Study Parks, Tourism and Recreation Management at the University of Montana
Learn to sustain wild places through outdoor recreation and tourism management. Our bachelor’s degree in parks, tourism and recreation management offers a unique opportunity to study in the diverse and beautiful outdoor classrooms of western Montana, with destinations such as Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, national forests, wild and scenic rivers, and cultural and heritage sites only a few hours’ drive from campus.
At UM, you’ll learn from faculty members who are renowned experts in their fields and actively engaged in research that benefits our community, the West and the world. You’ll also have numerous opportunities to apply classroom lessons in the real world, through field-based projects in the senior capstone course and a required internship tailored to your interests and professional goals.
You can specialize your parks and recreation management degree through three different tracks: recreation resource management, nature-based tourism or outdoor recreation services. Our graduates go on to a range of parks and recreation jobs including park ranger, tourism operator, recreation resource planner, public lands manager, outfitter or guide, and community recreation provider.
of parks, tourism and recreation management students participate in an internship
value of the outdoor recreation industry in Montana
hours or less to outstanding outdoor landscapes including Glacier and Yellowstone national parks
Other degree options for parks, tourism and recreation management at UM
What can you do with a parks, tourism and recreation management degree?
Parks and recreation employers throughout Montana and across the nation choose UM graduates for their skills-based learning, leadership training and on-the-job experience. It’s why 97% of Franke College of Forestry and Conservation graduates are employed or attending graduate school, and 85% are employed in their degree field. From river and backcountry rangers, to tourism operators, to outfitters and guides and wilderness managers, graduates of the parks, tourism and recreation management bachelor’s degree go on to exciting and successful careers sustaining wild places and public lands.
What you’ll learn in the parks, tourism and recreation degree program
As a parks and recreation major, you’ll study the interactions of social, ecological and policy aspects of outdoor recreation management and tourism that support sustainability while developing critical skills to address complex challenges and integrate conservation sciences into planning.
Parks, tourism and recreation jobs
Our graduates work with the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, and many other federal and state land management agencies. Others find jobs with private and nonprofit organizations such as nature preserves, educational organizations, camps and resorts, hospitality and resort associations, and visitor and convention bureaus. Examples of park and recreation jobs include:
- River or backcountry ranger
- Tourism/resort operator
- Wilderness manager
- Recreation planner
- Outfitter or guide
Parks and recreation salary
We estimate that graduates of the parks, tourism and recreation management bachelor’s degree at UM earn an average of $71,045 per year. However, keep in mind that salaries can vary widely depending on the career you choose.
Video: Parks, Tourism and Recreation Management at UM
Learn how to work with people to develop and manage recreation and tourism experiences while protecting natural resources as a parks, tourism and recreation major at the University of Montana.
Student success story: Jaime Breisch
As a parks, tourism and recreation management major, Jaime Breisch enjoyed her capstone project working with Five Valleys Land Trust on a project about increasing trail usage on Mount Dean Stone. Learn more about her experience.
Beyond the classroom: Experiential learning in the parks, tourism and recreation management degree program
Visit national wildlife refuges and national parks, raft on the Clark Fork and meet with recreation resource managers. Parks and recreation majors engage in a variety of outdoor learning adventures that make the world their classroom. At UM, you’ll also have access to 25,000 acres of land managed for student and faculty research, including Lubrecht Experimental Forest and Bandy Ranch at the south end of the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex.
Field-based courses in the parks and recreation degree
If you enjoy hands-on learning in the great outdoors you’ve come to the right place. Experiential learning is built into UM’s parks, tourism and recreation degree from day one:
- Take a multi-day field trip to Glacier National Park and meet with wilderness rangers, park leadership and tourism operators in our First Year Seminar in Parks, Tourism and Recreation Management course.
- Spend a winter session studying wilderness values and management, winter ecology and snow science in our Winter Wilderness Field Studies course.
- Work on a team research project to help a local organization solve a pressing outdoor recreation and tourism issue as part of your capstone experience.
- Attend professional conferences, visit Yellowstone National Park, raft the Alberton Gorge and more as you learn about recreation and tourism management.
Internships in the parks and recreation management major
As a parks and recreation major, you’ll complete a 400-hour internship that provides real-life work experience and helps you build professional connections. Our faculty members will work with you to customize an internship project that suits your career goals and will help you gain the skills you need to be successful. Examples of past internships include exploring wild areas as a backcountry ranger, leading groups down whitewater rapids and helping visitors find their ideal experience in national parks.
Study abroad in the parks, tourism and recreation management degree
Our Sustaining Human Society and the Natural Environment course offers an opportunity to study abroad in Zambia and Botswana, where you’ll explore the complex interactions between rural livelihoods, biodiversity conservation, tourism and sustainable use of natural resources. Learn more about study abroad opportunities at the University of Montana.
Career development in the parks, tourism and recreation management degree program
At UM, you can count on getting the support you need to succeed — not only in your coursework, but also in preparing for your future career. It starts with our award-winning faculty, all experts in their field with many professional connections, who are committed to one-on-one mentoring and helping each student tailor an individualized experience. Field experiences, internships and student organizations offer additional opportunities for networking, service learning and professional development.
Student organizations for parks, tourism and recreation management majors
We are home to a variety of active student organizations you may choose to take part in as a parks and recreation major, including:
- Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
- Montana Trails, Recreation and Parks Association
- Student Recreation Association
- Outdoor Recreation Living Learning Community
- Freshman Wilderness Experience
- Women’s Climbing Night at Outdoor Programs
Parks, tourism and recreation management scholarships
The W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation awards thousands of dollars in scholarships you’ll be eligible for as a major in parks, tourism and recreation management. You’ll also be eligible for Franke Sustainability Fellowships, which fund study abroad and research experiences focused on sustainability.
Explore classes for parks, tourism and recreation management
Coursework for the parks and recreation program explores the processes and skills needed to determine alternative recreation and tourism management strategies, make management decisions and carry out management programs. You’ll also learn about the basic ecological characteristics of recreational lands. We offer concentrations in recreation resource management, nature-based tourism and outdoor recreation services.