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2021 Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies

Approximately 69,329 parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies degrees were granted 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, & Fitness Studies ranking analyzed 417 colleges and universities that offer a bachelor's degree in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies. We look at over 20 factors to determine the top 25 schools for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies students.

Choosing a Great Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies School

Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies Your choice of parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness 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 vast majority of the colleges on this list are in at least the top 30% of our overall quality ranking.

Overall Best Colleges Rank  ( 410 to 1 )
Lowest Ranked Overall
Top Ranked Overall

Above Average Earnings After Graduation

A parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies degree from colleges on this list typically translates into above average income after graduation. A parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies bachelors degree from a school in the United States helped students who graduated in 2015-2017 make $28,240 a couple years later.

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, & Fitness Studies students vs. other majors.
  • Major Popularity - How many other parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies students choose this school.
  • Accreditation - Whether a school is regionally accredited and/or a recognized parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness 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, & Fitness Studies students.

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

Below you'll see a list of the best colleges and universities to study parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies. Only those schools that rank in the top 15% of all the schools we analyze get awarded with a place on this list. Of the 417 schools analyzed, only 25 earned the distinction of being on this list.

Top 25 Best Parks & Rec Colleges

It is hard to beat Arizona State University - Downtown Phoenix if you want to study parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies. ASU - Downtown Phoenix is a large public school located in the large city of Phoenix. This school ranks 365th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Arizona.

There are approximately 513 parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies undergrads enrolled in this program at ASU - Downtown Phoenix.

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Every student who is interested in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies has to look into University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign. UIUC is a very large public school located in the city of Champaign. A Best Colleges rank of 92 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means UIUC is a great school overall.

There are about 302 parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies undergrads enrolled in this program at UIUC.

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#3

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

University of Florida is among your top options if you're planning on studying parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies. U of F is a very large public school located in the midsize city of Gainesville. A Best Colleges rank of 85 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means U of F is a great college overall.

In addition to its bachelor's programs, U of F offers a Master's Degree in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies.

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Indiana University - Bloomington is a great choice for individuals pursuing a Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies degree. IU Bloomington is a fairly large public school located in the small city of Bloomington. A Best Colleges rank of 141 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means IU Bloomington is a great school overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, IU Bloomington also offers 2 different higher degree levels in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree.

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NC State is a very large public school located in the large city of Raleigh. A Best Colleges rank of 105 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means NC State is a great school overall.

North Carolina State University is a fairly popular school to study parks and rec in United States with over 235 graduations last year.

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Penn State University Park is a very large public school located in the city of University Park. A Best Colleges rank of 112 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Penn State University Park is a great school overall.

A favorite major for parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies undergrads, there are about 317 individuals studying this program at Penn State University Park.

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Located in the suburb Normal, Illinois State is a public college with a very large student population. This college ranks 331st out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Illinois.

Illinois State University is one of the most popular school to study parks and rec in United States with more than 229 graduations last year.

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Located in the large city Charlotte, JWU Charlotte is a private not-for-profit college with a small student population. This college ranks 776th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of North Carolina.

Johnson & Wales University - Charlotte is one of the most popular college to study parks and rec in United States exceeding 32 graduates last year.

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#9

Clemson University

Clemson, SC

Clemson is a very large public school located in the suburb of Clemson. A Best Colleges rank of 144 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Clemson is a great college overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, Clemson also offers 2 different higher degree levels in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree.

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#10

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT

Located in the city Salt Lake City, U of U is a public school with a fairly large student population. This school ranks 180th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Utah.

For those interested in something more advanced, U of U also offers 2 different higher degree levels in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree.

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U of NH is a large public school located in the suburb of Durham. This college ranks 211th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of New Hampshire.

There are roughly 194 parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies undergrads studying this program at U of NH.

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#12

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI

Located in the city East Lansing, Michigan State is a public school with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 107 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Michigan State is a great college overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, Michigan State also offers 2 different higher degree levels in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree.

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#13

University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA

Iowa is a very large public school located in the city of Iowa City. This school ranks 190th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Iowa.

For those interested in pursuing a higher degree, Iowa also offers a Master's Degree in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies.

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Located in the medium-sized city Fort Collins, Colorado State is a public school with a very large student population. This college ranks 239th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Colorado.

For those interested in something more advanced, Colorado State also offers 2 different higher degree levels in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree.

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JWU North Miami is a small private not-for-profit school located in the suburb of North Miami. This college ranks 955th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Florida.

A popular choice for parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies undergrads, there are about 34 learners enrolled in this program at JWU North Miami.

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#16

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, IA

UNI is a fairly large public school located in the small city of Cedar Falls. This school ranks 325th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Iowa.

University of Northern Iowa is a fairly popular college to study parks and rec in United States with over 196 graduates last year.

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Located in the medium-sized city Ann Arbor, U of Michigan is a public school with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 38 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means U of Michigan is a great college overall.

A popular choice for parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies undergraduates, there are roughly 289 learners studying this program at U of Michigan.

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Located in the city La Crosse, UW - La Crosse is a public college with a large student population. This school ranks 342nd out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Wisconsin.

For those interested in pursuing a higher degree, UW - La Crosse also offers a Master's Degree in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies.

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Located in the large suburb Dallas, SMU is a private not-for-profit college with a large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 114 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means SMU is a great school overall.

A preferred choice for parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies undergrads, there are roughly 98 individuals studying this degree at SMU.

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Located in the city Denver, JWU Denver is a private not-for-profit college with a small student population. This school ranks 833rd out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Colorado.

With 16 students enrolled, Johnson & Wales University - Denver is one of most popular schools to study parks and rec in United States.

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#21

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL

Florida State is a very large public school located in the medium-sized city of Tallahassee. This college ranks 160th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Florida.

A popular major for parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies undergrads, there are about 209 individuals enrolled in this program at Florida State.

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#22

San Jose State University

San Jose, CA

San Jose State is a very large public school located in the large city of San Jose. This college ranks 530th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of California.

A favorite major for parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies undergrads, there are approximately 255 individuals enrolled in this program at San Jose State.

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Texas A&M is a very large public school located in the medium-sized city of College Station. A Best Colleges rank of 102 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Texas A&M is a great school overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, Texas A&M also offers 2 different higher degree levels in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree.

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Located in the medium-sized city Provo, BYU is a private not-for-profit college with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 109 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means BYU is a great school overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, BYU also offers 2 different higher degree levels in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree.

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#25

Elon University

Elon, NC

Located in the midsize suburb Elon, Elon is a private not-for-profit college with a moderately-sized student population. A Best Colleges rank of 99 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means Elon is a great college overall.

With 84 undergraduates, Elon University is one of most popular colleges to study parks and rec in United States.

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Rest of the Top Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies

#28

Texas State University

San Marcos, TX
#30

University of Arkansas

Fayetteville, AR
#34

Rice University

Houston, TX
#35

Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR
#36

Springfield College

Springfield, MA
#38

University of Georgia

Athens, GA
#40

The College at Brockport

Brockport, NY
#42

Winona State University

Winona, MN

Remaining Award Winners

This section shows the rest of the schools awarded a Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies badge. Showing in this list means the college was ranked in the top 15% of the 417 different United States parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies schools we analyzed.

Rank College Location
51 The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
52 University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, NC
53 Lock Haven University Lock Haven, PA
54 Minnesota State University - Mankato Mankato, MN
55 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
56 Ohio State University - Main Campus Columbus, OH
57 SUNY Cortland Cortland, NY
58 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
59 University of Mississippi University, MS
60 Eastern Illinois University Charleston, IL
61 San Diego State University San Diego, CA
62 California State University - Chico Chico, CA

Additional Noteworthy Schools

These are some additional schools worth mentioning that are also great but just didn't quite make the cut to earn our top Best Colleges for Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies award.

Rank College Location
63 Temple University Philadelphia, PA
64 Iowa State University Ames, IA
65 California University of Pennsylvania California, PA
66 Chadron State College Chadron, NE
67 Florida International University Miami, FL
68 California State University - Sacramento Sacramento, CA
69 James Madison University Harrisonburg, VA
70 Howard University Washington, DC
71 Baylor University Waco, TX
72 University of Delaware Newark, DE
73 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
74 Rutgers University - New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ
75 Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro, TN
76 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA
77 Western Washington University Bellingham, WA
78 Miami University - Oxford Oxford, OH
79 St. Joseph’s College-Long Island Patchogue, NY
80 University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI
81 The University of Tennessee - Knoxville Knoxville, TN
82 Endicott College Beverly, MA
83 University of Minnesota - Duluth Duluth, MN

Parks, Recreation, Leisure, & Fitness Studies by Region

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

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

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 >

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 NPS Photo/Zurbuch. More about our data sources and methodologies.

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