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.
In North America for recreation and leisure research
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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
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.
Visit our Beyond Ideas website for seven ways to know if Recreation at Waterloo is for you.
- Recreation and Leisure Studies
- Recreation and Sport Business
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Monthly topics include how to choose a university program, what it's like to be a Waterloo student, the differences between high school and university, and more.
Questions? Ask a student!
Contact a Recreation and Leisure Studies 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.
September to December
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
Customize your Recreation and Leisure Studies degree
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.
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
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
Check out our Beyond Ideas website to learn about Jonathan's unique path following his graduation from Recreation and Leisure Studies.
Learn about 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 Recreation and Leisure Studies program 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, 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.
Offered by the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences
Apply directly to this program on your application
Earn a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation and Leisure Studies
Ready to learn more?
- Visit the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies website
- Email Pamela Hurvid, our Applied Health Sciences recruitment coordinator, who can answer any questions about the program
- Subscribe to our newsletter to get tips and advice from current students
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