Doctoral Degree

For students who already have a master's degree, the Department of Recreation, Park & Tourism Management offers a Ph.D. degree. The doctoral program provides in-depth preparation for higher-level administrative positions as well as research and teaching positions at the college and university levels. Students who enter the doctoral program without a background in recreation, park, or tourism management will be required to take additional course work to provide the necessary foundation for successful graduate study. The Ph.D. degree requires the completion of a research-based thesis.

Doctoral Degree Program of Study

The doctoral program builds on the master's program to achieve depth in scholarship and research. Course work for doctoral students includes courses to support the student's area of specialization, research design and methods, leisure behavior, and conceptual bases of leisure and interdisciplinary course work. If a student has not completed a data-based thesis as part of his or her master's degree, she or he will be required to do so during the first three semesters as a doctoral student. A 3.00 (B) GPA is required for graduation.

The general requirements of the degree, sequentially, include:

  1. course work
  2. candidacy examination by the third semester*
  3. comprehensive examination (written and oral)
  4. thesis proposal presentation, and
  5. final defense of thesis.

Between the candidacy examination and completion of the degree program, a Ph.D. candidate must have attended Penn State in residence a minimum of two semesters over a twelve-month period. (This may include the semester in which the candidacy exam is taken.) The normal time for completion of the program if one has a M.S. degree is three to four years. This is partially contingent on course work as well as the nature of the research undertaken. Students have a limit of eight years after candidacy to complete the doctoral program.

Program of Study (Course Requirements Beyond the Master's Degree)

Recreation, Park and Tourism Management Core Courses

  • RPTM 501 Leisure Studies Foundations (3 credits)
  • RPTM 527 Social Psychology of Leisure (3 credits)
  • RPTM 545 Philosophical and Social Bases of Leisure (3 credits)
  • RPTM 597 Professional and Grant Writing (3 credits)
  • RPTM 590 Colloquium (1 credit, for total of 3 credits)

Recreation, Park and Tourism Management

  • 6 credits

Research Methods

  • Minimum of 6 credits, including: RPTM 533 (quantitative methods course)
  • A qualitative methods course


  • 9 credits (minimum) above master's course work

Minor or Concentration

A student will become specialized in an area outside of RPTM. Students can either opt to take a formal minor (15 credits) or informal concentration (minimum of 9 credits) that constitute a coherent grouping of content-related courses. Examples of frequently selected minor fields include sociology, public administration, human development and family studies, geography, business, and psychology. The formal 15-credit minor must be approved by the Graduate School and a minor field adviser. A 9-credit concentration area is required if a formal 15-credit minor is not taken.

English Language Competence

Must demonstrate competence of the English language. This will occur through taking the candidacy examination.

Recreation, Park and Tourism Management Course Descriptions

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Past Research Projects

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Tuition and Fees

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