Recreation and Leisure Studies

Create experiences that improve health and build communities

Students in the Recreation and Leisure Studies progarm at the University of Waterloo.

Recreation and Leisure Studies students gain hands-on experience in their REC 120 - Program Management and Evaluation course.

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.

Program highlights

First department of recreation in Canada. We've been leaders since day one and are dedicated to ensuring you gain the most relevant, up-to-date knowledge. Plus, after 50+ years, our graduates' success has built our reputation for educating the health care leaders of tomorrow.

Get hands-on experience in class. Benefit from classes that include guest speakers, community outreach events, case studies, and real life projects (such as conducting an accessibility assessment on campus or in a public building).


Discover if Recreation and Leisure Studies is right for you.


What will you learn?

First-year courses

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
  • Tourism

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.


Get tips from Waterloo students

Sign up for insider advice that can help you now and in the future.

Topics include how to choose a program, what it's like to be a Waterloo student, the differences between high school and university, and more.

Questions? Ask a student!

Connect with a current student ambassador to learn about their experience in the program.

Ask them questions such as why they chose their program, what the classes are like, and how you can get involved on campus.


Co-op = relevant paid work experience

Waterloo's co-op program, the largest in North America, is an amazing way to explore potential careers, learn to interview for jobs, graduate with up to two years of valuable experience – and make money!

Sample co-op job titles

  • Community recreation facilitator
  • Recreation therapy intern
  • Summer camp counsellor
  • Marketing events outreach assistant
  • Outdoor education assistant
  • Guest services coordinator

Co-op work-study sequence

Starting in second year, you'll normally alternate between school and work every four months, integrating your classroom learning with real-world experience. You can return to the same employer for a couple of work terms to gain greater knowledge and responsibility or work for different employers to get a broad range of experience.

Year September to December (Fall) January to April (Winter) May to August (Spring)
First Study Study Off
Second Study Co-op Study
Third Co-op Study Co-op
Fourth Study Co-op Study
Fifth Co-op Study -

Your first work term will be halfway through second year (January to April 2026).

Learn more about co-op →



megaphone icon"I came into university unsure of what I wanted to do. I also wasn’t very good at job interviews. Co-op let me explore my passions and practice my interview skills. Through co-op, I've also learned that you need to love what you do to be happy."Justine, second-year Recreation and Leisure Studies student

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)

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 contact Clare Stevens, our Faculty of Health recruitment co-ordinator who can answer any questions you have.

Headshot of Clare Stevens