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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. For updated information on specific course requirements, please refer to our RPTM Graduate Handbook

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

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

For information on specific course descriptions, visit

Past Research Projects

For information on specific research projects completed by previous graduate students visit

Tuition and Fees

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