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Patient works on a recreational therapy project at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona.

Program overview

Program length: 14-16 weeks
Class size: One student each semester
Location: Phoenix, Arizona

This internship gives students the knowledge and skills needed to provide therapeutic treatment services and activities in hospitals, clinics, and private practice. Through your patient care responsibilities and clinical experiences, you attend to patients' daily care needs.

The internship takes place in an acute hospital setting, where you learn and practice:

  • Treatment that utilizes activity to promote an individual's present functional skills
  • Leisure education as a means to acquire skills and develop knowledge of new activities and adopt or return to past recreational activities
  • Skills in forming positive attitudes
  • Development of emotional coping skills to aide in understanding and acceptance of diagnoses and hospital stressors
  • Transitional outings and leisure engagement, which assist in return to past leisure activities and social skills
  • Recreational activities that promote the health and wellness concept and independent leisure activities

Graduation and certification

After successfully completing your internship, you graduate from your respective college or university. You are then responsible for scheduling and completing your certification test through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification. Those who pass the test are awarded the title of Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (C.T.R.S.).

Application process

Each year, Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences admits one student to the internship in the spring, summer, and fall semesters. Students are only accepted from the following Mayo Clinic affiliated schools — Arizona State University, University of Iowa, and Winona State University.

Application timeline

Applications for fall will be accepted March 15-April 30. Applications for spring will be accepted Sept. 1-Oct. 15. Applications for summer will be accepted Jan. 2-Feb. 19.

The program begins the first week of the semester.


To be eligible for the internship, you must:

  • Be a senior-level student in a therapeutic recreation program or recreation program with therapeutic recreation emphasis and have completed all classroom academic coursework before applying
  • Have completed basic CPR training and certification
  • Have completed recommended courses in anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology
  • Have a primary interest in acute care

Non-U.S. citizen applicants

Admission to Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences is open to U.S. workers in the four categories below. Therefore, visa sponsorship is not available.

  1. U.S. citizens
  2. U.S. nationals
  3. Lawful permanent residents
  4. Asylees and refugees

Applicants whose primary language is not English must submit results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based test (TOEFL iBT). Scores from the speaking portion of the exam are given particular consideration in admission decisions. Learn more about the exam and register online at the Educational Testing Service.

The Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences code for the TOEFL iBT is 5784.

Educational transcripts from schools outside the U.S. must be translated (if they are not already in English) and evaluated for U.S. equivalence by an accredited credential evaluation service company prior to submission. Please refer to the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services for a list of qualified companies. The applicant pays for the examination and credential-evaluation services.

Application instructions

Complete the following steps to apply:

  1. Create an account to begin the online Application for Admission
    • Select - Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences
    • Select - Recreational Therapy Internship
  2. Complete each section of the application and submit
  3. After submission, view the required Supplemental Items and Documents
    • Upload each required item in the Supplemental Items section

Additional required items

  • CV/resume.
  • Unofficial college transcripts may be uploaded in the Supplemental Items area for application purposes.
  • Essay is to include the following and then be uploaded in the Supplemental Items section.
    • Explain why you want to rotate at Mayo Clinic and how you feel it will benefit you.

Interview process

Each application is carefully reviewed. Individuals considered for acceptance are required to participate in a phone interview prior to final selection.


The successful applicant will be notified within one week of the phone interview.

Tuition and financial aid

You pay tuition to the school that you are attending. Mayo Clinic charges no additional fees.

You are responsible for your own living accommodations and transportation.

You may hold outside employment during the training program if it does not conflict with your program responsibilities.


The Recreational Therapy Internship enables you to:

  • Understand diagnoses and how it relates to a patient's functional status and ability to participate in their leisure interests
  • Evaluate, plan, and implement therapy 1:1 sessions, groups, and special events for patients when appropriate
  • Establish and maintain a rapport with a variety of patients
  • Function as a dynamic member of the treatment team
  • Communicate effectively both verbally and in writing
  • Manage and organize time
  • Utilize available resources within the medical complex and the surrounding community
  • Participate in routine departmental maintenance and cleanup
  • Practice as an entry-level therapist

Weekly classes cover current trends in recreational therapy. These learning experiences may include care conferences, lectures, workshops, in-service training, case studies, field trips, and informal discussions. You also have the opportunity to view a related surgical case.


For the majority of the internship, your learning schedule includes eight- to ten-hour days, four to five days a week. While the regular workweek is usually 40 hours, additional projects, patient activities, and homework may be assigned.


See accreditation information for Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.

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Mayo Clinic campus in Phoenix, Arizona.
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