In leisure studies Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science programs, 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.
By choosing a concentration, such as sport management, therapeutic or youth recreation, recreation and sport business, child life and recreation administration, students get to complete coursework that is specific to their career goals. Programs usually consist of a combination of required courses and electives. Some programs also offer internship programs or field experience.
Prerequisites for these four-year programs include a high school diploma or its equivalent.
Bachelor's Degree in Leisure Studies
Leisure study programs are designed to help students enter into recreational occupations in the private and public sectors. 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
Career Options and Salary Information
Graduates of leisure studies bachelor's degree programs 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), 336,150 recreation worker jobs existed in the U.S. as of 2015 (www.bls.gov). This field is expected to grow 10% from 2014-2024, which is faster than 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 2015, the mean annual wage for recreation workers was $26,610, 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.
Students enrolled in a leisure studies bachelor's degree program learn how to manage recreational programs in a variety of organizations, such as nursing homes, recreation centers, fitness centers and school athletic programs. Additional professional certifications and graduate programs are available for further educational and career enrichment.