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Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management

Park and Conservation Area Management Concentration

A photo of a man sitting outside in the forest looking at a moose in the distance.

‪Aby Sène-Harper‬, Ph.D.

“I really enjoy seeing students get excited about the PCAM emphasis area and all the possibilities it offers to work in some of the most breathtaking landscapes.”

‪Aby Sène-Harper‬, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Clemson PRTM

If you love nature, wild places and people, this emphasis area is the perfect fit for you.

Clemson’s Park and Conservation Area Management academic program is widely recognized by land management professionals and other universities as a top program in the country. 

Explore parks, wilderness areas and public lands management from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Classes will introduce you to natural resource management, visitor use management, natural and cultural interpretation, and park policy and planning.

Our curriculum helps you develop skills for an exciting career managing parks and conservation areas—that is what we do. Our graduating students help manage some of the most iconic parks and wilderness areas across the world because they developed the necessary skills at Clemson University, and by working with the Clemson University Institute for Parks, the Parks Solutions Lab, the Virtual Reality and Nature Lab, and Tigers United.

Our curriculum is holistic – social, managerial, and biophysical with an emphasis on management and research informed decision-making. Also, because we address the management of cultural and historic resources along with biological resources in parks, our students have broader skills than other students making them more competitive in the career market.  

As our graduates tell us, "I'm told every day by visitors that I have the greatest job in the world." 

  • Overview

    Our curriculum is co-designed with an advisory board of park management professionals and is structured around NRPA curriculum standards. It’s also the only parks-focused option at Clemson University that is accredited by the National Parks and Recreation Association (NRPA).

    Graduates of the park and conservation area management curriculum meet the most demanding challenge - managing parks, wilderness areas, and vast public lands for superb visitor experiences while conserving these areas for future generations. Career options are readily available after you graduate, including local, state and national park services federal land management agencies, historic areas, zoos, aquariums, nature centers, and conservation advocacy groups.

    Employers recognize the breadth and administrative skills of our students. Unlike other majors, we teach both the administrative skills and the resource knowledge necessary for a career in park and conservation area management.

  • Faculty Expertise

    Our faculty are experts in:

    • Park visitor monitoring and management - Provide tools and frameworks to help manage parks and protected areas to maximize the quality of visitor experience while minimizing environmental impacts
    • Human dimensions of natural resource management – Investigate the social aspects of natural resource management issues (perceptions, knowledge, attitudes) to support effective planning and inform decision-making.
    • Nature and health - Explore the human-nature connection and the multifaceted benefits associated with parks and outdoor recreation across diverse contexts, with an emphasis on public health and well-being.
    • Environmental education and interpretation – Evaluate existing programs and identify strategies and approaches for reaching desired outcomes such as building environmental awareness and helping learners develop the knowledge and skills necessary to engage in stewardship behaviors and environmental sustainability
    • Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas—Research to support tourism management in parks and protected areas that maximizes the benefits to local residents in and around parks, minimizes impacts on the resources of the area, and enhances the visitor experience
    • Outdoor Recreation—Investigating and evaluating outdoor recreation management, benefits, and impacts
    • Virtual reality and nature - Apply an interdisciplinary, technological focus to the study of people’s connections and interactions with the natural world
  • Admission Requirements

    Visit Clemson University Admissions to learn more about admission requirements, how to apply and important dates.

  • Program Requirements

    You will follow the general curriculum for the B.S. in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management and the following courses on the PCAM track:

    • PRTM 2700 - Introduction to Recreation Resources Management
    • PRTM 3300 - Visitor Services and Interpretation
    • PRTM 4030 - Elements of Recreation and Park Planning
    • PRTM 4740 - Advanced Recreation Resources Management
    • 12 additional credits selected from any 3000- or 4000-level courses offered at Clemson University

    Explore the Course Catalog for details about PRTM course options. Course selections must be made in consultation with your academic advisor.

  • Practicums and Internships
    You will take two practicums and one internship during your degree program. Learn more about practicums and internships, including what they involve and when you take them.
  • Find Out More

    For more information about the PCAM track, please contact: 

     

Meet some of our alumni

Jennifer Thomsen, Ph.D.

Dr. Thomsen graduated with both her master's and doctorate from Clemson University. She is passionate about her teaching and field experiences for students, and about engaging the next generation of conservation and protected area leaders.

Her work in sustainable tourism and protected area management focuses on the management of resources that balances the environmental, social/cultural and economic needs of diverse stakeholders. Her research explores unique types of tourism, such as voluntourism in Peru and Haiti, whitewater ecotourism in Bhutan and safari hunting tourism in Botswana. She has conducted research for the US Forest Service and National Park Service and is part of the INSAKA collaborative group that brings together partners of African universities to address social-ecological issues.

Jenn Thomsen
Phil Gaines

Phil Gaines

Phil Gaines retired as director of South Carolina State Parks in 2018 and now teaches for Clemson PRTM. He said that the PCAM program prepared him with the academic part of park management, communicating both orally and in writing, theory and management practices, and certainly, but perhaps most importantly, by becoming part of the Clemson Family, which is always connected to a University and a faculty that serves beyond the day of graduation.

Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management | 263 Lehotsky Hall