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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/GMAT scores are not required for application to the MS or Ph.D. program. Applicants who have taken the GRE/GMAT and feel their scores would benefit their application are welcomed to submit the scores. However, the choice of submitting GRE/GMAT scores will not put applicants in a disadvantage when it comes to the admission process or the chances of securing assistantship funding.

  • 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, Zoom) is required for Ph.D. and thesis-based MS 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.
  • Academic Statement of Purpose

    In your Academic Statement of Purpose, please clearly answer (within 1000 words) each of these four questions:

    1. What is your desired area of study and/or expected research program?
    2. Why are you pursuing a graduate degree?
    3. How has your academic background, preparation, training and/or professional experiences prepared you to perform well in the graduate program?
    4. Why is the University of Illinois and the Department of Recreation Sport and Tourism appropriate for you?
      • If you are applying for admission to a thesis-based MS program or a Ph.D. program, please discuss how the interests of specific departmental faculty overlap with your own interests.
      • If you are choosing an online MS program, please explain why the online program is a good fit for you?
  • Personal Statement

    The University of Illinois strives to cultivate graduates and future alumni to be responsible citizens and leaders who value knowledge, creativity, global awareness, and social and cultural understanding. We invite applicants to describe their potential contribution to the institution and alignment with our strategic priorities to create “an institution committed to excellence in discovery, teaching, and research, and a climate where all can achieve their highest aspirations in a safe and welcoming environment.” Please use the Personal Statement do describe (within 500 words) how your personal background and experiences influenced your decision to purse a graduate degree. Provide insight on your potential to contribute to a community of inclusion, belonging, and respect in which scholars with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, abilities, and experiences can learn and collaborate productively and positively together. 

  • All Ph.D. applicants are required to submit a writing sample. Examples of writing samples include a Masters thesis, published articles, professional papers, or any other written work that would help the committee to evaluate an applicant's aptitude for pursuing a research-oriented doctoral degree.

  • Ph.D. applicants are encouraged to reach out to their desired dissertation advisor(s) several months before submitting their application to ascertain if there is a match between the applicants’ and faculty’s research interests and to verify if the prospective faculty advisor(s) is/are planning to admit new doctoral students in the upcoming year.

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 MS-campus and Ph.D. applications

For fall semester admissions - January 15.

For spring semester admissions - October 1.

Applications submitted between January 15 - July 15 (for fall semester) and October 1 - December 15 (for spring semester) will also be considered for admission but the review process may take longer. Assistantship allocations for Ph.D. students are made between January 15-February 15.

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

MS in RST-Online Deadlines

Summer 2022

  • Application deadline: April 15, 2022

Fall 2022

  • Application deadline: August 15, 2022

Spring 2023

  • Application deadline: December 12, 2022

Questions? Contact: