Bachelor's Degree in Leisure Studies

Explore bachelor's degree programs in leisure studies. Learn about the admissions requirements, possible courses and career prospects for graduates. Research the employment and salary statistics for recreation workers.

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Essential Information

Leisure studies programs often incorporate the closely related topics of recreation or fitness studies. Many colleges and universities offer these programs as Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts programs that are intended for secondary school graduates. Concentrations such as therapeutic or youth recreation, child life, recreation and sport business, recreation administration or sport management may be offered.

By choosing a concentration, students get to complete coursework that is specific to their career goals. Programs usually consist of a combination of required courses and electives. Practical education like a field experience or internship provides students with opportunities to work in professional recreational settings.

Education Prerequisites

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically necessary for admission into a college or university. Some programs have additional admission requirements for the major, such as first completing specific courses or a minimum number of credit hours. Other programs recommend certain classes to high school students considering a bachelor's degree in leisure studies program, such as arts and crafts, leadership, music or computer science.

Course Topics

Students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to develop, deliver and oversee leisure and recreational programming for diverse communities at public and private locations, like parks, schools, health facilities, community centers or commercial operations.

Typical classes may include:

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

Career Options and Salary Information

A bachelor's degree in leisure studies qualifies graduates for a wide-range of entry-level recreational occupations in the private and public sectors. They can work in settings such as rehabilitation centers, school athletic programs, fitness centers, sporting organizations and businesses, correctional facilities, community centers and nursing homes. Some job options include:

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

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 345,400 recreation worker jobs existed in the U.S. as of 2012 (www.bls.gov). This field is expected to grow 14% from 2012-2022, which is about as fast as the average for all jobs. Increasing childhood obesity rates and the aging baby-boom generation will require more recreation workers to run programs for both young and old. In 2012, the mean annual wage for recreation workers was $25,430, per the BLS.

Professional Certification and Continuing Education

Some bachelor's degree programs prepare students for leisure studies-related professional certification. For example, students enrolled in programs in California may qualify for the state's recreator certificate or recreation therapist certificate through the California Board of Recreation and Park Certification, Inc. (www.cbrpc.org). Students who complete a therapeutic recreation track may qualify for Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist certification through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (www.nctrc.org).

Students can continue their studies in graduate programs by earning a Master of Arts or doctoral degree in leisure studies or a closely related field like recreation and leisure studies. Available concentrations may include recreational sport management, recreation administration or therapeutic recreation. In leisure studies graduate programs, students may perform original research and assess various recreation activities and programs. Practical education may also be required. Master's degree students may enroll in a thesis or non-thesis option. Doctoral degree students typically complete a dissertation.

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