2016-17 Graduate Catalog 
    Jun 20, 2024  
2016-17 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Therapeutic Recreation Online Graduate Certificate Program [CT_TR]

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Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies Department
Sharon Todd, chair
Lynn Anderson, certificate program coordinator
Anderson Young, graduate coordinator
Professional Studies Building, Room 2213
Email: rpls@cortland.edu


Improve your knowledge and skills in the dynamic field of therapeutic recreation/recreation therapy.

Therapeutic recreation focuses on leisure and recreation as integral components of optimal health and well-being for individuals with illnesses and disabling conditions. The Therapeutic Recreation Online Graduate Certificate Program will help you develop your proficiency and achieve a higher level of competence and professionalism in an exciting and growing field.

Program Highlights

The Therapeutic Recreation Online Graduate Certificate Program is a graduate-level program comprised of six, three-credit-hour courses including:

  • One general recreation theory/philosophy course
  • Five therapeutic recreation content courses structured around the requirements of national certification

This online program is ideal for:

  • People wishing to pursue national certification in therapeutic recreation but lacking specific academic courses
  • Career changers or practicing professionals pursuing continuing education
  • Graduate students seeking additional course work in an online format
  • People who would find on-campus classes difficult to manage because of work, location or family

This flexible program allows you to:

  • take all six courses to earn the certificate or
  • to be considered for a full master's degree program or
  • to just take a course or two to fulfill continuing education requirements

Therapeutic Recreation Certification

Academic Requirements

To be awarded the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential, you must meet certain eligibility requirements and pass a knowledge-based exam.

This graduate certificate program is designed to meet the therapeutic recreation academic requirements that you will need to take the national exam with the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification via Equivalency Path A or B. 

It does not provide support courses or practical experience such as mentored practice for one year or five years of experience in the field. These requirements are often met through related undergraduate degrees, community college courses, other online courses at SUNY Cortland such as developmental psychology, or your own work experience.

Learning Outcomes for the Certificate Program

You will be able to demonstrate:

  • Entry-level knowledge of the nature and scope of the therapeutic recreation profession and its associated service delivery systems as well as the foundations of the therapeutic recreation profession in history, theory, science and philosophy.
  • The ability to assess, plan, implement, document and evaluate therapeutic recreation services that facilitate targeted outcomes and that embrace personal and cultural dimensions of diversity.
  • Entry-level knowledge about management/administration of therapeutic recreation services.

Career Potential

Therapeutic recreation specialists serve persons of all ages with a wide range of disabling conditions and illnesses such as behavioral, mental health, physical, and/or developmental disabilities.

These qualified professionals work in all levels of positions from therapists to supervisors to administrators.

Employment settings range from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities, outpatient/day treatment centers, adult day programs, correctional facilities, disability organizations, schools, community parks and recreation departments, human services, residential/transitional facilities, and more.

Graduate Admission

Evaluation Policy

At the State University of New York College at Cortland, we seek a diverse and academically strong student body. Our admission policy and practice will not discriminate on the basis of age, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, national origin or marital status.

Required Materials

  1. Completed online Graduate School Application - Apply Now
  2. Resume — upload as part of online application process
  3. Statement outlining your educational and professional goals — upload as part of online application process
  4. Official transcripts from all institutions of higher learning attended to be forwarded directly to

Graduate Admissions Office
SUNY Cortland
P.O. Box 2000
Cortland, NY 13045

Admissions Criteria

  1. Bachelor's degree, completed before classes begin, in any academic major.
  2. Preference will be given to candidates with an undergraduate grade point average of 2.8 or above (on a 4.0 scale).


Fall semester applications: July 1
Spring semester applications: Dec. 1

Applications submitted after the deadline may be considered on a space availability basis.
Please contact the Graduate Admissions Office at 607-753-4800 to check availability.

Pathway to M.S.

Once you have completed the Therapeutic Recreation Online Graduate Certificate Program, you may choose to pursue a Master of Science in Recreation with a concentration in Therapeutic Recreation, which is offered on campus.  

In order to apply for a change of status from the certificate program to the M.S. program, you must have met all the graduate academic standards for GPA in the certificate program:  

  • maintain at least a 2.8 GPA each semester while in the program, and
  • have a 3.0 GPA to graduate from the program and earn the certificate.

All 18 credit hours earned in the certificate program fulfill requirements for the M.S., which consists of 34 credit hours — 33 credit hours plus a one-credit hour culminating thesis, project or comprehensive exam activity. You will have 13 credit hours remaining at SUNY Cortland plus a semester-long three-credit-hour capstone internship at a pre-arranged agency.

Program Requirements

A minimum of 18 credit hours of approved graduate work as described below is required for the online Graduate Certificate in Therapeutic Recreation.

The courses can be completed in two semesters — nine credit hours per semester — or spread out over time.

Professionals could take just one or a few courses to maintain national certification or the entire online graduate certificate program.

Once you are admitted to the program, you must meet all graduate school academic standards:

  • maintain at least a 2.8 GPA each semester to continue in the program, and
  • have a 3.0 GPA in order to graduate from the program and earn the certificate.

Total Credit Hours Required: 18

Example of the online certificate program over two semesters

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