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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management (RPTM)

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PETER NEWMAN, Department Head, Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management

DEBORAH KERSTETTER, Professor-in-Charge
801D Ford Building


Degrees Conferred:

Ph.D., M.S.


The Graduate Faculty



The Program

The graduate program is designed to prepare students for administrative, supervisory, research, and teaching positions in public and private recreation and park systems, in colleges and universities, in voluntary agencies and institutions, and in commercial ventures.

The program is oriented to meet the specific needs and research interests of the candidate. Students may pursue interests in the community, including public park and recreation systems, voluntary agencies, and private commercial enterprises; tourism; institution and community-oriented therapeutic settings concerned with many different disabilities and utilizing a variety of activity modalities; park planning, resource management, interpretive services, outdoor education, and outdoor recreation services.

Admission Requirements

Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are required for admission to the master's and doctoral programs. Requirements listed here are in addition to general Graduate School requirements stated in the GENERAL INFORMATION section of the Graduate Bulletin.

For admission to the graduate program, a bachelor's or master's degree is required. Candidates from majors other than recreation and parks are welcome to apply; however, additional course work is required. Students with a 3.00 junior/senior average (on a 4.00 scale) and with appropriate course backgrounds will be considered for admission. All students must write a thesis.

Degree Requirements

The master's program is designed for students who wish to continue their studies at the doctoral level at Penn State. Students who wish to pursue a Ph.D. degree but do not have an M.S. degree will complete a thesis and earn a master's degree in the process of working toward the doctorate.

The M.S. program requires a minimum of 30 graduate credits and a 3.00 (B) grade-point average for graduation. The master's degree must be completed within eight years from matriculation as a degree candidate. 

The doctoral program builds on the master's program to achieve depth in scholarship and research. Students who have not completed a data-based thesis as part of their master's degree will be required to do so during the first three semesters as a doctoral student. The general requirements of the degree, sequentially, are (1) course work, (2) candidacy examination by the third semester,* (3) comprehensive examination (written and oral), (4) thesis proposal presentation, and (5) final defense of thesis. Between the candidacy examination and completion of the degree program, a Ph.D. candidate must have attended Penn State in residence a minimum of two semesters over a twelve-month period. (This may include the semester in which the candidacy exam is taken.) Students have a limit of eight years after candidacy to complete the doctoral program. A 3.00 (B) average is required for graduation.

Prerequisites for graduate students who do not have an undergraduate degree in RPTM typically range from 3 to 9 credits, depending on the student's background and experience. Prerequisites for incoming graduate students with undergraduate majors in RPTM range from 0 to 6 credits. Incoming graduate students with undergraduate degrees in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management from Penn State are assumed to have met all prerequisite requirements. The graduate program director determines prerequisites for all incoming students. 

*The master's thesis and oral defense may be used for the candidacy examination for continuing students.

Student Aid

Fellowships, traineeships, graduate assistantships, and other forms of financial aid are described in the STUDENT AID section of the Graduate Bulletin.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 599 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.





Last Revised by the Department: Summer Session 2007

Blue Sheet Item #: 35-07-448

Review Date: 6/12/07

Faculty linked: 6/27/14


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