Parks and Recreation Management Degree

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What is Parks and Recreation Management (PRM)?

A degree in parks and recreation management prepares students for a career in administering the various tasks associated with recreation facilities and parks. Students will take courses covering a variety of topics to ensure that such managers are well rounded prior to stepping into managerial positions.

This includes budgeting, business operations, advertising and community development and awareness, human resource management and the development and implementation of recreational activities, including those of a therapeutic nature.

Top Degrees in Parks and Recreation Management

Are you thinking about earning a degree in parks and recreation management (PRM)?  If so, take the time to understand your degree options and reach out to schools.  By collecting valuable information from accredited colleges and universities, you will be equipped to make sound decisions about your future.

Below you can find a summary of each degree type and a quick means to connect with top colleges in parks and recreation management.  The degree programs range from undergraduate to graduate programs with variations and specialties associated with each.

Bachelor Degree in Parks and Recreation Management

Classroom-based degrees and online bachelor degrees in parks and recreation management are plentiful.  Online classes offer unique features such as schedule flexibility, access, cost savings, and quality curriculum from accredited schools.  Bachelor degrees in parks and recreation can be conferred as either a Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) as a function of the program’s emphasis.

Bachelor degrees are 4-year degree granting programs.  As the most popular college degree, bachelor degrees provide the breadth and depth to prepare students for a viable career in industry.  A bachelor degree also provides the foundational knowledge to enter a graduate school program in a variety of fields.

Bachelor’s degrees are a mix of liber arts education such as communications, history, art, creative writing, philosophy, and psychology with core curriculum.  Core classes will be a function of the area of specialty chosen by students.  Tracks will vary by school but will typically include the following areas of emphasis:

  • General Parks and Recreation
  • Community Recreation
  • Sport Management
  • Camp Management
  • Parks Area Management
  • Conservation Area Management
  • Professional Golf Management
  • Travel & Tourism
  • Recreational Therapy

Students will often elect to add a minor or dual major to this degree.  A popular double major is a professional golf degree coupled with a business management degree.  Popular minors can include business, sociology, nonprofit leadership, athletic leadership, and communications.

Master Degree in Parks and Recreation Management

Online master’s degrees in parks and recreation are 2-3 year programs for most students with the program lasting longer for part-time students.  Master’s degrees are conferred as Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) dependent upon the curricular focus of the program.

Graduate students will need to elect an area of emphasis and degree type.  The area of emphasis will vary from school to school but may include parks and conservation, recreation therapy, travel and tourism, and community recreation.  Degree type will be the thesis option or non-thesis option.

The non-thesis option essentially requires students to take additional classes compared to the thesis track.  Courses in the core program will generally include a series of classes in PRM research, behavioral aspects of PRM, and philosophical underpinnings of PRM.

Doctorate Degree in Parks and Recreation Management

Doctoral degrees in parks and recreation management are conferred as a PhD and found in the course catalog as a Doctor of Philosophy.  PhD programs in PRM will take 3-5 years to complete including the creation and defense of a dissertation project.

Doctorate programs in PRM are frequently designed by the student and graduate advisory committee.  Classes taken at the PhD level will be a function of school resources combined with the student’s goals, aspirations, and areas of interest.  Doctor of Philosophy programs in PRM are research-latent degrees that help prepare students for careers in education, research, and industry jobs.

Educational Requirements in PRM

Students studying in such a program will learn in a classroom setting as well as in practical settings through agreements between the school and local parks and/or facilities. Such programs are usually offered at the bachelor degree level; although graduate programs are also available, typically offering more in depth studies pertaining to higher levels of management and a more focused education regarding programs and resources.

A curriculum in parks and recreation management may include a variety of targeted courses.  An overview of classes your may find in a course catalogue include the following:

  • Foundations in Recreation
  • Program Planning
  • Risk Management
  • Budgeting
  • Commercial Recreation Management

Employment Opportunities in PRM

Individuals pursuing a career in parks and recreation management will seek employment at locations that provide recreational services, such as cruise ships, art parks, city parks, nursing homes, schools and more. Individuals in the field will be responsible for seeking funding and managing budgets in order to ensure that programs are properly implemented and maintain quality in reaching their desired goals.

Individuals may seek certification through a variety of certifying bodies in order to demonstrate additional qualifications which are desirable for potential and current employers. Certifications typically require an individual to have worked in the field of recreation for an extended period of time prior to the examination.

Due to the variety of option available to an individual in terms of employment, salaries will vary greatly among potential employers. Private businesses tend to pay more the government funded positions, though managerial positions in large parks or facilities may prove competitive in regards to wages. Certified individuals may also expect to make more, as will individuals with higher education and experience.

Student Resources in Park Management

Individuals interested in parks and recreation management may also be interested in social work, forestry, environmental biology, environmental health, recycling, and sustainability.  Additionally, the NRPA may be an association worth researching further.  The National Recreation and Parks Association provides unique member benefits and resources for PRM graduates from coast to coast.

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Related Areas of Study

Career Summary: Parks and recreation management Major




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