Recreation and Leisure Studies

It’s about more than fun and games. Really.

Discover how to enhance quality of life by improving physical, social, and mental health. In Recreation and Leisure Studies, you’ll learn how well-designed recreation programs can foster inclusivity and strengthen the cultural fabric of a community.

You’ll learn how to plan, manage, and deliver programs for all kinds of people — and thanks to field trips and practicums, that learning goes way beyond the classroom. 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.

In North America's top-rated leisure department for research into leisure, you can apply your learning to the work experience you can get through the co-op stream. When you graduate, you’ll be ready to develop programs and services that help people maximize their quality of life. Around the world, people spend billions of dollars on recreation, travel, and other leisure activities, making this one of the world's largest industries.

Choose from four majors

You have the choice of four 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 from three others. You'll .


Questions? Ask our student ambassadors

Learn why our Recreation student ambassadors chose their program... and ask them any questions about what it's like!

Students in the recreation and leisure studies degree program wearing mouse ears at Disney

A popular option in the program is the exchange to the University of Florida and Walt Disney World Resort. Learn about tourism, hospitality, and destination and event management in one of the world’s leading tourism destinations.

#1In North America for recreation and leisure research

Breif CaseAvailable as a co-op and regular program

Mickey MouseTake part in a Disney exchange program


Admission requirements

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)

We recommend completing the Admission Information Form once you've applied.

Not studying in Ontario? Search our admission requirements.


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First-year courses

September to December

  • REC 100 - Introduction to the Study of Recreation and Leisure
  • REC 101 - Introduction to Recreation and Leisure Services
  • REC 120 - Program Management and Evaluation
  • AHS 107 - Sociology of Activity, Health, and Well-being
  • PSYCH 101 - Introductory Psychology

January to April

  • SOC 101 - Introduction to Sociology
  • Four electives

After first year

About half of the classes you’ll take will be Recreation courses. With your remaining classes, you can choose electives from many of the 100 subject areas at Waterloo.

View all the courses required for your degree.

Sample upper-year courses

REC 215 – Marketing Recreation and Sport Services
REC 218 – Social Entrepreneurship for Change
REC 311 – Event Management
REC 405 – Leisure and Well-being


AHS brain symbolOffered by the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

ClickApply directly to this program on your application

CapEarn a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation and Leisure Studies


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's Children's Foundation
  • City of Markham
  • Toronto District School Board
  • Waterloo Regional Museum

Customize your Recreation and Leisure Studies degree

You can add additional areas of expertise to your degree by pursuing a double degree, joint honours degree, or options, such as the Tourism Option and Parks Option.

You can also include one of the minors available to all Waterloo students. Popular areas of focus for recreation students include Psychology, Social Development Studies, and Tourism.

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.

Recent graduates

  • 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 the future of careers in health and helping professions.

Further education

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
  • Tourism
  • Law
  • Social work

Ready to learn more?