Graduate Academic Programs

Master's Degree Programs

Online Master of Science in Recreation Degree (M.S.R.), Recreation Administration Major

Description of Program

The Master of Science in Recreation Administration degree provides students with a general approach to management of recreation and leisure services in a wide variety of settings. Because people spend more time and money on leisure, fitness, sports, and recreation activities than ever before, the job outlook for recreation administration graduates is excellent. By fostering healthier lifestyles and promoting the value of staying well, organizations are learning they can slow the pace of rising health insurance premiums and improve the attendance and productivity of their employees. But to achieve this healthy ROI, organizations need qualified professionals with the training to manage engaging and effective health and wellness programs that have a beneficial and lasting effect on both the organization’s culture and profitability.  This option is for students interested in public agencies, private/commercial organizations, campus recreation, military recreation, or general park administration/management.

All degree candidates in this program complete a capstone experience. This can be either an intensive master's project that summarizes the knowledge and skills obtained from coursework, an internship through which concepts and principles learned from coursework is applied, or a master's thesis based on research related to the specialty area. The student's area of specialization determines which capstone experience is pursued.

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 Health & Wellness Design. 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 the following list of requirements:

Public Health Foundations Requirement (0 credits)
All new master's degree students must complete the Public Health Foundations online course no later than the end of their first semester of graduate study. Complete details and registration information for this course can be found

Recreation Administration Foundation Courses (21 credits)
Complete each of the following courses:

  • SPH-Q 501 Introduction to Statistics in Public Health (3 cr.) (or) SPH-S650 Metrics in Safety Management (3 cr.) 
  • SPH-R 510 Philosophy of Leisure and Recreation (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 512 Administrative Theory & Management Practices in Leisure Services (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 542 Fiscal Management in Recreation Administration (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 544 Legal Aspects of Recreation (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 585 Leisure as a Determinant of Health (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 590 Introduction to Research in Health & Wellness Design (3 cr.)

Capstone Courses (2–5 credits)
Complete one of the following courses:

  • SPH-R 598 Master's Project in Administration (2-4 cr.)
  • SPH-R 599 Master's Thesis (5 cr.)
  • SPH-R 697 Internships in Recreation and Parks (3 cr.)

Remaining Electives (9–12 cr.)
Complete electives to reach the required minimum 35 graduate-level credits. Electives must be selected with advisor approval

  • SPH-R 574 Human Resource Management in Recreational Sports (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 695 Practicum in Recreation and, Parks (1–3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 685 Survey Methodology in Public Health Research (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 691 Readings in Recreation (2–3 cr.)
  • SPH-B 535 Contemporary Issues in Aging and Health (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 524 Fundraising for Public and Nonprofit Agencies (3 cr.)
  • SPH-R 573 Seminar in Recreational Sports, TOPIC: Current Events in Recreation Administration (2 cr.)
  • SPH-R 693 Independent Study and Research (3 cr.)
  • SPH-O 510 Human Health, Quality of Life, and Natural Environments (3 cr.)
  • SPH-S 513 Safety Management in Business and Industry (3 cr.)
  • SPH-X 685 Public Health Policy and Politics (3 cr.)
  • SPH-S 632 Safety and Health Program Design (3 cr.)

Special Opportunities

A Master of Science in Recreation Administration is designed for students and/or working professionals interested in gaining advancement to administrative positions in public agencies, private/commercial organizations, campus recreation, military recreation, or general park administration/management. According to the National Recreation & Park Association, “the average park and recreation agency employs four executive personnel, seven administrative personnel, and three planning/development personnel.” Under succession planning, working professionals earning an advanced degree in recreation administration are better positioning themselves to move up into those executive and administrative positions.


Following are some typical job descriptions for career positions in recreational administration:

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.

Campus Recreation Program Director: manages the comprehensive administrative functions of personnel, budget, facilities, and programming for intramural, informal, aquatics and sport clubs in student recreational sport facilities at colleges and universities.

Park Manager: directs the operational and developmental phases of parks, boulevards, recreation areas, and 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.

Facility Operations Coordinator: determines work procedures, prepares work schedules, and expedites workflow. Studies and standardizes procedures to improve facility and employee productivity. Prepares and coordinates assigned recreational programs and ensures that facilities meet city, state, and federal guidelines for operation. Coordinates planning and development of programs, activities, and special events for recreational facilities to include procuring vendors and entertainment, site operations, staff and volunteer scheduling, budgeting and contracting, fundraising, and advertising.

Health and Wellness Designer:  designs engaging and effective health and wellness programs that have a beneficial and lasting effect for participants. Positions are available with corporations, fitness clubs, rehabilitation facilities, and non-profit, community health organizations. In many organizations, wellness is managed by human resources, giving designers with health and wellness preparation an opportunity to expand programs. Duties include developing and leading exercise programs, providing information about preventative care and nutrition, performing management tasks such as tracking and reporting on program goals, overseeing a budget, and managing staffing requirements.

Director of Community Health:  leads the development of community programs through strategic planning with organizational partners and program funders usually overseeing the implementation of new community improvement initiatives. Conduct regular planning sessions to build a cooperative culture with key partners, businesses and government agencies. A director of community health will ensure that the organization’s strategic plan seeks to identify opportunities for closing gaps, reaching standards, soliciting funds and helping the public. 


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