Although 100% online Ph.D. in Recreation courses are convenient and provide flexibility for the student, they are often hard, if not impossible, to locate in many career choices.

If you would like to pursue a Doctor of Recreation degree, there is a possibility that you will find several schools that offer an online option. However, they will require some on-campus residency work, as well as distance learning, making them essentially hybrid programs.

In addition, online classes may be in a synchronous format; therefore, online classes are required on a specific day and time. If you want to continue your full-time employment while earning your degree, make sure that your schedule allows for the required classes.

Ph.D. in Recreation

Best Ph.D. In Recreation

Clemson University

Ph.D. in Recreation

Program Standouts:

The Doctor of Philosophy program in parks, recreation, and tourism management at Clemson University is available online or on campus. Students in the program develop their competency in planning and conducting research, effectively and professionally using written and oral communication, as well as developing a grasp of recreation subject matter.

Campus Location: Clemson, South Carolina

Accreditation: Clemson University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, 1866 Southern Ln., Decatur, GA

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Master’s Degree in a related subject
  • Letters of Reference
  • Resume
  • Personal Statement

Course Sample:

  • Philosophical Foundations
  • Grant Writing
  • Qualitative Research Methods

Degree Outcomes: A graduate of the Doctoral Program in Recreation at Clemson University can expect to enter a position as a recreational therapist within psychiatric hospitals, nursing homes, or the school system, among other career options.


North Carolina State University

Ph.D. in Recreation

Program Standouts:

The Ph.D. in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management at North Carolina State University is created for students who plan to enter research-related positions in their field of choice. Graduates of the program will have gained skills and knowledge in technical information, conducting theory-based research, and communicating scientific information.

Campus Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Accreditation: North Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, 1866 Southern Ln., Decatur, GA

Admission Requirements:

  • Master’s Degree with recommended GPA of 3.5
  • Three Letters of recommendation
  • Personal Statement

Course Sample:

  • Advanced Theories of Leisure
  • Statistics
  • Supervised Teaching

Degree Outcomes: The Recreation and Tourism Management Doctorate at North Carolina State is “designed for students planning to undertake research-related positions in their chosen field, or an administrative position in a park, recreation, and/or tourism agency.”


University of Utah College of Health

Ph.D. in Recreation

Program Standouts:

The Ph.D. in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism at the University of Utah includes 67 semester hours of study and a research dissertation. Courses can be geared toward a student’s area of interest, academic history, and future aspirations. The program usually takes three full years of study beyond the master’s degree.

Campus Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Accreditation: The University of Utah is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, 8060 165th Ave NE #200, Redmond, WA 98052

Admission Requirements:

  • Master’s Degree
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Entrance Exam
  • Graduate School Application
  • GRE Scores

Course Sample:

  • Seminar in History & Philosophy of Leisure
  • Research Tools
  • Behavioral Science Foundations

Degree Outcomes: Graduates of the Ph.D. in Recreation at The University of Utah College of Health have gone on to work as policy analysts and research scientists for federal land agencies, as well as faculty members in universities and consultants in the for-profit and non-profit sectors.


Frequently Asked Questions

What will my job require of me with a Ph.D. in Recreation?

The primary focus of a Ph.D. in Recreation suggests that there is a correlation between one’s recreational and leisure time activities and how it impacts our lives.

With this distinguished degree, a majority of students go on to conduct extensive research or decide to teach at the university level. If you are interested in working in a specific area, you will gain great knowledge and skills by earning your advanced degree in this field.

If your focus is on therapeutic recreation, you can expect to enter positions within the school system, psychiatric hospitals, nursing homes, or juvenile facilities.  A recreational therapist helps children and adults with special needs due to aging, illness, or disease, leading to a better quality of life. 

You will help them build social skills, improve their mobility, as well as relieve anxiety and depression.  In addition, you may be responsible for organizing music or dance activities, along with arts and crafts as therapy.  Certification is required in most states.

How do I earn my Ph.D. in Recreation?

Ph.D. programs in this field usually combine several topics into one degree. It is often called the Ph.D. in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management degree (PRTM), and it usually takes about four years to complete the program. Earning a supplemental degree in a related field will also increase your career options.

Typically, you will need to enter the doctorate program with your master’s degree transcripts, and acceptable GRE scores, in addition to letters of recommendation and your employment resumé.

Coursework involved within a Ph.D. in a PRTM program may include the following:

  • conducting pertinent research in the field,
  • community recreation,
  • the political and legal aspects of recreation services,
  • management of outdoor,
  • sports and game activities,
  • marketing recreation services,
  • leisure in therapeutic recreation,
  • fitness,
  • and recreation management,
    • tourism behavior,
    • risk and safety management,
    • and recreation technology.

In addition, your studies may include outdoor activities such as horseback riding, rock climbing, or scuba diving. Other concentrations may include sports-related activities, such as tennis, archery with a professional arrow quiver, golf, or basketball. You will also spend time conducting research for your dissertation.

Ph.D. in Recreation

What kind of salary can I expect with my Ph.D. in Recreation degree?

A Doctor of Recreation degree often suggests a variety of career options, such as a corporate trainer, recreational director, sports manager, or health club manager. In addition, you can choose to pursue a management position in the parks and recreation department, hospitality and tourism, or in RV park management.

The average salary in the field of recreation can range from $35,729 and $45,413 annually; however, careers in teaching, research, or within government agencies have higher salaries with a doctoral degree. In the field of recreational therapy, the average salary is $55,559 to upwards of $69,035 annually, depending on experience.

What schools offer Doctor of Recreation degrees?

In this graduate program, most schools offer a Ph.D. in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management (PRTM). Clemson University, located in Clemson, SC, offers an online Ph.D. in PRTM Recreation Therapy. They combine on-campus residencies and synchronous online learning.

North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, and the University of Utah College of Health in Salt Lake City, UT, offers on-campus programs in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. Don’t hesitate to pursue your Ph.D. in PRTM today!

The Bottom Line

The field of Recreation can cover a wide array of career possibilities. As such, graduate programs prepare graduate students for recreation and tourism management, parks recreation and tourism, economic development, sports management, recreational therapy, and much more.

For those with research interests, a doctoral student can obtain teaching and research assistantships. In fact, they are strongly encouraged! A doctoral degree program can help you get that job promotion you deserve!

Before you go, check this out: