Undergraduate Academic Programs

Degree Programs

Bachelor of Science in Recreation (BSR), Outdoor Recreation, Parks, and Human Ecology Major

Description of Program

The outdoor recreation, parks, and human ecology program focuses on educating students about outdoor recreation and parks within a human ecology framework. Topics include outdoor recreation, environmental education, interpretive techniques, outdoor adventure education, nature study, recreation resource management, human health and natural environments and organized camping.

Students pursue a course of study leading to a Bachelor of Science in Recreation degree with a major in outdoor recreation, parks, and human ecology. The curriculum includes a general education core, specialization courses, electives, 320 hours of field experience, and an internship. Each student meets regularly with a faculty adviser for ongoing academic career planning. In addition to the general education core courses, students take 40 credits in outdoor recreation subjects. The emphases of this curriculum are basic concepts of outdoor resources, the relationships and interactions of people and outdoor resources and how to manage them, and skills and knowledge to pursue specific careers in this field. A number of skill certificates are available to students through various academic courses.


Apply online for undergraduate admission to Indiana University at http://admissions.indiana.edu/.

A newly admitted freshman pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Recreation degree with a major in outdoor recreation, parks, and human ecology will receive an offer of direct freshman admission to this desired program if he or she meets both of the following criteria:

  1. Entrance Test Scores: The applicant must have earned one of the following minimum standardized test scores:
    • a composite score of 29 on the ACT (American College Test). --or--
    • one of the following combined critical reading and math scores on the SAT, either 1270, if taken before March, 2016, or 1330 if taken in March, 2016 or after.
  2. Academic Performance: The applicant must either:
    • rank in the top 12 percent of his or her high school graduating class. --or--
    • possess a minimum cumulative high school GPA of 3.5.

Before entering the School of Public Health - Bloomington as an outdoor recreation, parks, and human ecology major, all other students begin studies in the University Division, and then subsequently certify into this program as soon as they satisfy the following two admission criteria:

  1. successful completion of at least 30 credit hours.
  2. minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA) at Indiana University.

Students in the University Division must also declare their intention to major in outdoor recreation, parks, and human ecology to the University Division Records Office. If a student earns less than 2.0 semester GPA for the term before entering the School of Public Health-Bloomington, the student may be admitted on academic probation as long as the student has completed 30 credits and has at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA.

International applicants for admission to a second undergraduate degree program in the School of Public Health - Bloomington, whose primary language is not English, must satisfy one of the following criteria before being considered for admission directly into one the School's degree programs:

  • submission of a minimum score on the Test Of English As a Foreign Language (TOEFL), of 550 on the paper-based test, or 213 on the computer-based test, or 80 on the Internet-based test.
  • submission of a minimum score of 7 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
  • proof of completing at least three full years of secondary school in a predominantly English speaking country.

For students from countries where the TOEFL and the IELTS are not available, other evidence of English proficiency may be considered.

All entering international students whose primary language is not English will be required to take a special examination in English with IU prior to registering. Prepared by IU and designed to test a student’s ability to use English in an academic setting, the exam consists of three parts: an essay on a general topic, a listening comprehension exercise, and a grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension section. There is little that one can do to prepare for this exam other than to continue using written and spoken English at every opportunity. Appropriate remedial English courses may be prescribed on the basis of the results of this test.

International students whose primary language is not English must agree to take any English language courses prescribed from the results of this examination. Fees for special part-time English courses are the same as for other courses; however, credits earned do not meet degree requirements. If the results of the proficiency examination indicate that full-time work in English is required, the student will be assigned to the Intensive English Program (IEP).  

Students enrolled in IEP do not take academic courses until they achieve adequate English proficiency. If a student has serious doubts about English ability and is not financially prepared to undertake the additional time and expense of an intensive English program here, the student should consider completing English study in the student’s home country. In addition, the student may consider delaying admission to a future session.

Degree Requirements

This is a four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Science in Recreation degree with a major in outdoor recreation, parks and human ecology.  A minimum of 30 successfully completed credit hours and a minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA) are required for admission to this program.  Graduation requirements include:

  • completion of general education requirements.
  • completion of outdoor recreation, parks, and human ecology major requirements.
  • a minimum of 120 successfully completed credit hours which count toward the degree program.
  • a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA.
  • a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA in courses with the following department code-prefixes: SPH-L, SPH-O, SPH-R, SPH-T, and SPH-Y.
  • No Pass/Fail except for free electives.
General Education (20 – 39 credits)

All undergraduate students must complete the IU Bloomington campus-wide general education common ground requirements. Such students must visit the 2015-2016 General Education Bulletin to view these requirements.

Major (69 cr.)

Outdoor Recreation, Parks, and Human Ecology Specialization (18 cr.)
Complete each of the following courses:

  • SPH-O 210 Introduction to Outdoor Recreation, Parks, and Human Ecology (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 244 Natural History and Field Ecology (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 310 Ecosystem Management (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 340 Interpretation and Tour Guiding (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 360 Human Health and Natural Environments (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 413 Applications in Outdoor Recreation, Parks, and Human Ecology (3 cr.)

Recreation Core (30 cr.)
Complete each of the following courses:

  • SPH-R 200 (Formerly: SPH-R 110) Foundations of Leisure and Public Health (3 cr.) +(S&H)
  • SPH-R 210 Inclusion in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 311 Management in Recreation, Parks and Tourism (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 312 Career and Internship Preparation (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 314 Data-Based Decision-Making (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 410 (Formerly: SPH-T 410) Event Planning and Program Development (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 497 Professional Internship (12 cr.)
  • 320 Hours of Field Experience are required.

Focal Tracks (21 cr.)
Complete a minimum of 21 credits in one of the following three focal tracks: 1) Adventure Education, 2) Environmental Interpretation, 3) Natural Resource Management. Course options are as follows:

Adventure Education

  • REL-D 350 Religion, Ethics, and the Environment (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 279 Outdoor Adventure Education (3 cr.) --or-- SPH-O 430 Outdoor Adventure Programming: Foundation and Theory (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 313 Wilderness and Protected Lands (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 322 Therapeutic Outdoor Instructional Techniques (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 324 Outdoor Experiential Education: Instructional Techniques (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 331 Wilderness First Responder(3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 420 Principles of Therapeutic Outdoor Programs (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 350 Seminar in Recreation, Topic: Client Management (3 cr.)
  • SPH-W 305 Introduction to Wilderness Leadership (2 cr.)

Environmental Interpretation

  • AMST-A 150 Introduction to Native Americans and Indigenous Studies (3 cr.)
  • ANTH-A 122 Interpersonal Communication (3 cr.) +(S&H)
  • ANTH-A 408 Museum Practicum (3 cr.)
  • ANTH-E 320 Indians of North America (3 cr.)
  • ANTH-E 423 Life Histories (3 cr.)
  • ANTH-E 444 People and Protected Areas (3 cr.)
  • GEOG-G 185 Global Environmental Change (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 214 Wildflowers and Wild Edibles (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 305 Integrated Resource Management (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 313 Wilderness and Protected Lands (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 318 Outdoor Recreation Consortium (2 cr.)
  • SPH-O 341 Field Techniques in Environmental Education (3 cr.)

Natural Resource Management

  • BIOL-L 350 Environmental Biology (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-E 355 Introduction to Limnology (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-E 363 Environmental Management (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-E 422 Urban Forestry (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-E 442 Habitat Analysis - Terrestrial (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-E 443 Habitat Analysis - Aquatic (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-E 456 Lake and Watershed Management (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-E 457 Introduction to Conservation Biology (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-E 460 Fisheries and Wildlife Management (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-E 461 Fisheries and Wildlife Management Laboratory (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 305 Integrated Resource Management (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 313 Wilderness and Protected Lands (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 318 Outdoor Recreation Consortium (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 342 Applied Ecology: Water Communities (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 343 Sustainable Agriculture (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 223 Recreation-Based GIS (3 cr.)

+ Courses followed by an S&H notation apply toward completion of both the major requirement and the general education, social and historical studies requirement.

Special Opportunities

Through class practica, projects, internship opportunities, and field experiences, the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies helps students apply what they learn when—and where—they learn it. And Indiana University offers the following recreational management opportunities and living laboratories that give students firsthand experience: C.O.R.E. (Conservation & Outdoor Recreation/Education), Therapeutic Outdoor Programs (TOP), Great Lakes Park Training Institute, and Bradford Woods Outdoor Center. Additional nearby facilities include Hilltop Garden and Nature Center, Brown County State Park, City of Bloomington Parks, the Hoosier National Forest (including Charles C. Deam Wilderness), McCormick's Creek State Park, Monroe County Parks, Monroe Reservoir, and Yellowwood State Forest.


The specialization in outdoor recreation, parks and human ecology provides a thorough foundation for careers in an array of settings, including historic sites, municipal parks and recreation departments, nature preserves, nonprofit organizations, outdoor adventure organizations, zoos, and state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.
Because people are spending more time and money on leisure and fitness services, the job outlook for recreation and park administration graduates is excellent. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that employment of recreation and fitness workers will grow faster than the average through 2015. In 2000, Newsweek predicted that 50 percent of American jobs will be in leisure and tourism by 2050. The Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies prepares a monthly nationwide listing of recreation-related jobs totaling more than 1,500 annually.
Many graduates with this specialization go on to pursue advanced degrees including the Master of Science (M.S.) in Recreation with an option in Park and Recreation Administration, and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Leisure Behavior.

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