Graduate Academic Programs

Master's Degree Programs

Master of Science in Recreation Degree (MSR), Park and Public Lands Management Major

Description of Program

A Master of Science in Recreation degree with a major in Park and Public Lands Management provides students with approaches to managing land-based operations at the national, state, regional and local levels. The program emphasizes the stewardship of lands entrusted to many public agencies and private enterprises in order to improve the environment, sustain public enjoyment of parks and facilities by employing contemporary management practices, and balancing resource protection with recreation and use of lands.  This program is offered online.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 35 credit hours is required for this program.  The Master of Science in Recreation degree must include a minimum of 20 credits from the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies.  A minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA) is required for graduation. A minimum grade of C– is required in each course. All electives for completing the degree must be approved by the advisor.

Complete each of the following foundation courses (18 cr.):

  • SPH-R 511 (Formerly: HPER-R 520) Organizational Leadership of Leisure Services (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 512 (Formerly: HPER-R 525) Administrative Theory and Management Practices of Leisure Services (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 525 (Formerly: HPER-R 507) Foundations of Conservation, Parks, and Recreation (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 698 (Formerly: HPER-R 607) Capstone Studies in Parks, Recreation, Tourism, and Public Lands (3 cr.)
  • SPH-X 505 (Formerly: HPER-C 505) Principles and Foundations in Public Health (3 cr.)
  • SPH-X 590 (Formerly: HPER-T 590) Introduction to Research in Health, Kinesiology, and Recreation (3 cr.)

Complete each of the following emphasis courses (12 cr.):

  • SPH-O 517 (Formerly: HPER-R 545) Advanced Ecosystem Management in Outdoor Recreation (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 541 (Formerly: HPER-R 523) Visitor Behavior (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 523 (Formerly: HPER-R 540) Policy Studies in Outdoor Recreation and Tourism (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 524 (Formerly: HPER-R 524) Fundraising for Public and Nonprofit Agencies (3 cr.)

Complete credits from the following courses to reach the minimum 35 graduate-level credits required for completion of this degree program (5 cr.):

  • SPH-Q 501 (Formerly: HPER-T 591) Introduction to Statistics in Public Health (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 691 (Formerly: HPER-R 641) Readings in Recreation (2-3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 693 (Formerly: HPER-R 640) Independent Study and Research (3 cr.)
Special Opportunities

The graduate program offers opportunities to learn from a dedicated faculty of land management educators and professionals who are committed to the success of their students. Students are given a wide variety of research and practical opportunities from the faculty and through exposure to excellent examples of park and land management systems both nationally and internationally.


Following are some typical job descriptions for career positions in park and public lands management:

Recreation and Parks Director: manages both recreation and park functions, including recreation programs, recreation areas, and facilities. Also serves as the technical advisor to the recreation and parks commission, board, or other authority responsible to the public for recreation and park services.

Park Planner/Compliance and Environmental Planner: responsible for professional planning work including gathering, compiling, and analyzing resource data, ensuring compliance with environmental, historic, and other review processes in order to prepare proposed solutions to problems and designs and/or authorize project execution.

Park and Facility Manager: directs the operational and developmental phases of parks, boulevards, recreation areas, and facilities including maintained landscapes, resource areas, trails, and dedicated facilities. Also plans, directs, and participates in maintenance and construction including inspection of grounds, direction of property security, and providing information and services to visitors. Leads asset management, resource management, and environmental teams in ensuring protection, maintenance, renovations, and visitor use.

Park and/or Public Land Superintendent/Manager: directs all activities of a geographic location or locations of public lands including parks, reserves, preserves, units, and other areas to including protection, management, access, recreation and use. Conducts strategic, long range asset, program, and annual budget planning including budget submissions. Also responsible to lead partners, volunteers, donors and concession operators in mission oriented relationships that benefit the park –public lands and visitor experience.

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