Create experiences that improve health and build communities
In one of North America’s top-rated leisure departments, learn to enhance people’s quality of life by improving physical, social, and mental health opportunities. In Recreation and Leisure Studies, you’ll discover how well-designed recreation programs can foster inclusivity and strengthen the cultural fabric of a community.
Thanks to field trips and practicums, your learning goes way beyond the classroom. Gain industry-related experience in your courses, through paid co-op work terms, or in a 105-hour practicum. With 15 elective courses you can choose, you can easily combine your interests in Recreation with other areas of study or even do a double major degree.
The recreation, leisure, and travel sector – one of the world's largest industries – provides lots of exciting and rewarding career opportunities within Canada and globally.
Choose from three majors
You have the choice of three majors within the program, starting right in first year. You'll apply to Recreation and Leisure Studies and either keep that as your major or choose to major in Recreation and Sport Business or Therapeutic Recreation. Check out seven ways to know if Recreation at Waterloo is for you to learn more.
- Get hands-on experience in class. Some of your classes include field trips (like an overnight retreat where you learn how to design and implement recreation activities).
- Tailor your degree. Use the program’s flexibility to make your degree your own. Choose a joint major or minor in another subject you’re passionate about.
- Available as a regular or co-op program
- Graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in your major
- Offered by the Faculty of Health
Discover if Recreation and Leisure Studies is right for you.
What will you learn?
You'll take a mix of Recreation courses and electives to give you an abundance of choice while providing the foundations for your upper-year classes. After first year, about half of the classes you’ll take will be Recreation courses.
Learn about courses you'll take for your degree.
Customize your degree
You can add additional areas of interest and expertise by including one or more of the areas of focus within the program.
- Event Management
You can also pursue a double degree, joint honours degree, or one of the minors available to all Waterloo students. Popular areas of focus for recreation students include Psychology, Social Development Studies, and Tourism.
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Co-op = relevant paid work experience
By alternating school terms and paid co-op work terms throughout your degree, you can explore new career areas and types of employers as your career interests evolve.
Sample co-op job titles
- Community recreation facilitator
- Recreation therapy intern
- Summer camp counsellor
- Marketing events outreach assistant
- Outdoor education assistant
- Guest services coordinator
Sample co-op employers
- YMCA Canada
- George Brown College
- Tim Horton Children's Foundation
- City of Markham
- Toronto District School Board
- Waterloo Regional Museum
What can you do with a degree in recreation?
Graduates often pursue careers in areas such as event management, program coordination, education, not-for-profit administration, facilities management, and community development.
- Youth Worker – Pioneer Youth Services
- Recreation Coordinator – Town of Halton Hills
- Coordinator, Recreation and Student Life – Wilfrid Laurier University
- Facility Program Supervisor – City of London
- Teacher – Waterloo Catholic District School Board
- Manager Registration and Travel – Tim Horton Children’s Foundation
- Recreation Director – Mid-Sun Community Centre
Learn about Jonathan's unique career path following his graduation from Recreation and Leisure Studies or discover the future of careers in health and helping professions.
While the full range of further education depends on your individual interests, these are common areas where graduates pursued a master's, PhD, or other professional program.
- Business administration (MBA)
- Education (teacher's college)
- Project management
- Social work
Common questions about the program
What’s the difference between Recreation and Leisure Studies and similar programs at other universities and colleges?
Waterloo was the first university in Canada to have a Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies and we continue to have a strong reputation among employers. Our program’s multidisciplinary approach will prepare you for careers in a variety of settings from community to not-for-profit to professional organizations. With over 40 recreation-related courses, flexibility in electives, and experiential learning opportunities like co-op and our EDGE certificate program, you’ll have a distinct advantage when pursuing your careers or further education.
What’s the difference between a college diploma and a university degree in recreation?
Entry-level careers might be similar for diploma and degree holders, but many diploma holders eventually pursue a degree in order to expand their career options. While a degree usually takes longer to complete, it usually covers more theoretical knowledge that can help you create and adapt to major changes in the industry. Having an undergraduate degree also means that you can more easily pursue further education such as a Master’s degree that can expand career options even further.
How long does it take to complete this program?
- It takes four years to complete this program as a full-time student through the regular system of study in which you’ll take courses between September and April each year and have your summers off.
- You can also choose the co-op system of study where you’ll alternate between full-time studies and full-time jobs relating to your program. A co-op program takes five years to complete – and you’ll graduate with nearly two years of paid work experience.
- It could also be completed over a longer period as a part-time program.
Is this program available online?
No. While you may be able to take some courses online, most courses required for the degree are available through in-person classes only.
Ontario students: six Grade 12 U and/or M courses including
- Any Grade 12 U English (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
Admission average: Low 80s (co-op and regular)
Not studying in Ontario? Search our admission requirements.
How to apply?
Apply directly to this program on your application.
Connect with us
Questions about courses, programs, requirements, or careers?
Please email Pamela Hurvid, our Faculty of Health recruitment co-ordinator, who can answer any questions you have.
Not sure which Recreation major is right for you?