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Leisure Studies Master's Programs

A master's degree program in leisure studies can help you acquire the skills you need to oversee recreational programs for diverse populations. Learn about program options and course topics, as well as job growth and salary.

What Will I Learn in a Leisure Studies Master's Degree Program?

Master's degree programs in leisure studies will prepare you for a leadership, supervisory or administrative position at nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, public recreation centers and parks. Most programs are a combination of didactic courses, independent study and a practicum.

Many programs offer you the choice of specializing in different areas of leisure studies such as therapeutic recreation, recreation administration or park management. You will typically be able to choose a thesis-based program, or a non-thesis option with additional credit requirements and a comprehensive written and oral final examination. Your coursework will cover the history, theory and practice of leisure studies through courses similar to the following:

  • Staff supervision strategies
  • Legal issues in recreation and leisure
  • Kinesiology
  • Recreation program design
  • Design of park and recreation facilities
  • Leisure services management
  • Administration and supervision
  • Recreational needs of special populations
  • Philosophy of recreation and leisure
  • Marketing

Common Courses Kinesiology, management, administration, legal issues, park and recreation facilities design
Learning Environments Traditional classroom and online degree programs are available
Median Salary (2019) $46,776 (for all recreation managers)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 8% growth (for managers, all other)**

Sources: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Can I Earn My Degree Online?

There are a limited number of online leisure studies master's degree programs available. These programs are designed for the working professional and are most often offered in a part-time asynchronous format that requires two years to complete. Your coursework will be the same as that of an on-campus program; however, it will be delivered online in a Web-based format. You may participate in discussions with your classmates through online chat rooms. Communication with your instructor will typically be through e-mail, discussion boards and chat rooms.

What is the Career Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), career opportunities for recreation workers in general are expected to increase by 9% from 2016-2026 (www.bls.gov). This increase will primarily result from people spending more time and money on recreational activities. As of August 2019, the median annual salary for recreation managers was $46,776, according to PayScale.com.