COVID-19 information and resources
Douglas College wordmark
Facebook logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Snapchat logo YouTube logo Wordpress logo
back to search

Therapeutic Recreation (Bachelor)

Faculty: Child, Family & Community Studies
Credits: 121.0
Length: Eight semesters
Campuses: Coquitlam
Credential: Bachelor's Degree
Admission Type: Limited enrolment
Learning Format: Full-time, Part-time
Offered: Fall
program overview

Make a real, positive difference in the lives of people facing disabilities, injuries, social isolation and other challenges with a career in recreational therapy. As a recreation therapist, you’ll help children, adolescents, adults and seniors improve their overall health and well-being and live full, independent lives through fun and leisure activities.

The four-year Bachelor of Therapeutic Recreation program gives you the tools to assess, plan, implement and evaluate a wide range of leisure services for people with barriers to participating in leisure activities. Such services might include arts and crafts, dance, music, sports, games, aquatics and group outings. You’ll apply what you learn in the classroom through practicum placements and community projects, where you’ll work with real clients in a variety of health-care and social-service settings.

Job prospects are good

Recreation therapists work in the fields of gerontology, paedology, psychology, rehabilitation and more in a variety of settings, including hospitals, mental-health centres, long-term care homes, rehabilitation centres and social-service settings. There are many job opportunities in the recreation therapy field, and the average annual salary in B.C. is $51,000, with positions in health care often paying higher than average.

Get certified

As a graduate of the Bachelor of Therapeutic Recreation program, you will be eligible to write the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation certification exam to become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS). Douglas College graduates typically surpass national exam averages, with a 100-percent pass rate over the past several years. Many B.C. employers do not currently require certification for practice as a recreation therapist, but more and more are beginning to, as it raises the bar of professionalism in the industry. Additionally, as an internationally recognized credential, certification will improve your chances of getting the job you want.

curriculum framework

Graduation Requirements:

  • Successful completion of 121 credits
  • 25% (31 credits) of all coursework must be completed at Douglas College
  • Students in the BTR are required to attain a minimum of 60% ( C letter grade) in all courses utilized for credit toward the Bachelor's Degree in Therapeutic Recreation in order to progress in the program.
  • A minimum program GPA of 2.00 is required 

Program Requirements:

Course Number Course Title Credits

Select one of the following three options:

BIOL 1103

Human Anatomy & Physiology I


BIOL 1105

Human Anatomy & Physiology I


BIOL 1109

Human Anatomy & Physiology I


Select one of the following three options:

BIOL 1203

Human Anatomy & Physiology II


BIOL 1205

Human Anatomy & Physiology II


BIOL 1209

Human Anatomy & Physiology II


Required Courses:

ENGL 1130

Academic Writing


ENGL or CMNS Elective (UT)

Any university transferable course from CMNS or ENGL


PHIL 4706

Ethics in Therapeutic Recreation and Health Promotion


PSYC 1100

An Introduction to Psychology I


PSYC 1130

Lifespan Human Development


PSYC 2341

Abnormal Psychology

Note: This course is required for NCTRC Certification.


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 (1)

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 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 2455 (2)

Therapeutic Recreation Health Promotion Practice: Degree


THRT 3504

Managing Stress:  Principles and Strategies for Health Promotion


THRT 3505

Counselling: Theory and Practice in Therapeutic Recreation and Health Promotion


THRT 3506

Group Processes and Group Work Practice: Advanced Skills for Therapeutic Recreation and Health Promotion


THRT 3601

Community Development and Health Promotion


THRT 3710

Community-Based Research


THRT 4701

Management in Therapeutic Recreation and Health Promotion


THRT 4704

Leisure, Health and Wellbeing: Theoretical, Practical and Policy Perspectives


THRT 4802

Current Issues and Trends in Therapeutic Recreation and Health Promotion


THRT 4855

Therapeutic Recreation and Recreation Health Promotion: Internship


THRT 4901

Advanced Assessment in Therapeutic Recreation and Health Promotion


Elective (UPLV)

Select two 3000-5999 level course.


Elective (UT or UPLV)

Select two 1000/2000 level university transferable course or   3000/4000 level course.


Total Credits


Support Areas

Degree students must choose a minimum of two support areas from the eight choices listed below, and must have their choices approved by a TR Faculty Advisor. Support areas provide an increased depth of knowledge, in addition to the required TR courses, and will guide elective course selection as well as practicum site placement (THRT 2455 & THRT 4855).

  1. Gerontology
  2. Physical Rehabilitation
  3. Mental Health
  4. Corrections/Criminology
  5. Children and Youth
  6. Adapted and Adventure Programming
  7. Entrepreneurship/Business Management
  8. Employee/Workplace Wellness

Elective Courses

Degree students must select open electives (24 credits). The open elective courses a student takes will depend on specialty interest courses and the two support areas selected. Elective courses must connect to the student's two identified support areas. Please meet with your TR Faculty Advisor prior to registering in any elective course to ensure the course is acceptable for graduation.

The following elective course is required for National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC):

Course Number Course Title Credits
PSYC 2341 Abnormal Psychology 3.00
Recommended Electives:    
CFCS 3810 Directed Research Studies 3.00
CFCS 4905 Wellness Coaching 3.00
other 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 totaling 45 hours within the year prior to their re-application.

admission requirements

Applicants must meet the Year One admission requirements listed below:

  • General College Admission Requirements
  • Attendance at an Information Session is strongly recommended
  • Successful completion of at least 45 hours of supervised work (paid or volunteer) in recreation services for people with disabilities or older adults within the year prior to the application date of April 1.
  • A Letter of Intent outlining the reasons a candidate has chosen this program, long and short-term goals, and strengths and limitations
  • An up-to-date resume - highly recommended
  • Department Eligibility Form
  • Informed Medical Suitability Declaration indicating satisfactory level of physical and emotional health after application to the Therapeutic Recreation Program
  • Preferential Admission Evidence - see below
  • A personal interview may be required. If an interview is required, it will occur after April 1 and the applicant will be notified
  • NOTE:  Applicants who have completed 9 or more post-secondary credits must be in good academic standing (with a minimum GPA of 1.5) for admission to any CFCS program.

Due once an offer of admission is made:

  • A Criminal Record Check -  Applicants will receive instructions from the Registrar's Office once an offer of admission has been made
  • A TB test - a negative TB test or Chest X-Ray done within the past two years

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

Certificate in Academic Foundations - Pathway into the Bachelor of Therapeutic Recreation (CAF-BTR)

This pathway will be of interest to:

  • Students who are unsure if Therapeutic Recreation is a profession they are interested in and would like an opportunity to sample some courses
  • Students who are unsuccessful in the current application process due to seat availability but would like to continue to work towards acceptance into the BTR
  • Students who are unsuccessful in the current application process due to readiness or suitability but would like to continue to work towards acceptance into the BTR

Students must complete the 30-credit Certificate in Academic Foundations with the following courses in order to be eligible for admission to the BTR:

  • BIOL 1109 or BIOL 1105
  • THRT 1102
  • THRT 1204
  • THRT 1203 
  • 3.0 credits of UT English
  • 3.0 credits of Statistics Math, or CSIS
  • 3.0 credits of Psychology

And complete three courses from the following:

  • BIOL 1209 or BIOL 1205
  • ENGL or CMNS course (UT)
  • PSYC 1130
  • SPSC 1195 or SPSC 1164 or SPSC 1151
  • CRIM 1100 or CRIM 1150 or CRIM 1170

PLEASE NOTE:  Completion of the CAF-BTR does not guarantee admission into the BTR.  Students are still required to complete the BTR Admission requirements and while completing the CAF-BTR, will need to apply for entry into the BTR program prior to the April 1 BTR application deadline.

Applicants must meet the admission requirements listed below for Third Year Access:

Students who have a diploma or degree in Therapeutic Recreation or a related field of study may be granted permission to access third year courses; however, they will likely be required to take some first-and second-year courses to meet the degree and certification requirements.

Admission from Douglas College - Third Year Access – Douglas College TR Diploma Graduates

  • Re-application to Douglas college – TR Bachelor Degree – 3rd year
  • Submit a Letter of Intent that outlines reasons for choosing this program, short-and long-term goals and strengths and limitations as a candidate.
  • Complete an Informed Medical Suitability Declaration Form (supplied by TR Department after application)
  • Complete a post-secondary Criminal Record Check through the Ministry of Public Safety via Douglas College (forms supplied by the Registrar's Office).  All costs related to the completion of this search are the responsibility of the individual student.
  • Participate in an interview (may be required)
  • Applicants who graduated more than 5 years previously must also submit a Referee Form completed by their current employer (supplied by TR Department). The form must come directly from the employer to Douglas College.

Applicants must meet the minimum admission requirements and are not automatically guaranteed a seat in the program. Admission will be granted on a case-by-case basis.

Depending upon year of graduation, students with a diploma in TR from Douglas College will receive 56 – 60 transfer credits towards their degree and may be required to take some first-and second-year courses to complete the BTR.

Admission From Other Institutions - Third Year Access – Non-Douglas College TR Diploma Graduates 

  • Meet the General College Admission Requirements
  • Have a minimum grade of C (60%)in individual courses counting towards the BTR credential.
  • Submit a Letter of Intent that outlines reasons for choosing this program, short-and long-term goals and strengths and limitations as a candidate.
  • Complete an Informed Medical Suitability Declaration Form (supplied by TR Department after application)
  • Complete a Criminal Record Check (information supplied by the Office of the Registrar after application)
  • Provide proof of credential– submission of transcripts
  • Participate in an interview(may be required)
  • Applicants who graduated more than 5 years previously must also submit a Referee Form completed by their current employer (supplied by TR Department). The form must come directly from the employer to Douglas College.

Admission will be granted on a case-by-case basis.

Students will be required to take some first-and second-year courses to complete the BTR. Completion of the BTR should be expected to take at least two-and-a-half years of full-time study. This will depend on the amount of transfer credits applicable to the BTR.

Preferential Admissions
Students are encouraged to apply early and submit documented evidence for the preferential admission criteria listed below. Applicants are recommended to contact the Therapeutic Recreation Program Technician or an Academic Advisor to ensure all admission criteria is clearly understood and documented.

Applicants are reminded they must first meet the minimum admission requirements as listed above and then they are ranked based on the preferential admission criteria. All documents supporting the preferential admission criteria are due by April 1 (or earlier). There is a maximum of 25 points available through this process. 

In the event that two or more applicants score the same, the date of application will be used to determine their final ranking.

Previous Formal Education Studies – Maximum 10 points

Students may receive points in Section 1.1 OR Sections 1.2 and 1.3 to a maximum of 10 points

Official transcripts must be submitted to the Registrar’s office to be considered except for Douglas College courses/credentials.

A. College/University Associate Degree/Diploma/Certificate
Students who have successfully completed previous credentials from a recognized and accredited institution will receive the following score:
  • Bachelor's Degree - 10 points
  • Associate Degree/Diploma - 8 points
  • Certificate/Citation - 6 points
B. University Transfer Courses

Students who have successfully completed any university transfer course(s) with a minimum grade of "C" will receive 1 point for each course up to a maximum of 5 courses.


C. High School Courses

Students who have successfully completed high school courses with a minimum grade of a "C" (exception is *English 12 - see below) in the following subject areas will receive 1 point for each course up to a maximum of 5 courses:

  • Human Service 11 or 12
  • Biology 11 and 12
  • Math 12
  • Social Studies/Science 12 course other than Biology e.g. Physics 12 or Geography 12
  • Psychology 11 or 12
  • Fine Arts or Music 11 or 12
  • Physical Education 11 or 12
  • Leadership 11 or 12
  • English 12 - *with a minimum grade of "A"
  • Drama 11 or 12
  • Visual Arts 11 or 12
  • Peer Tutoring 11 or 12
Previous Continuing Education Studies - Maximum 5 points

Students who have taken workshops or CE courses in recreation, social service or health-related areas will receive up to 5 points. Examples include:

  • Standard First Aid = 1 point
  • Emergency First Aid = 0.5 point
  • FoodSafe = 1 point
  • Serve It Right = 0.5 point
  • CE courses or workshops offered through professional associations or advocacy groups = 1 point for each
  • Class 4 Drivers License Training Course = 1 point
Copies of the certificates or tickets must be submitted as proof.  Expired certificates are not accepted.

Volunteer and/or Related Work Experience - Maximum 5 points 

Students who have volunteer or work experience beyond the required 45 hours in a therapeutic recreation, recreation or human services related field will receive the following scores:

100 - 249 hours = 1pt 

250 - 499 hours = 2pts 

500 - 749 hours = 3pts 

750 - 999 hours = 4pts 

1000 + hours = 5pts

* A completed Supervised Volunteer/Work Reference form is required for additional points

Accomplishments - Maximum 5 points

Accomplishments may be related to working in groups, demonstrations of leadership, personal achievements or having been a member of a community or school organization or team. All submissions must have occurred within the last ten years. For example: conference event coordinator, volunteer executive position in an association, team sports, peer tutoring, peer counseling, etc.

Each accomplishment needs to be supported by evidence which may include a letter by an individual representing the group or organization who conferred the award or who was directly involved in your accomplishment. Examples: coach, teacher, principal, volunteer coordinator. Letters from family and friends are not suitable. Copies of certificates, letters of recognition, where applicable, should also be included.

program cost

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.

curriculum 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.

I have some volunteer experience and I'm wondering if it "fits" the 45 hours of supervised work required for admission?

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.

I have experience in the provision of recreation services for people with disabilities, but I got paid. Is that okay?

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

Do I have to complete my volunteer hours before I apply to the program?

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.

What is the salary range for TR Practitioners?

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.

Do you offer the courses through distance education? I live outside the Lower Mainland and would not be able to move, in order to take the program.

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.

Do I need to complete the diploma before I apply for the degree?

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.

I'm interested in entering the program as a third year degree access student. Can I take one or two courses a semester?

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.

What can I do to prepare before classes start?

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.

tuition deposit

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

A helping hand Katryna Koening Therapeutic Recreation grad Katryna Koenig pursued her passion to help others and is now a program co-ordinator at Strive Living Society. Watch video