Do you have an interest in working with people who have a disability, are recovering from a serious illness or accident, or are struggling with mental health issues? Do you have a calling that is urging you to reach out to those who are dealing with physical, social, emotional, or cognitive challenges to help them reach a better quality of life?

Students studying recreational therapy learn the skills needed to work with people in allied health-care settings such as hospitals, psychiatric clinics, long-term care facilities, rehabilitation clinics, substance abuse centers, and similar settings. You might work with returning injured service-members, seniors, children, adolescents, and individuals from all walks of life. The BS degree in recreational therapy at ECU has a strong clinical focus, which means that graduates will work side-by-side with physicians, occupational and physical therapists, nurses, and other members of an individual's treatment team wherever they work. The goal is always to help the patient/client achieve the highest level of functioning possible so as to experience life to the fullest. ECU recreational therapy students learn in the classroom, through practicum experiences, and they spend 15 weeks in a full-time internship where they learn to work with a variety of clientele in various settings. Upon graduation, students are eligible to sit for the national certification exam and become credentialed to work in the field. In North Carolina, both national certification and state licensure are required to practice recreational therapy.

ECU Advantage

Currently, ECU's recreational therapy program is one of only a handful of such programs recognized for its excellence through national accreditation. The BS in recreational therapy is an excellent choice for those interested in helping others, working in an allied health profession, and improving the lives of people who have a variety of physical, psychological, cognitive, or social disorders.

The recreational therapy faculty are a student-oriented, professionally involved, and award-winning group of professionals who share a common goal to provide students with the very best educational experience possible to ready them for the workforce of tomorrow. You will find these faculty members highly committed to your success, the craft of teaching, and remaining on the cutting edge of the profession.

What You Will Study

Program Coordinator: Wendy Whisner (1407 Carol Belk Building; 252-737-1512; whisnerw@ecu.edu)

The recreational therapy (RT) program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) through the Committee on Accreditation for Recreational Therapy Education (CARTE). Any student wishing to declare a major in recreational therapy (RT) must, at the time of entrance into the curriculum, possess a minimum 2.5 GPA; have completed ENGL 1100, ENGL 2201; MATH 1065 or MATH 1066 or MATH 1067 or MATH 2127; and BIOL 2130, BIOL 2131 or BIOL 2140, BIOL 2141; have submitted an application; have a personal interview with a RT faculty member; and have completed a sequencing form (timetable) in consultation with a RCTX advisor in the HHP Advising Center and their RT faculty advisor. Prior to registering for 4000 level RCTX courses, all RT students are required to complete the recreational therapy fieldwork experience. This requires a minimum of 25 documented hours of directed experience in recreational therapy programs and recreation-based activities for individuals with disabilities. Information relating to this process is provided via department web site, through the Health and Human Performance Advising Center and through the RT faculty. Admission to recreational therapy is competitive and limited due to space availability. Majors must maintain a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA and a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA in all cognate courses to remain in good standing. Majors must earn a minimum grade of C (2.0) in all required RCLS and RCTX courses. A student wishing to appeal should contact the RCLS chair within two weeks of notification of academic deficiency. Graduates are eligible to apply to sit for the examination to become nationally credentialed as a certified therapeutic recreation specialist (CTRS) and licensed recreational therapist (LRT) in North Carolina.

The minimum degree requirement is 124 s.h. of credit as follows:

1. General education requirements including those listed below - 40 s.h.

(For information about courses that carry general education credit see General Education Program.)

  • BIOL 1050 - General Biology
  • BIOL 1051 - General Biology Laboratory
  • or
  • BIOL 1100 - Principles of Biology I
  • BIOL 1101 - Principles of Biology Laboratory I
  • or
  • BIOL 1150 - Principles of Biology: A Human Approach
  • BIOL 1151 - Principles of Biology: A Human Approach Discussion

  • MATH 1065 - College Algebra or
  • MATH 1066 - Applied Mathematics for Decision Making or
  • MATH 1067 - Algebraic Concepts and Relationships or
  • MATH 2127 - Basic Concepts of Mathematics

  • PHIL 2275 - Professional Ethics or
  • PHIL 3281 - Introduction to Philosophical Ethics in the Health Care Professions

  • PSYC 1000 - Introductory Psychology
  • PSYC 3206 - Developmental Psychology
  • RCLS 2601 - Leisure in Society
2. Core - 54 s.h.
  • RCLS 3003 - Recreation and Event Programming
  • RCLS 3004 - Recreation Programming Experience
  • RCLS 4000 - Research Methods and Techniques
  • RCLS 4004 - Philosophical and Theoretical Issues in Leisure
  • RCTX 2230 - Recreational Therapy Foundations
  • RCTX 3240 - Disability Survey for Recreational Therapy Services
  • RCTX 3262 - RT Physical and Movement Interventions
  • RCTX 3263 - RT Cognitive and Psychosocial Interventions
  • RCTX 4200 - Advanced Stress Management
  • RCTX 4252 - Recreational Therapy Leadership and Group Dynamics
  • RCTX 4254 - Assessment and Measurement in Recreational Therapy
  • RCTX 4260 - Recreational Therapy Senior Practicum
  • RCTX 4266 - Organization and Management of Recreational Therapy Services
  • RCTX 4268 - Comprehensive and Individual Treatment Programming in Recreational Therapy
  • RCTX 4900 - Recreational Therapy Professional Development
  • RCTX 4902 - Recreational Therapy Internship Pre-Placement Seminar
  • RCTX 4990 - Recreational Therapy Internship
3. Cognates - 21 s.h.
  • ATEP 2800 - Medical Nomenclature for Human Performance
  • BIOL 2130 - Survey of Human Physiology and Anatomy
  • BIOL 2131 - Survey of Human Physiology and Anatomy Laboratory
  • KINE 2850 - Structural Kinesiology
  • space
  • PSYC 3225 - Psychology of Learning or
  • PSYC 3226 - Cognitive Psychology
  • space
  • PSYC 3375 - Abnormal Psychology
  • Choose 6 s.h. from:
    • KINE 5303 - Physical Activity Programs for Individuals with Developmental, Emotional, and Learning Disabilities
    • KINE 5903 - Physical Activity Programs for Individuals with Orthopedic, Neurologic, and Sensory Impairments
    • RCLS 2400 - Adventure-Based Program Leadership
    • RCTX 3202 - Camping and Adventure Programming for Individuals with Disabilities
    • RCTX 4210 - Introduction to Biofeedback
    • RCTX 4211 - Biofeedback Lab
    • RCTX 5000 - Theoretical Foundations of Aquatic Rehabilitation
    • RCTX 5001 - Applied Techniques in Aquatic Rehabilitation
    • Other courses as approved by the program coordinator
4. Electives to complete requirements for graduation.
    For more information about this degree visit the university's academic catalogs.

    Careers With This Degree

    Graduates with this degree are successful in many fields and careers, including the following:

    • Therapeutic Recreation/Recreational Therapy
    • Health and Human Services
    • Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary
    • Recreational Therapists
    • Therapeutic Recreation/Recreational Therapy

    Career Opportunities

    ECU has developed resources to help you learn more about career opportunities and job market outlook. In addition, the websites below provide specific information on careers in the various majors from which students may choose:

    NC Tower

    This website provides graphs and tables of in-depth information on employment rates, wages and ongoing higher education enrollment of graduates from the North Carolina Community College System and from the University of North Carolina system schools. NC Tower includes data on former UNC students who are working in roughly 90% of all jobs in North Carolina. This database excludes information for graduates who are:

    • Self-employed;
    • Work for the federal government, including the military: or
    • Work outside of North Carolina.

    US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

    This website also provides in-depth information regarding pay, projected new jobs, required education, growth rate and on-the-job training information on various occupations.

    Degree-specific internships

    For information on internship information for specific majors, go to the home page of the department in which the major is located and, as available, find the link to the information on internships in that major.