College of Social and Behavioral Sciences2017-2018

Department of Geography, Planning, and Recreation

Parks and Recreation Management, Master of Science

The Master of Science in Parks and Recreation Management (PRM) will prepare students for administrative and management positions in parks, recreation and leisure services organizations.  Graduates of this program will have the ability to apply advanced management skills, theories to current and future challenges in an ever-changing social paradigm. The courses focus on contemporary, park and recreation management best practices, geographic information systems (GIS) experience, diversity issues, staffing and personnel, strategic marketing, legal applications, research application and evaluation, and the shift to a service-driven global economy.


What Can I Do with a Master of Science in Parks and Recreation Management?

The MS in Parks and Recreation Management at Northern Arizona University will provide you with the tools to engage in a career in either the private or public sectors. The coursework will provide a comprehensive approach to the best practices in parks and recreation management. The program of studies includes specialized courses in marketing, human resources, research methods, cultural recreation, geographic information systems (GIS) experience, legal issues and applications.

Career opportunities that might be pursued:
  • Land management agency administrator/supervisor
  • Municipal park and recreation manager/director
  • Resort or private recreation manager
  • Camp director
  • Event/Meetings manager
  • Recreation youth/adult program manager

With further education, one of these paths is possible:
  • University/College professor
  • Parks and recreation consultant
  • County, city or public works manager

University Requirements

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. (Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.)

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master’s degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.
    The full policy can be viewed here.



In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 30
Additional Admission Requirements Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Required
Oral Defense Oral Defense is required.
Research Individualized research is required.
Some online/blended coursework Required
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study

Purpose Statement

The Master of Science in Parks and Recreation Management is a challenging program that prepares parks and recreation managers for leadership roles in public and commercial organizations.  Through a student-centered approach, the program emphasizes the development of a manager’s ability to forecast and address the evolution of recreation and to lead a recreation organization utilizing optimal practices in leadership, management, and in the delivery of recreational services.  Specific attention is directed at leadership issues, agency management, the utilization of geographic information systems, legal issues, diversity perspectives, and in emerging trends in park, leisure, tourism and recreation.  The program provides for a supportive cohort of parks and recreation management peers, enhanced by instruction by faculty with extensive experience in all aspects of parks and recreation management.  Graduates of the program will gain a comprehensive understanding of the dynamic environment of parks and recreation management to be prepared for their vital role in ensuring the access, development, expansion and assessment of future park, recreation, and leisure service opportunities and experiences for individuals, families, and communities.  The program is designed for those seeking supervisory roles in parks and recreation management.

Student Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the MS in Parks and Recreation Management will demonstrate competencies in:

  • Demonstrate strategic management and administration (e.g., human resources, finance, research, trend forecasting) for a parks, recreation, leisure, or tourism organization.
  • Describe experience marketing concepts and strategies for a parks, recreation, leisure, or tourism agency.
  • Demonstrate written, oral and technological communication skills required for successful interactions with diverse internal and external communities.
  • Apply effective methods in acquiring, analyzing, and evaluating current research related to the parks and recreation profession.
  • Demonstrate comprehension of and the ability to interpret Geographic Information Systems (GIS) maps to make data-driven analyses.
  • Ability to collect pertinent financial data, prepare, monitor, and analyze budgets and other financial methods.
  • Demonstrate comprehension and ability to design leisure and recreational experiences that are sensitive to individual and cultural dimensions of diversity.
  • Ability to comprehend and apply legal case studies to current recreation related issues in facilities management, risk management, personnel supervision and training, and tort law.
  • Apply the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act to the operations of a parks and recreation management organization.
  • Demonstrate research techniques and utilization applicable to parks and recreation management operations.
  • Define a problem, conduct a literature review, plan for data collection, and analyze a field-based project in parks and recreation management.
  • Develop knowledge and applied understanding of program concepts through supervised professional experience. 


Additional Admission Requirements
  • Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
    • NAU Graduate Online application is required for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution
    • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or the equivalent. 
    • Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
    • Transcripts
    • For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy
    • International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy 

    Individual program admission requirements include:

    • 3 letters of recommendation
    • Personal statement or essay
    • Prerequisites. You must satisfy ONE of the following:
      • An undergraduate or graduate degree in parks and recreation, leisure, or related field
      • One year work experience in parks and recreation, leisure, or related field
      • PRM 601
Master's Requirements
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.

Campus Availability

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