Therapeutic Recreation (Diploma)

Learning Format
Admission Type
Limited Enrolment


Make a positive difference in the lives of people living with physical and mental health challenges through a career in recreation therapy. Through purposeful leisure and recreation interventions, you can help children, adolescents, adults and seniors improve their overall health and well-being and live full, independent lives.

The two-year Therapeutic Recreation Diploma prepares you to plan, implement and evaluate a wide range of programs for people with barriers to participation in leisure activities. Such programs could include individual or group fitness, cognitive activities, creative arts, gardening, cooking, adapted sports, nature and outdoor activities.  You will have the opportunity to apply classroom theory in real-life situations through two semesters of practicum work in healthcare or social service settings.

Earn the Therapeutic Recreation Diploma online

The Therapeutic Recreation Diploma now offers both online and in-person studies. The online diploma program allows you to study and complete the diploma from the comfort of your own home and get practical experience within your own community. You’ll also have the option to choose between full-time and part-time studies so you can learn at your own pace.

Job prospects are strong

Employment opportunities in therapeutic recreation are based in community, health care, residential, and clinical settings. As a diploma graduate, you can find work as a recreation assistant, recreation therapy assistant, program planner, recreation leader and activity worker in a variety of settings including hospitals, mental health centres, long-term care homes, rehabilitation centres, correctional facilities, youth centres, day programs and community recreation centres. From 2019 to 2029, there will be almost 6,000 new job openings for recreation program leaders, recreation assistants, and related positions in B.C.

Complete a bachelor’s degree

The diploma program fulfils the requirements of years one and two of the Bachelor of Therapeutic Recreation program at Douglas College.

Program Requirements

Curriculum Framework

Graduation Requirements:

  • Successful completion of 61 credits
  • 25% (15 credits) of all coursework must be completed at Douglas College
  • Students in the Therapeutic Recreation diploma program are required to attain a minimum of 60% ( C letter grade) in all courses utilized for credit towards a Diploma in Therapeutic Recreation in order to progress in the program.

Course Requirements:

Course Number Course Title Credits

Select one course from the following three options:

BIOL 1105

Human Anatomy & Physiology I


BIOL 1103

Human Anatomy & Physiology I


BIOL 1109

Human Anatomy & Physiology I


Select one course from the following three options:

BIOL 1205

Human Anatomy & Physiology II


BIOL 1203

Human Anatomy & Physiology II


BIOL 1209

Human Anatomy & Physiology II


Required Courses:

ENGL 1130

Academic Writing


PSYC 1130

Lifespan Human Development


THRT 1101

Therapeutic Recreation Foundations


THRT 1102

Leisure & Recreation Foundations


THRT 1201

Recreation Program Planning


THRT 1203

Leisure, Recreation and Health Throughout the Lifespan


THRT 1204

Principles and Practices of Health


THRT 1205

Communication Skills for Recreation and Health Promotion Professionals


THRT 2301

Assessment and Program Planning in Therapeutic Recreation


THRT 2306

Inclusive Leisure Practice


THRT 2307

Valuing Diversity: Therapeutic Recreation and Mental Health


THRT 2308

Older Adulthood: Psychosocial Issues and Interventions


THRT 2309

Physical Fitness: Theory and Application in Therapeutic Recreation


THRT 2333

Therapeutic Recreation Practice


THRT 2406

Recreation Leadership in Small Groups


THRT 2407

Value Diversity: Therapeutic Recreation and Physical and Developmental Disabling Conditions


THRT 2408

Chronic Health Conditions and Therapeutic Recreation


THRT 2444

Therapeutic Recreation Practice II: Diploma


Total Credits



Admissions Requirements

Applicants must meet the admission requirements listed below:

  • General College Admission Requirements
  • Attendance at an Information Session is strongly recommended. 
  • Admission to the Diploma in Therapeutic Recreation program is contingent upon suitability and readiness for the program.

Suitability is determined on the basis of awareness of self and others, life/work experience and overall personal readiness.

    • Applicants will submit:

      • A Letter of Intent outlining the reasons a candidate has chosen this program, long and short term goals, and strengths and limitations as a candidate.

      • A program application form.

      • An up-to-date resume.

      • A minimum 2 letters of reference with one being from a current (within 1 year) employer, teacher or instructor.

      • A personal interview may be required.

    • Due once an offer of admission is made:

      • A Criminal Record Check – Applicants will receive instruction from Enrolment Services once an offer of admission has been made.

      • A tuition deposit to secure seat (full-time applicants only)

    • Note: A negative TB test or Chest X-Ray, flu shot and proof of current vaccinations will be required for most practical experiences.


More admission and program details are available in the Prospective Student Guide.


You can get an average cost for your program - tuition and student fees, books, uniforms, lab fees etc - on the Program Cost page. 

Only programs approved for student loan funding are listed on the Program Cost page. For all other programs, refer to the Tuition Fee page.

Career Pathways

Approximately 90 percent of graduates find employment within six months, working in various health, social service and recreation agencies: 

  • Hospitals  
  • Long-term care facilities for older adults  
  • Youth assessment centres  
  • Rehabilitation settings  
  • Group homes  
  • Mental health settings  
  • Adult day centres  
  • Rehabilitation centres  
  • Correctional facilities  
  • Municipal recreation centres  
  • Agencies working with people with developmental disabilities  

Graduates hold a variety of positions: 

  • Recreation Aides/Assistants  
  • Program Planners  
  • Recreation Leaders  
  • Activity Workers  
  • Activity Programmers  
  • Recreation Therapist (in some settings)  

The salary range depends on the setting and type of work you choose to do. The low end of the scale would be about $16/hour and the high end would be approximately $25/hour. Health care settings tend to pay more than residential settings and much will depend on whether your setting is unionized and to which union you belong. We say that the average starting salary for diploma graduates is approximately $18/hour.     

Transferring to Degree Programs

Douglas College Bachelor in Therapeutic Recreation  

Students currently in the Diploma Program may choose to transfer to the Bachelor of Therapeutic Recreation Degree. They must decide at the end of the first year to either continue in the Diploma Program or move into the  Degree Program.   Graduates of the Therapeutic Recreation Diploma Program can apply to the Bachelor Degree Program as a Third Year Access student. Depending on the year of graduation, diploma grads will receive 56 to 60 credits towards their degree.   

Degrees Outside of Douglas College

Those with a Therapeutic Recreation Diploma will receive a two-year block credit towards the following university degree programs:   

  • The University of Calgary Community Rehabilitation Degree, through distance education with groups meeting in the Lower Mainland for study and collaboration with other students.  
  • The University College of the Fraser Valley Bachelor of Arts Degree in Child and Youth Care.

Program Guidelines

Program Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this program and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the program, consider the previous version as the applicable version.


The primary purpose of the supervised hours is for the applicant to get a sense for the field of Therapeutic Recreation. Completing an experience that allows you to see and experience the role of recreation in meetings the needs of older people or people with disabilities may help you decide if this is the field for you. So, in order to make the experience meaningful in that way, we ask that your hours involve working with older adults (seniors) in any setting OR with people of any age group as long as they have a disability. We also require that the hours spent with those people involve direct or indirect provision of recreation services. This means that you can either be involved in leading recreational programs or experiences OR you can be involved as an assistant o the leader of a recreation program or experience. Finally, we require that your 45 hours be supervised by an individual who will be prepared to evaluate your experience on a form that will be provided. Ideally, your supervisor would have training in Therapeutic Recreation, or in Recreation in general, however, as long as the supervisor is employed in the recreational department or unit or is the Administrator and has had the opportunity to observe you, that will suffice.

So, for example, if you have experience spending time one-to-one with an autistic child and the time you spend involves making meals, transportation and going to the mall or park, we would recommend that you pursue 45 hours in another way or setting. Although your experience here will help you overall, it will not give you the sense for the field of therapeutic recreation that we believe you would benefit from. If, on the other hand, you have assisted in the recreation or activities department of an intermediate care facility or a mental health clubhouse, that will work just fine. Any setting which offers recreation services to older adults or to people with disabilities should work. If you're wondering where in your community you could get that experience, we suggest a visit to your local library (or internet) and a look at "The Red Book". The Red Book is a Directory of health and social services in the lower mainland, including addresses and phone numbers.

For more information on the supervised work requirement and a list of the volunteer sites we recommend, please check our Volunteer Opportunities pages.

Yes, the 45 hours of supervised work can be paid or volunteer.

No, you can complete your volunteer hours after you apply however all of your 45 hours must be completed by the April 1 deadline. We recommend that you apply to the program as early as you can. Please do not wait until February or March to apply. Early applicants will receive assistance on how to meet their volunteer requirement as well as advice on what academic and continuing education courses could be taken before entering into the program.

This depends on the setting, the type of work you choose to do, and whether you have a diploma or a degree. The range of salaries in the field for graduates with a diploma is quite large. The low end of the scale would be about $16.00/hour and the high end of the scale would be approximately $25.00/hour. Health care settings tend to pay more than residential settings and much will depend on whether your setting is unionized and to which union you belong. We say that the average starting salary for diploma graduates is approximately $18/hour to start.

The average starting salary for a degree graduate is approximately $25/hour, ranging from $18 to $35/hour. Degree graduates are also more likely to advance over time, to positions that pay more.

We do plan to offer courses via distance education in the future. We know there is great interest outside of the Lower Mainland of BC and we aim to meet that need as soon as possible. Please stay tuned to our Therapeutic Recreation website for updates. We will also announce changes through the various professional organizations that represent T.R. practitioners and health promotion professionals.

No, you can apply to the degree program as a first year student and complete the four years as a degree student. Applicants unable to commit to attending full-time classes for four years can complete the diploma on a full-time basis then apply to the degree program as a third year access student.

Yes, you can choose to do third year degree access as a full-time or part-time student. A number of the third and fourth year courses are offered in the late afternoon, evening, three hour blocks or in alternate delivery styles.

This is a common question, especially if you've been out of school for some time. We recommend that you feel comfortable with your writing skills. If you know that you could improve your writing skills, we recommend that you take a suitable course or that you involve yourself in any experience that will give you practice and feedback on your writing skills. For example, you may want to take a short course or workshop through your local School Board Continuing Education offerings, or through you local Parks and Leisure Service Agency Program offerings. If you are confident with your academic writing skills, this is likely not necessary.

It's also helpful to have good computer skills, especially word processing (for writing papers) and internet research skills. Other skills include time management, organizational skills and coping skills for wellness.

Lastly, we recommend that you start the program having practiced what we preach; in other words, enjoy some leisure and do whatever it is that builds wellness for you.

More Information

The program utilizes computer technology and it is therefore expected that students enter the program with basic word processing and Windows application skills.

Applicants found suitable for admission but not offered a seat in the program will need to reapply. Therefore, applicants not offered a seat will be required to maintain involvement in recent volunteer/work experience totalling 45 hours within the year prior to their re-application.

Tuition Deposit

When offered a full-time seat in this program a non-refundable, non-transferable $350 tuition deposit is required.