Information for

Therapeutic Recreation at Waterloo

Create caring communities, foster inclusivity, and help people get more out of life.

At Waterloo, discover how recreation can improve quality of life for everyone, including people with physical disabilities, people with developmental disabilities, older adults, and at-risk-youth.

In our Therapeutic Recreation program — one of only 3 in Ontario — you’ll learn how to plan leisure opportunities for people with special needs.

You’ll have the flexibility to shape your degree according to your particular interests, with 15 electives from disciplines that can include social work, psychology, and health.

You’ll also get plenty of hands-on experience through practical courses, volunteer placements, and a full-time internship in fourth year. Meanwhile, it’s the only program in the province that offers multiple paid co-op terms.

By the time you graduate, you’ll have the knowledge and skills to make a real difference. As a recreational therapist, the programs you design and run can help teenagers stay off drugs, empower seniors to live more independently, improve the long-term health of stroke patients, and more.

University student sitting with a youth at edge of swimming pool

Practical courses, volunteer placements, and internships provide experience in clinical and community settings.

About the program

briefcase Available as a co-op and regular program

Arrow pointing up and clickingApply directly to this program on your application

Graduation cap Earn a Bachelor of Arts in Therapeutic Recreation


First-year courses

September to December

REC 100 - Introduction to the Study of Recreation and Leisure
REC 101 - Introduction to Recreation and Leisure Services
REC 120 - Program Management and Evaluation
AHS 107 - Sociology of Activity, Health, and Well-being
PSYCH 101 - Introductory Psychology

January to April

REC 151 - Foundations of Therapeutic Recreation
REC 105 - Interdisciplinary Approaches to Leisure
AHS 150 - Foundations of Human Anatomy and Physiology
SOC 101 - Introduction to Sociology
1 elective


After first year

About half of the classes you’ll take will be Recreation and Leisure Studies courses. With your remaining classes, you can choose electives from many of the 100 subject areas at Waterloo.

View all the courses required for your degree.

Customize your degree

You can also add additional areas of interest and expertise by including a minor/minors as part of your degree.



By alternating school terms and paid co-op work terms throughout your degree, you can explore new career areas and types of employers as your career interests evolve.

Sample co-op positions

  • Child & Youth Worker, Stratford Children's Services
  • Community Recreation Facilitator, Community Head Injury Resource Services of Toronto
  • Therapeutic Recreation & Community Assistant, Chartwell Seniors Housing REIT
  • Co-ordinator, Doon Village Retirement Residence
  • Recreation Therapist, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario
  • Research Assistant, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
  • Activation Assistant, Valleyview Home for the Aged
  • Orientation Week Planning Assistant, University of Waterloo


As a Waterloo Recreation Therapy graduate, you can work with clients in settings ranging from long-term care facilities to local community agencies. You’ll be eligible to apply for registration with Therapeutic Recreation Ontario and for certification with the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation in the United States.

Further education

While the full range of further education depends on your individual interests, graduates commonly pursue a master's, PhD, or other professional program in occupational therapy, physiotherapy, social work, and public health.

Possible professional designation

Graduates are eligible for registration with Therapeutic Recreation Ontario, and certification with the US National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification.

Helpful links