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2021 Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Degree Guide

People who work hard also like to play hard. Students who study Parks, Recreation, Leisure and Fitness learn how to provide fun and healthy experiences for busy individuals. If you enjoy the great outdoors, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and interacting with people this could be a great field for you.

While you may decide to major in General Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies, you also have the option to specialize in specific areas. Students interested in the business and administration side of recreation may be interested in Recreation Administration; those who seek to improve the health of others can pursue Health and Physical Education/Fitness; and those who have a passion for nature can major in Outdoor Education. Each of these majors allows for a career in a specific niche of recreation and leisure and gives professionals the ability to work closely with the general public.

Depending on the area of expertise you choose, you will take a variety of classes from business administration, marketing, and finance to environmental studies, kinesiology, nutrition, and physiology. No matter what you decide to specialize in, your major will prepare you for a rewarding career helping people get away from the stresses of everyday life.

Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Degrees Remain Stable

#15 Most Popular Major
72k Degrees Awarded
-0.2% Increase in Graduates

Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies was the 15th most popular major in the 2018-2019 school year. Colleges in the United States reported awarding 71,951 degrees in this year alone. This represents small change only -0.2% from the prior year's total of 72,116 parks and rec degrees awarded.

The United States has 1,220 different schools where you can get a degree in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies. Our 2021 Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies ranking analyzes 417 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies students. Explore this or one of our many other custom parks and rec rankings further below.

Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Degree Requirements

Students who receive degrees in the numerous Parks, Recreation, Leisure, and Fitness Studies areas of specialization often work in careers that provide services to others. This places a strong emphasis on interpersonal and customer relation skills. You must be able to listen to what the customer wants help them find a service that fits their needs. Students in this field also have strong organizational skills as they are often working on multiple projects at once or need to lead multiple teams.

Many employers value work experience. Students should try to find work in their field of interest during summer breaks. This will allow you to better the intricacies of the field and move into higher positions of management.

Parks & Rec Degree Program Entry Requirements

New students will need to have completed high school or a GED program and each school will have their own minimum GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements. Specific parks and rec careers may require a certain level of degree attainment or additional certifications beyond that.

Types of Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Degrees

There are various different levels of parks and rec degrees. You can spend many years getting as high as a research / scholarship based doctorate's in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies to something that takes less time like a associate's. The type of parks and rec degree you choose will determine how long it takes to get your diploma.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to parks and rec, with approximately 33.5% of workers getting one. Find out other typical degree levels for parks and rec workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 34.6%
Master’s Degree 20.0%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 9.0%
Post-Secondary Certificate 7.5%
High School Diploma 7.2%

About 67.6% of workers in careers related to parks and rec obtain at least bachelor's degree. See the chart below for the most common degree level workers in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies have received.


This of course varies depending on which parks and rec career you choose.

Career Opportunities for A Degree In Parks & Rec Graduate

Above Average Number of Jobs
$29.7k Average Starting Salary
9% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

There are many different career opportunities available to students who have a degree in Parks, Recreation, Leisure, and Fitness Studies. Some graduates go to work at gyms or recreation centers while other find jobs in national parks or resorts. There are a variety of recreation and leisure activities, which allows graduates to find many unique jobs working both indoors and outdoors.

Solid Growth Projected for Parks & Rec Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your parks and rec degree? Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies careers are expected to grow 9.4% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
General and Operations Managers 2,468,300 9.1%
Managers 1,071,700 8.0%
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors 329,200 10.0%
Coaches and Scouts 311,700 12.9%
Landscaping, Lawn Service, and Groundskeeping Supervisors 198,600 11.4%

Parks & Rec Degree Salary Potential

Recently graduated parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies students earned an average of $29,674 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $10,100 to as high as $57,000. As you might expect, salaries for parks and rec graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


High Paying Careers for Parks & Rec Majors

Salaries for parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers parks and rec grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
General and Operations Managers $123,880
Managers $115,590
Athletes and Sports Competitors $87,030
Recreation and Fitness Studies Professors $72,190
Exercise Physiologists $54,760

Getting Your Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Degree

With over 3,621 different parks and rec degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased parks and rec school rankings to help you with this.

Parks & Rec Majors to Study

Major Annual Graduates
Health & Physical Education 64,271
Recreation Administration 3,676
Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies 3,561
Other Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies 227
Outdoor Education 216

View All Parks & Rec Related Majors >

Related Major Annual Graduates
Homeland Security, Law Enforcement & Firefighting 144,759
Public Administration & Social Service 98,535
Legal Professions 61,011
Military Technologies & Applied Sciences 3,568

View All Parks & Rec Related Majors >


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