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Information for

PhD Recreation and Leisure Studies

Program overview

The PhD program provides opportunity 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 the field of knowledge. Students are also provided with opportunities for teaching and research assistantships, and are encouraged to participate in undergraduate teaching. The primary objectives of the program are to foster each student's ability to:

  • do quality 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 the quality of life; and
  • 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.

Admission requirem​ents

See Applying for information on admission requirements and how to apply.

Degree requirements

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

Course r​equirements

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

  • REC 600, Integrative Seminar in Recreation and Leisure Studies
  • REC 700, Foundations of Knowledge in Leisure Studies
  • REC 701, Recreation and Leisure Studies Research Seminar (0.25 unit)
  • one of:
    • REC 772, Quantitative Research Data Analysis and Interpretation
    • REC 773, Designing Advanced Qualitative Inquiry
  • one elective course
  • Research presentation milestone (normally awarded upon completion of a public research presentation to faculty and students in REC 701 or 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. Students who have already completed REC 600 may substitute an elective course.

Elective courses can be selected from those offered by the Department, or a graduate course at either the 600 or 700 level from another social science department at the University of Waterloo.

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

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 examinations is to ensure that doctoral candidates have a broad and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the field of Recreation and Leisure Studies, including: 1) different methodological and analytical approaches used in the field, and 2) the broad substantive areas of leisure studies. The process is designed to enable candidates to develop/acquire a solid grounding in and understanding of leisure studies. This then provides a foundation for the critical analysis demanded by the dissertation proposal and final defence. The comprehensive examination consists of one written and one oral examination, and the process will normally be completed over a period of six months.

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.

Financial support

Financial support in the form of teaching and/or research assistantships are provided for full time students during their four years. In addition, PhD students are normally provided with at least one opportunity to teach an undergraduate course. Students are encouraged to apply for scholarships and other forms of financial assistance as well.