Adventure Education

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


"Graduates from this career-focused competency are entrepreneurs, educators, facilitators, and those working within the healing arts."

An 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. 

The Oldest Credit-bearing Adventure Education Program in the Country

At Prescott College, Adventure Education is defined as an experiential process that takes place in challenging outdoor settings where the primary purpose is 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.

Field Experience

Since our inception in 1968, we have maintained a strong commitment to emphasizing extended field experiences for our 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, the Adventure Education Program provides 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, and also offer the opportunity to earn certifications for marketable skills.

Careers in Adventure Education

Adventure educator, outdoor educator, program director, environmental educator, camp director, camp counselor, mountain guide, risk manager, wilderness educator, avalanche forecaster, avalanche educator, ski guide, river guide, instructor, firefighter, forestry, staffing director, entrepreneur, outdoor business owner, leave no trace trainer, park ranger, recreation planner, wilderness medicine educator, search and rescue, wilderness advocacy, and non profit administration.


Sample Courses for Degree in Adventure Education

  • Origins and Directions in Adventure Education
  • Maps and Wilderness Navigation (weekly field days)
  • Geology and Bike-packing (field-based Block)
  • Sea Kayaking and Marine Natural History (field-based Block)
  • Avalanche Forecasting (field-based Block)
  • Wilderness Explorations and Landscape Studies (field-based Semester)


Graduation Requirements

Common Graduation Requirements


Students will Complete 12 core courses from the following distribution (minimum necessary in parenthesis):

  • Outdoor skills (OS) (4)
  • History, Philosophy, and Ethics (HPE) (1)
  • Origins and Directions of Adventure Education – Required
  • Environmental Studies (ES) (2)
  • Human Development (HD) (2)
  • Education (ED) (2 )
  • Leadership (LD) (1)                 
  • Management and Administration (MA) (1).

In addition to completing a minimum of 16 courses including those fulfilling the above stated areas, students must also:

  • Successfully complete at least one Prescott College extended (semester-long) expeditionary field course
  • Hold a current Wilderness First Responder certification or higher
  • Complete at least 50% of courses in the competence area as upper division
  • Demonstrate excellence in field instruction by accumulating leadership days
  • Successfully complete a senior project
  • Wilderness Leadership Students must also serve as a Teaching Assistant

Example Plans for a Degree in Adventure Education

The following 3 examples outline possible 16-course scenarios leading to a competence (major) in
Adventure Education at Prescott College

Legend – (OS) = Outdoor Skills, (ES) = Environmental Studies, (HD)= Human Development, (ED)=
Education, (HPE) = History, Philosophy of Experiential Education and (LD) = Leadership Days

Example #1: 16-course Competence in Adventure Education 

This a generalist's competence for the student interested in teaching in field settings such as for NOLS or Outward Bound.
1. Maps and Wilderness Navigation or Outdoor Education and Recreation (OS)
2. Interpersonal Communications or Ropes Course Facilitation (HD)
3. Basic Rock Climbing (OS)
4. Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Training, Canoeing, Sea Kayaking and Marine Natural History
or River Guides Training (OS)
5. Teaching and Learning in Adventure Education (ED)
6. Concepts of Ecology (ES)
7. Environmental Topics in Adventure Education (HPE)
8. Environmental Perspectives and Whitewater Rafting (ES)
9. Group Process for Adventure Educators (HD)
10. AE Phase 1: Expedition Skills (a semester field course) (OS)
11. AE Phase II: Teaching Methods for Adventure Educators (ED)
12. AE Phase III: Teaching and Leadership Practicum (LD)
13. Origins and Directions in Adventure Education (HPE)
14. Teaching assistant for a suitable OS course
15. Orientation Instructor Practicum (LD)
16. Senior Project (LD)

 Wilderness First Responder Certification through an external provider


Example #2 16-course competence: Adventure Education (with an emphasis on natural history interpretation)

– for the student wanting to become an Interpretive Naturalist in outdoors and/or
challenging settings
1. Maps and Wilderness Navigation (OS)
2. Interpersonal Communication (HD)
3. Wilderness First Responder Certification
4. Geology and Rock Climbing or Sea Kayaking and Marine Natural History (OS) or (ES)
5. Environmental Perspectives and Whitewater Rafting, Arctic Canoe Expedition, or International
Mountain Expedition (OS)
6. Concepts of Ecology, Weather and Climate, or Earth Science (ES)
7. WELS Phase 1: Expedition Skills (a semester field course) (OS)
8. WELS Phase II: The Ocean or Mountain Classroom (ED)
9. WELS Phase III: Teaching & Facilitation (LD)
10. Explorers and Geographers (HPE)
11. Environmental Topics in Adventure Education (HPE)
12. Fundamentals of Environmental Education (ED)
13. Origins and Directions in Adventure Education (HPE)
14. Eco Psychology (HD)
15. Orientation Instructor Practicum (LD)
16. Senior Project (LD)


Example #3 16-course competence: Adventure Education (with an emphasis on wilderness leadership)

for the student interest in becoming a wilderness guide in challenging outdoor environments. Note: this
competence may be unrealistic in a four-year timeframe for students entering college without
significant accumulated skill and experience
1. Interpersonal Communications (HD)
2. Intermediate Rock Climbing, (co requisite with Women’s Topics in Wilderness Leadership) (OS)
3. Teaching and Learning in Adventure Education (ED)
4. Earth Science, Weather and Climate, or Concepts of Ecology (ES)
5. Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Training or River Guides Training (OS)
6. Alpine Mountaineering or Ski Mountaineering (OS)
7. Search and Rescue or Avalanche Forecasting (OS)
8. Explorers and Geographers (HPE) or International Mountain Expedition (OS)
9. Wilderness Leadership Phase 1: Expedition Skills (a semester field course) (OS)
10. Wilderness Leadership Phase 2: Philosophies of Outdoor Leadership (HPE)
11. Wilderness Leadership Phase 3: Leadership Practicum (LD)
12. Foundation of Education (ED)
13. Origins and Directions in Adventure Education (HPE)
14. Modes of Leadership, Men and Masculinity or Women’s Topics in Wilderness Leadership (HD)
15. Teaching Assistant on an suitable outdoor skills course (OS)
16. Senior Project (LD)

 Wilderness First Responder, Outdoor Emergency Care or WEMT through an external provider



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