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Human Movement SciencesM.S. in Park, Recreation and Tourism Studies

The Master of Science in Park, Recreation and Tourism Studies focuses on the professionalization of the park, recreation and tourism practitioner. A need exists for highly trained executives who can be a well-rounded, competent executives to tackle the ever-widening scope of responsibility in the park, recreation and tourism field. A comprehensive, malleable graduate program can prepare them in these areas.

About the Program

This program is designed to prepare students and practitioners for advanced study in the concepts, theories, research, management, and administration of the park, recreation and tourism industry. The M.S. in PRTS seeks to give students advance administrative and empirical knowledge related to organizational decision-making and recreation/tourism agency management. Expected knowledge, skills and abilities from MS in PRTS would include proper assessment, testing and evaluation; understanding of trends and demographics, psychographics; ability to implement data collection methods, reporting, application and sharing of findings; and grant writing.

Admission as a graduate student at ODU does not imply acceptance into the Master of Science in Park, Recreation and Tourism Studies. A program admissions committee-with the Graduate Program Director and at least two other faculty members from PRTS-will meet to consider applications and make determinations regarding acceptance to the program. In addition to the specific essay requirements stated below, the PRTS program also requires that applicants include a former or current employer as one of his/her three references.

*One of the criteria for acceptance is an essay describing the applicant's goals including:

  • Your professional work experience in the field of park, recreation and tourism.
  • Educational career goals (i.e., what will your MS degree enable you to do)
  • Area of research interest and why it's important (e.g., key issues in the field, gaps in the literature)
  • Specific faculty member you wish to study under and why
  • Why you should be admitted to the PRTS MS program
  • If you are interested in being considered for a specific assistantship, please specify which one and why

The curriculum incorporates the three areas of parks, recreation and tourism. The importance of all three is that park resources are used by both recreationists (i.e., local residents/participants who recreate in parks and open spaces) and tourists (i.e., visitors/non-local participants who recreate in parks and open spaces). In an era of doing more with less, traditional park and recreation educational programs have expanded their perspectives to include tourism aspects as they relate to the administration and provision of services at local, state and national parks. Recreation and tourism are related because recreation revolves around local participants, whereas tourism is recreation outside of one's local area.

Students must choose from one of two capstone options: a 6-credit thesis or a 3-credit non-thesis/research project and an additional elective course. The thesis option requires a successful defense of the thesis prospectus. The non-thesis (research project) option requires successful completion of a comprehensive examination covering the four required PRTS core courses.

Graduates of the MS in Park, Recreation and Tourism Studies (PRTS) will have the ability to:

  1. Provide oversight of operations in PRT (e.g., writing/implementation of policies and procedures at facilities, risk management, inventory management, emergency preparedness, and conduct needs assessment).
  2. Prepare research reports and grant proposals.
  3. Prepare financial and business documents for PRT.
  4. Assess, evaluate and manage human resources in PRT.
  5. Serve as a subject matter expert in PRT.
  6. Lead organizations in an efficient and proficient manner.
  7. Plan, evaluate, and oversee PRT agency (e.g., local, state, national) programs (the ability to set goals and objectives, operate according to agency mission, establish priorities, plan/evaluate recreation programs and park/event services, create vision and be current with professional trends).
  8. Value professionalism (developing greater skills in ethical decision-making, being involved in professional organizations, being committed to the profession; networking within and outside of the profession, valuing certifications).
  9. Conduct research for PRT organizations by gathering and analyzing routine and complex data and communicate key information for decision-making.
  10. Construct well-developed and informative presentations for different constituents (e.g., community, visitors, board of directors, and other professionals).

Faculty & Advisors

Upon admission to the graduate program, students are assigned one of the following faculty advisors based on their area of research interest. The faculty member will work with the student to schedule classes, assist them in choosing a research track (project or thesis), and guide them throughout the research process.

Lindsay Usher, PHD

Lindsay Usher, PHD

Associate Professor

Eddie Hill, PHD

Eddie Hill, PHD

Associate Professor

Chris Zajchowski, PHD

Chris Zajchowski, PHD

Assistant Professor & PRTS Graduate Program Director


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