Jul 22, 2024  
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog 
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog

Recreation Management and Leadership, BA

Location(s): WWU - Bellingham

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Department of Health and Human Development, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

63 credits


The purpose of recreation and leisure is to contribute to the health and well-being of individuals and enhance the quality of community life. As such, the study of recreation is multidisciplinary, requiring understanding of the social, behavioral, physical, and environmental sciences as they pertain to helping people grow and develop in their leisure while conserving our vital natural resources. Knowledge of the arts and humanities is important as well, because leisure is one of the most fertile opportunities for self-expression and the development of community.

In support of healthy individuals, families, and communities, career opportunities in recreation and leisure services are numerous and diverse. The Recreation Management and Leadership curriculum prepares students to design, implement, manage, lead, and evaluate recreation programs and services. The program is designed as four sequential 15-17 credit hour blocks of classes (phases) with students moving through the program as a cohort group. Students enter Phase I of the program during spring quarter, typically during their sophomore or junior year. The following schedule shows the sequential order of the four program phases:

- Fall Winter Spring Summer
Freshman - - - -
Sophomore - - I -
Junior - II   III
Senior IV - - -

The phase system allows maximum flexibility for scheduling students’ educational experience to include workshops, field experiences, conferences, and seminars both on and off campus. By making use of other departments at Western, statewide recreation resources, and recreation professionals, students are provided with exposure to a wide variety of experiential and service-learning opportunities.

Why Consider a Recreation Management and Leadership Major?

Recreation and leisure contribute to the health and well-being of individuals and their communities. Graduates of Recreation Management and Leadership are employed throughout the region, nation, and world in a variety of settings, including public recreation departments, outdoor recreation programs, hospitals, and tourism agencies. The Recreation Management and Leadership major emphasizes preparation in the broad areas of outdoor recreation, community recreation, therapeutic recreation, and sustainable tourism. Community and outdoor recreation graduates find employment in federal and state recreation and park agencies, county and community recreation departments, non-profit agencies, camp and adventure programs, wilderness therapy, and commercial recreation settings. Therapeutic recreation graduates find employment in hospitals; skilled nursing facilities; mental health agencies; adaptive outdoor recreation programs, community recreation departments; and federal, state, and private agencies serving persons with disabilities or other adapted recreation needs. Graduates prepared in sustainable tourism find employment with tour companies, resorts, ecolodges, and convention and visitor bureaus.

Recreation Management and Leadership and its Therapeutic Recreation Concentration are nationally accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT).

Students should contact Jen Leita, HHD Advising Coordinator, for current information on admission procedures.

 Contact Information

Community Recreation/
Outdoor Recreation

Randy Burtz
Associate Professor
Carver 209D

Therapeutic Recreation
Melissa D’Eloia
Associate Professor
Carver 209F

Sustainable Tourism & Recreation Management and Leadership Coordinator
Jasmine Goodnow
Carver 209E

Therapeutic Recreation
Kristen Chmielewski
Associate Professor
Carver 209C

General Information
and Advising

Jen Leita
Carver 201A


 Sample Careers

Recreational Therapist | Outdoor Adventure Leader | Youth Programs Coordinator | Eco-tourism Operator | Park Ranger | Parks and Recreation Agencies | Campus Recreation | Camp Director | Inclusion Specialist

 Major/Career Resources



How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):

First priority is given to students who have submitted applications by the first Thursday in November during fall quarter. After this date, consideration is given to applicants on a case-by-case basis. However, the major is popular and the number of students admitted is limited, so students are encouraged to apply by the priority deadline. Students must have completed 45 quarter unit credits, including approved transfer credits, before starting Phase I. The deadline also applies to transfer students. Students interested in the major should contact Jen Leita, HHD Advising Coordinator, if they have any questions about available space and the application process.

A minor in Recreation is not offered presently.

Grade Requirements

A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s major or minor courses and supporting courses for majors and minors.


RECR 375 - Assessment and Documentation in Therapeutic Recreation  and RECR 376 - Therapeutic Recreation Program Design  are required for the therapeutic recreation option and are offered fall quarter each year.

Support Area

Recreation Management and Leadership majors must develop a 25-credit support area. Support areas may range from traditional minors (e.g., sociology, environmental studies, business, and other fields) to interdisciplinary studies incorporating courses from a broader spectrum of University course offerings. The interdisciplinary support area is designed under the guidance of the student’s faculty advisor and must have the advisor’s final approval.

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