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RPTA Graduate Program

The Department’s graduate curriculum prepares students to assume positions of responsibility in leisure services organizations and to pursue further advanced study. Successful completion of the graduate program leads to the Master of Science degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration. Designed to allow students considerable flexibility, the program enables students to develop critical and analytical skills while acquiring advanced professional knowledge and competency in the administration of leisure services. Elective courses and field work opportunities provide opportunities for specialized study in several subfields, among them recreation programming, adventure and outdoor recreation, park planning and management, tourism and resort recreation, administration of campus leisure services and therapeutic recreation. Students may select between a thesis option or a professional internship option.

The graduate program emphasizes understanding and applying appropriate research methods; exploring management and administration principles and processes; developing professional competencies in communication, problem solving, conflict resolution, and ethical decision-making; and examining contemporary issues in the leisure services field. A minimum of 34 credit hours of course work is required to complete the degree, plus six credit hours for a thesis or professional internship.

More detailed information about graduate study at Western Illinois University is available in the University’s Graduate Catalog.

Applications & Admission

The Department welcomes inquiries about the graduate program. Interested students may contact the RPTA Department by email), telephone (309/298.1967), or at the mailing address below, directed to the Graduate Coordinator.

You may apply for admission in the fall or spring semester. Basic requirements for admission are:

  • A baccalaureate degree in recreation, park, and tourism administration or a related field from a four-year college or university accredited by the appropriate regional accrediting agency or recognized by the state in which the degree was awarded. All baccalaureate degree requirements must be completed by the time the student enrolls in graduate study.
  • A cumulative undergraduate grade point average of at least 2.75 on a 4.0 scale.

Note: Meeting basic requirements does not guarantee admission.

The Department’s graduate admissions committee acts on applications as they are received. You may apply online, request application and financial assistance forms, and obtain additional information from the School of Graduate Studies. To complete your application, you should submit the following with your application to the School of Graduate Studies:

  • A current personal resume
  • An essay, professional in appearance and content, addressing each of the following topics:
    • Your academic goals while pursuing graduate study in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration and how they relate to your professional aspirations.
    • Your immediate and long-term career plans.
    • The personal characteristics you believe essential for superior graduate academic performance and how these characteristics are related to professional development in your chosen area of service.
    • Your reasons for wanting pursue graduate study in the Department of RPTA at Western Illinois University.
  • Three letters of reference

To ensure that they have the necessary background, students who did not major in Recreation, Park & Tourism Administration as undergraduates may be required to take appropriate undergraduate courses during their first semester in residence.

Graduate Assistantships

Approximately twenty students receive graduate assistantship funding each academic year. Assistantships are awarded on the basis of undergraduate performance and professional experience. Graduate assistants are involved with research projects, teaching, and community service, not to exceed twenty hours per week. Stipends average approximately $910 per month; graduate assistants also receive free tuition. Contact the Department’s Graduate Coordinator for further information.