Frequently Asked Questions

If you still have questions about the Graduate Program of the Recreation, Parks & Tourism Department (RPT) and admission after viewing the RPT graduate student web pages and the SFSU Graduate School webpages, then responses to these frequently asked questions may be helpful to you. You may also contact the Graduate Coordinator, Dr. Jackson Wilson, for more information.

Applying to the Program


The Program


After Completing the Program


Applying to the Department

Can I apply if I don’t have a recreation, parks, tourism, or closely related degree?

Yes, but you need to have some undergraduate degree and one year full-time equivalent professional experience in recreation, parks, and tourism.  Moreover, you will be given extra readings and associated assignments to help you establish foundational knowledge of the discipline.


Can I apply if I don’t have one year of full-time working experience in the recreation, parks, and tourism profession?

Yes, but you are encouraged to have some professional experience in the recreation, parks, and tourism field before you apply.  If you don’t have one year full-time professional experience, you need to have an undergraduate degree in recreation, parks, tourism, or a closely related field.


What undergraduate GPA do I need to have in order to be eligible?

A minimum of a 3.0 GPA in a baccalaureate degree or for the last 60 semester units (90 quarter units) of undergraduate work.


Does RPT require applicants to take the GRE?

Yes, however, the Department only requires the Analytical Writing portion of GRE. Applicants must receive and submit proof of Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score of 4.0 or above on the Analytical Writing portion to be considered for the graduate program.  You can register for the GRE here.


Do I need to send official transcripts?

Yes, your application will not be reviewed until official transcripts are received by the University and Department.


Do I need to complete English proficiency exam (TOEFL, IELTS, or Pierson)?

All graduate study applicants, regardless of citizenship, whose native language is not English must demonstrate English language proficiency. To demonstrate your English language ability, you should submit an official TOEFL or IELTS Academic score report to the Division of Graduate Studies. If you earned a U.S. Bachelor's or Master's degree, the English language testing requirement will be waived. For more information contact the Office of International Programs via phone: (415) 338-1293 or email:


How should I send letters of recommendation to the Department?

You can send your three letters recommendation to the Department via email: directly from the reference or through regular mail to: Dr. Jackson Wilson, Graduate Coordinator; Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism; San Francisco State University; 1600 Holloway Avenue; San Francisco, CA 94132.  Please let your references know that we may be contacting them to discuss the content of their letter of recommendation.


What should my statement of purpose include?

As part of you Department application, you will be asked to upload a 1000 to 1500 word essay on why are you interested in attending graduate school.  The Department wants to know how this program fits with your personal and professional goals  to determine if this program would meet your needs. The file must be MS Word or PDF format.


What should my resume look like?

The Department will be looking at your resume to understand your history of work experiences in the recreation, parks, and tourism profession.  Your resume should be an honest reflection of your experiences.  The resume should be focused on a position in the recreation, parks, and tourism field that youare interested in.


I don’t want to wait until fall semester.  Do you admit students spring semester?

It is possible to be admitted spring semester; however, this is generally not ideal.  Almost all students are admitted in the fall, because that is when the introductory classes are taught.  Moreover, we strive to build a strong annual cohort to support your professional and personal network and that is more easily done when you come to the Program at the same time as your fellow students.


The Program

How long on average do students take to complete the program?

Full-time students can complete the program in two-years. Alternatively, you could spread classes out over a longer period of time and take more than two-years to complete the program; however, you are highly encouraged to take the first three core classes the first semester you are in the program and must take RPT700 the first fall semester you are in the program. Similarly, RECR611 and RPT810 must be taken the same semester.


How customizable is the program to individual student needs and interests?

We strive to be as flexible as possible.  With the approval of your RPT advisor, you can choose the 9 units of specialization classes that best meets your needs. These specialization classes could include a variety of classes from RPT, other departments at SFSU, and some from outside of SFSU that meet your educational and career goals.  Students can also often customize the assignments within the core classes to focus on their particular RPT area of interest. Finally, the culminating experience is directly focused on the student's area of interest.


How many students are in the program?

Every year the program admits about 20 graduate students (3 to 10 on each campus).  Therefore, we usually have about 50 to 60 students active in the program (10 to 35 on each campus).


How diverse are the students in the program?

The students in the program often reflect the diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area. The students include students that are only a couple years out from their undergraduate degree and older students, often professionals in the field, looking to further their career. The program attracts a substantial number of international and domestic students that are diverse along many dimensions (e.g., gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, ability, socioeconomic status).


Can a new graduate student take a Professional Core class right away?

Students must take the foundations course (e.g., RPT 700 or equivalent) before they can take research methods course (e.g., RPT 810 or equivalent).  


Is a thesis required? Is there an internship option available instead?

Culminating experience is either a thesis or applied research project. You can do an internship to build professional connections and earn elective credits, but internships do not satisfy culminating experience requirements.


Do you offer fee waivers or graduate assistantships in your department?

There are often some opportunities for full- and part-time graduate teaching or research assistantships.  Moreover, there are opportunities for paid positions with our associated programs, like the Pacific Leadership Institute and our Summer Youth Sailing and Kayaking Camps. Contact your advisor for more department information. Contact the Office of Financial Aid for information regarding student loans, work study, etc. Phone: (415) 338-7000 or email at


Are there opportunities to incorporate study and internships abroad?

This is a possibility and can be setup with your advisor's consent (RPT 890 Internship). The key question is, "Will a class or international work assignment contribute towards your educational and career goals?"


What computer skills and equipment do I need for the program?

The webinar class meetings uses video, audio, and other features  allow you to share presentations and dicuss issues with your fellow students.  Some of the features of the program are similar to Skype.  You will need a headset (earphones and microphone), camera, and a internet connection that is fast enough to maintain a Skype or similar service video conection.  Although it is not  difficult to use, all students will be given instruction on how to use the software to make sure that everyone can use the system to enhance their learning.  


Whare are the required in-person seminars at the beginning of the semester?

At the beginning of each semester, all of the core classes will meet at or near one of the three collaborating California State University campuses.  Currently, all of the in-person seminars meet in Sacramento.  For a full-time student, the first semester has a three-day seminar at the beginning of the semester and a one-day seminar at the end.  Subsequent semesters have similar in-person sessions at the beginning and end of the semester.  All core classes offered that semester will meet on the same Saturday at the same location to make it convenient to sequentially attend all final in-person seminars sequentially.  These seminars give students an opportunity to start to build relationships with other students and faculty and develop a foundation of skills and knowledge for the semester.  These are required sessions, so plan ahead for these seminars.  There are multiple low-cost travel and accomodation options.  Students often car-pool to these seminars so that they can meet or catch up with their classmates.


After Completing the Program


Where are the majority of the students placed? What is your job placement rate?

Our graduates find jobs in a very wide variety of settings, ranging from community recreation departments, national/state parks, wellness recreation clinics, ecotourism organizations, recreation planning consultants, resorts, schools and leadership training firms. The job opportunities are very broad and varied.  Almost all our grads are able to quickly to find a professional job.


Will the Department help me get a job after I graduate?

We recommend graduates keep in touch with their advisor and other faculty whom they have gotten to know.  Our faculty are well connected around the Bay Area, Statewide, and, some, nationally.  In order for us to assist, it is important for you to take initiative in letting faculty and other instructors know what you are seeking and your willingness to relocate.  Providing graduates with a letter of recommendation or reference check by telephone or email is always an option upon request. 

For Further Information, Contact:
Dr. Jackson Wilson, Graduate Coordinator
Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue San Francisco, CA 94132
Telephone: (415)338-2030