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Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies Major

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Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies

2,965 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
173 Master's Degrees Annually
#108 in Popularity
$72,190 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many parks, recreation and leisure studies graduations there were in 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 2,976
Associate’s Degree 205
Master’s Degree 173
Basic Certificate 151
Undergraduate Certificate 21
Doctor’s Degree 14
Graduate Certificate 1

What Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, parks and rec majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for Parks & Rec Majors

Parks and Rec majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Skills for Parks & Rec Majors

parks and rec majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Abilities for Parks & Rec Majors

Parks and Rec majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

What Can You Do With a Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies Major?

People with a parks and rec degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Recreation and Fitness Studies Professors 9.7% $62,620

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies?

2,976 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
55% Percent Women
28% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is a less frequently chosen undergraduate major. Only 2,965 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in parks, recreation and leisure studies in 2018, making it rank #108 in popularity. The major attracts more women than men. About 55% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of parks and rec majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Parks & Rec Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 112
Black or African American 329
Hispanic or Latino 274
White 2,005
International Students 46
Other Races/Ethnicities 210

Geographic Diversity

Parks & Rec appeals to people across the globe. About 1.5% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • South Korea
  • Japan
  • Canada
  • Taiwan

How Much Do Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The U.S. Department of Education found that students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree in parks, recreation and leisure studies made a median starting salary of $30,500 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $25,950 (25th percentile) and $33,000 (75th percentile).


Note that some of these people may have jobs that are not directly related to a parks and rec degree.

Salaries According to BLS

The median salary for someone in a career related to parks and rec is $72,190. This median refers to all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies Major  72190
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )

Some careers associated with parks and rec require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

Find out what the typical degree level is for parks and rec careers below.

Education Level Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 5.1%
Master’s Degree 21.0%
Doctoral Degree 74.9%

Online Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies Programs

In the 2017-2018 academic year, 178 schools offered some type of parks, recreation and leisure studies program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 16 2
Certificate (1-2 years) 13 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 40 3
Bachelor’s Degree 2 1
Post-Baccalaureate 16 2
Master’s Degree 28 3
Post-Master’s 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 5 0
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 1 0

Is a Degree in Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies Worth It?

The median salary for a parks and rec grad is $72,190 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 81% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $645,800 after 20 years!


You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to parks and rec.

Major Number of Grads
Health & Physical Education 63,893
Recreation Administration 4,172
Other Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies 275
Outdoor Education 235


More about our data sources and methodologies.

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