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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
  • Community reintegration skills, 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, Northern Arizona University, University of Iowa, and Winona State University.

Application timeline

Note: This internship is currently paused until 2022

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 rehabilitation in a clinical setting

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 two to three days 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 the principles and methods of laboratory testing in the treatment of patients with physical disabilities
  • Evaluate, plan, and implement therapy groups as well as special events for patients
  • 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-hour days, 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.

Explore health care careers

Learn more about the role of a recreational therapist.

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