Therapeutic Recreation

Improve people's quality of life through leisure and play

A student in the Therapeutic Recreation program at the University of Waterloo.

Discover how recreation can improve quality of life for everyone, including people with physical disabilities, people with developmental disabilities, older adults, patients in long-term care, and at-risk youth.

In Waterloo's Therapeutic Recreation program — one of only three in Ontario — you’ll learn how to develop recreation activities and leisure opportunities for people with varying abilities. Not to mention you can apply what you've learned to any co-op job you land through the co-op stream.

By the time you graduate, you’ll have the skills to pursue careers like recreation and occupational therapy. 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.

Program highlights

  • 15 electives = lots of choice. With 15 electives from disciplines that can include social work, psychology, and health, you’ll have the flexibility to shape your degree according to your specific interests.
  • Build an awesome résumé. Get plenty of hands-on experience through practical courses, volunteer placements, and a required full-time internship in fourth year. Plus, we're the only such program in Ontario to offer multiple co-op terms.

Getting paid to help people play in Therapeutic Recreation

Wondering how to get paid by helping people play? Esther talks about her experiences in Waterloo's Therapeutic Recreation program.

What will you learn?

First-year courses

You'll take mostly Recreation and Leisure Studies courses to provide you with strong foundations for your upper-year classes. After first year, about half of the classes you’ll take will be Recreation and Leisure Studies courses.

Learn about courses you'll take for your Therapeutic Recreation degree.

Customize your degree

Add areas of expertise to your degree by pursuing areas of focus within the program or by choosing a  double major  or  joint honours. You can add additional areas of interest by including one or more of the minors available to all Waterloo students. Popular choices include Gerontology, Psychology, and Aging Studies.


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Topics include how to choose a program, what it's like to be a Waterloo student, the differences between high school and university, and more.

Questions? Ask a student!

Connect with a current student ambassador to learn about their experience in the program.

Ask them questions such as why they chose Therapeutic Recreation, what the classes are like, and how you can get involved on campus.

megaphone icon"I’m convinced my acceptances into occupational therapy post-graduate programs was due to my practicum, internship, and paid co-op work experiences in Therapeutic Recreation. These experiences were so valuable."Esther, Therapeutic Recreation graduate
megaphone icon"Therapeutic Recreation is really versatile and easy to customize! If you're interested in art and music or enjoy working with children or older adults, you can take courses in those areas and customize your degree based on your interests and goals."Taryn, fourth-year Therapeutic Recreation student

Admission requirements

Ontario students: six Grade 12 U and/or M courses including

  • Any Grade 12 U English (minimum final grade of 70% is required)

Admission average: Low 80s (co-op and regular)

Not studying in Ontario? Search our admission requirements for Recreation and Leisure Studies (RLS). You'll apply to RLS for the Therapeutic Recreation major.

How to apply

You'll apply to Recreation and Leisure Studies and choose Therapeutic Recreation as your major.

Connect with us

Questions about courses, programs, requirements, or careers?

Contact our Faculty of Health recruitment co-ordinator, who can answer any questions you have.

Clare Stevens


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