Parks, Recreation & Tourism Mgt - PhD


Degrees Offered


Clemson University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. The Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management is one of the largest programs of its type in the country, consisting of over 500 undergraduate and 61 PhD students. In total, the Department has 34 faculty and lecturers. The PhD is an advanced research degree focused on preparing students for faculty and research positions in a variety of emphasis areas including community recreation, sport and camp management (CRSCM); park and conservation area management (PCAM); recreational therapy (RT); and travel and tourism (T&T).



More information can be found in this graduate handbook.


Program of Study

If you are accepted into our PhD degree programs, your course of study will be uniquely developed in consultation with your graduate advisory committee. Factors determining your course of study will include your interests and goals, undergraduate course of study, employment history and the degree program.

Since the program is designed to maintain flexibility, course requirements will be based on your individual needs. The final basis for course selection will be your grasp of the subject matter deemed appropriate by your advisory committee, competency to plan and conduct research and the ability to use both oral and written communication effectively. One strong component is course work in research methodology and statistics. It is anticipated that your program of study will include at least the following:

  • PRTM graduate courses: 15 hours
  • Research & Statistics courses: 15 hours
  • Collateral Area: 12 hours
  • Dissertation Research credits: 18 hours
  • Total: 60 hours

The time limit for this degree is determined by the dates by which essential elements of the degree are completed. The following must be passed in the five-year period prior to graduation:

  • Comprehensive examination
  • PRTM 9100 Research Seminar (2 hours)
  • Defense of dissertation
  • Approval of dissertation by the Graduate School


The Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management is housed in Lehotsky Hall on Clemson University’s campus. There are several entities of the department in other locations on and off campus.

The Clemson University Outdoor Laboratory began in 1970 when faculty in the Department of Recreation and Park Administration (now PRTM) first dreamed of building an outdoor recreational facility to do two things: serve Clemson University students as a laboratory for practical experience and to provide meaningful camping experiences for individuals across the state with special needs. The Outdoor Lab is located five miles from the University campus on a beautiful peninsula on Lake Hartwell. In the midst of the 17,500 acre Clemson Experimental Forest, the Outdoor Lab provides meeting, programming and research possibilities that can be found in few environments. It also serves as a conference center and has a high-ropes challenge course. For more information, please visit their website located at:

The Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs conducts applied research and service in public policy areas at the local, regional, state and national levels. The institute draws upon the expertise of Clemson University faculty, staff and students and has an established record of collaborative partnerships with academic, governmental and private sector scholars throughout the world. The director of the institute serves as a faculty member in our department. For more information, please visit their website located at:

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Clemson University (OLLI) is a membership organization whose mission is to provide opportunities for adults to further their knowledge in both academic and recreational pursuits and to share their experience and interests with other members. Their vision is to provide residents of the Upstate of South Carolina with an excellent lifelong learning program while embracing the uniqueness of their members and Clemson University. For more information, please visit their website located at:

Clemson University is also home to the Institute for Parks at Clemson University that provides a comprehensive program of research, education, training and outreach that enhances the management of the world’s parks and protected areas, while concurrently increasing the global public’s understanding of the natural, cultural and recreational value of these treasured resources. It accomplishes this by:

  • providing research to inform more effective and efficient management decisions;
  • increasing individual and institutional capacity through transformative leadership education and training programs;
  • connecting the global park community and delivering just-in-time knowledge through the Open Parks Network, an innovative Internet network; and
  • promoting the relevance of parks and protected areas to a rapidly changing, multicultural, global society.

Clemson University’s Pre-Collegiate Programs Office (PcPO) is commissioned by the President of Clemson University to support a high-quality, safe environment for children that participate in programs affiliated with our University. The PcPO takes a proactive approach to protecting children and the employees, faculty and staff of the University. The PcPO also works with colleges, departments, and external clients to provide general guidance and support, or to arrange for every programming detail for youth programs by coordinating housing, meals, publicity, pre-registrations, registrations, financial management, transportation and facilities. For more information, please visit their site at:


A number of applicants who have been admitted to the Doctoral program in the Department will be selected for work with a faculty member who has compatible interests. Diverse faculty interests provide opportunities in such areas as therapeutic recreation, campus recreation, community recreation management, resource management and travel and tourism. Duties can include teaching, research, or related responsibilities, varying from 10 to 20 hours per week.

Our Students

Of the 61 graduate students currently enrolled, 45 are full-time and 36 are women. Twenty-five percent of the students in the program are international students.


Application Information

The Doctoral program is based on the student’s grasp of recreation subject matter, competency to plan and conduct research, and the ability to effectively and professionally use written and oral communication. Enrollment requires that the student hold a Bachelor’s degree and a Masters degree for admission into the Ph.D. program. 

We require the following items: 1. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores on the three parts of the exam; 2. A University application including applicant’s personal statement; 3. Two letters of recommendation; and 4. Transcripts of all academic work. The application can be found online through the Clemson University Graduate School webpage at .

Applications are accepted and encouraged from those whose undergraduate education did not include the formal study of recreation and parks. Normally, applications are considered in mid-January of each year.

Applications for Fall semester are due January 15; applications for Spring semester are due October 1. All required materials must be submitted by those dates.

Required Documents


A number of assistantships and University fellowships are available.

Bishop Assistantship in Tourism
Hartzog Doctoral Fellowship 
Marsha A. Ward Fellowship Endowment for Play
University Fellowships

Applications for Fall semester are due January 15; applications for Spring semester are due October 1. All required materials must be submitted by those dates.


Program Contact(s)

Program Coordinator(s)