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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 UW-L 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.


    Therapeutic Recreation major

    Therapeutic Recreation (TR) is a nationally recognized health and human service profession. Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists work with many different age groups: children, teens, adults, older adults, and persons with many different disabilities, illnesses or conditions (i.e. physical disabilities, cognitive disabilities, long term illnesses). About the profession

    The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse has both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Therapeutic Recreation. Please use the links on the left menu to learn more about the program. You can also contact the program director.

    What does a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist do? 
    Employment Possibilities
    Information about a CTRS credential

    A CTRS uses recreation activities for a particular purpose. These activities can help improve health and quality of life. The nature of the setting and the needs of the clients will determine the types of programs offered. A CTRS can use many different types of activities in programs:

    • Outdoor recreation
    • Music or dance
    • Social activities
    • Discussions
    • Resource information
    • Community service
    • Animal assisted programs
    • Many other types of activities
    • Arts and crafts
    • Games
    • Expressive activities
    • Decision-making skills
    • Physical activities or sports
    • Special events
    • Camping and adventure
    • Gardening

    There are 3 main purposes of Therapeutic Recreation Programs:

    1. Functional Improvement
      A CTRS might help a person with a brain injury regain use of numbers and conversation skills by playing a card game or using puppets for self expression.
    2. Leisure Education
      A CTRS might help a person recovering from alcohol addiction learn how to relax and find recreation activities that support sobriety.
    3. Recreation Participation
      A CTRS might help a person with a cognitive disability to participate in Special Olympics, wheelchair sports, or an adventure camp weekend.

    Therapeutic Recreation at UWL is nationally accredited and all graduates are eligible to sit for the national certification exam. UW-L TR has a comprehensive curriculum, opportunities for practical experiences, supportive professional associations, and an active Therapeutic Recreation Faculty. This curriculum received both state and national awards. Our students are dedicated and caring individuals who become outstanding professionals.

    The extraordinary thing about being a Recreational Therapist is that you get to affect the whole person: mind, body, and spirit.

    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 COURSE REQUIREMENTS Click here to see the UW-L Course Catalog.




    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,