2023-24 Undergraduate Catalog 
    Jul 17, 2024  
2023-24 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies Department

Susan Wilson, chair
Professional Studies Building, Room 2213
Fax: 607-753-5982
Email: rpls@cortland.edu

School of Professional Studies

Blind guide helping blind skier onto ski lifts


Kenneth Cohen, Jacqueline Dyke, N. Qwynne Lackey, Jason Page, Mark Roark, Sharon Todd, Esther VanGorder, Susan Wilson

Adjunct Faculty

For a listing of adjunct faculty see the Faculty and Administration  section.


Bachelor of Science in Outdoor Recreation
Bachelor of Science in Recreation
Bachelor of Science in Recreation Management
Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation

Concentrations Offered

With Outdoor Recreation
Environmental and Cultural Interpretation
  Natural Resource Recreation Management
  Outdoor Leadership
With Recreation
  Camp Management
  Leisure/Recreation Program Delivery

Minors Offered

Environmental and Outdoor Education


The Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies Department at SUNY Cortland is the most comprehensive professional preparation program of its kind in New York state. Established in 1948 and fully accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT), the department is also one of the oldest and most highly respected programs in the United States. Many of the most distinguished scholars and professionals in the recreation field began their careers by studying here. The curriculum prepares students for a wide variety of career opportunities in outdoor recreation, therapeutic recreation, recreation management and recreation programming and leadership in a wide variety of settings and agencies. See the department webpage for an in-depth description of degree offerings.

Special Features

  • Very bright job market for recreation graduates, as predicted by the U.S. Department of Labor
  • High employment rate (more than 90 percent) of graduates
  • Nationally and internationally recognized faculty committed to students
  • Capstone internship semester and numerous other experiential learning opportunities
  • The Annual Cortland Recreation Conference — one of the premier recreation conferences in the northeast, planned and implemented by students
  • Environmental and Outdoor Education Center at Raquette Lake 
  • Home to the Inclusive Recreation Resource Center, the National Coalition for Education in the Outdoors, and the New York State Outdoor Education Association
  • Direct credit agreement with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)
  • Opportunities for International Study
  • Suggested minors in Environmental and Outdoor Education and Tourism Development (see Geography Department)
  • SUNY Cortland Recreation Association and the Inclusive Recreation Club, our department's student clubs, and Rho Phi Lambda, the national honorary fraternity for recreation students
  • Numerous scholarships for recreation majors


  1. Degree requirements  listed in this catalog apply to all majors offered by this department.
  2. Liberal Arts Requirements: 60 credit hours

Study Abroad Opportunities in Recreation

Students who major in Recreation, Outdoor Recreation, Recreation Management and Recreation can choose to study abroad. Many different options are available, including single courses, internships, or semester-long programs at partner universities or through other SUNY programs. The following examples include programs and courses in which our students have enrolled:

Semester-Long Study Abroad Programs at SUNY Cortland Partner Universities

Study Abroad through Other SUNY Programs

  • SUNY Cortland students can choose from among more than 600 programs offered through other SUNY campuses. Programs are offered on all seven continents, including Antarctica. Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies (RPLS) students have recently studied through other SUNY programs in England, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Spain and Australia.

RPLS Internships or Field Experiences for Credit