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Recreation Management and Therapeutic Recreation

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  • Undergraduate majors/minors

    Recreation Management major

    WHAT IS RECREATION MANAGEMENT? Recreation management is applied business and management knowledge principles and skills to a variety of Recreation and Park Enterprises.

    PHILOSOPHY The primary philosophy behind the UW-La Crosse Recreation Management major is to provide students with a broad base of theoretical knowledge and skills combined with a heavy emphasis of hands on practical experiences. This learning-by-doing approach makes students competitive in the job market and graduate school selection process. Students are prepared to assume positions of responsibility in governmental, commercial, tourism, and not-for-profit recreation and parks agencies. The rigorous recreation management curriculum prepares individuals for positions as middle management within a wide variety of recreation and park agencies.


    1. To train students in management skills associated with middle management positions.
    2. To instill a sense of ethical principles and professional responsibility.
    3. To prepare students to identify and utilize the most relevant research materials.
    4. To foster those skills necessary to seek out partnerships in the delivery of recreational services.
    5. To cultivate an attitude of lifelong professional involvement.

    ACCREDITATION  UW-La Crosse has the only accredited recreation management program in Wisconsin. Less than three percent of all university recreation management programs across the country meet these accreditation standards of excellence. UW-La Crosse Recreation Management is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions. The newly revised curriculum is designed to keep the department a national leader in recreation management education. 

    RECREATION MANAGEMENT AS YOUR MAJOR  Recreation management offers an opportunity to work at the mid-management level at graduation within a wide variety of Recreational Enterprises. The major provides a comprehensive education while still permitting each student the flexibility to pursue areas of special interest.

    The strength of this major is its innovative curriculum design. With the help of alumni and employers, faculty have crafted a management major that has both focus and breath. It focuses on the unique management needs of the recreation, tourism, and park fields. Secondly, the curriculum allows students to shift from say public municipal recreation, to non-profit , to commercial water park resort and still have assurance they have the critical management skills to perform in any one of the employment fields.

    RECREATION MANAGEMENT COURSE REQUIREMENTS  Click here to see the UWL Course Catalog.

    HIGH SCHOOL PREPARATION High school students interested in a career in recreation management should acquire practical experience by participating in such activities as:

    • Student government
    • Debate
    • Forensics
    • Business clubs
    • Athletics
    • Intramurals
    • Sports
    • Other extra-curricular activities
    Students should concentrate on courses in:
    • Government
    • Business
    • Accounting
    • Computer science
    • Mass communications
    • English
    • Public relations
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Statistics
    • Speech and writing

    Students should also volunteer in recreation and park agencies such as community centers, resorts, visitor's bureaus, sport centers, golf courses, YM/YWCAs, scouts, summer camps, 4-H, city or county parks and recreation agencies, and aquatic centers.

    PLACEMENT  The department consistently places 90 percent or more of its graduates in locations around the United States and in several foreign countries. The recreation management service area is rated among the top 10 placement leaders in the country.

    "Parks and recreation personnel have the assistance of a national organization in finding new and challenging positions." The National Recreation and Park Association and the Resort and Commercial Recreation Association provide job referral services to help students find employment that interests them and for which they are qualified.


    The Business Administration minor ( provides additional business management skills and the Public Administration minor ( provides additional communication and public organizational skills that are highly recommended that complement the Recreation Management Major.


    Recreation Management major - General Emphasis

    As the name suggests, the recreation management generalist emphasis allows students to explore all areas of recreation. Students in the generalist emphasis take the recreation management core curriculum, then they have the choice of:
        a. taking courses in each of the emphasis areas; or
        b. pursuing a minor in a recreation-related area such as biology, communications,
            business, or environmental studies.

    Depending on which minor is paired with the recreation management generalist major, students will be ready to pursue a variety of careers such as:

    • Outdoor Educator (generalist major with a minor in biology)
    • Experiential Education and Group Facilitation Specialist (generalist major with a minor in communications)
    • Recreation related business manager (generalist major with a minor in business administration)
    • Environmental/Recreation Policy Advocate (generalist with a minor in environmental studies) 

    Recreation Management major - Outdoor Emphasis

    The outdoor recreation emphasis is for students who want to work in natural resource-based recreation settings. This program helps students develop skills in outdoor programming and leadership, environmental education, outdoor guiding and adventure, and nature-based recreation management. Students will develop these skills by completing coursework i outdoor education techniques, experiential learning, and nature-based resource management.

    Potential careers: 

    • Conservation Lobbyist/Advocate
    • Eco-tour Guide
    • Forest/Park Ranger
    • Naturalist/Environmental Educator
    • Outdoor Adventure Educator
    • Outdoor Center Program Director
    • Outdoor Programmer
    • Outdoor Trip Guide (NOLS, Outward Bound, Wilderness Inquiry)
    • Visitor Services
    • Wilderness Instructor

    Recreation Management major - Community Emphasis

    The community recreation emphasis prepares students for professional roles in programming and management in a wide variety of recreation related fields in the public and non-profit sectors such as municipal parks and recreation departments, state agencies, youth serving agencies, religious-affiliated agencies, social service agencies, and campus recreation. Community recreation students will choose from courses in programming, budgeting, youth development, management, aquatics, and facility management.

    Potential careers:

    • Camp Administrator
    • Community Recreation Supervisor
    • Fitness & Aquatics Director
    • Golf Course Manager
    • Recreation/Sport Facility Manager
    • Military Recreation Programmer
    • Park & Recreation Planner
    • University Recreation Sports Director
    • Youth Sports Program Director

    Recreation Management major - Tourism Emphasis

    The tourism emphasis is for student interested in managing tourist attractions, facilities and tours. Whether it is managing a resort, promoting a destination, leading adventure tours, or planning events, a career in tourism is about helping others enjoy their travel experience as much as you enjoy your own. Students pursuing a tourism emphasis will gain an understanding of visitor motivations and behaviors, destination marketing and development, event coordination, and sustainable tourism practices.


    • Convention Center Sales Manager
    • Cruise Ship Director
    • Destination Marketing Organization Director
    • Festival and Events Coordinator
    • Hotel Manager
    • Resort General Manager
    • Theme Park General Manager
    • Tour & Travel Guide

    Therapeutic Recreation major

    The Therapeutic Recreation Program at UW-La Crosse prepares majors eligible to become Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS) who improve functioning, facilitate leisure education, and promote inclusive recreation participation for people of all abilities and their families and caregivers. We advocate a strengths-approach to helping people reach dreams and goals for healthy functioning, well-being, and satisfying leisure. This healthcare profession is designated as ‘recreational therapy’ in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook where you may discover ‘quick facts’ including:

    Majors complete a curriculum with coursework that builds competence in performing the job tasks of a CTRS. Program requirements include 100 hours of volunteering with agencies serving persons with disabilities. Majors progress to a 16 week, 640 hour internship under the supervision of a CTRS in their final semester at agencies across the USA. While no minor is required, many majors pursue a psychology, language, or a recreation management minor. Majors are invited to join the Therapeutic Recreation Club providing fellowship and service opportunities. 

     Recreation Management minor

    Recreation Management minor

    The Recreation Management minor is open to students in all colleges and schools within the university. Those students majoring in Therapeutic Recreation, however, have different requirements than students in other majors.

    The minor requires 19 credit hours. Students must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 to enter the program.



    Recreation Management minor for Therapeutic Recreation majors


    Recreation Inclusion minor

    The Americans with Disability Act mandates that agencies offering several types of recreation programs must accommodate people with disabilities. The Inclusive Recreation minor addresses these concerns. These agencies include those that fit in the following categories: sports complexes, outdoor recreation, golf, boating and fishing facilities, amusement parks, and aquatic facilities.

    The following majors may be interested in declaring an Inclusive Recreation minor:

    • Recreation Management
    • Special Education
    • Adapted Physical Education
    • Physical Education Teaching
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Sports Management

    The Inclusive Recreation minor is not a comprehensive therapeutic recreation curriculum. Nor is it intended to lead toward national certification. The Inclusive Recreation minor is academic preparation to assist other professionals who are interested in providing inclusive recreation programs.


    For further information contact: University of Wisconsin La Crosse

    Dr. Patricia Ardovino, CTRS, CPRP,