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Information for

MA Recreation and Leisure Studies

children playing on beach at sunset

The Master of Arts degree program in Recreation and Leisure Studies offers the opportunity to study leisure and leisure behaviour from a variety of social science perspectives. Students have the option of pursuing the thesis option or course work option for the MA degree.

Students learn to conduct independent scholarly research of high calibre through their coursework (usually completed during the first year of study) and a thesis (for thesis option students only, normally completed during the second year of study under the supervision of a faculty member).

The MA degree program is designed to:

  • increase knowledge of the theories and concepts of leisure, and of the contributions by the social sciences, the natural sciences, and the humanities for understanding leisure.
  • develop the ability to use research methods and designs in problem solving, hypothesis testing, and theory development.
  • increase understanding of the importance of the applications of theories, methods, and models associated with leisure in contemporary society.

The MA program is intended for students who have demonstrated strong academic abilities at the undergraduate level. While there is a blend of applied and scholarly approaches, there is a strong emphasis on the ability to conceptualize and conduct independent research of high calibre.

Admission requirements

See Applying for information on admission requirements for the MA degree and how to apply.

Degree requirements

Thesis option

Students pursuing the thesis option complete five courses including: 

  • REC 600, Integrative Seminar in Recreation and Leisure Studies
  • REC 662, Foundations for Quantitative Inquiry
  • REC 663, Foundations for Qualitative Inquiry
  • one of:
    • REC 672, Quantitative Research Data Analysis and Interpretation
    • REC 673, Designing Advanced Qualitative Inquiry
  • one elective course

Students also prepare their MA thesis

  • defending their proposal idea to their faculty supervisor and minimum one committee member
  • seeking research ethics approval for their planned research
  • preparing and defending their final thesis to their faculty supervisor, committee member, independent reader, and thesis defence chair

Course work option

Students pursuing the course work option complete eight courses including: 

  • REC 600, Integrative Seminar in Recreation and Leisure Studies
  • REC 662, Foundations for Quantitative Inquiry
  • REC 663, Foundations for Qualitative Inquiry
  • REC 620, Program Evaluation in Recreation, Sport and Tourism
  • four elective courses

Inspiring mentors

When each graduate student enters the Department, a faculty member is assigned as a temporary graduate advisor. The advisor will assist the student in the selection of courses and other matters relating to the program of study.

Normally, a student will choose a thesis supervisor from faculty in the Department. Our faculty members are active scholars recognized for the high quality and quantity of their published work, success at obtaining research funding, involvement in leadership roles in professional organizations, and review board activities for the major journals in the field and for granting agencies.

Rewarding careers

The Department is almost 50 years old and boasts approximately 3,500 alumni worldwide. Some of our Master of Arts graduates proceed to PhD studies at Waterloo or other leading institutions, while many others assume leadership roles working as senior planners or management consultants, research and evaluation specialists, analysts, or recreation therapists in a variety of service sectors.