One degree, a world of opportunity

Do you like being outdoors? Thinking and living healthy? Working with others in a meaningful way? A degree in recreation, tourism & nonprofit leadership (RTNL) lets you turn those interests into a career that helps people live healthy and meaningful lifestyles in community, health and human services and nonprofit settings.

One degree, three areas of emphasis — in a nationally recognized and accredited program. Coursework and experiences may guide you toward leading a mission-driven nonprofit, crafting a community tourism plan or working with adult and youth programming, including using recreation as part of therapy. The choices are yours to explore.

RTNLmajor working summer internship

Nationally Accredited

Meets the accreditation standards set by the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT).


In CNP Certification 

RTNL graduates regularly lead the nation in attaining Certified Nonprofit Professionals (CNP) designation. 



Paths to Certify Your Expertise 

Your RTNL degree can lead to: 

  • Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP)
  • Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) 
  • Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS)

Interested in Majoring?

Tell us more and we'll send information on how you can succeed with a degree in recreation, tourism and nonprofit leadership from the University of Northern Iowa College of Education.

Contact us directly at:

Recreation, Tourism & Nonprofit Leadership
203 WRC
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0607

Phone: (319)273-2654

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The Many Faces of RTNL

Recreation for all 

Learn the principles and practices involved in providing indoor and outdoor recreational services. Classes and hands-on learning experiences encompass a wide range of activities and services within the recreation industry. Prepare for careers in outdoor recreation, parks and recreation, therapeutic recreation programs for people with disabilities, campus recreation, commercial recreation and youth-serving organizations.



The wide world of tourism

Tourism, travel and hospitality — that’s this side of the major. What does that mean? Understanding essential services such as community-based planning, marketing and event management within the tourism space. You’ll also explore tourism on a broader basis and learn about the motivations and desires of leisure, eco-, adventure and sport tourists.

Tourism in the field

A pathway to leadership and community 

Working with people. Giving back. Connecting families with critical resources. This emphasis is a pathway to leadership within the nonprofit and public sectors. Gain the knowledge and skills to pursue a career for organizations that you’re passionate about. Understand the operations of adult and youth human services and nonprofit agencies and make a difference locally, nationally or even around the globe. 



Courses and Careers


Coursework helps you gain in-depth knowledge and understanding of the different facets of recreation, tourism and nonprofit leadership. Choose courses that reflect the RTNL emphasis you prefer. You will work with faculty who connect what they teach in class to real-world job situations and skills and be well-prepared to enter the workforce. 

  • Leadership in Leisure, Youth and Human Services
  • Foundations of Therapeutic Recreation
  • Inclusive Recreation and Diversity in RTNL
  • Community Based Tourism
  • Trends and Issues in Outdoor Recreation
  • Philanthropy and Nonprofit Development
  • Recreation, Tourism and Nonprofit Leadership Field Experience
  • Nonprofit Leadership Practicum I and II




A strength of this degree is the variety of options it gives you. A robust combination of classroom and in-the-field experiences and internships lead to careers including:  

  • City/county recreation supervisor/director*
  • College/university intramurals director
  • Wellness/aquatics director
  • Nonprofit agency executive director*
  • Director of development and fundraising
  • Volunteer coordinator
  • Youth program director  
  • Coaching director for youth sports associations
  • Tourism and cultural programs manager
  • Advocacy, policy and research specialist
  • Special event coordinator
  • Summer camp director/Outdoor trip guide
  • Environmental interpreter
  • Naturalist/environmental educator
  • Park ranger/manager
  • Recreation therapist
  • Inclusion specialist

*Eligible to earn national certification 

Our alumni perspectives

Alumni Perspectives video
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Alumni Perspectives video
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I love to help others explore the great outdoors wherever that may be!

Valerie Kankiewicz
Asst. Director for Outdoor Programs, Appalachian State University

An important note about 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