Occupational Science & Technology

Therapeutic Recreation Certificate

Frequently Asked Questions

What is therapeutic recreation?
Therapeutic Recreation, also known as recreation therapy, is a unique profession that utilizes recreation and activity based interventions to help improve an individual’s physical, emotional, cognitive, social, spiritual and leisure functioning for optimal participation in life. The Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, also known as a Recreation Therapist, assists clients to develop skills, knowledge and behaviors for daily living and community involvement. The therapist works with the client and his/her family to incorporate specific leisure interests and community resources into therapy to achieve optimal outcomes that transfer to his/her real life situation.

If you are interested in learning more about the profession of therapeutic recreation, the following websites are recommended:

What is a certificate program?
A certificate program offers an individual a condensed study in a specific area.

Do I need a college degree to participate in the certificate program?
Individuals interested in completing the certificate program should at minimum, be working to complete a Bachelor’s degree or have completed a Bachelor’s degree. The courses are upper division (300 and 400 level) courses designed for individuals with academic skills.

Who are the target audiences for the certificate program?
This certificate program is designed for a broad audience of individuals who work with people with disabilities.

  • If you are a student seeking a Bachelor’s degree and are interested in developing specialized skills in the Therapeutic Recreation profession, the entire five course certificate program (18 credits) may be of interest to you. It is recommended you begin the program by taking the course entitled Recreation as a Therapeutic Intervention. This course is offered 2x/year usually during the Fall and Summer Semesters.
  • If you are an individual working in the human service field interested in enhancing your skills or credentials in the area of therapeutic recreation, one or more certificate courses may meet your needs. It is recommended you begin the program by taking the course entitled Recreation as a Therapeutic Intervention. However, you may start with any course of interest to you. Contact Patricia Thomas, Therapeutic Recreation Certificate Coordinator, at 414-229-2507 or pthomas@uwm.edu to determine which course(s) may best suit your interests. A listing of the online TR courses is below.
  • If you are a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) desiring continuing education for recertification with the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC), one 3-credit course will meet forty-five of the fifty hours required for recertification. One 4-credit course will exceed the fifty hour continuing education requirement for recertification. Therapeutic Recreation Trends is the recommended 3-credit course for continuing education. Facilitation Techniques in Therapeutic Recreation is the recommended 4-credit course for continuing education. Contact Patricia Thomas, Therapeutic Recreation Certificate Coordinator, for additional information at 414-229-2507 Monday through Friday 8:00am – 4:30pm CST or via email at pthomas@uwm.edu.

How are the courses taught online?
The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee uses a web-based platform called Desire 2 Learn (D2L). Once students are enrolled in a class they are given instruction on how to access the course on the D2L website. The online courses follow a traditional semester schedule (16 weeks for the Fall and Spring semesters and 12 weeks for the Summer semester). Students are expected to be engaged in the course for the entire semester. There is usually weekly assignments in each course to foster active participation in the courses.

What are the computer requirements to take an online course?
It is recommended students taking online courses have daily access to more than one computer. Computer problems are not accepted as reasons for late assignments.

Recommended minimum requirements for PC users for an online course include:

  • Operating System - Windows 95/98/2000XP
  • RAM – 64 MB (128 MB recommended)
  • Free disk space – 5 MB (10 MB recommended)
  • CPU speed – 266 MHz (500 MHz recommended)
  • Suggested Internet Browser – Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox
  • Suggested Software Programs – Word, Powerpoint, Excel

What type of assistance is offered if I have trouble with the online course?
The UWM Help Desk (technical support personnel) is available many ways. The Help Desk Consultants are on duty 7a.m. (CST) through midnight 7 days per week. After hours you may contact the Help Desk though email at GetTechHelp@uwm.edu Additional ways to seek out information includes using the University Information Technology Services (UITS) webpage at www4.uwm.edu/uits/ or call for direct assistance at (414) 229-4040 or 877-381-3459.

How much does it cost?
Specific tuition fee information may be found at the UWM Business and Financial Services Office under Tuition and Fees information. Students who are from outside of Wisconsin will be charged a flat fee for each of the online courses. Three credit course costs approximately $1100/each and a four credit courses cost approximately $1500/each. This does not include the cost of books. The specific fee is listed in the comments section for each course. See Schedule of Classes, Therapeutic Recreation, then the specific course and section for the amount.

How do I register for an online class?

  1. You may follow the steps listed under APPLY NOW on the UWM homepage.
  2. Most returning students will fall under the category of Special/Guest Student at the UWM campus.
  3. Complete the application form and await your acceptance letter. According to the website, online applications are processed the next day but it may take up to 10 days for you to be notified of your admission.
  4. Once you are notified and have an ID number and PIN you may begin to register for courses found in the Schedule of Classes, Therapeutic Recreation. Some TR courses listed in the schedule are NOT part of the certificate program. Be sure to register for the certificate courses, see list below. Students residing outside of Wisconsin will register for the totally online section starting with a 200 number.
Select ONE Introductory Course:
Course Number Course Name Credits
TherRec 103 Introduction to Leisure (F/S) 3
TherRec 202 Disability: Society and the Person (F) 3
TherRec 203 TR Process* (F)
Prerequisites: none

Select THREE Intervention Courses:
Course Number Course Name Credits
TherRec 300 Therapeutic Recreation Assessment and Documentation* (S)
Prerequisites: none
TherRec 303 Inclusive and Disability Programs in the Community (S) 3
TherRec 308 Therapeutic Recreation in Physical Rehabilitation and Behavioral Health* (F)
Prerequisites: Junior standing
TherRec 310 Facilitation Techniques in Therapeutic Recreation* (S)
Prerequisites: Junior standing

Capstone Course:
Course Number Course Name Credits
TherRec 400 Issues and Trends in Therapeutic Recreation* (SU)
Prerequisites: TherRec 308(P)
Total 17-18

How long does it take to complete the certificate program?
Students are required to complete the certificate program within five years of the start of their first certificate course. Ideally, a student interested in taking all 5 certificate courses could complete the coursework in 3 consecutive semesters or 1 – 1.5 years.

How do I get started?
The first step is to submit an application for admission to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. You may access an e-application by going to the UWM homepage at www.uwm.edu. Click on APPLY NOW at the bootom of the page.  To contact the UWM Office of Admissions by phone, please call 414-229-5932. For help with academic advising, contact the College of Health Sciences Advisor at 414-229-2758 Monday through Friday 8:00am – 4:30pm CST or via email at witowski@uwm.edu.

How do I request accommodations?
If you wish to request accommodations due to a disability please contact Patricia Thomas, TR Program Director, at (414) 229-2507 Monday through Friday 8:00am – 4:30pm CST or via email at pthomas@uwm.edu.

What is the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification?
NCTRC is the nationally recognized credentialing organization for the profession of recreation therapy. For decades, therapeutic recreation has been recognized as a valuable profession within health care and human services. The Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist has become the industry standard that exemplifies each professional's dedication to quality standards and excellence in practice. Currently, over 15,000 practitioners are professionally certified as CTRS's by the NCTRC. The CTRS credential is the most advanced professional credential for the field of therapeutic recreation. For more information visit the NCTRC website at www.nctrc.org.

How does this certificate program help me become a CTRS?
This certificate program will help the individual meet the therapeutic recreation academic coursework eligibility requirements to become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS). The individual must take responsibility to meet the additional requirements to be eligible to sit for the CTRS certification exam. The additional requirements include supportive coursework and a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and direct care experience. Please refer to the NCTRC Certification Standards for additional information. The standards may be found at www.nctrc.org.

What are some supportive courses I can take at UWM?
If you are interested in becoming a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, there are numerous supportive on campus courses available to you including those listed below. Most of the courses are offered in the traditional face-to-face format. Please see the semester Schedule of Classes for the most up to date listing and medium used.

Course Number Course Name Credits
Anatomy & Physiology 4 cr
HCA 203 Human Life Cycle 3 cr
PSYCH 412 Psycopathology* 3 cr
(*PSYCH 205 is a required prerequisite)

Choose from the courses below to complete the required additional 9 credits of supportive coursework.
Course Number Course Name Credits
PSYCH 205 Personality 3 cr
PSYCH 230 Social Psychology 3 cr
PSYCH 260 Child Psychology 3 cr
SOCIAL 101 Intro to Sociology 3 cr
SOCIAL 104 Intro to Social Psychology 3 cr
SOCIAL 241 Criminology 3 cr
SOCIAL 246 Juvenile Delinquency 3 cr
SOCIAL 282 Sociology of Aging 3 cr
SOCIAL 331 Sociology of Healthcare 3 cr
HCA 222 Language of Medicine 3 cr
HCA 230 Health Aspects of Exercise & Nutrition 3 cr

Please note, course offerings change each semester.