Parks and Recreation Leadership (BS)

Why study Parks and Recreation Leadership?

If you instinctively understand that play is good for your health, love the outdoors, and want to make your community a better place, you should consider a career in Parks and Recreation Leadership. You will learn how to design and lead activities to help people stay active and healthy, both physically and emotionally.

The recreation field is growing as more organizations emphasize the importance of lifelong well-being. Activities such as swimming, hiking, golfing, and playing board games help people relieve stress and learn valuable skills. The field also offers a wide range of career opportunities at corporations, local park districts, youth groups, hospitals, retirement homes, tourism companies, amusement parks, cruise ships, sports firms, and state and national parks.

Why study Parks and Recreation Leadership at AU?

Aurora University's Parks and Recreation Leadership program prepares students to help individuals, families, and communities get the most out of their leisure time. We help students explore opportunities to work in a wide range of recreation leadership roles and settings, and then guide them as they focus on acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to meet their individual career goals. Students and faculty work together to foster a culture ideal for training parks and recreation leaders. As a student, you will gain the knowledge and skills you need to promote wellness, serve the greater good, and make a positive difference in the world. You will learn by doing, facing real-life challenges. In the classroom and through campus activities, you will plan, organize, and facilitate recreation and leisure service programs that improve the quality of life for others.

You will learn from AU professors as they plan volunteer opportunities and design outdoor education programs that connect students with the local community. All students complete a semester-long internship that is tailored to their individual career goals. You may find yourself in the Florida Keys working to restore coral reefs or in southern Wisconsin helping to build portions of the 1,110-mile long Ice Age National Scenic Trail. 

You can expand your career opportunities with a double major in Business Administration, Environmental Studies and Sustainability, Human-Animal Studies, or Sport Management


2023 annual median salary for parks and recreation planners


2022-2032 projected job growth rate

Source: National Recreation and Park Association, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Curriculum Highlights
  • Business skills (budgeting, planning, marketing)
  • Outdoor education 
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Recreation program design and leadership
  • Staff leadership
Campus Opportunities
  • Regularly scheduled professional networking sessions with respected leaders in the field of parks and recreation leadership
Play lies at the core of creativity and innovation. Dr. Stuart Brown, Founder, National Institute for Play
Experiential learning

Experiential learning

The Parks and Recreation Leadership program at Aurora University provides an opportunity for students to learn by doing through meaningful experiential activities designed to enhance their classroom learning. Students will design, implement, and evaluate recreation programs that improve the quality of life for others. Through internships at local parks and recreation departments and community centers, students will learn what it means to be a change-maker and serve a community.

Career possibilities

  • After-school program leader 
  • Aquatics program leader
  • Community recreation program leader
  • Health and wellness program leader
  • Youth camp program leader
  • Youth and teen program leader
  • Youth sports program leader

Where our students intern and graduates work

  • Arlington Heights Park District 
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of America 
  • Blackberry Farm of Fox Valley Park District 
  • Fox Valley Family YMCA 
  • Red Oak Nature Center 
  • Veterans Park District 
  • Waukegan Park District 
  • Wheaton Park District 
  • York Center Park District