What You’ll Study

Outdoor Leadership is more than technical skills training. It’s a liberal arts discipline that combines those outdoor skills (like backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, and rock climbing) with theory and practice in interpersonal communication, behavioral science, counseling, and being a leader.

You’ll take courses in topics like:

  • Moral and ethical responsibilities of leadership
  • Shaping public attitudes toward the environment
  • Education and facilitation techniques
  • Group process
  • Conflict resolution
  • Backcountry medical protocols
  • Orienteering, kayaking, canoeing, and rock climbing
  • Challenge course facilitation and management

You’ll also complete an internship in a non-profit, governmental, or corporate setting.

What Can You Do with a Degree in Outdoor Leadership?

Our goal is to prepare leaders who can analyze, plan, implement, administer, and supervise outdoor adventure education programs of all kinds.

Some of our graduates go into program leadership and administration at outdoor centers, working for park services, colleges and universities, or non-profits. Others become instructors for at-risk youth, people with disabilities, or corporations who visit adventure camps and park services. And some go into the adventure travel and tourism industry, working as guides and program directors for eco-tours, travel companies, resorts, and hotels.

No matter what path you choose to follow, the interdisciplinary curriculum and hands-on experience from our work and service programs will prepare you for it.

Explore Classes in This Program

ODL 210

Backcountry Skills and Techniques

Practice the skills you’ll need to become a great backcountry instructor. You’ll hone outdoor skills, practice on special equipment, learn safety and risk management techniques, and focus on teaching them to groups.

ODL 220

Wilderness First Responder

This nine-day course in emergency medical care teaches you survival skills, backcountry rescue techniques, and long-term patient care techniques you’ll need to become certified in both CPR and as a Wilderness First Responder.

PED 125

Introduction to Rock Climbing

In a weekend field trip, you’ll learn the basics of belaying, knots, harnessing, anchoring, and other skills you’ll need to lead rock climbing groups in a backcountry setting.

Meet Our Faculty

The best part of the job is watching students graduate with a strong portfolio of experiences and find meaningful work connecting people to places.

Mallory McDuff, Ph.D.
Mallory McDuff, Ph.D.

It is through Warren Wilson students that my impact in this world is both magnified and transformed. I feel very fortunate to be a part of such an idealistic, compassionate, and hard-working community.

Jill Overholt, Ph.D.
Jill Overholt, Ph.D.

I love being part of the Warren Wilson College community. This is a place where students, faculty and staff get to explore a wide range of interests. I have been able to combine my unique passions into three different departments in a way that would not be possible at other schools. I love that this enables me to engage with students who have a variety of interests within the community.

Justinn Steffe, MBA
Justinn Steffe, MBA

Out of all of the schools and places I have had the honor to work, I have never experienced a sense of community like Warren Wilson. Not only is the campus beautiful, the community support and atmosphere here is unparalleled! I am happy to say that I have found my home!

Matt Vosler
Matt Vosler, Ph.D

I am proud to be a part of a community driven by compassion and curiosity here at Warren Wilson. With small class sizes, I can offer individualized attention and build strong relationships with my students, helping them prepare for meaningful careers and adventures in the outdoors.

Eli Mills
Eli Mills