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Bachelor of Science inRecreation, Park, and Tourism Management

Program summary

Learn to support and develop opportunities for recreation management and tourism management that benefit the economy and environment as well as the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of people and communities with this online degree program.

Hands-On Experience

Complete an internship alongside your online course work.

Application deadline

Apply by March 15 to start May 13

Credits and costs

120 Credits$626/$671 per credit

Nationally Recognized

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Our bachelor's degrees are highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

Gain Skills to Become a Leader in the Recreation and Tourism Management Field

  • Apply social and behavioral science theories and models through leadership, programming, facility design and management, inclusion of diverse populations, marketing, and operations.

  • Understand the ecological, economic, and cultural factors that influence how people spend their leisure time to transform human and environmental health and well-being.

  • Develop and support recreation and tourism opportunities that benefit the economy and environment as well as the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of people and communities.

  • Gain the theoretical, managerial, and technical skills you need to become a leader in one of the world’s largest service-sector industries.

Study a Variety of Flexible, Online Courses

As a student in the recreation, park, and tourism management program, you will have the opportunity to study business management and entrepreneurial principles through the lens of recreation and tourism.

The Bachelor of Science in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management is a 120-credit program that offers a solid foundation in the broad spectrum of ways in which leisure activities, tourism, and participating in life-changing “experiences” impact our health and well-being over the course of our lives.

You will have the opportunity to customize your learning experience by choosing either the Commercial Recreation and Tourism Management Option or the Community Recreation Management Option. Some of your course topics could include:

  • diversity in recreation services 
  • introduction to leisure theory 
  • sustainability, society, and well-being 
  • leadership and group dynamics 
  • legal issues in recreation 
  • service marketing 
  • program evaluation 
  • event planning and programming 
  • facilities management 
  • foundations of tourism 
  • career exploration

Prescribed Courses (24 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Leisure from historical and contemporary perspectives, including forces shaping leisure behavior, and relationships among leisure, the environment, and social institutions.

  • 3
    credits

    Provides students with strong foundational knowledge about sustainability and how it relates to their career in recreation, park, and tourism management.

  • 3
    credits

    Supervision in recreation services, including theories, strategies, group dynamics, applied leadership, and decision-making skills.

  • 3
    credits

    Provides a review of leisure services and programs designed to be inclusive of individuals from underrepresented groups and an overview of professional, legal, and ethical issues.

  • 3
    credits

    Examines the governmental systems that influence the delivery of recreational services. The formal structure of government is considered along with the day-to-day political processes that determine public policy.

    • Prerequisite

      RPTM 120

  • 3
    credits

    Theoretical/practical application of marketing/advertising strategies in the development/delivery of recreation services.

  • 3
    credits

    Systematic, structured problem-solving process for decision-making in recreation and parks. Research techniques/evaluation procedures; quantitative, qualitative methodologies; deductive, inductive reasoning.

    • Prerequisite

      RPTM 356, 3 credits in statistics

  • 3
    credits

    Provides information and practical experience required to successfully design, promote, implement, and evaluate programs and special events.

    • Prerequisite

      RPTM 120, RPTM 236

Prescribed Courses: Commercial Recreation and Tourism Management Option (25 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Introduction to discipline and exploration of professional career models/paths, historical development of profession, expectations and opportunities in recreation services.

  • 3
    credits

    Highlights the various roles that commercial recreation and tourism play locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. The course then shifts to focus on managerial considerations for practitioners in the field.

  • 3
    credits

    Examines the impact of recreational sociocultural, governmental, economic, and physical environment on the leisure traveler within the tourism industry.

  • 1
    credit

    Plan and prepare for an internship in recreation services. Analyze career opportunities, internship process, and associated requirements.

  • 3
    credits

    Planning, developing, and managing profit-oriented recreation opportunities.

    • Prerequisite

      RPTM 210 and RPTM 410

  • 12
    credits

    Meet educational objectives through participation in an organized practical experience. In most instances, students are engaged in an off-campus learning experience that aligns with their specific field of study.

    • Prerequisite

      RPTM 394 and RPTM 456 and seventh-semester standing and C average.

    • Recommended preparation

      300 hours practical experience and current and valid certification in advanced first aid and CPR or Wilderness First Aid/First Responder.

Prescribed Courses: Community Recreation Management Option (22 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Introduction to discipline and exploration of professional career models/paths, historical development of profession, expectations and opportunities in recreation services.

  • 3
    credits

    Introduces students to the role of community and nonprofit recreation agencies in generating benefits for individuals and communities. Topics include: the history of community and nonprofit recreation; environmental, economic, health, social, and human development benefits of recreation; access and equity issues in recreation and community sport; engaging communities in decision-making; the experience industry; and designing community recreation programs and spaces for meaningful experiences.

  • 3
    credits

    Introduces students to the operational practices and missions of nonprofit recreation and tourism organizations. In particular, this course will allow students to investigate voluntary and semi-private sectors through membership strategies, fundraising and development roles, and volunteer management.

  • 1
    credit

    Plan and prepare for an internship in recreation services. Analyze career opportunities, internship process, and associated requirements.

  • 12
    credits

    Meet educational objectives through participation in an organized practical experience. In most instances, students are engaged in an off-campus learning experience that aligns with their specific field of study.

    • Prerequisite

      RPTM 394 and RPTM 456 and seventh-semester standing and C average.

    • Recommended preparation

      300 hours practical experience and current and valid certification in advanced first aid and CPR or Wilderness First Aid/First Responder.

Additional Courses (6 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Introduction to communication technology and information management; intended for students in the liberal arts.

    • 3
      credits

      Introduction to arena and facilities management, including operations, budgeting, marketing, and staffing.

    • or:
      3
      credits

      Planning and management of selected facilities with emphasis upon maintenance, activity, and support provisions.

Supporting Courses and Related Areas (15–18 credits)

Consult with an adviser to review course recommendations, minors, and certificate programs. A minimum of 6 credits must be completed at the 400 level.

Elective credits (select 2–11)

Consult with an adviser to review course recommendations.

General Education Requirements

Some General Education requirements may be satisfied by courses required for the major. Students should work with an adviser to select courses.

  • Foundations: 15 credits  
    All courses require a grade of C or better. Inter-Domain courses may not be used for foundations requirements. 
    • Writing/Speaking: 9 credits 
    • Quantification: 6 credits 
      3-6 credits are selected from mathematics, applied mathematics, and statistics; 3 credits may be selected from computer science or symbolic logic. 
  • Knowledge Domains: 15 credits  
    Inter-Domain courses may not be used for knowledge domain requirements.
    • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits 
    • Natural Sciences (GN): 3 credits 
    • Arts (GA): 3 credits 
    • Humanities (GH): 3 credits 
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 3 credits  
  • Integrative Studies: 6 credits
    • Inter-Domain course work: 6 credits  
  • Exploration: 9 credits 
    • Natural Sciences (GN) (may be Inter-Domain): 3 credits
    • GA, GH, GN, GS, and Inter-Domain courses: 6 credits  
      May include 3 credits of World Language course work beyond the requirements of the student’s degree program or at the 12th credit level, whichever is higher.

These General Education Requirements are for students who started in summer 2023 or later. Students who started earlier can review the prior version of the general education requirements

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Advance Your Career and Pursue Your Passion

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If you were engaged with recreation, sports, and activity as a child or you have found yourself drawn to traveling and adventure-seeking, the RPTM degree program from Penn State could provide the perfect educational path for you. Our curriculum and career resources will help you connect your passion with a career.


Job Titles Related to This Degree

The following roles are often held by people with this type of degree:

  • Convention Services Manager
  • Hotel Recreational Facilities Manager
  • Parks Recreation Director
  • Recreation Coordinator
  • Travel Consultant

Employment Outlook for Occupational Fields Related to This Degree

Estimates of employment growth and total employment are provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and are subject to change. While these occupations are often pursued by graduates with this degree, individual outcomes may vary depending on a variety of factors. Penn State World Campus cannot guarantee employment in a given occupation.

Recreation Workers

4.6%
employment growth (10 years)
270,380
total employment

Possible Career Paths

This degree can prepare you to help people make the most of their leisure time. A few of the many opportunities include:

Tourism and Event Management — You could find yourself working for a convention and visitors bureau, or as a hotel manager, travel agent/tour guide, or event planner.

Entertainment, Sport, and Fitness Venue Management — Careers in this area could include theme park manager, athletic director/supervisor, campus recreation director, or professional sports team marketing manager.

Youth and Senior Recreation Services — You could become a recreation worker designing and leading activities in places like youth summer camps, fitness centers, senior centers, or nature parks.

Many More — Through the challenging course work and the internship, this degree can help open the door to positions with employers you may not have considered before.


Career Services to Set You Up for Success

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From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Ready to Learn More?

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Apply by March 15 to start May 13. How to Apply 

Costs and Financial Aid

Learn about this program's tuition, fees, scholarship opportunities, grants, payment options, and military benefits.

Costs and Financial Aid

Undergraduate Tuition

Undergraduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register and the number of total credits you have accrued at or transferred to Penn State.

Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?If you have 59 or fewer creditsIf you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer$626 per credit$671 per credit
12–19$7,602 per semester$8,206 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?If you have 59 or fewer creditsIf you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer$632 per credit$678 per credit
12–19$7,678 per semester$8,288 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

Military Grant-in-Aid Benefits for RPTM Students

Military Grant-in-Aid is a program that brings our tuition rate closer to the Department of Defense cap, making a Penn State World Campus quality education more affordable to our military students and their spouses. More details, including forms, can be found on the Military Grants and Scholarships page.

Choose an Option to Meet Your Professional Goals

This option is ideal for you if your professional aspirations include positions in the for-profit recreation sector and the travel and tourism industry.

If you are interested in community-based public or nonprofit recreation and parks, this option would be a good choice for you.

Gain Valuable Hands-On Experience

The RPTM internship will help you: 

  • meet your educational objectives through participation in a well-planned and organized practical experience 
  • unite all the pieces of your undergraduate curriculum — courses, projects, group work, experience in the field — and apply them to your intended career path

As a student in the recreation, park, and tourism management (RPTM) program, you will be required to participate in an internship experience.

The primary purpose of the RPTM internship is to enable you to meet your educational objectives through participation in a well-planned and organized practical experience. 

More importantly, the internship is intended as the opportunity for you to pull all of the pieces of your undergraduate curriculum together — courses, projects, group work, experience in the field — and apply them to your intended career path. An internship allows you to “try it out” while you continue to build your résumé and skills and competencies.  

You will be encouraged to seek and select an internship agency that provides diverse leadership and administrative opportunities in areas that correspond to your own professional goals. Assistance will be provided to all students by RPTM department faculty and staff. It is a personalized process that will take into account your circumstances, interests, and goals.

Examples of past RPTM internships include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Vacation resort recreation department
  • Music festival event coordinator
  • Wellness coordinator
  • Municipal recreation director
  • Guest experience for professional football team
  • Ticket sales department for professional arena football team
  • College campus recreation coordinator
  • Theme park administrative staff
  • Youth sports tournament operations
  • Hotel vacation club representative
  • Minor league baseball stadium operations
  • Bike tour specialist
  • Environmental center assistant

Students planning to complete their internship must enroll in RPTM 495A and pay full tuition for 12 credits in the semester that the internship is to be completed.

Set Your Own Pace

Adult student doing course work online while a child plays nearby

Whether you are looking to finish your program as quickly as possible or balance your studies with your busy life, Penn State World Campus can help you achieve your education goals. Many students take one or two courses per semester.

Our online courses typically follow a 12- to 15-week semester cycle, and there are three semesters per year (spring, summer, and fall). If you plan to take a heavy course load, you should expect your course work to be your primary focus and discuss your schedule with your academic adviser. 

To Finish Your Degree in Two to Three Years

  • Take 6 courses each semester

To Finish Your Degree in Three to Four Years

  • Take 4–5 courses each semester 

To Finish Your Degree in Five or More Years

  • Take 2–3 courses each semester

Convenient Online Format

This program's convenient online format gives you the flexibility you need to study around your busy schedule. You can skip the lengthy commute without sacrificing the quality of your education and prepare yourself for more rewarding career opportunities without leaving your home.

A Trusted Leader in Online Education

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Penn State has a history of more than 100 years of distance education, and World Campus has been a leader in online learning for more than two decades. Our online learning environment offers the same quality education that our students experience on campus.

Information for Military and Veterans

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Are you a member of the military, a veteran, or a military spouse? Please visit our military website for additional information regarding financial aid, transfer credits, and application instructions.

How to Apply to Penn State

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Apply by March 15 to start May 13

Application Instructions

Deadlines and Important Dates

Complete your application and submit all required materials by the appropriate deadline. Your deadline will depend on the semester you plan to start your courses.

  • Summer Deadline

    Apply by March 15 to start May 13
  • Fall Deadline

    Apply by June 30 to start August 26
  • Spring Deadline

    Apply by October 31, 2024, to start January 13, 2025

New students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA by March 1. Please visit the Office of Student Aid website for more information about applying for financial aid and recommended deadlines.

Steps to Apply

  1. To apply for this program, you must be a high school graduate, or have completed your GED.

  2. You will need the following items to complete your application:

    High school transcripts or GED transcript — First-year applicants are required to submit Self-Reported Academic Records (SRAR) when applying. Official high school transcripts for first-year applicants will only be required at the time a student accepts an offer of admission to Penn State.

    Transfer international students will need to submit their high school transcript before their application can be reviewed.

    Official college or university transcripts and/or official military transcripts (if applicable) — All college or university transcripts are required regardless of the length of time that has passed, the grades earned, or the accreditation of the institutions attended. Acceptance of transfer credit toward your degree is subject to final approval by the academic department. For detailed information, see the Transfer Students page.

    Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation.

    English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Language Proficiency section on the Undergraduate Admissions International Requirements page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

  3. To begin the online application, you will need a Penn State account.

    Create a New Penn State Account

    If you have any problems during this process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

    Please note: Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application or create a new Penn State account. Please visit our Returning Students page for instructions.

  4. Accessing MyPennState

    The MyPennState Portal provides access to our online admissions services. Before accessing MyPennState, you must have a Penn State account that will be used to access all Penn State systems. After creating an account, you will receive a unique Penn State User ID. You will need to enter your User ID followed by @psu.edu when signing in to MyPennState and other Penn State sites. For example, you should be entering something like '[email protected]' in the Sign In field.

    The application consists of six sections:

    1. Application Setup
    2. Program of Study
    3. Citizenship and Residency
    4. Academics and Experience
    5. Miscellaneous
    6. Review and Submit
    Application Setup
    • Be sure to select "Online" for the "How would you like to complete your degree" question if you plan to attend Penn State World Campus.

    • The rest of this section will ask some basic questions about your education experience and military affiliation.

    Program of Study
    • You will choose the degree type and then the starting semester.

    • Your starting campus will be selected as Penn State World Campus by default as long as you picked "Online" in your Application Setup. Click Continue.

    • On the Choose a Program page, select your intended major from the list.

    • Review your selection on the summary screen and click Continue to move on to the Citizenship and Residency section.

    Citizenship and Residency
    • Complete the series of questions about your citizenship status, demographic information, Pennsylvania residency status, and family history.

    Academics and Experience
    • You will need to enter academic experience information about your high school and any attempted courses at a college or university after high school.

    • The Education Gap Statement offers a place to explain any time that has elapsed between your high school graduation and your anticipated enrollment at Penn State. Please provide a summary of why that gap occurred. Some examples that would explain a gap in your education include work, family, attending another college or university, etc.

    Miscellaneous
    • In the Miscellaneous section, you will provide any program-specific requirements (e.g., a personal statement), information about activities, and financial aid information.

    Review and Submit

    Review your information, digitally sign your application, and provide payment for the application fee ($65 domestic or $75 international).

    High School Transcripts and Academic Record
    • After your application is completed, you will also need to self-report your high school course work before the application deadline. You will be directed to fill out the Self-Reported Academic Record (SRAR). It is helpful to have a high school transcript available when completing this section. In the third section, you'll select your program of study and campus.

    • Official high school transcripts or GED transcript, along with records from high school, are required, regardless of the length of time that has passed.

    • Include any college/university transcripts (required), military transcripts, and Proof of English Language proficiency (if applicable). SAT/ACT scores are not required if you are identified as an adult learner or transfer student.

    All official documents should be sent to: 

    Undergraduate Admissions Office
    The Pennsylvania State University
    201 Shields Building
    University Park, PA 16802

    You can also have your transcripts sent electronically through Parchment, eScript-Safe, or the National Clearinghouse directly to Penn State from the college/university where course work was attempted.

    Acceptance

    After receiving your application, application fee, and all required materials, your application will be evaluated for admission. You can check your application status online. This will provide the most up‐to‐date information about the status of your application and is updated once daily, before 8:00 a.m. (ET). Once a decision has been made regarding your application, it will be available to you through the MyPennState portal.

    For information on when you can expect an admissions decision, visit the Dates and Deadlines page of the Undergraduate Admissions website. Make sure you click the "+" sign to see these dates for World Campus Applicants (First-Year and Transfer).

  5. 5. Complete the application.

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

Contact Us

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Have questions or want more information? We're happy to talk.

To learn more about the Bachelor of Science in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management, please contact:

World Campus Admissions Counselors
Phone: 814-863-5386
Email: [email protected]

Learn from the Best

This program is offered in partnership with the Penn State College of Health and Human Development.

Faculty

  • John Dattilo

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Leisure Studies, University of Illinois
    • Degree
      M.S., Recreation, University of Arizona
    • Degree
      B.S., Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management, Penn State
    • Degree
      B.S., Education of Exceptional Children, Penn State

    Dr. John Dattilo, professor of recreation, park, and tourism management, teaches about inclusive leisure services and leisure education from an applied, philosophical, and ethical perspective. He has collaborated with international and domestic teams to conduct research on perceptions of diverse individuals and effects of programs designed to assist them in addressing barriers to their leisure. His work to empower people to experience enjoyment and meaning in their lives has resulted in 15 books, 26 book chapters, more than 150 articles, 25 funded projects, and more than 200 presentations.

  • Patricia Kleban

    • Degree
      M.S., Leisure Studies, Penn State
    • Degree
      B.S., Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management, Penn State

    Patricia Kleban is an assistant teaching professor and director of the RPTM Student Success Center at Penn State University Park. She oversees the professional internship in RPTM and has taught courses in leadership and group dynamics, inclusive recreation, and management, as well as the introduction to recreation service delivery class.

  • Chris Ortiz

    Degree
    B.S., Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management, Penn State

    Chris Ortiz teaches team development, leadership, and group dynamics in Penn State’s Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management (RPTM). He is the program director of the Team Development Center at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. For more than 25 years, he has worked with schools, university groups, corporations, and professional sports teams to strengthen relationships, motivate growth, and develop leaders. Ortiz has co-authored two resources for experiential educators, and he regularly presents internationally on innovative programming and team development ideas.

  • Brian Soulé

    • Degree
      M.S., Sport and Leisure Service Management, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    • Degree
      B.S., Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management, Clemson University

    Brian Soulé is an assistant teaching professor in RPTM, director of the RPTM Penn State World Campus program, and administrator in the Professional Golf Management option offered at Penn State University Park. He has many years of experience as a golf professional and has taught in the Commercial Recreation and Tourism Management curriculum for more than 10 years. Soulé is a PGA of America golf professional, and his doctoral research investigates motivation in the game of golf.
     

News


Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State bachelor's degree?

Apply by March 15 to start May 13. How to Apply