Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies

2021 Best Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Colleges for Non-Traditional Students

381 Colleges
54,385 Bachelor's Degrees
$30,087 Avg Cost*

Finding the Best Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Schools for Non-Traditional Students

Best Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Colleges for Non-Traditional StudentsParks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies is the #13th most popular major in the country with 54,385 bachelor's degrees awarded in 2018-2019.

For this year's Best Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Colleges for Non-Traditional Students ranking, we looked at 381 colleges that offer a bachelor's in parks and rec. Not only do the schools that top this list have excellent parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies programs, but they also offer a lot of support to non-traditional students.

To come up with these rankings, we looked at factors such as affordability, and overall quality of the parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies program at the school. Check out our ranking methodology for more information.

More Ways to Rank Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Schools

When choosing the right school for you, it's important to arm yourself with all the facts you can. To that end, we've created a number of major-specific rankings, including this Best Parks & Rec Schools for Non-Traditional Students list to help you make the college decision.

In addition to College Factual's rankings, you may want to take a look at College Combat, our unique tool that lets you pit your favorite schools head-to-head and compare how they rate on factors that most interest you. Test it out when you get a chance! You may also want to bookmark the link and share it with others who are trying to make the college decision.

2021 Best Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Schools for Non-Traditional Students in the United States

The following schools top our list of the Best Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Colleges for Non-Traditional Students.

Top 25 Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Schools for Non-Traditional Students

Johnson & Wales University - North Miami tops the 2021 list of our schools in the United States that are best for non-traditional parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies students. JWU North Miami is a small private not-for-profit school located in the large suburb of North Miami. JWU North Miami excels when it comes to major quality. It's ranked in the top 5% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list.

About 7.0% of JWU North Miami students default on their loans in three years, which is lower than average. There are approximately 139 students at JWU North Miami that take at least one class online. 127 students are part time. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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Our rankings recognize Johnson & Wales University - Charlotte as the #2 school in this year's rankings. Located in the large city of Charlotte, JWU Charlotte is a private not-for-profit college with a small student population. JWU Charlotte not only placed well in our non-traditional rankings. It is also #8 on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list.

About 7.0% of JWU Charlotte students default on their loans in three years, which is lower than average. 5 students at JWU Charlotte are exclusively online. There are roughly 20 part time students in attendance at JWU Charlotte. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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#3

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

The #3 spot in this year's ranking belongs to University of Florida. UF is a fairly large public school located in the medium-sized city of Gainesville. In addition to being on our best for non-traditional students list, UF has also earned the #3 rank in our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies ranking.

About 1.5% of UF students default on their loans in three years, which is lower than average. Approximately 21,513 students take at least one class online at UF. 8,083 of UF students are attending part time. UF does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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Our rankings recognize University of North Alabama as the #4 school in this year's rankings. UNA is a medium-sized public school located in the city of Florence. UNA excels when it comes to major quality. It's ranked in the top 10% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list.

Approximately 2,762 students take at least one class online at UNA. There are roughly 2,190 part time students in attendance at UNA. UNA does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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Illinois State University earned the #5 spot in our 2021 rankings. Located in the midsize suburb of Normal, Illinois State is a public school with a fairly large student population. Illinois State also made our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list, coming in at #7.

The school has a low student loan default rate of 3.9%. Approximately 3,895 students take at least one class online at Illinois State. 2,428 students are part time. Illinois State does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign landed the #6 spot in our 2021 best parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies schools for non-traditional students. UIUC is a fairly large public school located in the city of Champaign. UIUC not only placed well in our non-traditional rankings. It is also #2 on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list.

The school has a low student loan default rate of 1.9%. There are approximately 12,503 students at UIUC that take at least one class online. There are roughly 6,389 part time students in attendance at UIUC. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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#7

Chadron State College

Chadron, NE

Our rankings recognize Chadron State College as the #7 school in this year's rankings. Located in the remote town of Chadron, Chadron State College is a public college with a small student population. On top of its placing in our non-traditional rankings, Chadron State College also did well on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list. It's in the top 20% of all schools reviewed in that analysis.

About 7.6% of Chadron State College students default on their loans in three years, which is lower than average. 1,114 students at Chadron State College are exclusively online. 850 students are part time. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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The #8 spot in this year's ranking belongs to San Jose State University. San Jose State is a fairly large public school located in the city of San Jose. San Jose State excels when it comes to major quality. It's ranked in the top 10% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list.

The student loan default rate at San Jose State is lower than is typical, just 3.5% of students default in three years. There are approximately 8,114 students at San Jose State that take at least one class online. About 8,139 of the students at San Jose State are attending part time. San Jose State does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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The #9 spot in this year's ranking belongs to Indiana University - Bloomington. Located in the city of Bloomington, IU Bloomington is a public college with a very large student population. As a testament to the quality of education offered at IU Bloomington, the school also landed the #4 rank in our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies ranking.

About 3.6% of IU Bloomington students default on their loans in three years, which is lower than average. Approximately 5,026 students take at least one class online at IU Bloomington. About 5,192 of the students at IU Bloomington are attending part time. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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California University of Pennsylvania earned the #10 spot in our 2021 rankings. Cal U is a moderately-sized public school located in the suburb of California. On top of its placing in our non-traditional rankings, Cal U also did well on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list. It's in the top 20% of all schools reviewed in that analysis.

About 7.4% of Cal U students default on their loans in three years, which is lower than average. 2,965 students at Cal U are exclusively online. There are roughly 2,311 part time students in attendance at Cal U. Students may be able to receive credit for their military training, depending on their background.

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#11

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT

Our rankings recognize University of Utah as the #11 school in this year's rankings. Located in the medium-sized city of Salt Lake City, U of U is a public school with a fairly large student population. U of U also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list. It's in the top 5% of all schools in this category.

The school has a low student loan default rate of 2.7%. Approximately 9,847 students take at least one class online at U of U. 8,158 of U of U students are attending part time. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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Johnson & Wales University - Denver comes in at #12 in this year's ranking. Located in the large city of Denver, JWU Denver is a private not-for-profit school with a small student population. JWU Denver also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list. It's in the top 5% of all schools in this category.

About 7.0% of JWU Denver students default on their loans in three years, which is lower than average. There are approximately 118 students at JWU Denver that take at least one class online. 74 students are part time. Students may be able to receive credit for their military training, depending on their background.

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North Carolina State University landed the #13 spot in our 2021 best parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies schools for non-traditional students. NC State is a fairly large public school located in the large city of Raleigh. NC State also made our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list, coming in at #5.

The school has a low student loan default rate of 2.8%. There are approximately 11,555 students at NC State that take at least one class online. About 7,111 of the students at NC State are attending part time. NC State does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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University of Northern Colorado landed the #14 spot in our 2021 best parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies schools for non-traditional students. University of Northern Colorado is a fairly large public school located in the city of Greeley. University of Northern Colorado excels when it comes to major quality. It's ranked in the top 15% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list.

The student loan default rate at University of Northern Colorado is lower than is typical, just 5.6% of students default in three years. Approximately 2,209 students take at least one class online at University of Northern Colorado. About 4,334 of the students at University of Northern Colorado are attending part time. Students may be able to receive credit for their military training, depending on their background.

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#15

Texas State University

San Marcos, TX

Our rankings recognize Texas State University as the #15 school in this year's rankings. Located in the small city of San Marcos, Texas State is a public school with a very large student population. On top of its placing in our non-traditional rankings, Texas State also did well on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list. It's in the top 10% of all schools reviewed in that analysis.

The school has a low student loan default rate of 6.6%. There are approximately 9,406 students at Texas State that take at least one class online. 8,060 students are part time. Texas State does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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Our rankings recognize California State University - Sacramento as the #16 school in this year's rankings. Located in the city of Sacramento, Sac State is a public college with a very large student population. On top of its placing in our non-traditional rankings, Sac State also did well on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list. It's in the top 20% of all schools reviewed in that analysis.

The student loan default rate at Sac State is lower than is typical, just 4.7% of students default in three years. Approximately 12,655 students take at least one class online at Sac State. About 6,435 of the students at Sac State are attending part time. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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Our rankings recognize University of New Hampshire - Main Campus as the #17 school in this year's rankings. Located in the suburb of Durham, UNH is a public school with a large student population. On top of its placing in our non-traditional rankings, UNH also did well on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list. It's in the top 5% of all schools reviewed in that analysis.

The school has a low student loan default rate of 2.2%. There are approximately 1,816 students at UNH that take at least one class online. 1,402 of UNH students are attending part time. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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Pennsylvania State University - University Park comes in at #18 in this year's ranking. Located in the small city of University Park, Penn State University Park is a public school with a fairly large student population. In addition to being on our best for non-traditional students list, Penn State University Park has also earned the #6 rank in our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies ranking.

The student loan default rate at Penn State University Park is lower than is typical, just 4.9% of students default in three years. There are approximately 13,255 students at Penn State University Park that take at least one class online. 1,670 students are part time. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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Our rankings recognize California State University - East Bay as the #19 school in this year's rankings. Located in the suburb of Hayward, Cal State East Bay is a public school with a fairly large student population.

The student loan default rate at Cal State East Bay is lower than is typical, just 5.4% of students default in three years. Approximately 6,927 students take at least one class online at Cal State East Bay. About 3,742 of the students at Cal State East Bay are attending part time. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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#20

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, IA

Our rankings recognize University of Northern Iowa as the #20 school in this year's rankings. UNI is a large public school located in the city of Cedar Falls. UNI excels when it comes to major quality. It's ranked in the top 5% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list.

About 2.9% of UNI students default on their loans in three years, which is lower than average. There are approximately 2,118 students at UNI that take at least one class online. 1,923 students are part time. Students may be able to receive credit for their military training, depending on their background.

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#21

University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA

University of Iowa comes in at #21 in this year's ranking. Located in the city of Iowa City, Iowa is a public college with a fairly large student population. In addition to being on our bet for non-traditional students list, Iowa is in the top 5% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list.

The student loan default rate at Iowa is lower than is typical, just 2.5% of students default in three years. Approximately 12,073 students take at least one class online at Iowa. 5,224 students are part time. Students may be able to receive credit for their military training, depending on their background.

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The #22 spot in this year's ranking belongs to Johnson & Wales University - Providence. JWU Providence is a moderately-sized private not-for-profit school located in the midsize city of Providence. On top of its placing in our non-traditional rankings, JWU Providence also did well on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list. It's in the top 15% of all schools reviewed in that analysis.

The student loan default rate at JWU Providence is lower than is typical, just 7.0% of students default in three years. Approximately 926 students take at least one class online at JWU Providence. There are roughly 573 part time students in attendance at JWU Providence. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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#23

Clemson University

Clemson, SC

Clemson University landed the #23 spot in our 2021 best parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies schools for non-traditional students. Clemson is a fairly large public school located in the large suburb of Clemson. Clemson did well in our major quality rankings, too. It placed #9 on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list.

The student loan default rate at Clemson is lower than is typical, just 2.9% of students default in three years. Approximately 4,940 students take at least one class online at Clemson. 3,011 of Clemson students are attending part time. Clemson does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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Colorado State University - Fort Collins comes in at #24 in this year's ranking. Colorado State is a fairly large public school located in the medium-sized city of Fort Collins. Colorado State also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies list. It's in the top 5% of all schools in this category.

The student loan default rate at Colorado State is lower than is typical, just 3.1% of students default in three years. Approximately 4,779 students take at least one class online at Colorado State. 7,877 students are part time. Students may be able to receive credit for their military training, depending on their background.

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#25

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI

Michigan State University comes in at #25 in this year's ranking. Located in the small city of East Lansing, Michigan State is a public school with a fairly large student population. As a testament to the quality of education it offers, Michigan State also is in the top 5% of our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies ranking.

The student loan default rate at Michigan State is lower than is typical, just 3.4% of students default in three years. There are approximately 9,273 students at Michigan State that take at least one class online. There are roughly 6,488 part time students in attendance at Michigan State.

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Rest of the Top Schools for Best Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Colleges for Non-Traditional Students

#26

Lock Haven University

Lock Haven, PA
#29

Old Dominion University

Norfolk, VA
#30

Lindenwood University

Saint Charles, MO

#33

Winona State University

Winona, MN

#35

Central Washington University

Ellensburg, WA

#42

San Francisco State University

San Francisco, CA

#43

Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, IL
#44

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL
#45

West Virginia University

Morgantown, WV
#46

The College at Brockport

Brockport, NY
#47

Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR
#48

Kean University

Union, NJ

Additional Award Winners

This section shows the rest of the colleges awarded a Best Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Colleges for Non-Traditional Students badge. Showing in this list means the school was ranked in the top 15% of the 381 different United States parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies schools we analyzed.

Rank College Location
51 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY
52 University of Nebraska at Kearney Kearney, NE
53 University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
54 Florida International University Miami, FL
55 Indiana State University Terre Haute, IN
56 Concordia University, Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN
57 University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI

Honorable Mentions

Here are some additional great schools for non-traditional students studying Parks & Rec that almost earned our Best Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Colleges for Non-Traditional Students award.

Rank College Location
58 Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro, TN
59 Appalachian State University Boone, NC
60 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
61 Southern Illinois University Carbondale Carbondale, IL
62 Southern Methodist University Dallas, TX
63 San Diego State University San Diego, CA
64 Brigham Young University - Provo Provo, UT
65 California State University - Fresno Fresno, CA
66 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
67 Ohio University - Athens Campus Athens, OH
68 University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR
69 Endicott College Beverly, MA
70 Concordia University, Chicago River Forest, IL
71 Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC
72 University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst, MA
73 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY
74 Texas Woman’s University Denton, TX
75 American Public University System Charles Town, WV
76 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA

Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies by Region

View the best for non-traditional students Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies colleges in a specific region near you.

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

Parks & Rec Majors to Study

Major Annual Graduates
Health & Physical Education 62,103
Recreation Administration 3,544
Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies 3,345
Other Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies 193
Outdoor Education 191

View All Parks & Rec Related Majors >

Related Major Annual Graduates
Homeland Security, Law Enforcement & Firefighting 106,583
Public Administration & Social Service 93,881
Legal Professions 54,849
Military Technologies & Applied Sciences 2,638

View All Parks & Rec Related Majors >

Notes and References

Footnotes

*Avg Cost is for the top 25 schools only.

References

  • 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).
  • Veteran-specific data can be found at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
  • Credit for the banner image above goes to NPS Photo/Zurbuch.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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