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2020 Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies

Approximately 3,541 parks, recreation and leisure studies degrees were awarded to students last year in the United States. With so many choices it can be difficult finding the best choice. This year's Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies ranking analyzed 58 colleges and universities that offer a bachelor's degree in parks, recreation and leisure studies. We look at over 20 factors to determine the top 8 colleges for Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies students.

Choosing a Great Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies School

Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies Your choice of parks, recreation and leisure studies school matters. This section explores some of the factors we include in our ranking and how much they vary depending on the school you select. When choosing a school we recommend considering some of the following factors:

A Great Overall School

A school that excels in educating for a particular major must be a great school overall as well. To make it into this list a school must rank well in our overall Best Colleges ranking. This ranking considered factors such as graduation rates, overall graduate earnings and other educational resources to identify great colleges and universities.

The lowest ranked school in our list is in the top 29% of our overall quality ranking while the vast majority are in at least the top 18%.

Overall Best Colleges Rank  ( 295 to 22 )
Lowest Ranked Overall
Top Ranked Overall

Above Average Earnings After Graduation

Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies graduates from colleges on this list tend to earn more after college than those from other schools. While the average parks, recreation and leisure studies bachelors degree from U.S. schools results in an average starting salary of $29,751, graduates of colleges on this list average $31,483.

Starting Salary  ( 29758 to 36741 )
$0
$34,000

Other Factors We Consider

In addition to the above, you should consider some of the following factors:

  • Major Focus - How much a school focuses on Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies students vs. other majors.
  • Major Popularity - How many other parks, recreation and leisure studies students choose this school.
  • Accreditation - Whether a school is regionally accredited and/or a recognized parks, recreation and leisure studies related accrediting body.

Our full ranking methodology documents in more detail how we consider these factors to identify the best schools for Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies students.

Best Schools to Study Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies in United States

Learn about the top ranked colleges and universities for parks, recreation and leisure studies majors.

Top 10 Best Parks & Rec Colleges

Every student pursuing a degree in parks, recreation and leisure studies has to look into University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign. UIUC is a fairly large public school located in the small city of Champaign. A Best Colleges rank of 85 out of 1,727 schools nationwide means UIUC is a great college overall.

There are about 131 parks, recreation and leisure studies undergraduates enrolled in this degree at UIUC. University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign parks, recreation and leisure studies graduates receive $2,475 more than the average parks and rec graduate.

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Any student pursuing a degree in parks, recreation and leisure studies has to take a look at Texas A&M University - College Station. Texas A&M is a fairly large public school located in the medium-sized city of College Station. A Best Colleges rank of 89 out of 1,727 colleges nationwide means Texas A&M is a great school overall.

Texas A&M offers parks, recreation and leisure studies degrees as low as a First Year Certificates and all the way up to a Research / Scholarship Based Doctorate's. Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies students from Texas A&M University - College Station receive an earnings boost of approximately $2,175 above the typical earnings of parks, recreation and leisure studies graduates.

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California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo is among your best bets if you're planning on studying parks, recreation and leisure studies. Located in the suburb San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is a public college with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 152 out of 1,727 colleges nationwide means Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is a great college overall.

A popular major for parks, recreation and leisure studies undergrads, there are about 92 individuals enrolled in this program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

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Every student who is interested in parks, recreation and leisure studies needs to check out Indiana University - Bloomington. IU Bloomington is a fairly large public school located in the city of Bloomington. This college ranks 181st out of 1,727 schools for overall quality in the state of Indiana.

There are about 201 parks, recreation and leisure studies undergrads studying this degree at IU Bloomington. Students who graduate from the parks and rec program earn about $33,100 in their early career salary.

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#5

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT

Located in the city Salt Lake City, U of U is a public school with a very large student population. This college ranks 180th out of 1,727 colleges for overall quality in the state of Utah.

A popular major for parks, recreation and leisure studies undergraduates, there are about 76 individuals studying this program at U of U. After getting their bachelor's degree, parks and rec students generally make an average of $25,200 in the first five years of their career.

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#6

University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA

Iowa is a fairly large public school located in the small city of Iowa City. This school ranks 166th out of 1,727 schools for overall quality in the state of Iowa.

University of Iowa is a fairly popular college to study parks and rec in United States with over 59 graduations last year. After graduating, parks and rec students usually make around $33,400 in their early careers.

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Located in the medium-sized city Provo, BYU is a private not-for-profit college with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 102 out of 1,727 schools nationwide means BYU is a great school overall.

There are approximately 92 parks, recreation and leisure studies undergrads enrolled in this program at BYU. Graduates of the parks and rec program report average early career wages of $29,500.

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#8

William Jewell College

Liberty, MO

William Jewell is a fairly small private not-for-profit school located in the suburb of Liberty. This college ranks 506th out of 1,727 schools for overall quality in the state of Missouri.

A favorite major for parks, recreation and leisure studies undergraduates, there are roughly 7 individuals enrolled in this program at William Jewell.

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Chico State is a large public school located in the small city of Chico. This school ranks 501st out of 1,727 colleges for overall quality in the state of California.

For those interested in pursuing a higher degree, Chico State also offers a Master's Degree in parks, recreation and leisure studies. Graduates from the parks, recreation and leisure studies program at California State University - Chico get $3,775 above the average college grad with the same degree shortly after graduation.

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Mizzou is a fairly large public school located in the midsize city of Columbia. This college ranks 264th out of 1,727 schools for overall quality in the state of Missouri.

There are about 112 parks, recreation and leisure studies undergraduates studying this degree at Mizzou. Students who complete this program report average early career income of $31,500.

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Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies by Region

View the Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies for a specific region near you.

Region
Southeast
New England
Rocky Mountains
The Plains States
Middle Atlantic
Far Western US
Southwest
Great Lakes

One of 4 majors within the Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies area of study, Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies has other similar majors worth exploring.

Related Major Annual Graduates
Health & Physical Education 63,893
Recreation Administration 4,172
Other Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies 275
Outdoor Education 235

View All Parks & Rec Related Majors >

Notes and References

  • The bars on the spread charts above show the distribution of the schools on this list +/- one standard deviation from the mean.
  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of the rest of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Credit for the banner image above goes to Jazmin Smith.

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