Imagine going every day to a job you love. Do you have a passion for sports? Does working with kids and families interest you? Do you love being outdoors? If so, a career in the recreation and sport management field may be for you.

Recreation and leisure are essential for strong communities and satisfying lifestyles. USF’s Recreation and Sport Management program prepares students for rewarding careers in a field that provides meaningful leisure in a variety of settings. USF’s dedicated faculty prepares students for professional leadership roles through innovative instruction, experiential learning and a personalized advising process.

As the only nationally accredited program of its kind in the Chicago suburbs, USF’s Recreation & Sport Management program produces students who are marketable across a range of job settings. Nationally, jobs in the recreation field are expected to grow faster than the average for all
occupations (United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics). Entry level salaries average at $31,650, while median salaries can range anywhere from $62,740 to $83,790, depending on titles and duties.


  • Community Recreation & Park Resources
  • Outdoor Recreation
  • Recreation Therapy
  • Sport Operations Management

Recreation Therapy Concentration

adult and child cookingImagine yourself as the therapist clients want to see!

Recreation therapists help people improve functioning by engaging them in the activities they love. As a health care profession, recreation therapy provides career opportunities to serve people with disabling conditions through a variety of leisure activities, by maximizing their opportunities to participate in their communities, and thus impacting their overall quality of life.

What do Recreation Therapists do?

Recreation therapists use activity and community-based interventions (such as arts and crafts, sports, exercise, games, music, dance, drama, and community outings) to improve the physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and leisure needs of their clients. Therapists help clients develop knowledge, skills and behaviors for daily living, health and wellness, and rewarding community involvement. The therapist works with the client and family to incorporate specific interests and community resources into therapy to improve overall quality of life.

Where do they work?

Recreation therapists work in a variety of clinical and community-based settings, including: hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing facilities, behavioral health, substance abuse treatment, park and recreation departments, schools and special education departments, and camps.

oncc logoRecreation Therapy at USF

The only nationally-accredited program of its kind in the Chicago area, USF’s Recreation Therapy program will prepare you as a competent entry-level recreation therapist, marketable across a range of job opportunities and settings. The program offers a personalized approach to both traditional and transfer students, including the opportunity to gain hands-on learning while working closely with faculty. Hallmarks of the program include small classes, and field placements where students gain practical work experience. Certified and nationally recognized faculty personally advise students.

Get Certified

USF’s curriculum prepares students to take the national exam to become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS), as administered by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification. The CTRS is the primary credential employers require of recreation therapists. The hands-on program culminates in a full-time internship placement working under the guidance of a seasoned professional.

As the number of people with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, grows, recreation therapists will be needed to help patients maintain their mobility, to teach patients about managing their conditions, and to help patients adjust recreational activities to meet physical limitations. Therapists will be needed also to plan and lead programs designed to maintain overall wellness through participation in activities such as camps, day trips, and sports.

Helping veterans manage service-related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or injuries such as the loss of a limb. Recreational therapists can lead activities that help to reintegrate veterans into their communities and help them to adjust to any physical, social, or cognitive limitations. Therapists will also be needed to help healthy seniors remain social and active in their communities. Recreational therapy services can help the aging population to maintain their independence later in life.

Finally, as the U.S. population ages, more people will need recreational therapists to help treat age-related injuries and illnesses. Older people are more likely to suffer from stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and mobility-related injuries that may benefit from recreational therapy. Growth is expected in nursing care facilities, adult daycare programs, and other settings that care for geriatric patients.

—Source: United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Availability and Salary

Nationally, jobs in recreation therapy are expected to grow faster than average job growth (United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics).

“Employment of recreational therapists is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. As the baby-boom generation ages, they will need recreational therapists to help treat age-related injuries and illnesses and to help them maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.”

The median annual salary for a recreation therapist was $44,000 in 2014 with the top 10 percent earning more than $69,200.

Minor Programs

  • Leadership Studies
  • Sport Communication
  • Sport Marketing
  • Youth Development

Certificate Programs

  • Leadership Development
  • Recreation Therapy
  • Sport Communication
  • Sport Marketing


The University of St. Francis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (, a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

USF’s Recreation and Sport Management Program and Recreation Therapy Concentration are accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related (COAPRT) Professions. Through formal review and accreditation of higher education curricula, COAPRT protects students, families, sponsoring bodies, colleges, universities, employers, and the public by ensuring that those enrolled in accredited programs are provided a quality education that empowers them to succeed in parks, recreation, tourism and related specialization professions. For more information about COAPRT, please visit

council on accreditation logo

Program Performance Outcomes
In 2019, our 6-year graduation rate was 100%. Of 10 students graduating, all 10 graduated within six years of enrollment. Click here to view program performance outcomes.

Program Learning Outcomes
COAPRT requires the posting of aggregated learning outcomes data. Click here to see the 2019-2020 RSM program assessment 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.


“Faculty members are extremely supportive and guide you on the right path for success. Even after you start your career, your advisors assist you through your journey to help you reach the next level. They truly believe in their students and help prepare them to overcome any challenges they may face in their careers. The professors challenge and inspire their students to become the next leaders in recreation.”

-Toni Giovenco ’09, Recreation Supervisor at Downers Grove Park District

What Can You Do With This Degree?

USF will ensure that you have the tools and skills you need to find a rewarding job when you graduate. Some professional titles you might pursue with this degree include: recreation center facility manager, golf course manager, aquatics director, camp director, park ranger, adventure guide, environmental educator, high school or university outdoor program director, athletic director, intramural sports coordinator, coach, special events coordinator, sports information or media relations director, recreation therapist, rehabilitation specialist, special recreation supervisor, therapeutic recreation program director, behavioral health experiential therapist, nursing home activity director, and more.

Grow Through Real-World Experience

Real-world experience is central to USF’s Recreation and Sport Management program. During your last semester, you will complete a full-time, 12 to 14-week internship in the area of your choice. Past internship sites include:

  • Forest Preserve District of Will County (Joliet, Ill.)
  • Camp Anokijig (Plymouth, Wis.)
  • Holiday Home Camp (Williams Bay, Wis.)
  • Trout Lodge & YMCA Camp Lakewood (Potosi, Mo.)
  • Romeoville Park District (Bolingbrook, Ill.)

Department Mission, Vision & Values

Mission: To create a transformative learning environment which fosters excellence, leadership, and service.

Vision: To be a premier leader within the institution, community, region, and discipline. We will demonstrate leadership through professional and experiential education; pursue scholarship and research; and actively engage in service and outreach.

Values: To provide an engaging learning environment which:

  • Emphasizes wellness and quality of life;
  • Supports environmental stewardship;
  • Promotes inclusion, diversity, and social justice;
  • Engenders commitment to professionalism;
  • Advocates community development;
  • Facilitates opportunities for active learning;
  • And prepares servant leaders.
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