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Recreation, Sport & Tourism

Promote environmental stewardship. Lead social and economic development. Study management and marketing.

Graduate Student Admissions

We appreciate your interest in the Department of Recreation, Sport, and Tourism and welcome your application for admission. Applications for graduate admissions are processed through our graduate college Admissions site located at:

This site allows applicants to track their admission progress and conduct most of the admission process, including credit card payments, electronically. Please read below for comprehensive information on our Admissions process.

Note: If you are interested in applying for the online M.S. in Recreation, Sport and Tourism, please visit this Admissions page for information specific to applying for the online program.

Department Graduate Student Admissions

An underlying principle throughout these guidelines is to continually improve the quality of our graduate students and enhance the fit between graduate students and the collection of faculty teaching and research interests. These guidelines recognize the importance of high quality graduate students to our departmental culture, and are directed at a constructive development of culture through graduate student admission decisions.

Admissions guidelines include the following requirements:

  • Transcript – must be original, directly from the institution. International students must provide transcripts in both English and the original language. Applicants to the PhD program must have a MS degree and provide that transcript as well.  Official transcripts are only required after an applicant accepts an offer of admission.  In ApplyYourself, our application system, uploading an unofficial transcript (including grade interpretation guidelines, if applicable to your institution) is acceptable.  Both official and unofficial transcripts in languages other than English must always be accompanied by an English translation from the institution.
  • GPA – 3.0 out of 4.0 (Graduate College minimum is the same.) The last two years, approximately 60 hours, of undergraduate coursework is calculated to determine the GPA.
  • GRE – Required, but no minimum. However, the program is competitive so the scores are important. We do not accept GMAT, LSAT or other tests as a substitute for PhD. Applications
  • GMAT- the department accepts the GMAT as well as the GRE for On Campus Masters Applications.

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism has temporarily suspended the GRE/GMAT test as an application requirement for all doctoral and master applicants until August 2021. We are aware of the disruptions in the availability of the GRE/GMAT here in the United States and various places around the world. The GRE/GMAT is not required for your application to be reviewed or for admission at this time. Please contact us with any questions.

  • Recommendations – Three letters of recommendation are required, preferably from academic sources (e.g., professors, academic advisors). At least 1 recommendation letter should be from an academic source.
  • TOEFL/IELTS – For international students' language ability, a TOEFL or IELTS test score is required.  Some applicants may be exempt from this requirement.  Click here for more information about language test exemptions for admission.  Minimum scores are as follows:
    English Proficiency Test Minimum for Full Status Admission
    TOEFL iBT 103
    IELTS (academic exam) 7.5
    Duolingo (Accepting tests taken between Feb. 1, 2020 and Aug. 1, 2021 only) 125
  • English Proficiency for Teaching Assistants - Please note that all English proficiency requirements and exemptions listed above are for admission purposes only. Admissions minimums are not equivalent to minimums required for holding a teaching assistantship; and not all exemptions apply for those holding a teaching assistantship. For more information, please see the English Proficiency Requirement for Graduate Teaching Assistants.
  • Video Interview – A video interview (e.g. Skype) is required for applicants who do not speak English as their first language.  Those applicants who qualify for a language test exemption for admission are exempt from the video interview requirement.
  • Statement of Purpose – Because the Department of Recreation, Sport, and Tourism does not require applicants to have a background in Leisure, the "statement of purpose" is reviewed closely to identify a match between interests of applicants and faculty. Listed below are specific questions for applicants to address, but not limit themselves to, within their "statement of purpose". These questions could be addressed in one whole essay, or as itemized responses to the questions:
    1. Why are you pursuing a graduate degree? What possibilities do you see for your future career? In what ways would your degree contribute to your career?
    2. At this point in time, what is your desired area of study and/or expected research program.
    3. Why do you think University of Illinois is appropriate for you? Why do you think the Department of Recreation, Sport, and Tourism is a good fit for you? Discuss the ability for the interests of departmental faculty to overlap with your own interests?

The faculty understands that applicants' aspirations and interests in graduate school may change during the course of one's program, however it is useful to understand applicants' current perspectives.

Decision process

Faculty members review the applicant information as it is updated.  Faculty who represent one or more of the three concentration areas meet to discuss the applicant files within a month after the deadline and the majority of the admission decisions are made at that time. Both MS and PHD applicants need at least one faculty to volunteer to be their advisor before an applicant is accepted.

Internal applications for PhD program

Departmental MS students who would like to apply to the department's PhD program are required to go through the same application procedure as other applicants, the difference being, a petition is required, not another application. Acceptance into the PhD program is contingent on all requirements of the MS program being fulfilled prior to the start of PhD work.

Admittance on "limited" status

In the discussion of an applicant, there may be convincing reasons to admit the applicant yet concern about their ability to successfully transition into the graduate program. In such cases, applicants will be admitted on "limited" status. Students are generally removed from "limited" status if they achieve a 3.0 GPA.

Deadline for submission

For consideration for Fall admission and to be competitive for financial support, all application materials must be received by January 15. Applications submitted after this date, and before July 15, will also be considered for admission.

For consideration for Spring admission all application materials must be received by October 1.

To apply for a graduate degree program in Recreation, Sport and Tourism, please visit this page.

Questions? Contact: