Recreation, Parks, and Tourism

Bachelor of Science in Recreation - Recreation, Parks, & Tourism Resources Major

The recreation, parks, and tourism resources major prepares students for careers providing outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities for a wide range of public, commercial, and non-profit agencies.  This is a natural resource management degree program, emphasizing the ecological, economic, social, and psychological aspects of managing outdoor recreation and tourism resources.  A required core of natural resource-based recreation and tourism management courses is complemented by forestry and natural resource management emphasis courses and other required University courses.

Further information on the recreation, parks, and tourism resources major is available at the program's website at: or e-mail the program coordinator at:  Come visit our Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Resources office in the Division of Forestry and Natural Resources, 325 Percival Hall, P.O. Box 6125, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506-6125.

Professional Preparation and Areas of Emphasis

The professional preparation program in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Resources is grounded in the RPTR core required courses and capped with a professional internship program, usually during the summer following the student's junior year.  Students are encouraged to develop focused emphasis areas in specialties such as park and outdoor recreation, adventure recreation, or sustainable tourism through careful selection of focused electives. RPTR majors are also urged to seek both volunteer and paid seasonal employment and service learning opportunities in the recreation, parks, and tourism field to enhance their employability when graduating.  Finally, RPTR majors are mentored into becoming active in professional societies and associations such as the student-led Professional Recreation and Park Society, Society of American Foresters, and National Recreation and Park Association, and they are encouraged to earn professional certification in areas such as sustainable tourism, leadership, and wilderness first responder.

Click here to view the Suggested Plan of Study

General Education FOUNDATIONS

Please use this link to view a list of courses that meet each GEF requirement.

NOTE: Some major requirements will fulfill specific GEF requirements. Please see the curriculum requirements listed below for details on which GEFs you will need to select.

General Education Foundations
F1 - Composition & Rhetoric3-6
Introduction to Composition and Rhetoric
and Composition, Rhetoric, and Research
Accelerated Academic Writing
F2A/F2B - Science & Technology4-6
F3 - Math & Quantitative Skills3-4
F4 - Society & Connections3
F5 - Human Inquiry & the Past3
F6 - The Arts & Creativity3
F7 - Global Studies & Diversity3
F8 - Focus (may be satisfied by completion of a minor, double major, or dual degree)9
Total Hours31-37

Please note that not all of the GEF courses are offered at all campuses. Students should consult with their advisor or academic department regarding the GEF course offerings available at their campus.

Curriculum Requirements

Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Requirements
ENGL 101
ENGL 102
Introduction to Composition and Rhetoric
and Composition, Rhetoric, and Research (GEF 1)
or ENGL 103
ENGL 305
Accelerated Academic Writing
and Technical Writing
ANRD 191First-Year Seminar1
MATH 124Algebra with Applications (or higher: GEF 3)3
STAT 211Elementary Statistical Inference (GEF 8)3
Select one of the following (GEF 2):4
General Biology
and General Biology Laboratory
General Biology
and General Biology Laboratory
Principles of Biology
Select one of the following (GEF 8):4
Environmental Biology
and Environmental Biology Laboratory
Survey of Chemistry
Environmental Geoscience
and Environmental Geoscience Laboratory
WDSC 100Forest Resources in United States History (GEF 5)3
PSYC 101Introduction to Psychology (GEF 4)3
GEF 63
Natural Resource Management Requirements
WMAN 150Principles of Conservation Ecology (GEF 7)3
FOR 140West Virginia's Natural Resources (GEF 8)3
FOR 240Introduction to Computing in Natural Resources3
FOR 421Renewable Resources Policy and Governance3
FOR 438Human Dimensions Natural Resource Management3
FOR 205Dendrology3
or FOR 424 Vegetation of West Virginia
Choose 1 of the following:3
Natural Resource Entrepreneurship
Introductory Environmental and Resource Economics
Any BUSA course
AGEE 421Agricultural and Natural Resource Communications 3
FMAN 212Forest Ecology3
FOR 310Elements of Silviculture3
Select 1 group of the following:3
Geographic Information Systems and Science
Foundations of Applied Geographic Information Systems
and Introduction Geographic Information Systems Natural Science
Introduction Geographic Information Systems Social Science
Select 1 of the following:3
Principles of Human Communication
and Human Communication in the Interpersonal Context
Public Communication
Effective Public Speaking
RPTR Core Requirements
RPTR 142Introduction to Recreation, Parks and Tourism *2
RPTR 145Recreation Services for Special Populations3
RPTR 148Wilderness First Responder3
RPTR 239Sustainable Tourism Development *3
RPTR 242Environmental and Cultural Interpretation * †3
RPTR 335Management in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Organizations *3
RPTR 433Recreation Resource Management3
RPTR 450Social Research Methods in Natural Resource Management3
RPTR 485Professional Development Seminar (Capstone Experience) *1
RPTR 491Professional Field Experience6
Area of Emphasis (1 Area Required)12
Focused Electives12
Total Hours120

Suggested Plan of Study

First Year
ENGL 101 (GEF 1)3WMAN 150 (GEF 7)3 
BIOL 101
BIOL 103 (GEF 2)
4PSYC 101 (GEF 4)3 
RPTR 1422WDSC 100 (GEF 5)3 
FOR 140 (GEF 8)3RPTR 2423 
MATH 124 (or higher: GEF 3)3ENGL 102 (GEF 1)3 
ANRD 1911  
 16 15
Second Year
Select one of the following (GEF 8):4CSAD 2703RPTR 1483
 FOR 2403 
 STAT 211 (GEF 8)3 
 RPTR Emphasis Course3 
FOR 2053RPTR 1453 
RPTR 2393  
FOR 3403  
 13 15 3
Third Year
FMAN 2123GEF 63RPTR 4916
RPTR 3353RPTR 4851 
RPTR 4333Focused Elective3 
RPTR Emphasis Course3RPTR Emphasis Course3 
GIS Class3RPTR 4503 
 15 13 6
Fourth Year
FOR 3103RPTR Emphasis Elective3 
FOR 4213AGEE 4213 
FOR 4383Focused electives3 
Focused electives3Focused electives3 
 12 12
Total credit hours: 120

Adventure Recreation Area of Emphasis Requirements

RPTR 251Leadership in Experiential Education3
RPTR 150Backcountry Living Skills3
Restriced electives6
Total Hours12

Park and Outdoor Recreation Area of Emphasis Requirements

RPTR 251Leadership in Experiential Education3
RPTR 365Planning and Design in Recreation, Parks and Tourism3
FMAN 423Urban Forest Management3
RPTR 200-400 Level Electives3
(Additional Electives are chosen after consultation with your advisor.)
Total Hours12

Sustainable Tourism Area of Emphasis Requirements

BUSA 330Survey of Marketing3
GEOG 425Urban and Regional Planning3
or GEOG 209 Economic Geography
or ARE 411 Rural Economic Development
RPTR 472Tourism System and Destination Management3
RPTR 200-400 Level Elective3
(Additional Electives are chosen after consultation with your advisor.)
Total Hours12

Major Learning Outcomes

Recreation, Parks, and Tourism

Students graduating from the RPTR program shall be able to:

  1. Apply a broad range of social science theories and methods to policy, planning, and management challenges and opportunities in the recreation, tourism, and natural resource fields.
  2. Design and conduct field relevant research to address natural resource based recreation and tourism questions and problems (or design and execute a project).
  3. Analyze and interpret research data that addresses natural resource based recreation and tourism questions and problems (or projects).
  4. Communicate effectively in writing and oral presentations to professional and lay audiences about issues in the RPTR field.

  5. Remain current with contemporary issues within one's field and related areas.

RPTR 140A. Adventure West Virginia. 3 Hours.

This course provides incoming WVU freshman with the information and tools helpful for a successful transition from high school to college through a field-based, experiential curriculum.

RPTR 142. Introduction to Recreation, Parks and Tourism. 2 Hours.

Recreation, parks and tourism philosophy, environments, agency contexts, historical antecedents, service delivery systems, special settings and populations, leadership programs and professional challenges. 30 hour, field placement with local recreation, park or tourism agency.

RPTR 145. Recreation Services for Special Populations. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Introductory analysis of current therapeutic recreation and park services to include members of special populations; familiarization with planning for the conduct of such services.

RPTR 148. Wilderness First Responder. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. This course provides training necessary to become certified in dealing with various aspects and levels of outdoor/ wilderness crises for forestry, recreation, or any outdoor professionals. (Grading will be pass/fail.).

RPTR 150. Backcountry Living Skills. 1,3 Hour.

PR: Consent. The purpose of this course is to develop and refine the skills necessary to camp and travel in the outdoors.

RPTR 239. Sustainable Tourism Development. 3 Hours.

This course will introduce students to the phenomenon and significance of global tourism and teach them how to apply tourism principles to support community economic development.

RPTR 242. Environmental and Cultural Interpretation. 3 Hours.

This course is about people, communication and natural resource management. It focuses on theory and application of communication methods for natural resource settings and topics, including communication of technical information to lay publics.

RPTR 249. GIS in Recreation and Tourism. 3 Hours.

Covers GIS applications in the temporal and spatial complexities of recreation and tourism.

RPTR 251. Leadership in Experiential Education. 3 Hours.

This course focuses on elements of leadership in outdoor and experimental education and provides students with hands-on learning opportunities.

RPTR 255. Adventure New Zealand: Wilderness Leadership in an International Context. 6 Hours.

This course will provide a theoretical and applied study of wilderness leadership in an international context. Participants will study relevant leadership theory, critical wilderness skills, and international programming concepts. The program will culminate in a student led final in which the instructors step back to observe the students put their new knowledge and skills to the test.

RPTR 263. Program Planning in Recreation, Parks and Tourism. 3 Hours.

PR: RPTR major or consent. Fundamentals of general program planning, needs, facilities, age groups, local customs, climatic factor, etc.; settings such as parks, playgrounds, indoor centers, playing fields, hospitals, voluntary agencies, industrial settings, and campuses.

RPTR 293. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation of topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

RPTR 325. Challenge Course Facilitation. 3 Hours.

This course involves learning the background philosophies, theories, and structures that have led to development of the challenge course industry. Students will also learn the basic skill necessary to safely facilitate a group.

RPTR 326. Canopy Tour Facilitation. 3 Hours.

Exposes the student to the skills and knowledge necessary to act as a canopy tour guide including: risk management, operations, technique, facilitation, and an overview of the industry. Successful completion of the course will qualify the student to take the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) Level 1 Practitioner Certification Exam.

RPTR 335. Management in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Organizations. 3 Hours.

PR: 12 hours of RPTR courses, junior standing, or consent. Principles of administration as applied to the operation of recreation, parks and tourism organizations, including policy, legal foundations, organization, personnel, and finance.

RPTR 351. Sustainable Tourism. 3 Hours.

PR or CONC: RPTR 352. The purpose of this course is to provide students of all majors with an understanding of both theory and practical applications of concepts surrounding sustainable tourism development in the South Pacific.

RPTR 352. Marine Ecotourism. 3 Hours.

PR or CONC: RPTR 351. This course will focus on developing interpretation and information strategies in tourism to protect and conserve marine ecosystems.

RPTR 353. Sustainable Tourism in Patagonia. 3 Hours.

PR: RPTR 150; Winter Break excursion in Patagonia, Chile. This course will provide a theoretical and applied study of sustainable tourism and the ecosystems and culture of the Aysen region of Patagonian Chile. Alongside local guides and entrepreneurs, students will explore nature-based tourism and investigate how this tourism can be an agent of sustainable development. Student will investigate contemporary controversial issues in Chilean Patagonia.

RPTR 365. Planning and Design in Recreation, Parks and Tourism. 3 Hours.

PR: RPTR major or consent. Study of planning and design concepts, standards and guidelines, use continuum, grants-in-aid, and planning of selected areas and facilities: parks, pools, centers and recreation areas.

RPTR 433. Recreation Resource Management. 3 Hours.

An analysis of land management agencies and major legislation concerned with recreation resource management; review, develop, and apply recreation resource and visitor use management plans.

RPTR 434. Wilderness in American Society. 3 Hours.

PR: RPTR 433 or consent. A seminar examining political, sociological, and environmental aspects of American wilderness. A discussion on articles concerning wilderness preservation, management, and aesthetics.

RPTR 442. Advanced Interpretive Techniques. 3 Hours.

PR: RPTR 242 or consent and junior standing. This is an advanced course on the development of interpretive programs that reflect the historical, cultural, and natural resources of an area. The course employs a project-based approach. Students will develop and critique both personal and non-personal products.

RPTR 448. Ecotourism Development. 3 Hours.

Covers applied approaches to the development and operation of nature-based tourism businesses. Sustainable tourism principles, business planning, marketing strategies, and management issues are thoroughly examined.

RPTR 450. Social Research Methods in Natural Resource Management. 3 Hours.

Social research methods in natural resource management with concentration on problem identification and solving. Data collection methods and applications specific to natural resource management social settings will be studied.

RPTR 472. Tourism System and Destination Management. 3 Hours.

Analysis of the demand and supply components of the tourism system and identification of destination management approaches to manage this tourism system in-order to build and maintain a competitive and sustainable destination.

RPTR 485. Professional Development Seminar. 1 Hour.

This course is a capstone preplanning course for the professional internship program. The course emphasizes professional development and career planning.

RPTR 490. Teaching Practicum. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Teaching practice as a tutor or assistant.

RPTR 491. Professional Field Experience. 1-18 Hours.

PR: Consent. (May be repeated up to a maximum of 18 hours.) Prearranged experiential learning program, to be planned, supervised, and evaluated for credit by faculty and field supervisors. Involves temporary placement with public or private enterprise for professional competence development.

RPTR 493. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation of topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

RPTR 494. Seminar. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Presentation and discussion of topics of mutual concern to students and faculty.

RPTR 495. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Faculty supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

RPTR 496. Senior Thesis. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent.

RPTR 498. Honors. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Students in Honors Program and consent by the honors director. Independent reading, study or research.