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TR Post-secondary Programs in Ontario

Therapeutic Recreation/Recreation Therapy is offered at both the college and university level in Ontario. Although we make an effort to keep this website up to date, we recommend that you confirm the curriculum by visiting the school websites below.

Please click here for an Overview of Recreation Therapy Post-Secondary Programs in Ontario

Therapeutic Recreation Degree Programs

Please click on the individual schools for more details about admission requirements, curriculum details, practical experience, articulation agreements etc.

Brock University  Full-time and part-time: both range from 16 months to four years

Seneca College  Full-time: four-year, Fast-track: three-year 

University of Waterloo  Full-time: four-year traditional program (regular) or five-year co-op program

Ontario College TR Graduate Certificate Programs (One-year certificate)

TR Graduate Certificate Programs are available at the schools listed below. To be eligible for the one-year certificate, applicants must have obtained a related post-secondary degree or diploma. Please click on the individual schools to determine the specific entrance requirements, curriculum details, practical experience, articulation agreements etc.

Algonquin College

Fleming College

Georgian College 

St. Lawrence College 

Recreation Therapy Diplomas (Two-year diploma)

There are a number of TR/RT diploma programs available in Ontario that offer a one-year option for students who have obtained a related post-secondary degree or diploma. Please click on the individual schools to determine the specific entrance requirements, curriculum details, practical experience, articulation agreements etc.

Canadore College  Fast Track Diploma (one-year) also available

Confederation College – Accelerated program also available

Lambton College – Accelerated program also available

Mohawk College – Intensive Diploma (one-year) also available

Niagara College – Fast Track Diploma (16 months) also available


Although we make every effort to keep this list up to date, there are sometimes new programs or changes to programs that we are not aware of. Please contact TRO if you would like to inform us of any updates to this list.

FAQs About TR Education in Ontario

Therapeutic Recreation (TR) is an exciting and fulfilling field to consider entering. Due to the variety of education options available in Ontario, it can be difficult for prospective students to determine the path that will best suit their needs. TRO has prepared the following FAQ to help individuals make informed education decisions.

There are four main options in Ontario for specializing in Therapeutic Recreation at the college or university level.  Please see a list of specific programs above. 1. A 4 year degree in Therapeutic Recreation. 3. A post-graduate certificate in Therapeutic Recreation. 4. A 2 year college diploma in Recreation Therapy. In addition to the options discussed above, most community colleges in Ontario offer Recreation and Leisure Services Programs. Within those programs, students may take a small number of Therapeutic Recreation courses. For those interested in working in TR, a program that offers a specialization in Therapeutic Recreation is recommended. Graduate level degrees in Therapeutic Recreation are also offered at the University of Waterloo and Brock University.

Some of the main differences between the education options include: the duration of the program, credential awarded upon graduation, entrance requirements (Ontario College Graduate Certificate programs require a degree or diploma in a related field prior to admission), number of Therapeutic Recreation courses taken, amount of field placement / internship hours, eligibility for Registration designation (R/TRO, R/TRO DIP), eligibility for NCTRC certification, potential job opportunities available upon graduation.

People trained in Therapeutic Recreation (TR) have a wide range of career opportunities including working in long-term care facilities, hospitals, rehabilitation centres, and community-based agencies (and many others). As an unregulated profession, employers still determine what level of education is required for positions within their agency. There is not one consistent standard, but as a general rule of thumb, hospitals in larger cities are more likely to require a degree in TR (or an allied degree plus a graduate certificate) for their Recreation Therapist positions while Recreation Therapy Assistant positions at those same facilities may require a diploma in Recreation Therapy. Many other agencies will hire people for Recreation Therapist positions with all levels of TR-specific education. When you contact schools you are considering, ask them what types of positions their grads are being hired for. It is also a good idea to check TR job postings on the TRO Careers page or other job board sites and look at the educational hiring criteria specified for the types of positions you are most interested in. It is also worth noting within these job postings what other qualifications, including the Registration designation, or CTRS certification are required or recommended for these positions.

A number of schools offer some or all of their program online including Canadore College, Georgian CollegeSt. Lawrence College (Fall 2017) and Niagara College. Contact the individual schools to learn more.

It has to do with the program titles that the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities approved as new program types were developed. It does not signify any difference in program content or philosophy.

Simply put, it is the amount of specialized training and education in Therapeutic Recreation. Recreation and Leisure Services (RLS) diplomas prepare graduates to work in a wide variety of recreation positions which might include municipal or outdoor recreation, non-profit organizations, commercial recreation etc. Within that RLS diploma, a small amount of coursework may focus on Therapeutic Recreation. A Recreation Therapy diploma program is designed to prepare graduates to work specifically in Therapeutic Recreation. The coursework and practical experience reflects that specialization.

The Registration designation (R/TRO, R/TRO DIP) currently requires individuals to obtain points in four areas: TR Education, TR Experience, TR Affiliation and TR Professional Contributions.  The schools listed on this webpage have voluntarily provided their curriculum for review and the TRO Practice Review Committee has determined their curriculum to be in alignment with the Essential Competency Framework. Graduates from these programs may follow "Path A" in the Practical Experience section of the Registration Application Package (R/TRO, R/TRO DIP). Graduates from programs not listed should follow "Path B" in their Registration application. Students may learn more about the education requirements by clicking here. You are encouraged to compare the education program you are considering with the Registration education requirements. Then, if you have additional questions, follow up with each individual school you are considering.

The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) has various paths that applicants take to obtain their Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) designation. In order to be eligible for NCTRC certification under any of these paths, you must have at least a Bachelor’s degree plus specific TR coursework. As a result, students with diploma-level training only will not be eligible for NCTRC certification. See the NCTRC website for full eligibility details. Prospective TR students are again encouraged to look at job postings for positions of interest to see what qualifications are being requested to determine the importance of this credential for their aspirations.

If your employer has indicated you just need to take 3 TR courses, then there are several options for which schools you can attend that do not require you to enroll in their complete program. You can contact individual schools from the ones listed earlier in this document to find the right fit for you. You will want to ensure, however, that the courses you select meet the definition of a suitable TR course. Getting advance approval of a particular course from your employer prior to registering is recommended.

As an unregulated profession, there is not one specific academic training required to work in Therapeutic Recreation (TR) as there would be for a profession such as nursing, for example. It is really up to an employer to determine what level of qualification best meets their needs. As a professional association representing the field of Therapeutic Recreation, TRO recommends extensive, specialized TR education preparation for people entering the field.  

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to do as much research as possible about a school they are considering attending. At minimum, contacting the Program Coordinator by phone or email is advisable. If a personal visit can be arranged, that will also help you assess the suitability of a program for you. When arranging a visit, ask if you can sit in on a class or two as well as meet with the Program Coordinator and current students. You will find a list of questions below that may help you determine if a program seems like the right fit for you.

In addition to questions that you deem as personally important, the following questions may help you gauge the suitability of a program for you:
How long has the program been in existence?
What are the unique / special features about this program?
How does the program incorporate TRO’s Standards of Practice within the curriculum?
What sort of work and education background do the core TR faculty members have?
How many faculty members have their Registration designation?
Do any faculty members have their NCTRC certification?
What is the job placement rate upon graduation?
What are some recent specific positions and agencies that your grads have been hired for?
How many placement / internship hours will I complete?
What sorts of placement / internship opportunities will I have?
How are placements / internships arranged?
Will I have a choice in where I am placed for my internship?
Will I be eligible for the R/TRO or R/TRO DIP designation  after graduation?
Will I be eligible for NCTRC certification after graduation?
Does your school have the Education Institution Membership available through TRO?
How are your faculty members involved with TRO?
Do you have any grads that would be willing to speak with me about your program?