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2021 Best Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Colleges for Veterans in the United States

414 Colleges
54,385 Bachelor's Degrees
$29,319 Avg Cost*

Finding the Best Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Schools for Vets

Best Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Colleges for Veterans in the United StatesIn 2018-2019, 54,385 people earned their bachelor's in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies, making the major the #13 most popular in the United States.

For this year's Best Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Colleges for Veterans in the United States ranking, we looked at 414 colleges that offer a bachelor's in parks and rec. The schools that top this list are recognized because they have great parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies programs and a strong support system for veterans and active service members.

When determining these rankings, we looked at things such as overall quality of the parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies program at the school, veteran affordability, and veteran satisfaction. See our ranking methodology to learn more.

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

Since the program you select can have a significant impact on your future, we've developed a number of rankings, including this Best Parks & Rec Schools for Veterans list, to help you choose the best school for you.

To further help you make the college decision, we've developed a unique tool called College Combat that allows you to compare schools based on the factors that matter the most to 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 Veterans in the United States

The following schools top our list of the Best Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Colleges for Veterans.

Top 25 Most Veteran Friendly Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Schools

University of North Alabama landed the #1 spot in our 2021 rankings for best value parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies schools. UNA is a medium-sized public school located in the city of Florence. In addition to being on our bet for vets list, UNA is in the top 10% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States list.

Of the 7,488 students enrolled at UNA, 331 were GI Bill® students, according to our most recent data. Out of that number, 171 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average GI Bill® award for tuition and fees at the school was $6,742. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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Johnson & Wales University - North Miami comes in at #2 in this year's ranking. JWU North Miami is a small private not-for-profit school located in the suburb of North Miami. JWU North Miami also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States list. It's in the top 5% of all schools in this category.

Of the 1,361 students enrolled at JWU North Miami, 81 were GI Bill® students, according to our most recent data. Out of that number, 50 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average GI Bill® award for tuition and fees at the school was $15,857. In addition to receiving other benefits, 11 students qualified for the Yellow Ribbon Program. Students may be able to receive credit for their military training, depending on their background.

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University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign earned the #3 spot in our 2021 rankings. UIUC is a very large public school located in the city of Champaign. UIUC also took the #2 spot in our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States rankings.

According to our most recent data, UIUC supports 49,702 students, and 500 of those are GI Bill® students, of which 247 are Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average GI Bill® award for tuition and fees at the school was $12,702. UIUC does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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The #4 spot in this year's ranking belongs to Illinois State University. Located in the medium-sized suburb of Normal, Illinois State is a public school with a fairly large student population. Illinois State did well in our major quality rankings, too. It placed #7 on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States list.

Our most recent data shows that 560 of the 20,635 students enrolled at Illinois State were GI Bill® students, of which 218 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average tuition and fees award for these recipients was $8,872. Illinois State does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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#5

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

University of Florida landed the #5 spot in our 2021 rankings for best value parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies schools. U of F is a fairly large public school located in the medium-sized city of Gainesville. In addition to being on our best for vets list, U of F has also earned the #3 rank in our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States ranking.

According to our most recent data, U of F supports 52,218 students, and 1,109 of those are GI Bill® students, of which 752 are Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average GI Bill® award for tuition and fees at the school was $8,193. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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#6

Chadron State College

Chadron, NE

Chadron State College landed the #6 spot in our 2021 rankings for best value parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies schools. Located in the town of Chadron, Chadron State College is a public school with a small student population. Chadron State College also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States list. It's in the top 20% of all schools in this category.

Among the 2,448 students enrolled at Chadron State College, 59 are GI Bill® students, according to our most recent data. Out of that number, 34 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average GI Bill® award for tuition and fees at the school was $4,453. During this same period, 2 students received scholarships through the Yellow Ribbon Program. Students may be able to receive credit for their military training, depending on their background.

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#7

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT

Our rankings recognize University of Utah as the #7 school in this year's rankings. Located in the city of Salt Lake City, U of U is a public school with a very large student population. In addition to being on our bet for vets list, U of U is in the top 5% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States list.

Our most recent data shows that 988 of the 33,023 students enrolled at U of U were GI Bill® students, of which 723 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average tuition and fees award for these recipients was $9,580. In addition to receiving other benefits, 39 students qualified for the Yellow Ribbon Program. Students may be able to receive credit for their military training, depending on their background.

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Johnson & Wales University - Charlotte landed the #8 spot in our 2021 rankings for best value parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies schools. Located in the city of Charlotte, JWU Charlotte is a private not-for-profit school with a small student population. In addition to being on our best for vets list, JWU Charlotte has also earned the #8 rank in our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States ranking.

Our most recent data shows that 160 of the 1,681 students enrolled at JWU Charlotte were GI Bill® students, of which 100 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average tuition and fees award for these recipients was $16,441. In addition to receiving other benefits, 28 students qualified for the Yellow Ribbon Program. JWU Charlotte does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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Indiana University - Bloomington earned the #9 spot in our 2021 rankings. Located in the small city of Bloomington, IU Bloomington is a public school with a very large student population. IU Bloomington not only placed well in our veterans rankings. It is also #4 on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States list.

Among the 43,503 students enrolled at IU Bloomington, 626 are GI Bill® students, according to our most recent data. Out of that number, 389 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average tuition and fees award for these recipients was $12,606. In addition to receiving other benefits, 23 students qualified for the Yellow Ribbon Program. IU Bloomington does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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Our rankings recognize North Carolina State University as the #10 school in this year's rankings. NC State is a very large public school located in the city of Raleigh. NC State did well in our major quality rankings, too. It placed #5 on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States list.

Of the 35,479 students enrolled at NC State, 1,068 were GI Bill® students, according to our most recent data. Out of that number, 719 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average tuition and fees award for these recipients was $8,891. To help with additional expenses, 33 students received funds through the Yellow Ribbon Program. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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#11

Texas State University

San Marcos, TX

Our rankings recognize Texas State University as the #11 school in this year's rankings. Located in the small city of San Marcos, Texas State is a public college with a very large student population. In addition to being on our bet for vets list, Texas State is in the top 10% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States list.

Among the 38,644 students enrolled at Texas State, 2,265 are GI Bill® students, according to our most recent data. Out of that number, 1,286 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average GI Bill® award for tuition and fees at the school was $8,333. Students may be able to receive credit for their military training, depending on their background.

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Pennsylvania State University - University Park earned the #12 spot in our 2021 rankings. Located in the small city of University Park, Penn State University Park is a public school with a fairly large student population. Penn State University Park also took the #6 spot in our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States rankings.

According to our most recent data, Penn State University Park supports 46,810 students, and 1,039 of those are GI Bill® students, of which 836 are Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average GI Bill® award for tuition and fees at the school was $15,714. Students may be able to receive credit for their military training, depending on their background.

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Southern Connecticut State University landed the #13 spot in our 2021 rankings for best value parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies schools. Located in the city of New Haven, SCSU is a public school with a moderately-sized student population. SCSU also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States list. It's in the top 10% of all schools in this category.

Of the 10,050 students enrolled at SCSU, 324 were GI Bill® students, according to our most recent data. Out of that number, 226 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average tuition and fees award for these recipients was $10,233. During this same period, 1 students received scholarships through the Yellow Ribbon Program. SCSU does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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The #14 spot in this year's ranking belongs to University of Northern Colorado. University of Northern Colorado is a 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 in the United States list.

Of the 13,437 students enrolled at University of Northern Colorado, 369 were GI Bill® students, according to our most recent data. Out of that number, 251 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average GI Bill® award for tuition and fees at the school was $8,283. During this same period, 24 students received scholarships through the Yellow Ribbon Program. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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The #15 spot in this year's ranking belongs to Johnson & Wales University - Denver. Located in the city of Denver, JWU Denver is a private not-for-profit college with a small student population. In addition to being on our bet for vets list, JWU Denver is in the top 5% of all schools on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States list.

Our most recent data shows that 102 of the 1,008 students enrolled at JWU Denver were GI Bill® students, of which 76 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average tuition and fees award for these recipients was $15,866. In addition to receiving other benefits, 17 students qualified for the Yellow Ribbon Program. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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#16

San Jose State University

San Jose, CA

San Jose State University landed the #16 spot in our 2021 rankings for best value parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies schools. San Jose State is a very large public school located in the large 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 in the United States list.

Of the 35,400 students enrolled at San Jose State, 658 were GI Bill® students, according to our most recent data. Out of that number, 403 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average tuition and fees award for these recipients was $5,381. San Jose State does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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The #17 spot in this year's ranking belongs to University of New Hampshire - Main Campus. U of NH is a fairly large public school located in the small suburb of Durham. U of NH also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States list. It's in the top 5% of all schools in this category.

According to our most recent data, U of NH supports 15,298 students, and 457 of those are GI Bill® students, of which 314 are Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average tuition and fees award for these recipients was $13,532. In addition to receiving other benefits, 16 students qualified for the Yellow Ribbon Program. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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The #18 spot in this year's ranking belongs to Colorado State University - Fort Collins. Colorado State is a very large public school located in the medium-sized city of Fort Collins. Colorado State 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 in the United States list.

According to our most recent data, Colorado State supports 33,478 students, and 1,706 of those are GI Bill® students, of which 1,344 are Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average GI Bill® award for tuition and fees at the school was $11,826. In addition to receiving other benefits, 70 students qualified for the Yellow Ribbon Program. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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#19

University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA

University of Iowa earned the #19 spot in our 2021 rankings. Located in the city of Iowa City, Iowa is a public college with a very large student population. Iowa also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States list. It's in the top 5% of all schools in this category.

Among the 31,656 students enrolled at Iowa, 675 are GI Bill® students, according to our most recent data. Out of that number, 411 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average GI Bill® award for tuition and fees at the school was $7,933. To help with additional expenses, 1 students received funds through the Yellow Ribbon Program. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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The #20 spot in this year's ranking belongs to California University of Pennsylvania. Cal U is a moderately-sized public school located in the small suburb of California. On top of its placing in our veterans rankings, Cal U also did well on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States list. It's in the top 20% of all schools reviewed in that analysis.

Among the 7,310 students enrolled at Cal U, 324 are GI Bill® students, according to our most recent data. Out of that number, 233 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average tuition and fees award for these recipients was $6,999. Students may be able to receive credit for their military training, depending on their background.

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#21

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, IA

The #21 spot in this year's ranking belongs to University of Northern Iowa. UNI is a fairly large public school located in the small 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 in the United States list.

Of the 11,187 students enrolled at UNI, 270 were GI Bill® students, according to our most recent data. Out of that number, 130 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average tuition and fees award for these recipients was $5,980. To help with additional expenses, 3 students received funds through the Yellow Ribbon Program. UNI does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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The #22 spot in this year's ranking belongs to University of North Texas. Located in the midsize city of Denton, UNT is a public college with a fairly large student population. UNT also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States list. It's in the top 15% of all schools in this category.

Of the 38,241 students enrolled at UNT, 1,839 were GI Bill® students, according to our most recent data. Out of that number, 1,135 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average tuition and fees award for these recipients was $8,180. UNT does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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#23

Clemson University

Clemson, SC

Our rankings recognize Clemson University as the #23 school in this year's rankings. Clemson is a very large public school located in the large suburb of Clemson. Clemson not only placed well in our veterans rankings. It is also #9 on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States list.

According to our most recent data, Clemson supports 24,951 students, and 843 of those are GI Bill® students, of which 643 are Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average tuition and fees award for these recipients was $13,584. On top of their other funding sources, 20 students qualified for the Yellow Ribbon Program. Clemson does offer credit for military training for eligible students.

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#24

Old Dominion University

Norfolk, VA

Old Dominion University comes in at #24 in this year's ranking. Located in the city of Norfolk, Old Dominion is a public college with a fairly large student population. On top of its placing in our veterans rankings, Old Dominion also did well on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States list. It's in the top 20% of all schools reviewed in that analysis.

According to our most recent data, Old Dominion supports 24,176 students, and 3,222 of those are GI Bill® students, of which 2,499 are Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average tuition and fees award for these recipients was $8,095. Students may be able to receive credit for their military training, depending on their background.

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Our rankings recognize University of Wisconsin - La Crosse as the #25 school in this year's rankings. Located in the city of La Crosse, UW - La Crosse is a public school with a large student population. On top of its placing in our veterans rankings, UW - La Crosse also did well on our Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies in the United States list. It's in the top 5% of all schools reviewed in that analysis.

Among the 10,597 students enrolled at UW - La Crosse, 224 are GI Bill® students, according to our most recent data. Out of that number, 104 were Post-9/11 GI Bill® recipients. The average tuition and fees award for these recipients was $6,725. Eligible students may be able to receive credit for their military training.

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Rest of the Top Schools for Best Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Colleges for Veterans in the United States

#31

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL
#34

The College at Brockport

Brockport, NY
#38

Lindenwood University

Saint Charles, MO
#39

University of Arkansas

Fayetteville, AR
#44

Indiana State University

Terre Haute, IN
#45

San Francisco State University

San Francisco, CA
#47

Winona State University

Winona, MN
#48

Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, IL
#50

Lock Haven University

Lock Haven, PA

Additional Award Winners

This section represents the remainder of the schools awarded a Best Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Colleges for Veterans in the United States badge. Showing in this list means the college was ranked in the top 15% of the 414 different United States parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies schools we analyzed.

Rank College Location
51 Central Washington University Ellensburg, WA
52 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
53 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
54 California State University - East Bay Hayward, CA
55 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR
56 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
57 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
58 Florida International University Miami, FL
59 American Public University System Charles Town, WV
60 North Carolina Central University Durham, NC
61 Southern Methodist University Dallas, TX
62 California State University - Chico Chico, CA

Honorable Mentions

Here are some additional great schools for United States vets studying Parks & Rec that almost earned our Best Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Colleges for Veterans in the United States award.

Rank College Location
63 University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
64 Kean University Union, NJ
65 Springfield College Springfield, MA
66 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY
67 Metropolitan State University of Denver Denver, CO
68 Citadel Military College of South Carolina Charleston, SC
69 Appalachian State University Boone, NC
70 Southern Illinois University Carbondale Carbondale, IL
71 University of West Georgia Carrollton, GA
72 Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC
73 San Diego State University San Diego, CA
74 Bowling Green State University - Main Campus Bowling Green, OH
75 University of Mississippi University, MS
76 University of South Carolina - Columbia Columbia, SC
77 University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, MS
78 Brigham Young University - Provo Provo, UT
79 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
80 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ
81 Missouri Western State University Saint Joseph, MO
82 Texas Woman’s University Denton, TX

Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies by Region

View the best for vets 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 48,130
Recreation Administration 3,042
Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies 2,956
Other Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies 138
Outdoor Education 119

View All Parks & Rec Related Majors >

Related Major Annual Graduates
Homeland Security, Law Enforcement & Firefighting 60,085
Public Administration & Social Service 36,639
Legal Professions 4,554
Military Technologies & Applied Sciences 791

View All Parks & Rec Related Majors >

Notes and References

Footnotes

*Avg Cost is for the top 25 schools only.

**GI Bill® student total includes all chapters of the GI Bill® program (e.g., Post-9/11, Montgomery GI Bill, Reserve Education Assistance Program, and Veteran Readiness and Employment)

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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