Female professor stops at students desk to discuss his work.

Recreation Leadership

Helping people of all ages and abilities thrive.

There’s more to life than just showing up to work — but when your career is about celebrating wellness and enriching the lives of others, earning a living can be especially rewarding. 

The Recreation Leadership degree program at York College will prepare you to succeed at a variety of jobs in recreation. Three areas of emphasis are available to students pursuing this major:

  • Outdoor Leadership
  • Youth and Family Recreation
  • Recreational Therapy

Community involvement is an essential part of any recreation degree, and at York College, our students enjoy hands-on experience with local and regional organizations. Even before graduating, you’ll have opportunities to make a real difference, helping to improve people's health and wellbeing while you discover a meaningful career in recreation, recreational therapy, or outdoor leadership.

Students hold hands mid-run during a teambuilding activity in the fieldhouse.

Majoring in Recreation Leadership

  • Key Courses

    Recreation Leadership Courses

    The Recreation Leadership major offers a wide variety of required classes, electives, and real-world learning opportunities. Students begin with core recreation classes, and then move into areas of emphasis in either Outdoor Leadership, Youth and Family Recreation, or Recreational Therapy. Courses may include:

    • REC 101: Recreation and Leisure in Modern Society
    • REC 103: Leadership and Group Dynamics
    • REC 200: Introduction to Therapeutic Recreation
    • REC 205: Foundations of Outdoor Leadership
    • REC 210/211: Recreation Programming
    • REC 230: Connecting Leisure, Health, and Wellness
    • REC 343 Organizing Therapeutic Recreation
    • REC 365: Medical Conditions and the Impact on Therapeutic Recreation
    • REC 390: Meeting Children’s Needs Through Movement
    • REC 405: Outdoor Expedition Leadership
    • REC 450: Recreation Administration

    4+1 Graduate Degree Opportunities

    Recreation Leadership majors may choose to pursue a 4+1 graduate degree in Applied Behavior Analysis. By pairing their undergraduate degree in Recreation Leadership with this graduate program, students can earn both their bachelor's degree and M.Ed. in as few as five years total. 

  • Career Opportunities & Benefits

    Careers in Recreation Leadership

    No matter your interests, York College’s experienced faculty will guide you toward real-world opportunities that allow you to build a strong professional network in your preferred subject area.

    These are just a few of the many career opportunities available to graduates of the Recreation Leadership program:

    • Parks and Recreation Director
    • Adaptive Sports Coordinator
    • Adventure Guide
    • Recreational Therapist
    • Environmental Educator
    • Park Ranger
    • Resort Activity Coordinator
    • Special Events Planner
    • Youth and Family Recreation Specialist
    • Recreational Sports Director

    Recreation Leadership Salary Information

    A degree in Recreation Leadership prepares you for a wide variety of careers. The jobs available to you will vary widely, depending on your area of emphasis, geographic location, and the experience you build over the years. 

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, recreational therapists earn a median salary around $51,000, with top earners reaching salaries near $80,000. Similarly, Payscale reports a median salary for parks and recreation directors around $60,000, with recreation coordinators earning an average of $40,000 per year.

    Benefits of a Degree in Recreation Leadership

    York College’s bachelor’s degree in Recreation Leadership opens up countless opportunities for graduates. Whether you choose to focus on Outdoor Leadership, Youth and Family Recreation, or Recreational Therapy — you’ll be well prepared for a career in a field that fuels your passion for helping others.

    Recreation and recreational therapy are rapidly growing fields, and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs in these areas will continue growing over the next several years. 

    A recreation degree also offers flexibility in future work environments. From corporate offices to the great outdoors, athletic fields to community centers, the skills you learn in this major will provide value wherever your career takes you. Graduates of York College’s Recreation Leadership program have found successful employment with a wide range of organizations, including:

    • WellSpan Rehabilitation 
    • Dover Township Parks and Recreation
    • Easter Seals
    • Open Sky Wilderness
    • SpiriTrust Lutheran
    • RICA Baltimore
    • Little Rookies Baseball
    • Willow Valley Communities
    • Masonic Village in Elizabethtown
    • Warren Township Parks and Recreation
    • Howard County Therapeutic Recreation
  • Internships & Work Experience

    Internships & Work Experience

    York College’s Recreation Leadership program is rooted in service to our community. You’ll go beyond the textbook as you participate in hands-on projects that help others, both on campus and throughout the greater York area. 

    Recreation Leadership Field Experience

    Your resume will get a jump-start long before graduation, with two major work experiences built into the curriculum. The first, Experiential Learning in Recreation, is a 120-hour supervised field experience. The second, your Directed Field Experience, is usually pursued following all coursework and involves working side-by-side with full-time recreation professionals for a total of 480-600 hours. 

    In the past, students have completed field experiences at the following sites, just to name a few:

    • Fairfax County Therapeutic Recreation Department
    • Waterview Hills Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center 
    • Masonic Village at Elizabethtown
    • Springfield Rehabilitation Center
    • Brightview Westminster Ridge Assisted Living
    • Easter Seals of Southern and Western PA 
    • Behavior by Design
    • Senior Commons at Powder Mill 
    • Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute
    • RICA Baltimore
    • Prince George's County Parks and Recreation
    • Lake Barkley State Resort Park 
    • United Sports Training Center
    • Greater Somerset County YMCA 
    • Coatesville Country Club
    • Club Scikidz
    • Camp Taconic
    • Tamarack Day Camp
    • Jewish Community Center of Margate City
    • Manchester Township Parks and Recreation
    • Northern Lehigh Recreation Authority
    • Nixon Park Nature Center
    • Maryland Conservation Corp
    • Yellow Breeches Educational Center
    • Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center
    • Marshy Point Nature Center 
    • Cheesequake State Park
    • Memorial Lake State Park

  • Mentorship & Community

    Mentorship & Community

    At York College, we pride ourselves on our community-oriented campus, with faculty members who are committed to helping students be successful. During your time in college, you’ll develop a network of peers and professionals that you can carry throughout your career. 

    Beyond the classroom, you’ll also have the opportunity to connect with like-minded peers through the Recreation and Leisure Student Association. This student-run organization is open to any York College student who is interested in helping people through recreation and related service. 

  • High-Demand Skills

    Recreation Leadership Skills and Requirements

    Careers and job descriptions shift over time, no matter which path you pursue — but a Recreation Leadership degree prepares you with transferable skills to keep you competitive in the job market long-term. 

    • People skills
    • Organization
    • Leadership and management skills
    • Communication
    • Critical thinking
    • Customer and personal service
    • Ability to train and educate others
    • Patience and compassion

    Best Minors for a Degree in Recreational Leadership

    • Applied Youth Development
    • Human Services 
    • Outdoor Leadership
    • Psychology
    • Not-For-Profit Management
    • Athletic Coaching

    Parks and Recreation Certification Program

    CPRP Certification

    The Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) certification is available to all students who graduate from the Recreation Leadership major. According to the National Recreation and Park Association, the CPRP certification is one of the most sought-after certifications in the park and recreation profession. 

    Why should you pursue CPRP certification?

    • Greater career opportunities 
    • Higher income possibilities 
    • Recognition of your accomplishments
    • Proof of your ability to meet or exceed national standards
    • A new level of commitment to the parks and recreation field

    Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist Certification Program

    CTRS Certification

    Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) certification is available to Recreation Leadership majors who choose the Recreational Therapy emphasis and complete PSY230, NUR201 or HSV250, BIO112 or BIO220, and a 560 hour Directed Field Experience (DFE).

    According to the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC), “The CTRS designation is the unifying credential for recreational therapists throughout the United States, Canada, and 15 other countries with approximately 18,000 Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (who hold active, inactive, or eligible for re-entry status) in the NCTRC registry.”

    Why should you pursue CTRS certification?

    • The most advanced professional credential for the field of therapeutic recreation 
    • The industry standard that exemplifies each professional's dedication to quality standards and excellence in practice
  • Accreditation & Professional Recognition

    Accreditation & Professional Recognition

    COAPRT Logo

    The Recreation Leadership program at York College of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT).

    2019-2020 7.0 Series Final Report

    2020 NCTRC Professional Certification Exam Report

    Important Information Regarding Degree Mills

    Please watch this important video regarding degree and accreditation mills. According to CHEA, "Degree mills and accreditation mills mislead and harm. In the United States, degrees and certificates from mills may not be acknowledged by other institutions when students seek to transfer or go to graduate school. Employers may not acknowledge degrees and certificates from degree mills when providing tuition assistance for continuing education. “Accreditation” from an accreditation mill can mislead students and the public about the quality of an institution. In the presence of degree mills and accreditation mills, students may spend a good deal of money and receive neither an education nor a useable credential." Read more on CHEA's website.

Program Requirements

Required Courses and Degree Requirements for Graduation
catalog icon

2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog

Contact Us
Laura Steck Ph.D., Chair
Applied Behavioral Sciences Department
Appell Life Sciences, 135
Phone: 717.815.6585
lsteck@ycp.edu