The Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies is a division of the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences
Improving lives through research in recreation and leisure
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.
Program overview | Tuition fees
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.
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 - 24 terms
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 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.
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.
A 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.
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.
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.
Tuition is based on a four-month term, and is subject to change on an annual basis.
See the Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs study and living costs page for full details.
The deadline to apply for fall enrollment is February 1, 2020.
Applications may be accepted after this deadline, however please contact potential supervisor(s).
Areas of Study
By combining theory and practice, we are deepening our understanding of both the positive and negative aspects of leisure and developing new ways to enhance quality of life for individuals, families and communities.
Our faculty members are active scholars recognized for the high quality and quantity of their published work, in a variety of areas in the field.
Awards and funding
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.