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This National Park Service Program Can Be Found at 6 Colleges


Want to be an NPS Law Enforcement Ranger? This program is for you!

Have you always wanted to work for the National Park Service as a law enforcement ranger? Did you know that six schools around the country offer a program just for that? The Park Ranger Law Enforcement Academy Training Program is offered at:

  • Colorado Northwestern Community College – Rangely, Colorado
  • Northern Arizona University – Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Skagit Valley College – Mount Vernon, Washington
  • Southwestern Community College – Franklin, North Carolina
  • Temple University – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Vermilion Community College – Ely, Minnesota

The Park Ranger Law Enforcement Academy Training Program (PRLEA) is specifically designed for the NPS. It is a demanding course that tests you mentally, emotionally, as well as physically. The program consists of at least 650 classroom hours. Students will also need to pass drug, medical, and background screenings and meet physical fitness standards. 

Once you graduate from the program you will be eligible for a law enforcement commission and can apply for a seasonal position with the NPS. Many of these positions can then turn into permanent ones. Here is some information about each of those schools. Students must also be 21 years of age or older.

The cost of each program is set by the individual schools. Programs should take the GI Bill and be eligible for FAFSA. 

Colorado Northwestern Community College

The program at Colorado Northwestern Community College in Rangely, Colorado is 16 weeks, and they hold two per year, both in the spring and the fall. Students will be enrolled in the college as well as the academy but don’t have to be a part of a degree program. Students can also receive an Associate of Applied Science A.A.S in Park Ranger Studies, which combines the academy with general education courses and electives.

Northern Arizona University

The program at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona is 16 weeks, and they hold two per year, both in the spring and fall. Students can do the college credit option which can be used to go on and get a bachelor’s degree. If they already have one, they can do the non-credit option. Students can also work toward a Park and Recreation Management Bachelor of Science degree.

Skagit Valley College

Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Washington is a 750-hour program. They offer the PRLEA certificate, the PRLEA/EMT certificate, and the PRLEA/FIRE certificate. They also offer iPads for all students. Students can gain extra training in Wildland Firefighting and Emergency Medical Response programs.

Southwestern Community College 

Southwestern Community College in Franklin, NC has a 16-week program. They offer it through their Career Technologies Division, which is the Continuing Education part of the college. Regular college credit is not earned.

They also have Consortium Agreements that they have established with some institutions which allow graduates of the program to receive credits at their home university or college.

Temple University

Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is a 19-week program. The program is a part of their Criminal Justice Training program, which is a Temple University Department of Criminal Justice. The program will be at the school’s Ambler campus. The classes will be in the Law Enforcement Training Center.

Vermilion Community College

Vermilion Community College in Ely, Minnesota has a 16-week program. They only offer it in the fall semester. They offer a blended program that meets the requirements of the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training.

Scholarships for the Park Ranger Law Enforcement Academy Training Program

While there does not appear to be any scholarships specific to the Park Ranger Law Enforcement Academy Training Program, it would be a good idea to check with the individual schools to see if they have any that will work for the program. You also might find scholarships if you are going on to get a full degree after the program. 

One such scholarship is the Newell S. Rand Jr. Scholarship Program. This was created to honor the memory of a pioneer in the field. Students will need to be a graduate of an accredited high school, college, or university and enrolled as a full-time student. Students must be pursuing a degree in Conservation Law Enforcement; Criminal Justice/Police Science; Natural Resource Management; Park Management or Administration. Basically, any related degree is a clear career path to some aspect of park operations as a career goal. The award will be up to $1,000.