2017-18 Catalog

Publication date June 2017

Therapeutic Recreation Major - Bachelor of Science (BS)

Therapeutic recreation specialists assist persons with disabilities or illnesses to improve their functioning and quality of life. This is achieved through the development of a meaningful leisure lifestyle. Comprehensive therapeutic recreation services include an approach based on the needs, interests, abilities, and strengths of clients. Services are offered on a continuum of care which includes treatment (which incorporates recreation activities to improve functional abilities and assist in diagnosis), leisure education (which focuses on the acquisition of recreation skills that help attain an independent lifestyle), and recreation participation (which uses recreation activities to enhance health and overall quality of life).

Students learn to develop and implement therapeutic programs using recreational activities such as exercise, horticulture, arts and crafts, games, music, reminiscence, pain management, and stress management. These goal-directed programs help individuals and groups with disabling conditions to learn, adapt and grow through leisure participation.

While most colleges and universities offer a recreation major with a concentration in therapeutic recreation, UW-La Crosse is one of the few universities in the nation to offer therapeutic recreation as its own independent major.

Admission to the program

Admission to the Therapeutic Recreation Program is competitive and not all who apply may be accommodated. To be considered for admission to the therapeutic recreation major the student must have:

  1. Completed or be “in progress” of completing the preadmission courses (BIO 100 or BIO 105 or MIC 100; STAT 145, PSY 100PSY 212, REC 150, RTH 250) with a grade “C” or better in each of these core courses.
  2. A minimum cumulative UWL GPA of 2.5.
  3. Completion of 50 hours of pre-professional experience in an organized program that services various persons with disabilities, chronic health conditions, and/or vulnerable populations in a recreation context is required.
  4. 250 word essay explaining why the applicant wants to pursue a degree in therapeutic recreation.
  5. Applications are due October 1 to be considered for admission to the program spring semester and Feb. 1 to be considered for admission to the program for fall semester.

Consideration for selection is based on the following criteria:

  • Cumulative UWL GPA
  • Pre-professional experience 
  • 250 word essay explaining why the applicant wants to pursue a degree in therapeutic recreation


(College of Science and Health)

60 credits, excluding general education credits

General education courses
Select one of the following:4
Biology for the Informed Citizen
General Biology
Microbes and Society
PSY 100General Psychology3
STAT 145Elementary Statistics4
Total Credits11
Interdisciplinary requirements
PSY 204Abnormal Psychology3
PSY 212Lifespan Development3
ESS 205Human Anatomy and Physiology for Exercise Science I3
or BIO 312 Human Anatomy and Physiology I
Professional core requirements
REC 150Foundations of Recreation3
RTH 250Introduction to Therapeutic Recreation3
RTH 252Innovative Activities in Therapeutic Recreation3
RTH 319Management Functions in Therapeutic Recreation3
RTH 326Therapeutic Recreation Populations I3
or RTH 327 Therapeutic Recreation Populations II
or RTH 329 Diagnostic Groups in Therapeutic Recreation
RTH 355Medical Language3
RTH 456Program Design and Administration of Therapeutic Recreation3
RTH 462Inclusive Recreation Program Administration3
RTH 470Facilitation Techniques in Therapeutic Recreation3
RTH 476Assessment & Treatment Planning-Therapeutic Recreation3
RTH 480Leisure Education3
RTH 493Therapeutic Recreation Trends and Issues3
RTH 496Orientation to Internship in Therapeutic Recreation1
RTH 498Internship in Therapeutic Recreation12
Elective courses
Select a minimum of two to three credits from the elective list.2-3
Wheelchair Sports and Recreation
Therapeutic Recreation and Mental Health
Therapeutic Recreation for Persons With Physical Disabilities
Therapeutic Recreation and Corrections
Recreational Therapy for Older Adults
Workshop in Therapeutic Recreation
Independent Study in Therapeutic Recreation
Special Projects in Therapeutic Recreation
Total Credits60-61


To be admitted to RTH 498 Internship in Therapeutic Recreation, students must achieve a 2.5 cumulative and major GPA and have successfully completed all program course work.

For complete details regarding application procedures, contact the Therapeutic Recreation Program Director in the Department of Recreation Management and Therapeutic Recreation.

All students must complete the general education, college core (waived for therapeutic recreation majors), major/minor, and university degree requirements in order to qualify for a degree. The easiest way to track all of these requirements is to refer to the Advisement Report (AR) found in the Student Information System (WINGS) Student Center. All enrolled students have access to the AR.  

Baccalaureate degree requirements

Candidates for the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Science degrees must accomplish the following:

  1. Fulfill the general education requirements.
  2. Complete at least one ethnic studies (diversity) course.
  3. Complete the courses prescribed by the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee for the degree desired in the respective school or college. (No substitutions for graduation may be made in course requirements for a major or minor after the fourth week of the last semester of the senior year.)
  4. Earn a minimum of 120 semester credits with at least a 2.00 cumulative GPA.1 At least 40 credits must be earned in 300/400 (senior college) level courses. Courses earned at the 100/200 level that transferred to UWL as 300/400 level courses do not apply to this requirement nor do courses from two-year schools.
  5. Complete major and minor requirements with at least a 2.00 GPA1 in each major and minor (and concentration or emphasis, if selected).
  6. A minimum of 30 semester credits in residence at UWL is required for graduation. (See undergraduate resident requirement.)
  7. Submit an application for graduation via the "Apply for Graduation" link in the WINGS Student Center as soon as the student has registered for his or her final semester or summer term in residence. December and winter intersession graduates should apply by May 1. May and summer graduates should apply by December 1.

Grade point average requirements for some programs will be considerably higher than 2.00. Re-entering students may be required to earn credits in excess of the 120 needed for graduation in any curriculum in order to replace credits earned in courses in which the content has changed substantially in recent years. Each case will be judged on its own merit.

No degree will be awarded unless all requirements are fulfilled and recorded within 30 days after the official ending date of each term.

Below is a sample degree plan that can be used as a guide to identify courses required to fulfill the major and other requirements needed for degree completion. A student's actual degree plan may differ depending on the course of study selected (second major, minor, etc.). Also, this sample plan assumes readiness for each course and/or major plan, and some courses may not be offered every term. Review the course descriptions or the class timetable for course offering information.

The sample degree plans represented in this catalog are intended for first-year students entering UWL in the fall term. Students should use the Advisement Report (AR) in WINGS and work closely with their faculty advisor(s) and college dean’s office to ensure declaration and completion of all requirements in a timely manner.

General Education Program
The general education curriculum (Gen Ed) is the common educational experience for all undergraduates at UWL. Sample degree plans include Gen Ed placeholders to ensure completion of the general education requirements. Courses may be rearranged to fit the needs or recommendations of the student’s program of study. Gen Ed courses may be taken during winter term (January between the semesters) and summer to reduce the course load during regular terms (fall and spring). Students should consult with their advisor and/or the assistant to the dean of their college for assistance with course and schedule planning. Refer to the general education requirements for more specific details.

Note: at least 40 credits of the 120 credits required must be earned at the 300/400 level.

This sample degree plan does not establish a contractual agreement. It identifies the minimum requirements a student must successfully complete, to qualify for a degree, in a format intended to assist the student plan their academic career. Actual degree plans may differ.

Year 1
REC 1503RTH 2503
ENG 110 or 112 (Gen Ed Literacy-Written)3STAT 145 (Gen Ed Math)4
PSY 100 (Gen Ed Self & Society)3CST 110 (Gen Ed Literacy-Oral)3
HIS 101, 102, or ARC 200 (Gen Ed World Hist)3Gen Ed Arts2
BIO 100, 105, or MIC 100 (Gen Ed Natural Lab Science)4Gen Ed Health & Well-Being3
 16 15
Year 2
RTH 2523RTH 326, 327, or 3293
ESS 20513RTH 3193
PSY 21213PSY 20413
Gen Ed Math or Lang/Logical Systems3-4Gen Ed Minority Cultures3
Gen Ed Arts2Gen Ed Hum - Lit3
University Degree Credit Elective 2 
Apply to TR Program2  
 16 15
Year 3
Gen Ed Global Studies3RTH 4623
RTH 3553RTH 4803
University Degree Credit Elective3RTH 4961
RTH 4563Special Populations Elective2-3
RTH 4703Gen Ed Elective3
 Univeristy Degree Credit Elective3
 15 16
Year 4
RTH 4763RTH 49812-16
RTH 4933 
Gen Ed Elective3 
Gen Ed Elective3 
University Degree Credit Elective3 
 15 12
Total Credits: 120

PSY 212 Lifespan Development, PSY 204 Abnormal Psychology, and ESS 205/BIO 312 Human Anatomy and Physiology I fulfill, in part, criteria for becoming a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS). For any PSY 212, PSY 204, or ESS 205/BIO 312 course substitutes/transfers, students are advised to verify satisfactory content with the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certifications (NCTRC). See the Therapeutic Recreation Program Director for more information.


Apply during the Fall semester sophomore year or later. Admission requirements into the TR Program can be found with the major's requirements.

Students are required to earn a minimum of 120 credits for a Bachelor's degree.

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