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Academic Programs: Therapeutic Recreation: Certifications

Therapeutic recreation majors should consider certification as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS). Students must meet specific academic requirements related to coursework and internship in order to apply for certification. Upon approval of the application to National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC), the student will receive an invitation to sit for the national exam. This exam tests for knowledge about the important skills and information necessary for minimum competency in therapeutic recreation practice. Upon meeting the eligibility requirements and passing the exam, the individual will receive the CTRS credential, which requires annual maintenance and renewal every five years.

Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLSs) are trained professionals who help children reduce the stress and anxiety during the health care service and hospitalization. They ensure that life remains as normal as possible for children in health care settings and other challenging environments. They also promote effective coping through play, self-expression activities, and age-appropriate medical preparation and education.

  • No one major course of study is required to become a Child Life Specialist (i.e., therapeutic recreation major, psychology major, etc.). See the Child Life Council @ for colleges that offer undergraduate and master’s degrees in Child Life.
  • Calvin College does NOT offer a degree, minor or an emphasis in child life. However, Therapeutic Recreation major in the Department of Kinesiology helps students prepare to be a Child Life Specialist. Students in Therapeutic Recreation major are eligible to sit for both the Child Life examination and the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist exam if they take the recommended coursework.
  • Students may complete a dual internship in Child Life and Therapeutic Recreation which can be extremely competitive.
  • Students should complete an independent internship in Child Life after graduation (480 hours) and a required 600 hour Therapeutic Recreation internship in a pediatric setting.
  • Students need to take one course taught by a certified Child Life Specialist. Ask Professor Lee for more information.

You may reach Professor Youngkhill Lee, CTRS, at (616) 526-6030 or