Recreation, Tourism and Nonprofit Leadership*

Recreation, Tourism and Nonprofit Leadership*

As a nationally recognized and accredited professional education program, the University of Northern Iowa Recreation, Tourism and Nonprofit Leadership (RTNL) program focuses on preparing individuals with the skills, knowledge and values required to effectively assume professional leadership, managerial and staff positions in varied community, health and human services and nonprofit settings.

Recreation as a profession focuses on the principles underlying recreational and leisure activities and the practices involved in providing indoor and outdoor recreational services. These services take place in outdoor recreation, parks and recreation, therapeutic recreation programs for people with disabilities, campus recreation, commercial recreation, travel and tourism, and youth-serving organizations. 

Tourism prepares you for work in the tourism and travel industry, gaining skill and experience in areas such as community-based planning, marketing, event management and specialty areas as eco-, adventure and sport tourism. 

Nonprofit leadership provides the foundation to lead and manage populations in the nonprofit and public sectors and meet community needs. You gain both classroom knowledge and hands-on experience in understanding operations of adult and youth human services and nonprofit agencies, including principles of financial management and staffing. 

*Recreation, tourism and nonprofit leadership is the new name of this degree being offered to students entering UNI as of fall 2020. It was previously known as leisure, youth and human services. 

Accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT).


Transfer students should talk to our academic advisers for suggestions on what can be done to prepare for an RTNL major at UNI. Taking beginning classes in the major will help students get a understanding of the field.


Recreation, Tourism and Nonprofit Leadership
Internships and service learning

Students in RTNL have a variety of opportunities to put their coursework to the real-world test through hands-on learning opportunities throughout the academic career, culminating in an internship during your final year.

Recreation, Tourism and Nonprofit Leadership

RTNL offers a wide variety of programs within the Department of Health, Recreation and Community Services at UNI where students can gain hands-on experiences working with individuals of all ages and abilities. Examples of programs include Camp Adventure Child & Youth Services, Just for Kicks, Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, opportunities to support events such as Dance Marathon and Special Olympics, and many more.

Recreation, Tourism and Nonprofit Leadership
Opportunities to volunteer and work with local youth programs

With UNI’s location in the heart of the Cedar Valley, there are an abundance of programs close to campus and within the greater Cedar Valley area where students can gain extensive experience.


96% of last year's graduates are either continuing their education or employed


City/county recreation
Summer camp director 
YMCA/YWCA sports director
Youth coaching director
Community recreation and exercise coordinator
Recreation therapist
Coaching director for youth sports associations
College/university intramurals director
Wellness/aquatics director
Nonprofit agency executive director
Nonprofit agency youth director
Volunteer coordinator
Education/programming/training specialist
Director of development and fundraising
Advocacy, policy and research specialist
Special event coordinator
Park ranger 
Environmental interpreter
Naturalist/environmental educator
Outdoor trip guide
Inclusion specialist 


Have questions or want more information? Fill out the form below and someone from the department will contact you directly. To receive general university information from UNI’s admissions office, please click on ‘Request More Info About UNI’.

Christopher Kowalski, EdD
Program Coordinator
Recreation, Tourism and Nonprofit Leadership

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