50th Anniversary

Academics at Prescott College

Area of Study:
Adventure Education

Academically and technically proficient outdoor leaders: our graduates are field tested

Area of Study:
Adventure Education

Academically and technically proficient outdoor leaders: our graduates are field tested

Why Adventure Education at Prescott College?

A Prescott College Adventure Education graduate may be found guiding clients safely up a vertical rock face, forecasting avalanche dangers at a Forest Service avalanche center, piloting a raft on a whitewater river to monitor ecosystem health, or managing logistics and field risks while scientists work on a remote ice cap. Graduates can be found helping young people overcoming addiction within wilderness therapy programs, or teaching geology to high school students while backpacking through rocks that are textbooks of time. 

We define Adventure Education as an experiential process that takes place in challenging outdoor settings where the primary purposes are to build and strengthen inter- and intra-personal relationships, personal health, leadership skills, and environmental understanding. The possibilities for social and environmental change are as numerous and as varied as the number of students pursuing an Adventure Education degree. For over 45 years, our graduates have played a primary role in developing and maintaining adventure programs across the nation.

Master of Arts in Adventure Education

Master of Arts in Adventure Education Faculty are preparing a new generation of educators and adventure-based entrepreneurs through their research and close association with professionals in the field.  Adventure educators understand ecological and human systems and can help address some of the challenges facing society today, including health, environmental, social justice, and sustainability issues.

To prepare for their future roles, students self-design course work exploring the philosophical foundations of experiential and adventure education, with particular attention to these areas: 

  • Leadership
  • Wilderness travel 
  • Safety and risk management 
  • Environmental education 
  • Therapeutic applications and wellness
  • Program administration
  • Expeditionary learning and curricular development

Students create study plans according to their specific interests and backgrounds, emphasizing applied pedagogical concepts, interpersonal communication skills, specialized technical skills, program design, and administration, and/or focus on specific populations, processes, and/or environments. Counseling theories, group facilitation, human growth and development, ecopsychology, and ecotherapy are approaches used to work with diverse populations and educational/therapeutic contexts.

Students entering the Master of Arts in Adventure Education program should have prior experience and skills in an area related to their proposed concentration of study. For example, many students have spent several years wilderness backpacking, mountaineering, technical rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing, working as ropes course facilitators, sailing, etc. Others have taught in the public schools, independent schools, community facilities or international programs. Regardless of starting point, students who are interested in expanding their knowledge with studies in adventure education will find it a rich, dynamic and growing field.

Each student has the opportunity to design a specialization that fits her or his professional needs, the concentrations featured below have crystallized as being central to the department’s mission and vision.

Concentration in Therapeutic Applications of Adventure Education 

Limited-Residency Master of Arts Program students working in Therapeutic Applications of Adventure Education will prepare themselves to employ adventure-based theories and techniques in settings that focus on non-clinical counseling methodologies. This focus was created to enrich professional adventure educators’ depth and breadth of knowledge and skills in working with the affective needs of individuals and groups. It will enrich adventure educators’ applied integration of counseling theories and group dynamics and human development.

Concentration in Integral Adventure Education 

The integral approach to Adventure Education seeks to integrate the mind, body, and spirit of the individual and/or group. Students in this field work to create experiences and programs that tap into the depth of transformational learning through adventure experiences. Examining these situations through the lenses of individual development, and cultural and societal interaction, integral adventure education unfolds and considers the relationship among humans as well as humans in a biological context. This integration of inner and outer realms of being is a primary focus of this concentration.

Challenge Course Facilitation 

This academic discipline focuses on building the basic skills and knowledge necessary for safely and effectively leading groups through team challenge courses.

Expeditionary Learning Theory and Practice 

This discipline explores the learning associated with exploration and journey-based experiences or expeditions. Learning activities involving elements of challenge, adventure and leadership can take place in a variety of settings, including wilderness, classrooms and even virtual spaces. Participants in expeditionary education can be directly involved in the expedition or may be linked to expeditions undertaken by others.

Outdoor Program Administration 

Students in this concentration focus on leadership development, program management, program assessment, and other areas of study necessary for preparing the next generation of outdoor program educators and administrators.

Resident Bachelor of Arts

Since our inception, we have maintained a strong commitment to emphasizing extended field experiences for our undergraduate students. We take students to the most remote and beautiful areas in our own state of Arizona as well as breathtaking locations around the world that serve to enhance our students' learning. Be it on snow, vertical rock, ocean, river, or the classroom, we provide students with opportunities to develop theoretical grounding, leadership abilities, practical and technical skills, health and fitness, and sensitivity to the environment. 

Students are offered an appropriate balance of structure and freedom in designing their degrees to match their heart's desires for learning. Students earning a degree in adventure education are capable of providing and facilitating positive, safe and comprehensive educational experiences for the broader public. Our hallmark is extended field time and personal mentorship with seasoned experts.

Life & Career Outcomes

Life & Career Outcomes
  • Adventure Program Administrator
  • Alpine Mountaineering Instructor
  • Avalanche Course Educator
  • Avalanche Forecaster
  • Backcountry Ski Guide
  • Camp Counselor
  • Camp Director
  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • Environmental Educator
  • Graduate School
  • Mountain or Rock Climbing Guide
  • National Outdoor Leadership School Instructor/Administrator
  • Outdoor Business Owner
  • Outdoor Program Administrator
  • Outward Bound Instructor/Administrator
  • River Guide
  • Rock Climbing Instructor
  • School Based Adventure Coordinator
  • Scientific Research Technician in Extreme Environments
  • Sea Kayaking Instructor
  • Search and Rescue Staff
  • Ski Instructor
  • Ski Patrol/Snow Safety Personnel
  • Swiftwater Rescue Instructor
  • Wilderness Medicine Educator
  • Wilderness Therapy Staff/Clinician

Academic Resources

Academic Resources

Gear Warehouse

Gear Warehouse Rafts

Prescott College’s 2,800 square-foot Equipment Warehouse is a storage facility housing the College’s field equipment and a staging area for student forays into the wilderness. Staffers regularly rotate the state-of-the-art equipment and inventory to provide students with access to the latest in adventure gear. The Equipment Warehouse staff provides equipment for camping, backpacking, rock climbing, mountaineering, ski touring, avalanche forecasting, whitewater kayaking and rafting, sea kayaking, canoeing, and wilderness orientation.

More Information Video: Prescott College Warehouse Tour

Prescott College Library

Library From Above

The Prescott College Library supports the curriculum with a variety of print and electronic resources. Our library catalog  reflects not only our collection but that of more than 30 other libraries in Yavapai county. A system-wide library card allows borrowers to request books from any library in the county.  Online resources include millions of full-text articles available through our article databases, and over 130,000 e-books available through ebrary.  

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River Studies and Leadership Certificate

The River Studies and Leadership Certificate is designed to offer undergraduate students—who have become inspired to join the next generation of river professionals—a foundation of knowledge, skills, and experience in river-based science, policy, conservation, education, and recreation.  Undergraduate students are awarded this certificate by the River Management Society after they have successfully completed a cogent package of river-focused coursework and a river-related professional project.

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Tuition & Fees

Tuition & Fees