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Degree Overview: Bachelor Degree Programs in Leisure Studies

Majors Overview January 31, 2015

Receive information about bachelor’s degree programs in leisure studies and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education and professional certification choices.

Bachelor Degree Programs in Leisure Studies

Recreation or fitness studies are incorporated into leisure studies programs. Students will learn the skills and knowledge needed to deliver, oversee, and develop recreational and leisure activities for diverse communities at private and public places, including schools, commercial operations, or parks.

Some leisure studies bachelor’s degree programs allow students to take coursework that is specific to their career goals by offering concentrations in child life, sport management, recreation administration, youth or therapeutic recreation, or recreation and entertainment business. Many universities and colleges offer leisure studies programs as Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma. Though, credit hours or specific courses may also be required for admission to some programs. Other programs insist on the completion of certain high school courses, such as computer science, music, leadership, or arts and crafts, before students are allowed to begin core coursework.


Coursework is usually a combination of electives and required courses, which also includes practical education in the form of an internship or field experience aimed at providing students with opportunities to work in professional, recreational environments, such as health facilities, commercial recreation venues, parks, and community centers. Core coursework may include the following courses:

•Sport business
•Leadership and administration of leisure services programs
•Leisure and recreation services and finance
•Anatomy and physiology
•Introduction to community health
•Legal concepts in leisure and recreation
•Recreation and leisure program development
•Principles of therapeutic recreation
•Recreation facilities
•Outdoor leisure
•Public speaking
•Youth recreation

Career Choices

Those that complete a bachelor’s degree in leisure studies can seek a wide range of entry-level recreational employment opportunities in the public and private sectors, within work settings such as nursing homes, community centers, correctional facilities, sporting organizations and businesses, fitness centers, school athletic programs, and rehabilitation centers. They can choose from job options such as:

•Leisure services programmer
•Park and leisure services marketer
•Park ranger
•Park leisure services manager
•Private leisure club staff member

Job and Wage Outlook

In 2012, 345,400 people were employed as recreation workers in the United States; in May 2012, recreation workers brought home an average annual wage of $22,240 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). An average job growth rate of 14% has been predicted for these professionals, over the 2012 – 2022 decade (BLS). The demand for recreation workers by the aging baby-boomer generation drives these growths.

Continuing Education and Professional Certification Choices

Some bachelor’s degree programs will prepare students for professional certification related to leisure studies. For example, programs in California may help students qualify for the state’s recreation therapist license or re-creator certificate via the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification. Qualification for a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist certificate may be achieved through completion of a therapeutic recreation track.

Those looking for further education should seek a doctoral degree or Master of Arts (M.A.) in leisure studies, or a closely related field, such as recreation and leisure studies. Concentrations available to students include recreation administration, therapeutic recreation, or recreational sport management.

Students in leisure studies graduate programs will assess various recreation programs and activities and perform original research. Also required is practical training. Non-thesis or thesis options are available to master’s degree students. A dissertation is completed by doctoral level students.

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