Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration

Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration Graduate Program

The Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration teaches students how to design, deliver and evaluate leisure experiences. Leisure is commonly recognized as arts, recreation, entertainment, health and fitness, hospitality, outdoor activities, sport, travel, and tourism.

Students are able to complete the BS and MS in Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration on the Macomb Campus, as well as being able to complete core courses and some electives via livestream and asynchronous course delivery at the Quad Cities Campus and beyond.

Why Choose RPTA?

  • Hands-on learning
  • Real world training
  • Flexible scheduling options (Macomb, Quad Cities, and online opportunities)
  • Mentorship and networking with alumni and industry professionals
  • Anticipated job growth according to Occupational Outlook Handbook
  • Integrated BS to MS opportunity for motivated undergraduate students

The degree is designed to be flexible. Students may complete the degree on the Macomb and/or Quad Cities campus, and through remote course offerings taken online. Students have the opportunity to choose among directed electives and the exit option that best positions them for their careers based on approval of their graduate committee. The RPTA Department, Horn Field Campus, and partnering agencies work cooperatively to provide students with hands-on educational opportunities.

Advanced course work is available in:

  • leisure services administration,
  • campus recreation,
  • community recreation,
  • outdoor recreation and leadership,
  • natural and human dimensions of resource management,
  • park planning and management,
  • programming for leisure services,
  • tourism, hospitality, and event management,
  • recreation therapy and inclusion,
  • youth services programming,
  • non-profit organization and programming. 

Recent graduates are employed at agencies like:

  • Adventure Works
  • Peoria Civic Center
  • Arlington Heights Park District
  • Itasca Country Club
  • American Cancer Society
  • US Army Corp of Engineers
  • HyVee
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Easter Seals
  • Washington State Parks
  • George Johnson Development
  • Jason’s Deli
  • O’Fallon Park Department
  • McDonalds Corporate Headquarters


The curriculum consists of a minimum of 30 semester hours. This includes 12 semester hours of core requirements focusing on concepts and competencies in areas of research and administration of leisure services. View more details on the academic requirements.

Admission Requirements

  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 OR A 3.0 or higher GPA for the last two years (60 s.h.) of undergraduate work
  • Current résumé
  • Statement of Intent (a minimum of 500 words and a maximum of 1000 words, double-spaced) that explains: why the student wants to attend Western Illinois University; what previous experiences they have the will contribute to their success in graduate studies; and, how they believe graduate studies in Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration is consistent with their academic emphasis, career aspirations, and/or long-term academic/professional goals.
  • Name, title, and contact information for three professional references (these can be included at the end of the statement of intent).

Graduate Assistantships

Qualified RPTA graduate students receive assistantship funding each academic year. Assistantships are awarded on the basis of undergraduate performance and professional experience. Graduate assistants are involved with research projects, teaching, and community service, not to exceed twenty hours per week. Stipends are available, and graduate assistants receive tuition waivers.

View more information about assistantships on the Graduate Studies website.

Integrated Baccalaureate and Master’s Degree Programs

The RPTA Integrated Baccalaureate and Master’s Degree Program allows exceptional RPTA undergraduate students from Western Illinois University to take up to nine hours of 400-G level classes that apply to the requirements for the Bachelor’s Degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration and the Master of Science Degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration. This program will allow outstanding undergraduates to earn both degrees in five years.

RPTA and Sport Management offer an integrated degree program designed to prepare students for careers in a wide variety of sporting events. Students in the integrated program are allowed to use six semester hours to satisfy both the Bachelor of Science in Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration degree and the Master of Science in Sport Management degree.

View more information about integrated programs on the Graduate Studies website.

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Event Planning and Management

The interdisciplinary graduate certificate in Event Planning and Management offered by the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration provides an opportunity for individuals interested in obtaining entry-level and mid-level positions in event planning and management as well as seasoned practitioners wanting to advance their knowledge of theoretical and applied best practices in commercial, public and non-profit environments. The six-course, 18 credit hour graduate level certificate program is designed to be flexible so that participants can complete the program in one year, or as their schedule allows. The interdisciplinary courses expose students to industry best practices as well as theoretical, legal and economic considerations related to event design, fiscal planning, food sanitation and security, and risk management.

Courses may be counted towards the certificate and a Master of Science degree in RPTA. Students who wish to earn a certificate and MS simultaneously must notify the graduate program coordinator so they can receive proper advising.

View more information about PBC in Event Planning and Management.


Learning Outcomes

For student learning outcomes, please see

Graduate Resources