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Improving lives through research in recreation and leisure 

The PhD program provides opportunities for advanced study and research in the field of Recreation and Leisure Studies. The degree culminates in the completion of a doctoral thesis, which is expected to make an original and substantial contribution to knowledge in areas such as sport, therapeutic recreation, tourism and events. Students are also provided with opportunities for teaching and research assistantships, and are encouraged to participate in undergraduate teaching.


Application deadline 

  • February 1, but applications continue to be accepted and reviewed until June. 

Program overview 

The primary objectives of the program are to foster each student's ability to:

  • conduct high calibre research and to contribute to the growing body of knowledge in the field
  • analyze and evaluate programs, policies and organizational structures aimed at understanding and improving the use of free time and quality of life
  • apply and disseminate this knowledge to practitioners, policy makers and managers

The doctoral program is designed for students who plan to teach and/or pursue research careers. It provides a training opportunity for students seeking careers as scholars, researchers, and policy analysts for government, private sector and university positions.


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The PhD program may be completed either on a full- or part-time basis, but must be completed within the following time periods from completion of the master's degree, unless an extension has been granted (see Graduate Studies Calendar for more information):

  • 12 terms | 4 years (full-time from master's level)
  • 18 terms | 8 years (part-time from master's level)
  • Doctoral thesis

The PhD program requires a minimum of 9 graduate courses (0.5 unit weight each) beyond the Honours BA level. For full details - including course descriptions - see the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar.

Students entering the PhD program following completion of the MA degree in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies (University of Waterloo), or an equivalent, will typically have already completed 5 of the 9 required courses, and therefore will need a minimum of 4 additional (0.5 unit weight) graduate courses.

Admission requirements | How to apply | Tuition fees | Living costs