Therapeutic Recreation (Diploma)

Applied Community Studies
Length of Program
Four semesters
Credential Type
Learning Format
Admission Type
Limited Enrolment


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

The two-year Therapeutic Recreation Diploma will prepare you 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 will have the opportunity to apply classroom theory in real-life situations through two semesters of practicum work in health-care or social-service settings.

Job prospects are good

Recreational therapy is used in the fields of gerontology, paedology, psychology, rehabilitation and more. As a diploma graduate, you can find work as a recreation 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 assessment centres and group homes. From 2019 to 2029, there will be almost 6,000 new job openings for recreation program leaders (and related positions) in B.C., with an average salary of $38,500 per year.

Complete a bachelor’s degree

The diploma program fulfills the requirements of years one and two of the Bachelor of Therapeutic Recreation program at Douglas College. Alternatively, the diploma transfers toward the Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care at the University of the Fraser Valley and the Bachelor of Community Rehabilitation at the University of Calgary.

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.


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 totaling 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.