Outdoor Education Leadership MA

Signature Courses
Philosophies and Methods in Outdoor Experiential Education
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Outdoor Education for a Just World
Risk and Reward: Managing Risk in Outdoor Programming
Earth in Mind: Ecological Literacies for Outdoor Educators


As informed professionals, outdoor educators are critical thinkers who can support positive change in individuals, organizations, and society. Outdoor educators understand ecological and human systems and can help address some of the challenges facing society today, including health issues, environmental issues, social justice issues, and sustainability issues. Our goal is to equip students with the skills they need to positively impact outdoor education and related fields.

Students who select Outdoor Education Leadership will be engaged with a dynamic
curriculum emphasizing applied pedagogical concepts, interpersonal communication skills, specialized technical skills, program design and administration, and/or focus on specific populations, processes, and/or environments. Many students explore in-depth the roots and practices of experiential and outdoor education and examine its many applications in private and public settings.

Coursework includes exploring the philosophical foundations of experiential/outdoor
adventure education, with particular attention to leadership, wilderness travel, safety and
risk management, social and environmental justice, environmental education, program
leadership and administration, ethics and moral practice, research and evaluation, and
issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Students also take elective coursework in an area
of their choosing including counseling theories, group facilitation, human growth and
development, adventure therapy, ecopsychology, and ecotherapy to more ably bring these
perspectives and approaches into their work with diverse populations set in various
educational and/or therapeutic contexts.

Students entering the Outdoor Education Leadership program usually have prior
experience in the area related to their proposed concentration of study. For example, many
students have spent several years wilderness backpacking, mountaineering, technical rock
climbing, kayaking, canoeing, ropes course facilitation, or sailing, etc., while others have
been teaching in the public schools, independent schools, wilderness therapy programs,
community facilities, international programs, etc. From whichever direction students come,
those who are interested in expanding their knowledge with studies in outdoor education
will find a dynamic arena. Experience working in the field and competency in interpersonal
communication and group facilitation are recommended. Students are expected to
continue their skills development and expand their experience base while engaged in OEL.

Ready to start? Review application requirements here, or apply now


  • Evaluate social science theories associated with outdoor education, integrating (1) assessment of the benefits of their practical application for human and more-than-human environments; and (2) application of theory in efforts towards positive social change.
  • Develop and apply values-based ethical codes to guide their leadership, judgment, risk management, and decision-making, that reflect analysis and interpretation of ethical issues in outdoor education. 
  • Engage stakeholders in developing sustainable solutions to social and environmental challenges common to groups, organizations, communities, and ecosystems, integrating strategies based on “systems thinking” models.
  • Synthesize advanced social literacy concepts and their development, reflecting analysis and appreciation of the ways humans relate to their own and other cultures, intersections of race, gender, and social justice, and the implications for outdoor education in fostering cross-cultural relationships.
  • Synthesize advanced ecological literacy concepts, reflecting analysis and appreciation of the ways humans relate to their environment (ecological, spiritual, and cultural), and of the relevance of these ideas to outdoor education.
  • Apply program skills and knowledge to create and implement an outdoor education integrative experience.


  • Leadership and program administration
  • Environmental education & outdoor programming,
  • Experiential and transformative education,
  • Wellness, ecopsychology/ecotherapy, and mind/body-based practices
  • Curricular development and transformation (e.g., service-learning, social justice, sustainability in education)
  • Adventure therapy, wilderness therapy, and therapeutic adventure