Information for

Recreation and Leisure Studies at Waterloo

Do what you love, and help others do the same. In Recreation and Leisure Studies at Waterloo, you’ll learn how to design, implement, and improve recreation and leisure resources in the community.

Of course, helping people make the most of their leisure time is about more than fun and games. You’ll learn how to enhance quality of life by improving physical and mental health. You’ll also learn how well-designed recreation programs can foster inclusivity and strengthen the cultural fabric of a community.

You’ll be studying with the best: our program is consistently rated as the top in North America and was the first in Canada to offer a co-op stream. It also continues to be North America’s top-rated leisure department in terms of research.

The program's flexibility means you can easily combine your interests in recreation with other areas of study. Meanwhile, field trips and practicum placements mean you’ll get lots of opportunities for hands-on learning.

You’ll find plenty of job prospects when you graduate. Around the world, people spend billions of dollars on recreation, travel, and other leisure activities, making this one of the world's largest industries. 

Majors within Recreation and Leisure Studies

You have the choice of 4 majors within the program. You'll apply to Recreation and Leisure Studies and select either Recreation and Leisure Studies, Recreation and Sport Business, Therapeutic Recreation, or Tourism Development as your subject of major interest. You'll start your major right in first year.

Waterloo Recreation students learn about tourism on an exchange to 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.

About the program

briefcase Available as a co-op and regular program

Arrow pointing up and clickingApply directly to this program on your application

Graduation cap Earn a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation and Leisure Studies

Admission requirements

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

REC 105 - Interdisciplinary Approaches to Leisure
SOC 101 - Introduction to Sociology
Choose 2 courses from:
 • REC 151 - Foundations of Therapeutic Recreation
 • REC 200 - Play, Creativity and Child Development
 • REC 215 - Marketing Recreation and Sport Services
 • REC 280 - Introduction to Tourism
​Plus 1 elective


After first year

About half of the classes you’ll take will be Recreation and Leisure Studies 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.

Customize your degree

You can also add additional areas of interest and expertise by including a minor/minors as part of your degree.


Co-op in Recreation and Leisure Studies

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 positions

  • SHARKS Program Coordinator, YMCA Canada
  • Community Support Worker, Hutton House
  • Recreation Therapy Intern, West Park Healthcare Centre
  • Program Coordinator, Power Play Centre
  • Athletics Coordinator, George Brown College
  • Summer Camp Counsellor, Tim Horton's Children's Foundation
  • Marketing Analyst, Evantage


Recreation and Leisure Studies graduates have rewarding careers in a wide range of areas such as event management, program coordination, education, not-for-profit administration, facilities management, and community development.

Recent graduates

  • Teacher, Bluewater District School Board
  • Camp Manager, YMCA
  • Competitions Officer, Water Ski & Wakeboard Canada
  • Wellness & Vitality Manager, Amica Mature Lifestyles Inc.
  • Marketing & Activity Director, Waterloo Heights Apartments
  • Owner/Researcher, Advantage Research and Consulting
  • Recreation Therapist, Brantford General Hospital

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)
  • Project management
  • Tourism
  • Law
  • Social work

Helpful links