Our population is aging, and if you’re interested in using leisure and recreational activities to improve quality of life for seniors, the Therapeutic Recreation – Gerontology program can prepare you for an in-demand career.


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Future Students

Everything you need to know to be successful.



One of the few therapeutic recreation programs in Canada that specializes in gerontology, the Therapeutic Recreation – Gerontology diploma at Lethbridge College builds on your organizational skills and makes use of your ability to easily converse with people of all ages and backgrounds to prepare you for a meaningful career working with seniors. It’s also recognized by the Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association and offers many direct transfers into degree programs, if you want to further your education.

We’ll help you develop a foundation in therapeutic recreation, teaching you to plan and deliver innovative programs and services. This knowledge will be balanced with a thorough understanding of the sociological, physiological and psychological process of aging.

But it won’t all be theory – we’ll make sure you get the hands-on learning you really need to succeed after graduation through practicum placements. You’ll put theory and knowledge into practice, gaining the skills necessary for immediate employment.

Ready to make a difference in the lives of seniors? Apply today!

Career opportunities

Our program will put you in demand as an integral member of the health care team. You’ll be prepared for work in:

  • Community-based programs
  • Group homes
  • Hospital
  • Lodges
  • Long term care
  • Mental health programs
  • Rehabilitation programs
  • Seniors day programs
  • Senior centres
  • Supportive living
Starts In: September (on-campus and online), January (online only)
Application Deadlines:

Please note: Winter intake starting January 2021 is currently under review.

For current application status, terms being processed and application deadlines visit the Program Application Status page.

Duration: 2 years
Credential: Diploma

  • Athabasca University
  • Dalhousie University
  • Griffith University
  • Thompson Rivers University
  • University of Calgary
  • University of Lethbridge
  • University of Regina

Delivery Format
Blended (classroom + online)
Learning Environment

You can study on campus, online or customize your learning to suit your personal needs by using both delivery methods.

Important notes: Students must complete the two practice-based experiences (PBE) on a full-time basis. Students will be required to relocate from their home community to complete the practicum placements.

Online learning students wanting to enrol in either TRG-1199 or TRG-2299 must advise the program prior to Sept. 1 for a winter term placement and prior to Jan. 1 for a spring term placement.

It is not recommended that Online Learning students register in theory courses and Practice Based Experiences (PBE) concurrently. Contact the TRG program chair to develop a plan.

Any fees for service by the off-site test proctor are the responsibility of the student.

Online learning students who reside outside of Alberta must be aware they may not be covered under Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) coverage when participating in PBEs outside of Alberta.

All requirements must be met within six years of the first Therapeutic Recreation – Gerontology course used towards the diploma.

Please refer to the online Academic Timetable for course availability.

Year 1 Term I
Course Code Course Name Credits

The following courses are also available through online learning:

  • COM-1162 Interpersonal Relationships and Communic.
  • ENG-1150 Composition
  • PSY-1177 Psychology of Aging
  • TRG-1150 Introduction to Therapeutic Recreation
  • TRG-1164 Leadership Theory
Year 1 Term II
Course Code Course Name Credits

The following courses are also available through online learning:

  • BIO-1152 Physiology of Aging
  • COM-1170 Helping Relationships
  • PSY-1170 Human Development Across the Lifespan
  • SOC-1167 Sociology of Aging
  • TRG-1160 Therapeutic Rec. Program Planning I
  • TRG-1199 Practicum I
Year 2 Term I
Course Code Course Name Credits

The following courses are also available through online learning:

  • PSY-2260 Abnormal Psychology
  • TRG-2253 Therapeutic Recreation Assessment
  • TRG-2256 Therapeutic Recreation Intervention
  • TRG-2260 Therapeutic Rec. Program Planning II
  • TRG-2268 Therapeutic Recreation Programs
Year 2 Term II
Course Code Course Name Credits

The following courses are also available through online learning:

  • TRG-2259 Therapeutic Recreation Issues and Trends
  • TRG-2263 Aging Disorders and Disabilities
  • TRG-2264 Community Resources
  • TRG-2270 Admin. Practices Therapeutic Recreation
  • TRG-2299 Advanced Practicum II


New students are admitted into the Therapeutic Recreation Gerontology campus-based program in the Fall (September) term. New students completing the program through online learning can be admitted in the Fall (September) or Winter (January) terms. Due to sequencing of courses, online learning students admitted in Winter term will not be able to complete the program in two years.

Please note: Winter intake starting January 2021 is currently under review.

General admission requirements

All applicants must meet the general admission requirements for Lethbridge College programs as indicated in the Admissions section of this calendar.

Academic requirements

In addition to meeting the general admission requirements indicated in the Admissions section of this calendar, applicants to this program must also satisfy the following specific course requirements (or equivalencies):

  • 60 percent minimum in English Language Arts (ELA) 30-1 or 70 percent in ELA 30-2
  • Grade 12 biology

English language proficiency requirements for Therapeutic Recreation Gerontology program

In addition to the academic requirements, if English is not your first language, English Language Proficiency (ELP) must be demonstrated within the last two (2) years prior to the application. Acceptable evidence of ELP may be one of the following:

  • IELTS Academic with a minimum band score of 6.5 in speaking, 6.5 in listening, 6.0 in reading and 6.5 in writing
  • TOEFL Internet-based test score with a minimum score of 22 in speaking, 23 in listening, 21 in reading and 25 in writing
  • Transcripts demonstrating successful completion of three (3) years of full-time secondary education at a school where English was the principal language of instruction
  • Transcripts demonstrating successful completion of one (1) year of full-time post-secondary education at a school where English was the principal language of instruction

Note: Meeting the English Language Proficiency requirement does NOT exempt the applicant from meeting the English academic admission requirement for entry to this program.

Practice-based experience (PBE) requirements

This program has a required Practice-Based Experience (PBE) component. The College dictates the legal terms and conditions governing the PBE.

Students must meet and maintain certain requirements to participate in the PBE setting as determined by programs, practice agencies and/or legislated by government bodies. These may include health (e.g. immunizations, screening tests, etc.), privacy and security (e.g. police information check, IT access, etc.), and OH&S requirements (e.g. CPR certification, Fire Safety, WHMIS, Mask Fit-testing, etc.).

As a post-secondary health care program in Alberta, provincial immunization standards apply to students in this program. As per the provincial “Standard for Immunization of Post-Secondary Health Care Students and Students in Other High-Risk Occupational Programs”, all Post-Secondary Institutions (PSI) have the responsibility of assessing the immunization status of each healthcare student at the time of initial enrollment and to ensure all healthcare students are fully immunized before leaving post-secondary programs. There is an administrative fee for this assessment and vaccinations required to become fully immunized.

Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) coverage – PBE placement agencies and employers usually require WCB coverage on behalf of the student. Students enrolled in post-secondary institutions in Alberta are deemed to be employees of the Province of Alberta and, as such, provided WCB coverage. In certain instances for students outside of Alberta, WCB coverage may not be provided (e.g. non-Alberta residents taking a course solely through distance learning with a PBE placement outside of Alberta). These students are advised to contact the program prior to application.

Students with disabilities who may require accommodations must schedule an appointment with Accessibility Services at Lethbridge College preferably upon acceptance to the program and no later than the Add/Drop deadline to identify potential impacts of their disabilities in the PBE setting.  As part of this process, it may be necessary to collaborate with PBE supervisors to determine appropriate accommodations that do not compromise the health and safety of clients, essential placement requirements, or mandatory licensing processes.  Failure to consult with Accessibility Services in a timely fashion may compromise the student’s PBE placement and opportunities for success in the PBE setting.

In order to participate in a PBE, a student may be required to complete a Police Information Check or other type of Security Clearance to the satisfaction of Lethbridge College and the PBE organization. Completion of a PBE does not guarantee employment with a PBE organization.  Many disciplines are provincially or otherwise regulated (e.g. health professions under Alberta’s Health Professions Act); such regulation is beyond Lethbridge College’s control. Completion of a PBE and graduation from a certain program do not guarantee one’s licensure or admission into a regulatory body. Prospective students are encouraged to consult with a representative of the relevant regulatory body if they have concerns.

PBE sites will include Lethbridge and may include surrounding rural communities. PBE’s may include day, evening, and/or weekend schedules. Students will be expected to travel to assigned sites and will be responsible for arranging travel and any associated costs.

Find out more about pre-placement requirements for your program.

Applicants who lack the required academic admission requirements can apply to the Academic Upgrading program to upgrade their academic skills.

Academic Year Tuition Fees Books & Supplies
Year 1 $2,910.00 $1,048.00 $1,561.00
Year 2 $3,114.00 $1,080.00 $963.00

Our Budget Wizard is a free self-service tool that can help you make sense of your finances and the cost of your education. Give it a try!

Budget Wizard

  • Costs for supplies may vary considerably depending on what students already have or where they purchased their supplies; cost provided is on the moderately high end.
  • Any fees for service by an off-site test proctor are the responsibility of the student.
  • Students will be charged a medical/dental benefit fee unless they opt out by demonstrating alternative coverage prior to the end of the first week of class.
  • Tuition for international students is assessed at three times that of domestic students. The cost of additional fees, books and supplies is the same for all students.

Set yourself apart

Our program isn’t your standard Therapeutic Recreation program. We’ve worked hard to set our program apart from others so you’ll stand out when you begin the job search. Here’s just a few of the reasons our program sets our grads apart from the rest.

Specialize in gerontology: Our program is one of the only Therapeutic Recreation programs in Canada that specializes in gerontology. The industry is still young but is expected to expand with the aging population and the need for therapeutic recreation in seniors’ centres and other facilities.

Meet professional standards: Structured around the latest professional standards, our Therapeutic Recreation – Gerontology curriculum meets all of the standards, guidelines and competencies for the Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association.

Learn from educated, committed and passionate instructors: Our instructors have been where you are, they know the challenges and rewards, and they’re here to help you through those challenges and to celebrate in your successes. The relationships our instructors have with the provincial and national organizations can benefit you with networking and employment opportunities, access to experts in the field and information on the profession of therapeutic recreation as it continues to grow and evolve.

Attend class online: That’s right. As one of the only Therapeutic Recreation programs that is available online, you can complete our entire program from the comfort of your own home. Attend class in your pyjamas if you want – no one will know!

…or join us on campus: We also offer the traditional on-campus college education. Although the designated space for Therapeutic Recreation might be anything but traditional. Day-to-day learning on campus generally happens in our lab space, which features a kitchen, dining area, greenhouse, recreation space and a classroom with desks and whiteboards.

Hands-on, immersive learning

Get involved, get experience
Get involved, get experience

Community involvement enhances your education beyond the classroom.

Get involved, get experience

We encourage our students to get involved with the Alberta Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) or their own provincial therapeutic recreation association, by attending monthly meetings and other events. It’s all on a voluntary basis, of course, but it’s a great way to connect with professionals, keep up with what’s happening in the industry and prepare for a seamless transition from student to professional.

Beyond encouraging you to be involved with ATRA, we’re always looking for ways to enhance your education and bring industry, community and you together. In May 2017, our students participated in a Drumming Facilitation event, which was a huge success. We continually look for and organize similar events that support the industry, our community and your experience as a student.

SPHERE: A learning environment like no other

Experience realistic health training made possible by on-campus and industry collaboration.

SPHERE: A learning environment like no other

The Simulated Patient Health Environment for Research and Education (SPHERE) helps to close the gap between theory and practice. What can you expect from your experience in SPHERE during your program?

Well, the simple answer is: anything you might encounter on the job.

The experiences students have during their programs range from communication-focused interactions with simulated patients to acute medical or surgical patients requiring more complex care. All the experiences in SPHERE are specific to your health profession and are aligned with what you are learning in the classroom.

SPHERE is an evolving learning environment primarily for students in the Centre for Health and Wellness that uses using high-tech manikins and role-playing. SPHERE provides a comprehensive range of health-related experiences to enhance your education and better prepare you for your future role.

SPHERE focuses on creating collaborative opportunities within the Centre for Health and Wellness, other campus programs and departments, as well as industry stakeholders. SPHERE strives to ensure all elements of realism are present in the experiences so students get to experience the most realistic experience.

Created in collaboration with programs to meet their specific needs, scenarios either use high-tech manikins or people to role-play the patient and family members. This level of simulation encourages students to treat/interact with a patient just as they would during a clinical experience.

For more information about SPHERE or experiences you’d have within your program please contact sphere@lethbridgecollege.ca

Two practicums, hundreds of hours
Two practicums, hundreds of hours, invaluable experience

Your education isn't just about learning the job, it's about experiencing the job.

Two practicums, hundreds of hours, invaluable experience

Whether you’re taking the Therapeutic Recreation – Gerontology program online or on campus, getting to experience the profession firsthand before you leave the program is an essential part of your education. During your program, you’ll participate in two practicums and other enhanced learning experiences that provide you with hands-on training. These are full-time, continuous experiences resembling the work you’ll do when you graduate.

You’ll be placed with a therapeutic recreation professional, working alongside him or her in a real-world setting. Placements are generally environments that will have you working with seniors (the gerontology focus of the program) and can include:

  • acute care hospital settings
  • community care
  • mental health centres
  • designated assistant living facilities
  • other types of senior care facilities

Practicums occur at the end of first year courses and at the end of second year courses. We offer two opportunities for practicum; one during the winter term and one in the summer term. The first practicum (TRG 1199) is 200 hours or five weeks in length. The second practicum (TRG 2299) is 320 hours or eight weeks in length.

ProTip: If you’re thinking of taking the program online, register for your practicum courses prior to Sept. 1 for a winter term placement and Jan. 1 for a summer term placement to ensure there is enough time for our Placement Office to arrange a practicum site. We also recommend contacting Career and Academic Advising at advisor@lethbridgecollege.ca or the TRG program office at trg@lethbridgecollege.ca to develop a course load plan to complete the program. Online students should not take theory courses at the same time as practicum courses.

A student’s perspective

“I chose the Therapeutic Recreation – Gerontology program because of that passion for helping people . . . I want to make life different for a senior.”

Therapeutic music making

Forty-six participants – including therapeutic recreation students, therapeutic recreation professionals and community members – came to campus in May to learn how to connect seniors to rhythm at a recreational therapist facilitator training program called Lulujam. This training, led by musical educator Lulu Leathley, has a scientifically-documented medical, emotional and even spiritual benefit and can bring seniors, clients and their families together. Participants learned skills and activities to promote participation in drumming, rhythmic body movements, auditory stimulation, playing musical instruments, singing and chanting – all with a therapeutic purpose.

“I was amazed at the active participation I saw by all who attended,” says Kathie Ervin, an instructor in the Therapeutic Recreation – Gerontology program who called the workshop one of the most beneficial training programs she has been involved in. “After the workshop, I could see how this drumming/music making could be used with all ages and disabilities in therapeutic recreation services, and also how this could be used to build teamwork, collaboration and relationships of employees in any workplace.” Ervin adds that the Therapeutic Recreation – Gerontology program will explore future training with Leathley for students and practitioners.

– From Fall 2017 Wider Horizons

From here to there: alumni updates

Lethbridge College isn’t just a place to go to school – we’re a community that is here to support you from your initial interest in our program through to the moment you cross the stage at Convocation and beyond. Just take a look at where an LC education has taken some of our grads.

Reginald D. Ellet

“I have a lot of experience working in related health care employment. The college education in Therapeutic Recreation has provided me many opportunities in recreation therapy. I have a great job in my field here in Calgary and my boss, co-workers and residents in the nursing home treat me with kindness, respect and fairness. Thank you Lethbridge College for all that you have given me.”

– From Spring 2016 Wider Horizons

Lisa Blacquier-Rempel

"I now have a very rewarding job working as a therapy assistant in psychiatry on a unit in the Medicine Hat Hospital. I am continuously furthering my education and have become a proud advocate for the mentally ill."

– From Spring 2011 Wider Horizons

Megan Orr

“I was ready to walk into my job at Green Acres after college. The field work placements really prepared me for the job field. I loved my instructors and I still keep in contact with them. The education was awesome.”