Recreation Management program

Undergrad major Undergrad minor Graduate degree

Do you enjoy being active, working with people and helping them develop and grow?

Join a profession where your work is to bring quality leisure into people's lives.

The Recreation Management program at UWL is the only nationally-accredited recreation management program in Wisconsin and one of the largest undergraduate programs in the U.S. Our students gain practice in the field and network with professionals through internships and community engagement in their coursework.

Recreation Management jobs

The recreation management program offers four different emphasis areas (generalist; tourism and event management; community-based recreation, and outdoor recreation), which allows students to study and prepare for careers most closely related to their interests.

Students are trained for middle management careers in a range of agencies, such as national, state, and local parks and recreation departments, destination marketing organizations, tourism attractions and facilities, event venues, and various non-profit enterprises.

Career options

  • Recreation center supervisor
  • Parks & Recreation coordinator
  • Park ranger
  • Amusement park manager
  • Cruise ship director
  • Camp director
  • Outdoor program coordinator
  • Event coordinator
  • Event planner
  • Outdoor adventure program guide
  • Director of fan experiences
  • Sport director
  • Wellness director
  • Tourism marketing director
  • Convention sales manager
  • Director of hospitality
  • Environmental educator

Graduate education

The rigorous undergraduate curriculum also provides a solid foundation for those choosing to pursue a graduate degree in recreation management. A dual degree option is available for students wishing to complete a bachelor's and master's in reduced time.

What distinguishes UWL's program?

Hands-on experience

Students gain hands-on experience through a 12- week internship designed to serve as a student’s transition from the university curriculum to the profession. Also, students complete an additional 100 hours of hands-on professional experience prior to their internship.


UWL's Department of Recreation Management and Therapeutic Recreation has been nationally accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism, and Related Professions (COAPRT) since 1988.

Excellent curriculum

Curriculum exceeds national accreditation standards and is a key factor in the department’s national reputation.

Connection to faculty

Faculty play an important role in the educational and professional development of each student. Students are assigned a faculty adviser who is available for advisement on registration, internships, and professional development throughout their academic career.

Reputable faculty

All of the faculty members are involved in leadership positions with national and state recreation professional associations. They also perform research and write extensively on important topics in the recreational field, and several are nationally and internationally renown scholars.

Tourism Research Institute

Tourism Research Institute provides opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to engage in tourism-related research activities. 

Post-graduation success

The placement rate for recreation management majors is consistently above 90 percent in locations around the U.S.

Areas of study

Recreation Management

Recreation Management students learn the skills and knowledge to pursue professional careers designing, facilitating, and managing recreation, tourism, and outdoor experiences. They work with people from diverse backgrounds in settings such as parks and recreation departments, outdoor adventure agencies, camping organizations, and tourism and event management businesses.

Undergrad minor View a sample plan for Recreation Management Catalogfor Recreation Management Learn more for Recreation Management

Community-Based Recreation Emphasis

The community-based 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.

Undergrad major View a sample plan for Community-Based Recreation Catalogfor Community-Based Recreation

Generalist Emphasis

The recreation management generalist emphasis allows students to explore all areas of recreation. Students in the generalist emphasis take the recreation management core curriculum and an additional nine credits selected from the other three emphasis areas.

Undergrad major View a sample plan for Generalist Catalogfor Generalist

Outdoor Recreation 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.

Undergrad major View a sample plan for Outdoor Recreation Catalogfor Outdoor Recreation

Tourism & Event Management Emphasis

The tourism and event management emphasis is for students interested in creating and managing visitor experiences. 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 and event experience as much as you enjoy your own.

Undergrad major Undergrad minor View a sample plan for Tourism & Event Management Catalogfor Tourism & Event Management

Undergrad + graduate dual degree Bachelor of Science in Recreation Management (four emphasis options) & Master of Science in Recreation Management Dual Degree Program

Students in this dual degree program in recreation management earn a Generalist Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree in Recreation Management.

  • Community-Based Recreation
  • Generalist
  • Outdoor Recreation
  • Tourism/Event Management
Undergrad major Graduate degree View a sample plan for Undergrad + graduate dual degree Catalogfor Undergrad + graduate dual degree

Sample courses

REC 320 Introduction to Tourism An introduction to the nature and scope of tourism that is intimately related to recreation. This course provides a basic understanding of tourism from the tourism system perspective. The topics include tourist behavior, special-interest tourism, destination marketing, economic, social-cultural, and environmental impacts of tourism on a destination, and sustainable tourism development. In addition to the business and economic benefits of tourism, it also examines the social aspects of tourism. Offered Spring.

REC 306 Environmental Ethics, Outdoor Recreation and Natural Resources This course provides an overview of the natural resources used for outdoor recreational pursuits, an analysis of leisure activities dependent upon natural resources, a presentation of the issues associated with recreational land use and an introduction to environmental awareness and outdoor ethics. Recreation and natural resources at the national, state, local and private levels will be addressed with emphasis on the understanding of how outdoor recreation affects and is affected by natural resources. Offered Fall, Spring.

REC 301 Leadership and Programming in Recreation This course provides practical knowledge and experiences on the essential elements and design concepts of program planning. Emphasis is placed on student involvement in planning, directing, and evaluating programs that enhance well-being for diverse populations in a variety of physical settings. Prerequisite: REC 150; REC major/minor. Offered Fall, Spring.

REC 150 Leisure, Quality of Life, and Well Being This course will focus on the knowledge and skills necessary for integrating the major elements of well-being (physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental, intellectual, social, and occupational) through the lens of a leisure perspective into a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle throughout one's lifespan. Course content will include theories and methods related to leisure as the foundation for enhancing overall wellness, building coping strategies, and negotiating a balanced, fulfilling life. Additionally, this course will explore philosophical and historical aspects of leisure and recreation. Offered Fall, Spring, Summer.

REC 325 Leisure in a Diverse Society This course explores the increasingly diversified nature of society and its impact on individuals' experiences of leisure. A focus will be placed on the experiences of members of minority populations including issues related to race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, social status, age, and disability. Students will be introduced to factors that influence the experience of leisure and leisure service delivery. Prerequisite: REC major/minor, inclusive recreation minor, or social justice minor. Offered Spring.

REC 340 Evaluation Methods and Practices This course is designed to familiarize the student with basic measurement and evaluation methods used in recreation and leisure service field. In addition, the course shows students how to interpret current and future research findings in leisure and recreation journals, use basic quantitative and qualitative survey methods, interpret findings from commonly used research and statistical methods, and form conclusions and recommendations from survey findings. Prerequisite: STAT 145; ENG 307; REC major/minor. Offered Fall, Spring.

REC 351 Civic Engagement in the Recreation Profession Recreation professionals need to be leaders in their communities and advocates for quality recreation and leisure. This course explores the recreation profession's role in civic engagement and identifies ways the general citizenry can be brought into public discussion on issues about recreation programs and facilities. Prerequisite: REC 340; REC major/minor; junior standing. Offered Spring.

REC 390 Principles of Management in Recreation Study of theories and techniques in leadership, group dynamics, and personnel management as they relate to programming and staff supervision in recreation agencies. Emphasis on personnel management techniques, including job analysis, recruitment, selection training, motivation, career development, and evaluation of paid staff and volunteers. Course includes issues common to full-time entry-level professional positions in recreation. Prerequisite: junior standing; REC major/minor. Offered Fall, Spring.