Adventure Education (BA)

Academically and technically proficient outdoor leaders — our graduates are field-tested
Signature Courses
Avalanche Forecasting
Backcountry Touring & Winter Ecology
Sea Kayaking & Marine Natural History
The way learning is approached at Prescott College is so empowering. The trust and confidence the program placed in me, as a scholar, made me feel that much more confident in my own abilities to set my own course and direct my own process.

For over fifty years, we’ve been a leader in adventure education providing students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to launch the careers they’re passionate about. Our graduates have become business owners, wilderness therapists, guides, program directors, college professors, avalanche forecasters and outdoor instructors throughout the world. 

While studying adventure education at Prescott College, you'll have the opportunity to explore remote and beautiful areas in Arizona as well as breathtaking locations in other parts of the world. Be it on snow, vertical rock, mountains, sea, rivers, or in the classroom, you’ll find that learning comes alive with real-world opportunities to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of adventure education as a field of study. You’ll become competent in technical skills, leadership, teaching, communication, expedition logistics and the environmental and social sensitivity necessary for being a well-rounded adventure educator by applying your learning in real-life, outdoor settings. 

The Bachelor of Arts in Adventure Education degree you will earn at Prescott College will reflect your unique desire to contribute to the world by connecting people to nature and to each other. You and your academic advisor will collaborate to form an individualized curriculum plan that will serve as your map for learning. Four designated emphasis areas are available: wilderness leadership, outdoor program administration, outdoor experiential education, and therapeutic use of adventure education. You will also have the option of combining coursework that would be equivalent to a major (competence) and a minor (breadth) into an interdisciplinary degree such as therapeutic use of adventure education or adventure-based environmental education.

A bachelor's degree for true adventurers and explorers

There’s a reason why Backpacker Magazine ranked us one of “The 20 Best Colleges for Hikers”. Your journey at Prescott College starts with a 21-day wilderness orientation expedition in the backcountry of Arizona or an intensive, 21-day, community-based orientation. With either option, you will develop a sense of place and make connections to the Southwest by studying the natural and cultural history of your surroundings.

Following orientation, you will have ample opportunities to explore more of Arizona and the Southwest in areas like the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree and the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, and the Gulf of California in Sonora, Mexico. Prescott College’s unique schedule of intensive blocks and traveling semester courses allows our students and faculty to remain in field settings for weeks at a time far from campus. 

At Prescott College, exploration isn’t limited to the wilderness. You’ll have plenty of chances to explore other academic areas. Many students combine their studies in the field of adventure education with their interests in other study areas such as social justice, sustainability, or environmental studies into a unique, self-designed degree.  
Want to take your education further?  Be sure to ask about our accelerated master's degrees in adventure education.


You'll develop a strong foundation in the liberal arts with a foundation in critical thinking and creative problem-solving by engaging in a broad, interwoven range of models of inquiry. Additionally you'll gain:

  • Learners will attain the level of technical mastery in a particular outdoor discipline necessary for the implementation of safe, high quality experiences in that discipline.

  • By identifying and evaluating underlying theory, students will apply leadership, teaching, and facilitation techniques in order to create safe communities with academic integrity.

  • Through exploration of the origins and current trends, students will articulate the relevance of adventure education and the benefits of its practical application for humanity.

  • With knowledge of cultural and ecological landscapes, students will demonstrate awareness, understanding and ethical stewardship within the human and nature interface.


  • 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 focus essay
  • Completed Application
  • Official transcripts
  • Letter of recommendation

Students interested in Adventure Education engage in classes addressing the following competencies:  outdoor skills, environmental & ecological literacies, human dynamics & interpersonal literacies, teaching & facilitation literacies, and leadership.  Though course combinations are endless, students could earn a degree in Adventure Education with the following sample list of classes.   

Lower division - the starting points
Teaching and Learning in Adventure Education
Sea kayaking & Marine Natural History
Concepts of Ecology
Rock Climbing & Yoga
Interpersonal Communication
Maps and Wilderness Navigation
WELS II: The Ocean Classroom
Risk Management

Upper Division - Developing a deeper mastery
Youth Empowerment: Developing and Facilitating Transformational experiences
WELS I: Expeditionary & Technical Skills for Coastal Exploration
WELS III: Teaching and Facilitation Methods for AE (Ocean)
Outdoor Program Administration
Origins and Directions in Adventure Education
Teacher’s Assistant: Sea Kayaking & Marine Natural History
Independent Study: (e.g., Indigenous Kayaking: Boat Building and Greenland Rolling)
The Senior Project (e.g., The Healing Ocean: Surfing, Sea Kayaking, and Cystic Fibrosis)

Students studying in this area enter the industry prepared to design and market programs, predict business challenges, anticipate and manage risks, and understand the landscape of outdoor businesses within the market. 

This emphasis area highlights teaching and learning in an outdoor context and requires specific courses from the Education Department. This degree prepares students to teach in a variety of educational settings using both theory and practice of experiential methodologies

Therapeutic applications of adventure education are often used within the fields of health, mental health, corrections, education, and other human service fields. Adventure educators are uniquely qualified to help bridge the clinical aspects of therapeutic programs with a skill set that includes facilitating challenging outdoor activities, leading group process, building interpersonal communication skills, assessing risk management and fostering connections to nature. 

This emphasis is appropriate for students who are seeking to teach and lead others with a focus on leadership in physically challenging and technical outdoor pursuits in remote environments. 

Your Faculty

Forrest Schwartz

Instruction|Faculty / Director, MA in Graduate Adventure Education