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Master's in Tourism

Program Description


The Tourism program at the University of Waterloo provides a unique education. You will be part of a graduate program that integrates the social, cultural, environmental, economic and political perspectives on tourism.

This 2-year program, offered jointly by the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies and the Department of Geography and Environmental Management, provides a constructive, critical, and interdisciplinary education that will prepare you for careers in government, business, tourism and recreation planning, and consulting.

You will interact with professors with strong local, national and international research links from a variety of disciplines.

Where to apply to the Master's in Tourism:

Students with an Environmental academic focus can apply through the Department of Geography and Environmental Management for a Master of Environmental Studies (MES).

Normally a faculty member in their home Faculty will advise students. Although students will pursue 1 of the 2 Master's degrees, they will follow a similar course of study regardless of their home Faculty.


The overall objective of the Master’s program in Tourism is to provide a range of adaptable and transferable skills, which will prepare you for a wide variety of careers. This general objective is supported by several specific objectives:

  1. To equip students with a broad knowledge of theory and research in tourism.
  2. To provide a strong research component focused on the needs and critical evaluation of tourism.
  3. To prepare students for research and administrative careers in the public and private sectors.
  4. To encourage originality and creativity.

Degree Requirements & Graduate Courses

Five graduate-level courses are required over the course of the 2-year program. Courses are taken from both the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies (Rec) and the Department of Geography and Environmental Management.

Students will be required to write a thesis and will have an option to undertake an internship/practicum for credit. Students will be required to complete at least 1 of the 2 methods courses. Tourism 601 and Tourism 602 will provide the students with a foundation in conceptual, empirical, and methodological issues specific to tourism.

Students must successfully complete at least 5 courses plus a thesis, as specified below. Click here for course descriptions.

Core courses:

Tour 603: Sustainable Tourism

Tour 602: Seminar on Tourism Research

Data Analysis Electives - one of the following:

Rec 672: Quantitative Research Data Analysis and Interpretation

Rec 673: Qualitative Research Data Analysis and Interpretation

Substantive Electives - two of the following:

Rec 615: Marketing, Consumer Behaviour, and Leisure Services

Rec 630: Recreation Resource Administration and Development

Rec 680: Dynamics of Tourism

Rec 685: The Structure of Tourism

TOUR 601: Contemporary Perspectives on Tourism

Tour 603: Sustainable Tourism

Tour 604: Social Planning for Tourism

Rec 609/Tour 609: Internship / Practicum

Rec 697/Tour 675: Selected Topics in Recreation and Leisure Resources / Selected Topics in Tourism

Milestone: Master's Thesis (normally supervised by Core or Supporting Faculty)

Residence Requirements

Students are normally required to spend a minimum of 2 terms of full-time registration on campus (or equivalent part-time registration - 4 terms). Whatever variation is permitted from this normal schedule, all degree requirements must be completed within 2 years of initial registration.

Students who require an extension beyond their normal program limits are required to submit a Petition for Program Extension form to their Graduate Program Coordinator for each additional term needed to reach program completion. Please see the Graduate Calendar for more information on enrolment and time limits.

Admission Requirements

The minimum admission requirements for Master's students will apply: 75% overall standing in the last two years of an Honours Bachelor's degree or equivalent. The usual categories of admission - regular, probationary, transitional, and qualifying - also apply. We require a minimum TOFEL score of 600 for students for whom English is not their first language.

Click here for further information on admission requirements.

Language Requirements

Applicants who have not completed three or more years of post-secondary work at a Canadian institution or at an institution at which English was the primary language of instruction, or have not been employed for a similar period of time in a position in which English was the primary language of business will be required to provide certification of English language proficiency. Applicants should make arrangements to take one of these tests at least 6 - 9 months before the application date.

TOEFL: minimum score of 100, with minimum skill scores of 26 in each of speaking and writing;

Paper-based TOEFL - minimum of 600 overall is required and 4.0 on the TWE and 50 in the TSE.

Computer-based TOEFL - minimum of 250 overall, 50 in the TSE and 5.0 in the essay.

Other tests of English language proficiency accepted include:

IELTS (International English Language Testing System ) - minimum score of 7.5;

MELAB (Michigan English Language Assessment Battery) - minimum score of 90;

CAEL (Canadian Academic English Language Assessment ) - minimum score of 70 is required with 70 in writing and 70 in speaking.

EFAS (English for Academic Success [Renison University College, University of Waterloo]) - 80% overall in level 400

These tests are offered in Canada, the United States and many other countries.

Financial Support for Graduate Students

There are several types of financial support; below you can find examples of these. For more details on these click here.

  • Scholarships and Research Assistantships
  • Teaching and Research Assistantships
  • Ontario Graduates Scholarships (OGS)

For other sources of support, please consult the University Graduate Calendar section on awards and financial aid.

How to apply

February 1st is the deadline for applying to the Master's in Tourism program, though applications may be submitted past that date. All applications are completed and submitted on-line. Links to the application form are available on the UW Graduate Studies webpages:

In addition to the standard additional application requirements (references, supplementary information form, transcripts) a resume and academic writing sample are required.

Apply to either:

Faculty of Environment Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

Department of Geography and Environmental Management

Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies
MES (Master of Environmental Studies) MA (Master of Arts)
Contact: Lori McConnell Contact: Tracy Taves

More information

For further information, please contact Graduate Officer (Dr. Brent Doberstein) or the Graduate Program Assistant Lori McConnell.

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