Graduate Studies

Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration

Admission | Courses | Program | Requirements | Integrated Degree | Profile

Interim Chairperson:  Michael Lukkarinen
Graduate Program Coordinator: Jeremy Robinett
Office:  Currens Hall 400
Telephone: (309) 298-1967 Fax: (309) 298-2967
Location of Program Offering: Macomb, Quad Cities

Graduate Faculty

  • Minsun Doh, Ph.D., Texas A&M University
  • Donald J. McLean, Ph.D., University of Waterloo
  • Cindy Piletic, Ph.D., Texas Woman's University
  • Robert Porter, Ph.D., University of Georgia

Associate Professors

  • Katherine Broughton, Ph.D., University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign
  • Michael Lukkarinen, Ph.D., University of Illinois
  • Jeremy Robinett, Ph.D., University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign

Associate Graduate Faculty
Assistant Professors

  • Young Gin Choi, Ph.D., Kansas State University
  • Megan Owens, Ph.D., University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign

Learning Outcomes

For student learning outcomes, please see

 Program Description

The Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration offers a program in graduate study leading to the Master of Science degree. Advanced course work is available in recreation administration and programming, natural resource management, outdoor/adventure recreation, therapeutic recreation, campus recreation and community programming, hospitality, event planning and management, tourism, and youth services programming.

The Master of Science program prepares students to assume responsibilities for the design, delivery, and evaluation of leisure services. Students are able to complete the 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. 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.

The program will: a) expand the student's concepts of the role and significance that leisure plays in promoting the quality of life for all Americans; b) help each student develop an understanding and appreciation of the purpose and function of research as it relates to the planning, programming, and administration of leisure services; c) encourage each student to develop higher level academic and practical skills to be able to design, deliver, and evaluate leisure services more efficiently and effectively; and d) assist students in their quest to become more proficient and effective professionals in their career interests.

Graduate Assistantships are available for students who meet specific requirements. Approximately 20 students receive graduate assistantships during the academic year.

 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. Please refer to the integrated program section for details and program offerings.

 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).

 Degree Requirements

The program requires a minimum of 34 semester hours including a minimum six semester hour culmination option.

I. Core Courses (or their equivalent competency): 16 s.h.

RPTA 511 Measurement and Statistical Analysis (3)
RPTA 515 Philosophy of Leisure (3)
RPTA 522 Seminar in Administration of Leisure Services (3)
RPTA 526 Fiscal Management in Leisure Services (3)
RPTA 599 Research Methods in Leisure Services (3)
RPTA 600 Seminar in Leisure Services (1–3)

II. Directed Electives: 12 s.h.

III. Select one of the following exit options: 6 s.h.

A. Thesis

RPTA 601 Thesis (6)

B. Graduate Research Project

RPTA 602 Graduate Research Project (6)

C. Internship

RPTA 603 Professional Internship (6)


 Course Descriptions

Hospitality Management (HM)

500 Fiscal Planning and Management for Events. (3) Best practices and industry standards for financial planning and reporting practices used to monitor events in commercial, public and non-profit environments. Students will be introduces to planning, decision-making, and reporting models commonly used in event and event-related industries. Prerequisites: Graduate standing.

501 Risk Management and Safety for Events. (3) Best practices and industry standards related to safety and security considerations for events in commercial, public and non-profit environments. Students will be introduced to risk management practices including food security, crowd management, and event sanitation. Prerequisites: Graduate standing.

Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration (RPTA)

422G Advanced Administration of Leisure Services. (3) Investigates advanced concepts and processes related to the administration of leisure services, including marketing applications and the management of human resources. Prerequisite: RPTA 322 or permission of the instructor.

424G Fund Raising and Volunteerism in Leisure Services. (3) A study of the principles and practices associated with fund raising and utilization of volunteers in public as well as private nonprofit leisure service organizations.  Prerequisite: RPTA 322 or permission of instructor.

428G Youth and Leisure Services. (3) A study of the theories, principles, and practices related to youth and leisure, including social trends and issues, youth development, youth services agencies, program planning and evaluation, behavior management, leadership, and public relations. Fieldwork observations required.  Prerequisites: RPTA 111, and RPTA 235 or permission of the instructor.

446G Wilderness Leadership. (3) Prepares students to become qualified wilderness trip leaders. Expedition behavior, emergency procedures, and wilderness leadership responsibilities will be examined during a 14-21 day expedition. Laboratory charge and field trip required. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

448G Interpretation of Cultural and Environmental Resources. (3) Develops a basic understanding for interpretation of natural, environmental and cultural resources. Includes philosophy and techniques. Field trip and laboratory charge. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

449G Management of Outdoor Recreation. (3) Management of outdoor recreation in both intensity and wilderness/dispersed recreation environments is examined. Laboratory charge and field trip required. Prerequisite: RPTA 322 or permission of the instructor.

450G Travel Workshop. (1–3, repeatable to 6) Opportunity for students to observe the operations of a variety of leisure service agencies and to discuss on location the trends, problems, and techniques in leisure service delivery. Laboratory charge and field trip required. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

451G Principles of Therapeutic Recreation. (3) Examines and applies therapeutic recreation processes and fundamental principles of program planning for people with disabilities in clinical, residential, and community-based settings to provide a conceptual basis for professional practice. Prerequisites: RPTA 251 and permission of the instructor.

452G Leisure Services for Older Adults. (3) Examines theories and concepts related to leisure and aging; includes field experiences with the elderly.

453G Clinical Therapeutic Recreation Processes. (3) Applies related clinical processes in therapeutic recreation service for persons with developmental, mental, emotional, social, physical, and chemical disabilities or impairments. Field trip required.  Prerequisites: RPTA 251 and permission of the instructor.

454G Management of Therapeutic Recreation. (3) Management of therapeutic recreation services including organizational dynamics of healthcare institutions, finance and reimbursement, budgeting, risk management, accreditation standards, certification, professional ethics.  Field trip. Prerequisites: RPTA 251, 351, and 451; permission of the instructor.

455G (cross-listed with HM 455G) Casino Operations. (3) Description of basic casino operations and principles of casino marketing, mathematics of casino games, and utility analysis of gaming motivation and gaming addictions. Exploration of career opportunities in the gaming industry. Historical background and impact of gaming on hospitality industry. Activities outside of class and field trips are required. Prerequisites: 21 years of age or permission of the instructor.

460G Sustainable Tourism Development. (3) Provides essentials for successful development of a local tourism economy including organizing, planning, developing, and operation. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

461G Conference and Convention Planning and Management. (3) Prepares students for positions as planners and managers of conferences and conventions at resorts, hotels, cruise ships, camps, universities, or other private or municipal convention centers. Graduate students will be expected to plan and carry out a conference. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

462G International Tourism. (3) Analysis of contemporary leisure travel behavior emphasizing world tourism markets, products, attractions, sales and industry trends. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

464G Group Tour Planning and Management. (3) Examines the history, structure, and mechanics of creating and selling packaged tours and the role of the group tour designer in an expanding travel and tourism industry. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

466G Resort and Country Club Management. (3) Principles and practices to plan, develop, manage and operate leisure-based facilities and services in resorts and country clubs. Prerequisite: RPTA 362 or permission of the instructor.

467G Event Planning and Management. (3) The application of methods and techniques to plan, implement and evaluate successful community special events.  Content includes selection of event themes and coordination of set up, staff, finance, promotion, partnerships, operations and evaluation.  Prerequisite: RPTA 235 or RPTA 367.

478G Great Smoky Mountains Outdoor Recreation Consortium. (3) Great Smoky Mountains Consortium involves students from several major universities in developing knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of and for natural resource management agencies, managers, and resources in a major national park onsite experience at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. Trip fee required. Prerequisites: Upper division or graduate student status or permission of the instructor.

481G Human Dimensions of Resource Management. (3) Considers theory and practice for human dimensions oriented use of land, water, and wildlife resources for recreation experiences. Examines social and physical carrying capacity of land and cultural treatment of ecological systems. Prerequisite: Upper division or graduate status or permission of the instructor.

482G Facility Management. (3) Explores problems, principles, and techniques of acquisition, management, design, and operation of facilities (e.g., parks, community centers, event venues, etc.) commonly used in leisure industries. Consideration given to factors affecting energy conservation and reducing operational costs. Field trip charge for course. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

485G (cross-listed with ZOOL 485G) Resource Management for Fly Fisheries. (3) Students will learn trout stream ecology and management, and gain fly-fishing experience. Course includes a one-week trip to a stream for students to meet with resource professionals and to practice their skills. Prerequisites: One of the following: BOT 200 (C grade or better), MICR 200 (C grade or better), ZOOL 200 (C grade or better), RPTA 110, RPTA 111 or permission of the instructor.

487G Site Planning in Recreation and Parks. (3) Introduction to basic planning principles and techniques as they apply to park and recreation projects. Special consideration given to the use of GIS and GPS technology and field techniques. Emphasis on problem solving in the planning process.Laboratory charge and field trip required. Prerequisite: Upper division status or permission of the instructor.                                                 

488G Open Space Management. (3) Investigates theory, principles, and methods of planning recreation land systems. Explores procedures to preserve, acquire, and develop recreation lands and green space throughout a district or urban area. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

490G Independent Study. (1–3, repeatable to 8) Research projects or independent study not covered in other courses. Credit assigned according to the nature and scope of project. Prerequisite: Written description of proposal including justification, objectives, and procedures must be submitted to the department chairperson prior to enrollment; permission of the department chairperson required.

493G (cross-listed with KIN 493G) Sport and Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities. (3) The course will provide students with information about sport and recreation opportunities for individuals with disabilities across the lifespan at all levels from community programs to elite levels of competition. Laboratory charge for course and field trip is required. Prerequisites: KIN 393, RPTA 251, or permission of the instructor.

500 (cross-listed with MST 500) Introduction to Museums: Purpose, Function, and History. (3) This course will provide students with an overview of the purpose, function, and history of museums and their role in society. Students will be introduced to all of the disciplines within the museum and will discuss recent issues in the field.

511 Measurement and Statistical Analysis. (3) Statistics and experimental designs that are necessary to evaluate data collected from measurement commonly obtained in recreation and park administration.

515 Philosophy of Leisure. (3) Examination of professional ethics in leisure service delivery based upon exploration of classical and contemporary thought.

522 Seminar in Administration of Leisure Services. (3) An in‑depth study of specific selected administrative problems relating to such topics as legislative and legal problems, finance, budgeting, personnel policies, land acquisition, agency relationships, etc.

526 Fiscal Management in Leisure Services. (3) This course examines the fiscal process in leisure service organizations, analyzes revenue production and expenditure alternatives, and identifies internal and external control mechanisms.

530 Program Development and Supervision. (3) A seminar in the administration and management of leisure programs in a variety of agency and organizational settings. Techniques in needs assessment; as well as development, implementation, and evaluation of leisure programs are studied.

563 Event Protocol and Promotion. (3) Best practices and industry standards related to protocol and promotion for events in commercial, public and non-profit environments. Students will demonstrate protocol, promotion and technological competencies by developing a protocol and promotion plan incorporating market research, universal design and technology. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

567 Best Practices in Event Planning and Management. (3) Best practices and industry standards for planning, implementing and evaluating events in commercial, public and non-profit environments. Students will be introduced to concepts for program design and strategic management strategies for the implementation and evaluation of events. Prerequisites:  Graduate standing.

590 Research in Leisure Services. (1–3, repeatable)

599 Research Methods in Leisure Services. (3) Research methods used in scholarly studies to solve problems common to recreation and park and tourism administration.

600 Seminar in Leisure Services. (1–3, repeatable) Course content in response to needs and approved programs of graduate students. Utilization of specialists, consultants, visiting professors. Course may be repeated with permission.

601 Thesis. (6)

602 Graduate Research Project. (6) Draws upon and demonstrates skills and knowledge acquired in previous graduate level classes. Involves planning, execution, and reporting of findings of an applied research project. The student’s graduate committee will approve, oversee and evaluate the applied research project. Prerequisite: Graduate committee approval.

603 Professional Internship. (6) Direct assignment on a three‑month to 12‑month basis to a leisure services agency or organization under the specific direction of a qualified agency administrator and supervision of a recreation faculty member. Involvements focus on practical and uniquely necessary competencies best developed in the work setting. Prerequisite: Graduate Committee approval.

604 Comprehensive Examination for Events. (0) Students will complete a comprehensive examination covering the course content required for the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Event Planning and Management. The examination will be administered in the fall and spring semesters and may be taken a maximum of three times. Graded S/U. Prerequisites: Student must have completed the course work required for the post-baccalaureate event planning and management certificate.