Want a career in tourism? This is your boarding call.
Delve into the social, economic, and environmental impacts of tourism in Canada and around the world.
In Tourism Development, you'll discuss the latest issues and trends with internationally recognized professors, and you’ll learn how to plan, implement, and evaluate tourism experiences in environmentally and culturally sensitive ways. And you’ll do it at a university ranked third in Canada for hospitality and leisure management (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021).
Today, tourism is the world's largest industry, accounting for 1 in 10 jobs on the planet. So it’s no surprise that the demand has never been higher for people who can manage and protect tourism destinations — people like Tourism Development grads and co-op students.
Waterloo ranks #1 in Canada for tourism and hospitality research (Academic Rankings of World Universities 2020)
Take part in the Disney Exchange Experience
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 for Recreation and Leisure Studies (RLS). You'll apply to RLS for the Tourism Development major.
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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 Tourism Development, what the classes are like, and how you can get involved on campus.
First-year courses and beyond
September to December
January to April
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.
Sample upper-year courses
Customize your degree
You can add additional areas of interest and expertise by including one or more of the minors available to all Waterloo students. Popular areas of focus for Tourism Development students include Event Management, Environment, Resources and Sustainability, and Management 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.
What can you do with a degree in Tourism Development?
As a graduate, you’ll be well prepared for careers developing, implementing, and evaluating tourism experiences and events in Canada and around the world. Possible careers you could pursue with a degree in Tourism Development include
- tourism development manager
- marketing executive in the travel industry
- outdoor activities/education manager
- regional tourism director
- tourism development planner
- economic development: tourism sector/ development planning
- international travel advisor/manager
While the full range of further education depends on your individual interests, graduates who pursue a master's, PhD, or other professional program often continue their education in tourism or business (MBA).
Learn about the future of careers in the health and helping professions.
Common questions about the program
What’s the difference between tourism and hospitality?
Hospitality and tourism are closely linked but there are a few differences. In general, hospitality involves providing food and shelter for people who are away from home (e.g., hotel and restaurant industry) while tourism involves providing services to people who are away from home (e.g., tour operators, transportation, etc.) Waterloo’s Tourism Development program is focused on managing sustainable and equitable tourism services and events, and it does not include courses on hotel or restaurant management.
What’s the difference between Tourism Development and similar programs at other universities?
Tourism and hospitality programs are often offered by business schools and therefore require a significant number of business courses for the degree. Waterloo’s Tourism Development program is offered by the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies so instead focuses on planning, managing, delivering, and evaluating tourism and recreation services and events. Our program gives you the skills to facilitate tourism experiences that are sustainable and equitable, which will be increasingly important in tourism careers over the next few decades.
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.
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.
Offered by the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences
Apply via Recreation and Leisure Studies and choose Tourism Development as your major
Earn a Bachelor of Arts in Tourism Development
Ready to learn more?
- Visit the Tourism Development website
- Contact our Applied Health Sciences recruitment co-ordinator who can answer any questions about the program
- Subscribe to our newsletter to get tips and advice from current students
- Related program: International Development
Graduate with experience
Gain 100+ hours of experience with a local tourism business as well as analyzing real-world tourism destinations.
Disney World exchange
Take your learning off campus by applying for a study-abroad term at the University of Florida and Walt Disney World Resort. Mouse ears optional.
Learn more about the Disney exchange program on our Beyond Ideas website.