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Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management

Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management, Ph.D.

One Doctorate. Two Delivery Options.


Earn a doctorate that gets you ahead in the parks, recreation and tourism management field, with specialization options in all of our concentration areas. 

Given the current COVID-19 crisis and subsequent challenges related to standardized exams, our graduate programs will provide a GRE waiver process for all applicants for Fall 2022. GRE results can be submitted if they are available, however, prospective students are required to submit a 3-5 page double-spaced writing sample focused on a topic of their own choosing. This can also be a published paper, one that is under review or was written for a class.

  • Overview

    A Ph.D. through the Clemson University Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management gives you a solid underpinning of your topic of interest as well as the ability to plan and conduct research, and effectively and professionally use written and oral communication to share your results. You can choose to earn your doctoral degree either on campus or online, allowing you to choose the format that best suits your career and life. 

  • Application Deadline

    Applications wanting to be considered for fall admission to the online or on campus programs should be submitted with all required materials by February 1.

    Application materials for spring admission are due by October 1.

    Application materials for spring admission are due by October 1. Before you apply, however, it’s important to note that students who start their doctoral program in the spring are not eligible for assistantship funding.

  • Admission Requirements

    The following requirements must be met to be considered for admission to the either the on campus or online Ph.D. in PRTM. Applicants to the Recreational Therapy concentration must also provide documentation of certification as a certified therapeutic recreational specialist.

    Requirements include:

    • Recent GRE scores (in last five years).
    • A personal statement outlining the purpose for pursuing your Ph.D. and detailing your career goals, your research interests related to any PRTM concentration, and your strengths and weaknesses as a learner (particularly if you’re pursuing the online program).
    • Two letters of recommendation from persons familiar with your academic and/or job performance (one of each preferred).
    • Unofficial transcripts of all previous academic work, both graduate and undergraduate. Official transcripts will be required once admission has been granted. A GPA of at least 3.0 in needed in all graduate course work.
    • If English is your second language, you must also submit acceptable TOEFL scores.
    • A copy of your most recent resume/curriculum vitae. Please give a clear indication of your related experience, including your job title, names of your supervisor(s) and your duties or responsibilities. Recreational therapy applicants should also provide an approximate number of hours worked at each setting (for example 2,000 hours of work experience beyond internship is required in recreational therapy prior to admission to that program).
    • Other information related to your professional and academic qualifications should be included at your discretion.

    Visit Clemson University Graduate School Admissions to learn more about admission requirements, how to apply and important dates.

  • Program Requirements

    Graduate study at the Ph.D. level must maintain flexibility, so your specific study program will be directed by your advisory committee. It is anticipated that a program of study would approximate the following example: 

    Minimum Course Requirements (60 hours)

    • PRTM 8010 – Philosophical Foundations (3 credits)
    • PRTM 8080 – Behavioral Aspects of PRTM (3 credits)
    • PRTM 8110 – Research Methods in PRTM (3 credits)
    • PRTM 8130 – Qualitative Research Methods in PRTM
    • PRTM 9100 – Research Seminar (2 credits) or PRTM 9300 - 9320 Residency 1, 2, 3 (3 credits)
    • PRTM 9110 – Professional Issues in PRTM (1 credit, for a total of 3 credits) or PRTM 9330 Higher Education in PRTM
    • YDP 8080 – Grant Writing
    • Research or Statistical Methods (15 credits)
    • Teaching, Collateral or Industry area [focused study area selected in consultation with student's committee] (12 credits)
    • PRTM 9910 – Doctoral Dissertation Research (18 credits)

    All Ph.D. students must present at least twice in PRTM 9100 (dissertation proposal AND results) prior to graduation. Students must obtain Chair’s permission to schedule presentations.

  • Time Limit

    All requirements for the doctoral degree must be completed within eight (8) years from the date you first matriculate into a doctoral degree program at Clemson. This clock does not stop for leave of absence.

    In exceptional circumstances, a student may petition the Graduate School for additional time with approval of the advisory committee. A student who exceeds the time limit without an extension can be dismissed from the Graduate School for failure to maintain adequate academic progress.

  • Committee

    The student's committee must consist of at least four members and the majority of the advisory committee, including the major advisor, must be comprised of Clemson University faculty from the program offering the particular degree and who hold full-time tenure-track positions. Part-time and visiting faculty employed by Clemson may serve on this committee but not serve as chair. Persons not employed by Clemson University may serve if they have been appointed to an adjunct faculty status.

  • Comprehensive Evaluation

    An exam is required and may be oral and/or written, as determined by the student's committee.

    The exam should be designed to ascertain the general knowledge of the candidate, with particular reference to the major and collateral subjects, and the student's area of research. The comprehensive examination usually is given during a student's final semester of classes or soon thereafter.

  • Final Doctoral Dissertation Defense

    The student must pass a final dissertation defense at least three weeks prior to the commencement at which the student plans to graduate.

  • Residency

    To receive the doctor of philosophy degree, the student must complete at least 15 semester hours of graduate credit including research credit (9910) on the Clemson University campus in a continuous 12-month period.

    Online students will meet this requirement by completing three, five-day, on-campus residencies (five consecutive days per year for the first three years of the program).

  • Financial Information

    Tuition and Fees

    Explore information on tuition and fees using the Student Financial Services’ tuition and fee calculator. If you’re considering:

    • On campus study, choose the “Graduate” tab at the top of the calculator.
    • Online study, choose the “Online” tab at the top of the calculator.

    Financial Aid

    For information regarding Financial Aid, please contact the office of Student Financial Aid.


    All on-campus program applicants are considered for a limited number of competitive departmentally funded assistantships. No separate applications are needed to be considered for an assistantship. 

  • Find Out More

    Please contact the coordinator of graduate studies at or call (864) 656-2708 or (864) 656-2060 for more information.

    We also encourage you to complete and submit the Departmental Supplemental Information Form, so we can learn more about your interests and answer any questions you may have about admission, plans of studies and financial assistance.

    A formal Graduate School application must also be submitted. Please click this link for information.

Meet Some of Our Ph.D. Students

Picture of Clemson PRTM student Maira Patino.

All Roads Lead to Clemson for Maira Patino

Maira Patino is pursuing a doctorate in youth development and community recreation, with a focus on serving immigrant children. She has been awarded the Clemson University Graduate Diversity Doctoral Fellowship, which provides funding to support the university’s goal of increasing enrollment and retention of underrepresented doctoral students of color who are pursuing a Ph.D. The fellowships are jointly administered by the Clemson University Graduate School and its Division of Inclusion and Equity.

Read Maira's story


Tyler Cribbs is among the first graduate student researchers from across the country to receive a new national fellowship to conduct research that can help scientists and communities understand coastal challenges. The Margaret A. Davidson Fellowship Program from the National Estuarine Research Reserve System places a graduate student at every one of the country’s 29 national estuarine reserves. Cribbs will be conducting his research at South Carolina’s ACE Basin National Estuarian Research Reserve (ACE Basin), a 99,308 acre estuary that spans the Beaufort, Colleton and Charleston counties.

Read Tyler's story
Picture of the ACE Basin on the South Carolina coast.
Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management | 263 Lehotsky Hall