Parks, Tourism, & Recreation Management
Help people connect with nature through tourism and recreation
A bachelor’s degree in Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management (PTRM) prepares you to work in the world’s most beautiful places with federal and state agencies, non-profits, and nature-based tourism operators that manage and steward our wildest landscapes. You will develop skills and gain knowledge that helps connect people to place, manage park visitation, provide environmental interpretation, and integrate conservation sciences into recreation and tourism planning. PTRM offers an experiential education, professional development to diverse career pathways, and personal mentoring with faculty to chart your trajectory into one of the nation’s fastest growing industries. Experience the national parks and wilderness areas that make Missoula and Montana the ideal place to study wildland management in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.
Video: Parks, Tourism and Recreation Management
To earn a degree in Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management at the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, you must complete general degree requirements and may choose one of tracks listed below.
A total of 120 credits are required to graduate from the University of Montana. 39 credits must be upper-division (300-level or higher). A total of 36 traditional letter-graded semester credits are required in the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, of which a minimum of 20 credits must be taken in an approved major within the college.
PTRM majors are required to fulfill 400 hours of approved work experience and fulfill an internship learning requirement (PTRM 498 — view internship guidelines)
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Experiential learning is at the foundation of the PTRM degree exposing students to opportunities working with professionals during internships and the PTRM capstone course to develop professional skills and provide pathways to careers while addressing real-world issues.
Field courses and Capstone
Current Issues in PTRM: This introductory seminar introduces PTRM students to professionals in the field and includes an overnight trip to Glacier National Park and the surrounding area! Students get to know other students and faculty in their major and are introduced to strategies for their success as a new university student.
Yellowstone Field Studies: Visit Yellowstone National Park for a unique winter experience to learn about wildlife, geology, visitor management, and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem while cross-country skiing, viewing wolves and geothermal features, and visiting with professionals on diverse topics
PTRM Capstone: All PTRM seniors participate in a capstone project over a semester where students work in groups and address a real-world issue in partnership with PTRM professionals. Students are involved in hands-on field work, professional development, and an overnight trip to Yellowstone National Park. Students produce a report and give a presentation of the project to the professional partners. The projects serve the local and state professionals’ needs and provide an opportunity for students to apply the skills of their PTRM curriculum and gain experience for their careers.
Montana Trails, Recreation, and Park Association Conference: PTRM students have the opportunity to become members of a professional organization, the Montana Trails, Recreation, and Park Association and attend their annual conference where students can network with professionals throughout the state and participate in sessions on the most relevant and important challenges facing the PTRM field. Students can also earn scholarships from the organization!
Many of your PTRM classes and other required classes will get you outside on field trips. Visit national wildlife refuges, tour Yellowstone National Park, raft local rivers, and visit the College’s Lubrecht Experimental Forest. Students can also earn credits with Wild Rockies Field Institute and be a trip leader in UM’s Freshman Wilderness Experience!
All PTRM students earn three credits to complete a professional internship. Montana’s outdoor industry is the fastest growing in the U.S. and represents the second largest sector of the state’s economy offering many opportunities for students. Through the vast connections of PTRM faculty, the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, and the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research, students can easily connect to an array of jobs and internships to set them up for a pathway to their desired career. PTRM students participate in ElevateU, University of Montana’ career readiness program, to begin preparing for careers from the start of their degree to build meaningful professional experiences so they are competitive for the workforce when they graduate. View internship guidelines
Quote from a PTRM student: “As a PTRM major, I enjoyed the variety of learning opportunities, which included field work with the Parks and Recreation department of Missoula, field learning in Yellowstone National Park and internship opportunities in Glacier National Park and the Flathead National Forest. This has set me up fantastically for a career in the National Park Service.”- Ethan Oja, PTRM graduate
PTRM offers a unique study abroad experience led by faculty to Botswana and Zambia to learn about international conservation and development in national parks and wildlife areas. Experience Victoria Falls, a UNECO World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonders of the world and spend multiple nights camping in Chobe National Park near the Okavango Delta, home to Africa’s largest elephant population and other amazing wildlife! This course covers issues of sustainable development and nature-based tourism as a model to explore the complex interactions between natural resources, wildlife, local people, NGO’s, government agencies, tourism providers, resource managers and tourists. PTRM students can apply for the Franke Sustainability Fellowships which provide support for students to study abroad and gain immersive field experiences.
Students in the PTRM program find careers in many fields of recreation and tourism management, including as park interpreters, river rangers, backcountry rangers, wilderness managers, and recreation planners. When you graduate, you will find career opportunities with many federal land and resource-oriented agencies including the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Graduates also find positions in state natural resource agencies such as Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. You might also work with private and non-profit organizations such as nature preserves, educational organizations, camps and resorts, hospitality and resort associations, visitor and convention bureaus, outfitters/guides, and resorts, as well as at state and federal land management agencies and tourism boards/offices. Students are also well prepared to enter graduate degree programs, especially in natural resource-oriented departments.
Potential jobs include:
- park ranger
- protected area manager
- tourism or recreation business owner
- recreation planner
- guide or outfitter
- environmental educator or interpreter
- conservation non-profit professional
- ski area manager
- tourism planner
- wilderness coordinator
- field researcher
Quote from a PTRM professional and PTRM alumni: “The University of Montana’s PTRM program equipped me with a foundational education that launched my career with the U.S. Forest Service where I currently serve as District Recreation Staff on the Lolo National Forest in Missoula. As a local Recreation Manager, I engage PTRM student in learning about recreation on National Forest System lands, as well as opportunities for internships and employment.” _ Katie Knotek, Missoula Ranger District, Lolo National Forest
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.