • CHM 109 - Introductory Chemistry
  • PSY 101 - Introductory Psychology
  • BIO 120 - General Biology I

Phase II - Application & Supplemental Materials

The completed application and supplemental materials should be mailed or hand delivered to the College of Health Professions Student Services Office as indicated below 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:

  • TR application
  • Essay explaining why the applicant has selected therapeutic recreation including leadership and disability experience
  • Statement of professional goals (1-2 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 III - 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 TR coursework (REC 300, REC 302, REC 304, and REC 389). Upon successful completion of these four courses (80% competency/B- in each course), students will be granted full admission into the therapeutic recreation program.

Submit Application & Supplemental Materials by February 15 to:

                                                    College of Health Professions
                                                     Attn: Valinda Stokes
Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences
                                                     301 Michigan St. NE, Suite 113
                                                     Grand Rapids, MI 49503
                                                     Phone: (616) 331-5900


The following program is available:

Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation