Outdoor Education and Leadership

Major, Minor

School of Education

4-Year Degree

two female students trying on gear in the outdoor program room

The Outdoor Education and Leadership Program at Westminster University

Through collaborative and experienced-based learning opportunities in the Outdoor Education and Leadership program, you will develop effective leadership, risk management, communication, and outdoor skills. Challenging classes and unparalleled access to wilderness spaces such as Utah's red rock canyons, rivers, and snowy slopes gives you countless opportunities for leadership experience, professional training, and personal adventures—the great outdoors is your classroom and laboratory. Additionally, you'll work closely with faculty mentors to find opportunities outside of the classroom with the Westminster Outdoor Program and the businesses that make up Salt Lake City's thriving outdoor industry.

In the Outdoor Education and Leadership program, you'll help plan and lead outdoor trips, learning through practice and experience, and honing your leadership skills. Program curriculum explores the concept of place in the natural environment as well as in the historical, political, and social connections and implications of those environments. By the end of the program, you will know how to engage in the field of outdoor education using an understanding of how diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical to the philosophy and transformative possibilities of outdoor education.

Who the Outdoor Education and Leadership Program Is For

Regardless of previous outdoor experience, the Outdoor Education and Leadership program is designed for students that have a desire to work with, and empower others, in the outdoors. Whether you see yourself working for the National Park Service, guiding trips to remote corners of the world, or educating others about natural landscapes, you'll cultivate the skills you need to do what you love in the setting you love.

What Are the Key Benefits of the Outdoor Education and Leadership Program?

  • Courses include field-based learning experiences that take you beyond classroom walls, including a semester spent traveling the Intermountain West.
  • Opportunities are available to earn academic credit for nationally and internationally-recognized outdoor credentials. Offerings have included wilderness medicine courses, Single Pitch Instructor certification, Leave No Trace Trainer, avalanche safety, and more
  • Opportunities to gain for-credit professional experience through internships with outdoor industry organizations
  • Faculty mentors work closely with students to create customized plans of study based on students' personal interests and career goals
  • Small classes are taught by faculty with experience guiding expeditions all over the world in places such as the Rockies, Patagonia, the Yukon, India, and Nepal

sample outdoor education and leadership courses

  • OEL-120: Outdoor Leadership
  • OEL-150: Indoor Rock Climbing

  • OEL-162: Avalanche Level I
  • OEL-163: Snow Camping


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Our Faculty

Jason Boyer
HPW - Adjunct

Megan Boyer
HPW - Adjunct

Brett Carroll
Assistant Director of Outdoor Programs

Kellie Gerbers, PhD
Associate Professor, Outdoor education and leadership program Director 

MacKenzie Mitchell
Director of Outdoor Programs

AJ Verkouw
Assistant Professor


liberal education courses

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


potential careers

  • Outdoor educator
  • Public land manager
  • Wilderness medicine instructor
  • 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

"The Westminster Outdoor Education and Leadership Program helped me take my passions and turn them into a profession. As I guide my students through adventure therapy outings, I am able to pay forward the opportunities for exploration, learning, and growth that the Westminster faculty gave me."

Read The Story

Amanda Sevigny
('18) psychology major, outdoor education and leadership minor


Outdoor Education and Leadership Career Opportunities

The Outdoor Education and Leadership program prepares you for the career of your choice through collaborative and experience-based learning opportunities and the ability to customize your plan of study. Graduates find jobs in areas such as education, land management, eco-tourism, wilderness therapy, camps, community recreation, and more. Some graduates also choose to further their education in graduate school.

student success

Outdoor Education and Leadership graduates have begun careers with companies and organizations such as:

  • National Outdoor Leadership School
  • National Park Service
  • Utah Avalanche Association
  • Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation 
  • Wood River Trails Coalition

Outdoor Education and Leadership Program Plan of Study

You'll start by taking introductory-level courses in education, leadership, and outdoor skills. As you progress in the program, you'll take upper-level courses and choose electives that match your interests and career goals, including courses related to media, policy, and more. Additionally, you will be required to complete an internship.

You will start participating in immersive field experiences as early as your first year at Westminster. One of these experiences, the Outdoor Education and Leadership Field Semester, takes you off campus and into the field for an entire semester between your sophomore and senior year. During the 75-day field-based experience you will apply key skills and concepts while earning credit for a variety of courses as well as some certifications.

In addition to the field-based courses and global learning programs offered at Westminster, including May Term Study Experiences, you are encouraged to take advantage of external study abroad programs and international research programs, such as:


Tuition and Aid

There's No Better Investment Than You

Westminster University knows you want an education where you matter—a place that will serve as a launchpad for a successful career and a meaningful life. Westminster will work with you individually through every step of the financial aid process. From scholarships to grants and loans, Westminster helps you make it happen.

With the highest percentage of students who complete one or more internships in the state, Westminster students hit the ground running with real-world experience. Plus, 90% of students were either employed or attending graduate school within 5 months of graduating. With a Westminster degree, you don't have to choose between a successful career and a fulfilling life.

Learn About Tuition

You’ll be automatically considered for scholarship and grant opportunities.

In addition to general merit scholarships, other scholarship programs are available to support you throughout your time at Westminster.

Check Out Scholarships

Your tuition, fully paid

All students should have the ability to explore their passions. Westminster University is proud to cover the cost of tuition for qualifying students through the Westminster Commitment.

Learn About the Westminster Commitment