25 Great Scholarships for Parks, Recreation and Leisure Studies

Scholarships for parks, recreation and leisure studies majors are granted at the local, state, and national level to support students devoted to improving quality of life. Most parks, recreation and leisure studies programs lead to a bachelor’s or master’s degree to prepare students for leading recreational activities in community centers.

Whether you’re interested in working with low-income children, disabled adults, or senior citizens, this major will allow you to help people achieve physical and psychological growth. According to the BLS, jobs in recreation will grow faster-than-average by 10 percent through 2024. Over 100,000 Americans are employed full-time by park and recreation departments.

Make turning your hobbies into a fulfilling career more affordable with these parks, recreation and leisure studies scholarships.

1. Becky McCann Scholarship Fund

Deadline: March 13th

Created in 2000 by the Michigan Recreation and Park Association (MRPA), the Becky McCann Scholarship Fund offers $1,000 annually to current members who are enrolled on-campus or online at an accredited Michigan college and have completed at least nine credits in recreation management. Signed applications must include a resume, recent transcript, letter of recommendation, and 400-word essay describing what leadership qualities candidates bring to the parks and recreation field.


Becky McCann Scholarship Fund
1213 Center Street Suite B
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 485-9888

2. Bruce Anderson Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: April 4th

At Valley City State University, the Bruce Anderson Memorial Scholarship is gifted for $1,000 by the Health & Physical Education Department to North Dakota residents who are majoring in health education, exercise science, leisure studies, or athletic training. Eligible applicants must have at least junior standing, carry a “C” or better GPA, actively participate on a Viking athletic team, exhibit good citizenship, show academic promise in recreational studies, and have unmet financial need.


Bruce Anderson Memorial Scholarship
101 College Street SW
Valley City, ND 58072
(800) 532-8641 ext. 7452

3. CFPR Student Scholarships

Deadline: October 30th

Ranging from $1,000 to $2,000, the California Foundation for Parks and Recreation (CFPR) Student Scholarships are presented annually for 20 outstanding students majoring in parks, recreation, tourism, leisure studies, recreation therapy, natural resource management, sports management, and related fields. Qualified recipients must attend an accredited California university full-time, maintain good standing, intend to enter the recreation profession, and agree to attend the CPRS Conference & Expo that March.


CFPR Student Scholarships
7971 Freeport Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95832
(916) 665-2777
Scholarship Link

4. Dan Whitworth Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: March 31st

The Texas Amateur Athletic Federation (TAAF) has the Dan Whitworth Memorial Scholarship to award $1,000 to graduating high school seniors or college students who are pursuing degrees in sports science, physical education, recreation, kinesiology, leisure studies, or related majors. Eligible applicants must be accepted at an accredited U.S. college, enroll full-time with at least 12 credits per semester, possess a GPA of 2.5 or higher, and have volunteer or work experience in the parks and recreation field.


Dan Whitworth Memorial Scholarship
P.O. Box 1789
Georgetown, TX 78627
(512) 863-9400

5. Dr. Joel Meier Academic Scholarship

Deadline: October 16th

In honor of a lifetime member and professor at the Montana College of Forestry, the Dr. Joel Meier Academic Scholarship is gifted for $500 annually by the Montana Trails, Recreation, and Park Association (MTRPA) to students majoring in recreation or park management. Qualified candidates must attend a Montana university full-time, participate in MTRPA activities, maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better, demonstrate financial need, and submit a one-page career goals essay.


Dr. Joel Meier Academic Scholarship
32 Campus Drive Suite 1234
Missoula, MT 59812
(406) 243-2328

6. Ed Stegner Natural Resource Scholarship

Deadline: January 31st

For $1,000, the Ed Stegner Natural Resource Scholarship is granted by the Missouri Park and Recreation Association (MPRA) each year for undergraduates declaring a major in forestry, wildlife, parks and recreation, soil science, or water conservation. To qualify, applicants must reside in Missouri, attend an in-state college or university, demonstrate financial need, and be committed to conserving Earth’s natural resources. Applications must include a resume, school transcript, and personal statement.


Ed Stegner Natural Resource Scholarship
212 South Rock Creek Road
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 496-3986

7. Emily M. Hewitt Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: April 15th

The Calaveras Big Tress Association (CBTA) has established the Emily M. Hewitt Memorial Scholarship to present $1,000 in honor of Oakdale’s first female mayor who fought for the preservation of the Sierra Nevada. Eligible upper-division students must be enrolled full-time at an accredited California institution with a major in forestry, environmental protection, wildlife biology, parks and recreation, fisheries, or environmental law. Applicants must send a one-page essay, resume, and unofficial transcript.


Emily M. Hewitt Memorial Scholarship
P.O. Box 1196
Arnold, CA 95223
(209) 795-1196

8. Fletcher Graduate Scholarship Program

Deadline: April 1st

Annually, the Fletcher Graduate Scholarship Program is hosted by the North Carolina Recreation & Park Association (NCRPA) to award up to $3,000 in graduate parks, recreation and leisure studies scholarships to legal in-state residents. Qualified applicants must enroll full-time at a North Carolina university, have a cumulative “B” average or better, have completed at least one graduate semester, have NCRPA membership, submit two references, and be entering the public parks and recreation field.


Fletcher Graduate Scholarship Program
883 Washington Street
Raleigh, NC 27605
(919) 832-5868
Scholarship Link

9. Herman F.A. Lange Scholarship

Deadline: April 10th

Named after Greenville’s long-time recreation director, the Herman F.A. Lange Scholarship is awarded annually through the South Carolina Recreation and Parks Association (SCRPA) for $1,500 to full-time undergraduate students. Eligible South Carolina residents must attend an accredited in-state college with junior or senior status in a parks, recreation, tourism, sports management, or leisure studies program. Selection is based on academic merit, volunteer service, financial need, and professional objectives.


Herman F.A. Lange Scholarship
563 South Lake Drive
P.O. Box 1046
Lexington, SC 29072
(803) 808-7753

10. Jean Lee/Jeff Marvin Collegiate Scholarships

Deadline: December 1st

Six Jean Lee/Jeff Marvin Collegiate Scholarships are granted for $1,000 apiece by the Indiana Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (IAHPERD) each year. Undergraduate parks, recreation, and leisure majors who are attending an accredited Indiana college full-time for their junior or senior year can apply. Eligible IAHPERD members must submit an application with two faculty recommendations, official transcripts, and four brief essay question responses by mail.


Jean Lee/Jeff Marvin Collegiate Scholarships
2007 Wilno Drive
Marion, IN 46952
(765) 664-8319

11. Joe Perdue Scholarship Fund

Deadline: May 1st

The Club Foundation (CF) has initiated the Joe Perdue Scholarship Fund to provide awards of varying amounts to U.S. college students who are majoring in parks, recreation and leisure studies to pursue a managerial career in the private club industry. Qualified applicants have completed their freshman year, attend an accredited four-year college full-time, achieve a minimum GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale or 4.5 on a 6.0 scale, and exhibit professional merit.


Joe Perdue Scholarship Fund
1733 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 739-9500

12. John McComb Scholarship Program

Deadline: May 13th

Sponsored by the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association (OPRA), the John McComb Scholarship Program is available each year to award $1,000 to undergraduate or graduate students majoring in park operations, recreation, tourism, sports administration, leisure studies, and related degrees. Applicants must be residents of Ohio or attend an Ohio university, have completed at least 30 credits, and maintain a minimum major GPA of 3.0. Recipients also earn a free OPRA student membership.


John McComb Scholarship Program
1069-A West Main Street
Westerville, OH 43081
(614) 895-2222
Scholarship Link

13. Joyce A. Gaus Scholarships

Deadline: April 20th

At SUNY Cortland, the Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies Department has created the $1,000 Joyce A. Gaus Scholarships to financially support admitted freshmen who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree for four years. For the merit-based parks, recreation and leisure studies scholarships, candidates must be enrolling full-time, have high academic achievement, display leadership abilities, and possess unmet financial need. Along with the application, students must submit a 500-word essay highlighting their interests in outdoor recreation.


Joyce A. Gaus Scholarship
P.O. Box 2000
Cortland, NY 13045
(607) 753-4941

14. Kathryn Krieg Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: March 4th

The Iowa Parks and Recreation Association (IAPRA) offers the Kathryn Krieg Memorial Scholarship for $1,000 to paying student members who are pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in parks, recreation and leisure studies full-time. To be eligible, applicants must attend an accredited Iowa college or university, have at least one semester remaining, be actively involved in extra-curricular recreation activities, and show good academic merit. A $50 travel grant is included for the IAPRA “Best of the Best” Awards Banquet.


Kathryn Krieg Memorial Scholarship
1534 Penrose Street
Grinnell, IA 50112
(641) 236-3917

15. Laurie Allred Christianson Scholarship

Deadline: December 18th

Founded in 1997, the Laurie Allred Christianson Scholarship is granted by the University of Utah to award $1,000 to currently enrolled students who have declared the parks, recreation, tourism, or outdoor recreation majors with a natural resources emphasis. Eligible sophomores and juniors must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.75, demonstrate financial need, take at least 12 credits per semester, be U.S. citizens or lawful residents, and have been active in professional parks and recreation organizations.


Laurie Allred Christianson Scholarship
201 South 1460 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
(801) 585-0832

16. Nathan Taylor Dodson Scholarship

Deadline: July 1st

The North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance, and Sport Management (NCAAHPERD-SM) bestows the Nathan Taylor Dodson Scholarship for $1,000 each year upon a male college student majoring in the alliance’s allied fields, including parks, recreation and leisure studies. Qualified undergraduates must be current members, attend an accredited North Carolina college full-time, have a “C” average or better, and show evidence of leadership in the recreation profesison.


Nathan Taylor Dodson Scholarship
3434 Edwards Mill Road Suite 112
Raleigh, NC 27612
(919) 833-1219

17. NRPA Student Scholarship

Deadline: May 13th

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Student Scholarship is awarded for $1,000 to up-and-coming professionals who are enrolled full-time in an undergraduate or graduate program at an accredited U.S. college to study parks, recreation and leisure studies. Eligible candidates must be current NRPA members, have completed at least 30 semester hours, maintain a major GPA of 3.0 or above, have completed at least six hours of parks and recreation curriculum, and show leadership in extra-curricular activities.


NRPA Student Scholarship
22377 Belmont Ridge Road
Ashburn, VA 20148
(703) 858-2141
Scholarship Link

18. Otto Rice Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: January 15th

In memory of a Wood River park supervisor who died suddenly at 49 years old, the Otto Rice Memorial Scholarship is presented by the Southern Illinois Parks and Recreation Association (SIPRA) for $2,500. Eligible junior, senior, or master’s students from Illinois must be enrolled full-time at an accredited U.S. college to major in parks, recreation or leisure studies with a minimum GPA of 3.25. Typed applications must include unofficial college transcripts, a current resume, and two short essay responses.


Otto Rice Memorial Scholarship
510 West Main Street
Belleville, IL 62220
(618) 233-6518

19. Roger Coles RPL Leadership Award

Deadline: March 1st

The College of Education and Human Services (CEHS) at Central Michigan University awards the Roger Coles RPL Leadership Award for $1,000 to full-time undergraduates who are currently enrolled in the recreation, parks and leisure services administration major. Eligible students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.75, be Student Recreation Association (SRA) board members for at least one year, and be involved in community service. Another parks, recreation and leisure studies scholarship is the Brent Edwards Memorial Award.


Roger Coles RPL Leadership Award
195 Ojibway Court
Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859
(989) 774-3079

20. Ruth Abernathy Presidential Scholarship

Deadline: October 15th

SHAPE America has granted the Ruth Abernathy Presidential Scholarship since 1995 to provide $1,250 for undergraduate and $1,750 for graduate students who are attending an accredited U.S. institution to major in health, physical education, recreation, dance, leisure studies, or related fields. Qualified applicants must be current SHAPE members, have at least junior standing, hold a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5, show evidence of leadership, and submit three letters of recommendation.


Ruth Abernathy Presidential Scholarship
1900 Association Drive
Reston, VA 20191
(800) 213-7193

21. Ruth B. McClintock Scholarship

Deadline: April 1st

In the amount of $2,000, the Ruth B. McClintock Scholarship is presented annually by the Nebraska Recreation and Parks Association (NeRPA) to juniors, seniors, or graduate students who are majoring in recreation, park management, leisure studies, or conservation. Eligible recipients must attend the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Lincoln, or Kearney full-time with a minimum grade point average of 2.7. Preference is given to individual members of the NeRPA. There’s also the $1,000 Joseph A. Churchich Scholarship.


Ruth B. McClintock Scholarship
1410 West 26th Street
Kearney, NE 68848
(308) 865-8849
Scholarship Link

22. Sandra Modisett Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: April 3rd

Established by the North Dakota Recreation and Park Association (NDRPA) to honor the former vice chairperson of the Grand Forks Park District, the Sandra Modisett Memorial Scholarship is awarded for $1,000 with a complimentary one-year membership. To qualify, candidates must be enrolled full-time as undergraduate students at accredited North Dakota colleges with a declared major in recreation, leisure, natural resources, or tourism. Selection is based on academic merit, professional commitment, and appreciation for nature’s wonder.


Sandra Modisett Memorial Scholarship
P.O. Box 1091
Bismarck, ND 58502
(701) 355-4458

23. Texas Public Pool Council Scholarships

Deadline: December 1st

Each year, the Texas Public Pool Council (TPPC) offers $1,000 undergraduate parks, recreation and leisure studies scholarships to graduating high school seniors accepted at accredited four-year Texas colleges and universities. Applicants must rank in the top quarter of their class, maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5, score at least 850 on the SAT or 21 on the ACT, and enroll in at least 12 credits per semester. Volunteerism and work experience in outdoor recreation is considered.


Texas Public Pool Council Scholarships
P.O. Box 1422
Pasadena, TX 77501
(832) 623-1580

24. Thomas and Ruth Rivers International Scholarship

Deadline: May 1st

The World Leisure Organization (WLO) gifts the Thomas and Ruth Rivers International Scholarship for $2,000 to college seniors or master’s students who are pursuing a degree in recreation, leisure studies, leisure resources, or tourism management. Eligible candidates must possess a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5, have volunteer or paid work experience in leisure organizations, submit at least one faculty recommendation, and present a scholarly paper at the biennial WLO Congress.


Thomas and Ruth Rivers International Scholarship
11200 SW 8th Street Suite 333
Miami, FL 33199
(305) 348-3462

25. Thomas J. Carroll Scholarship

Deadline: March 15th

The Metropolitan New York Recreation and Park Society Inc. has created three parks, recreation and leisure studies scholarships, including the $1,000 Thomas J. Carroll Scholarship. Qualified recipients must be Metro members, enroll at an accredited, degree-granting institution in the New York City area, have completed at least half of their recreation curriculum, and maintain a minimum major GPA of 3.0. Applications won’t be complete without official college transcripts, three written recommendations, and a comprehensive essay.


Thomas J. Carroll Scholarship
2001 Oriental Blvd. Room E115
Brooklyn, NY 11235
(718) 368-5831
Scholarship Link

Earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree that’s accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT) can be expensive. The College Board reports that the average in-state tuition is $9,139 at public and $31,321 at private institutions each year. Earning and maintaining the Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) credential will also bring added fees. Applying for scholarships is strongly encouraged because they award free gift aid that isn’t taxed or charged interest. Follow your passion for the great outdoors by considering some of these 25 great scholarships for parks, recreation and leisure studies majors.

See also: 25 Great Scholarships for Health and Physical Education Majors