PhD Recreation and Leisure Studies degree requirements

The normal requirements for the Recreation and Leisure Studies PhD program include coursework, milestonescomprehensive examinations and a doctoral thesis.

Course r​equirements

The PhD program requires a minimum of 9 graduate courses (0.5 unit weight) beyond the Honours BA level. These must include:

  • REC 600, Integrative Seminar in Recreation and Leisure Studies (fall term)
  • REC 700, Foundations of Knowledge in Leisure Studies (fall term)
  • one of 
    • REC 772, Quantitative Research Data Analysis and Interpretation (winter term)
    • REC 773, Designing Advanced Qualitative Inquiry (winter term)
    • or an equivalent
  • Students entering the PhD program following completion of the MA degree in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies (University of Waterloo), or its equivalent, will usually have already completed 5 of the 9 required courses, and therefore will need a minimum of 4 additional (0.5 unit weight) graduate courses. If students have not previously taken the above requirements, these courses would take precedence over elective courses. Elective courses can be selected from those offered by the Department (typically offered winter and spring terms), a "Selected Topics" (REC 695) or "Internship" (REC 609) course, or a graduate course at either the 600 or 700 level from another social science department at the University of Waterloo, or a graduate course from another Ontario university as a visiting graduate student.

Students entering the PhD program should arrange to meet with their supervisor and the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies as soon as possible after their arrival to talk about specific course selection for their program of study.

The PhD program may be completed either on a full-time or part-time basis, but must be completed within the following time periods from completion of the MA degree unless an extension has been granted (See Graduate Studies Calendar, Academic Regulations, Time Limits):

  • Full-time - 12 terms
  • Part-time - 18 terms

A program checklist is available on Waterloo Learn or on the Health policies and procedures website (with embedded links).

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Milestone requirements

The PhD program requires the completion of three milestones:

  • Graduate academic integrity module (through Learn). This milestone is required for each new graduate degree completed at Waterloo. 
  • PhD research seminar
    • This seminar is a forum for doctoral students, faculty, and invited guests to present topics related to their research or professional development. Attendance at the seminar is normally completed within a student’s first two years in the doctoral program. A range of topics will be addressed in the seminar crossing all areas of investigation in the program. Grading will be on a credit/no credit basis.
  • Research presentation
    • All PhD students in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies in their second year or later must deliver a public research presentation to faculty and students during their doctoral program. Forums at which this milestone can be completed are the PhD Research Seminar or an independently arranged departmental seminar (excludes conferences and symposia). Supervisor approval/confirmation of completion of this milestone is required.

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Faculty advisors/supervisors

Students seeking admission to the PhD program should indicate in the letter of application who would be appropriate as a faculty advisor. Based on student and faculty research interests and availability, each student will be assigned an interim advisor when first admitted. This interim advisor, in consultation with the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies, will assist in determining an individualized program of study for the student. The interim advisor may become the supervisor for the comprehensive examination and for the doctoral thesis.

PhD comprehensive examinations

The purpose of the comprehensive examination in Recreation and Leisure Studies is to ensure doctoral candidates develop, engage, and synthesize the most useful relations among those bodies of knowledge, methodologies, theoretical frames, and substantive areas that best prepare them to take up teaching, scholarship, and service based on student interests, in collaboration with their supervisor and committee members.

The process is designed to enable candidates to develop/acquire a solid grounding in and understanding of leisure studies, and/or allied disciplines or fields of study. This then provides a foundation for the critical analysis demanded by the dissertation proposal and final defence.

The graduate student handbook has complete details and procedures for the comprehensive examination in Recreation and Leisure Studies. 

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PhD thesis

PhD thesis proposal is required of all PhD students after passing the comprehensive examinations, and before proceeding to data collection. The proposal should contain a detailed statement of the research problem and its significance for a body of leisure-related theory, a precise account of the methodology or research techniques to be employed, plus a detailed outline of the proposed data analyses. The candidate will be required to present and defend this proposal before the thesis committee. The final thesis report based on the completed research must also be successfully defended to satisfy the thesis requirement.

Student evaluation

A review of each student's progress takes place during the month of May each year. Students are evaluated on several criteria, i.e., coursework and resulting grades, progress with regard to the comprehensive examination and thesis work and, where appropriate, reports submitted by the students regarding their research and teaching assistantship activity. A grade average of at least 75% must be maintained.

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