Therapeutic Recreation

Create caring communities and help people get more out of life

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 you land through the co-op stream.

By the time you graduate, you’ll have the knowledge and skills to make a real difference. As a recreation 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.

#1In North America for recreation and leisure research

Breif CaseAvailable as a co-op and regular program

Money FlowerOnly Therapeutic Recreation program in Ontario to offer paid co-op work terms


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)

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

We recommend completing the Admission Information Form once you've applied.

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


Getting paid to help people play in Therapeutic Recreation

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

Get tips from Waterloo students

Sign up for insider advice that can help you now and in the future.

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"The professors are approachable and willing to help, even in larger classes. One professor even memorized the names of each student so he could welcome us individually on the first day of class. It showed that the professors and faculty really care."Sydney, third-year Therapeutic Recreation student
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

CapEarn a Bachelor of Arts in Therapeutic Recreation 


Ready to learn more?

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. We're the only such program in Ontario to offer multiple co-op terms.