Outdoor Education and Leadership

students in a desert

Bachelor of Arts
School of Education
Four-Year Degree


Through immersive, hands-on learning, students develop effective leadership, risk management, communication, and outdoor skills. Challenging classes, combined with unparalleled access to wild and untrammeled places, provide countless opportunities for leadership experience, professional training, and personal adventures. You’ll work closely with a faculty mentor to find opportunities outside of the classroom and participate in internships with some of the many businesses that make up Salt Lake City’s thriving outdoor industry. The best part? Utah’s red rock canyons, wild rivers, and snowy slopes are both our playground and our laboratory.

Who It's For

The outdoor education and leadership program is designed for students with a passion for the outdoors. Whether you see yourself working for the National Park Service, guiding trips to remote corners of the world, or educating others about our natural landscapes, you’ll graduate with the skills you need to do what you love.

Key Benefits

  • Spend a semester in the field, traveling through the Intermountain West and the Colorado Plateau.
  • Earn credit toward your degree by completing outdoor certification courses like Wilderness First Responder, Single Pitch Instructor, and Leave No Trace Trainer.
  • Gain real-world experience working with local organizations through the for-credit internship program.
  • Work closely with a faculty mentor to create a customized plan of study that aligns with your personal interests.
Amy David

“I've applied my degree beyond professional skiing to produce inspiring content for companies in the outdoor industry through writing and videos in addition to hosting women's skills clinics and guiding wilderness trips. Earning this degree at Westminster was one of the most beneficial decisions I've made as a young adult.”

Amy David, ‘14
Outdoor Education Students Skiing
Outdoor Education Students Around Campfire

About the Program

The outdoor education and leadership program offers small classes taught by faculty with experience guiding expeditions all over the world, including the Rockies, Patagonia, the Yukon, India, and Nepal. Throughout the program, you’ll help plan and lead outdoor trips, giving you countless opportunities to hone your leadership skills. Almost all of the classes include field sections, so Utah’s deserts, mountains, and public lands become your classroom. For a true in-the-wild experience, you can spend a semester with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in our local terrain or abroad.

What You'll Learn

  • Become an experienced leader with the ability to facilitate successful group experiences and foster confidence and leadership in others.
  • Develop impactful place-based programs by applying your knowledge of natural science, cultural history, land management, literature, and environmental studies.
  • Master the ability to teach diverse learners in front and backcountry settings.
  • Hone your outdoor skills so you can model, teach, and manage newcomers to the field.
  • Understand the history, theory, philosophy, and foundations of outdoor education.

Plan of Study

You’ll start by taking introductory-level courses in education, leadership and outdoor skills. Next you’ll take an immersion semester in the field, where foundational knowledge, practical application, and experiential learning intersect. As you move through the program, you’ll be able to choose elective courses ranging from Adventure Media, to Public Lands Policy, while participating in internships that align with your interests.

Liberal Education Courses

You must complete the WCore program or join the Honors College (and complete requirements) to fulfill your liberal education credits.

Sample Courses

Western Rivers

In this field-based course, you’ll travel various waterways in the Colorado River watershed, examining the current state of rivers in the western US and the complex pressures on this precious resource first-hand.

Desert Writing

This class provides opportunities to explore wilderness and creative writing. During hikes with your class in the desert and mountains, you’ll create new written work in a genre of your choice.

Outdoor Education Students Kayaking

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Career Opportunities

Our fully immersive learning environment prepares you for the career of your choice, which may include industries ranging from education and land management, to eco-tourism, or wilderness therapy. Or, if you prefer, you can continue your education in graduate school.

Potential Careers

  • Outdoor educator
  • Field instructor
  • Outdoor program coordinator
  • Park ranger
  • Copywriter for outdoor companies
  • Field marketing manager
  • Outdoor product developer
  • Wilderness therapist
  • Professional guide
  • Resort or camp manager

Other Outdoor Education and Leadership Programs

We also offer a minor in outdoor education and leadership, which is a great supplement to a degree in public health, geology, art, biology, education, marketing, business, English, communication, or environmental studies.

Outdoor Education Students Snowshoeing
Outdoor Education Students Hiking Along Path

Learn More About the Outdoor Education and Leadership Program

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