Adventure Education (B.S.)

Adventure Education (B.S.)
Student rock climbing

Plymouth State is surrounded by New Hampshire’s magnificent Lakes Region and the White Mountain National Forest, which our faculty, staff, and students explore through wilderness expeditions, ropes courses, whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, mountaineering, backpacking, and winter camping. As an Adventure Education (BS) program student, you will lead children, adults, and at-risk populations in inspiring adventures that promote personal growth and self-discovery. 

Students majoring in Adventure Education are preparing for future careers in leadership, instruction, and administrative positions with non-profit and commercial outdoor education, wilderness education, wilderness therapy, therapeutic adventure, developmental, environmental, and recreation programs.

Adventure Education teaches students how to use human powered outdoor activities to expose people to purposeful challenge, high adventure, and new growth opportunities. Students majoring in Adventure Education engage in outdoor activities such as backpacking, rock climbing, canoeing, ropes courses, and mountaineering to systematically learn four broad sets of skills. First, they learn the professional and technical skills to operate competently and safely in demanding outdoor environments. Second, they learn how to teach various outdoor-related lessons that aim to the development of new skills, knowledge or values. Third, they learn how to develop, frame, facilitate and process adventure experiences so that their future clients and students grow personally and professionally. And fourth, they also learn to interpret and teach about the various natural environments they will encounter when teaching in the great outdoors.

Students enrolled in the Adventure Education program take a variety of courses that cover adventure programming history, philosophy, ethics, theory, leadership group behavior and management, group processing and facilitation, experiential pedagogy, wilderness first aid, risk management, legal issues, and program administration.

In their second year, all students in Adventure Education participate in a 15-credit Fall Immersion Semester, which involves wilderness backpacking and canoe camping expeditions lasting 4 to 15 days. They also have the option of spending a semester in the Outdoor Education program at LaTrobe University in Bendigo, Australia or a semester in Norway at the University of South-Eastern Norway in Bø to study friluftsliv (Outdoor Life). Adventure Education students can also take courses with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) that will count toward the completion of their degree in Adventure Education.

Additionally, students are required to complete a minimum of 75 days of documented adventure leadership or instruction prior to their internship Adventure Education Internship (AP 4880) or 30 days prior to their Clinical Adventure Education Clinical (AP 3890). This leadership/instruction experience must occur after the student’s formal matriculation into the Adventure Education program. Some of this experience is gained through work at the PSU Outdoor Center SOAR (Student Outdoor Adventure Recreation), CALE (Community Adventure Learning Experiences), and/or Outdoor Orientation programs while most is accrued through summer jobs in outdoor programs.

Many of the field-based courses require additional cost for transportation, food, permits, supplies or equipment rental. To meet these expenses, most field-based courses have fees attached to them. Students can expect to pay between $925 and $2,150 in additional course fees to complete the Adventure Education major. The range in cost depends on what optional courses students choose to take throughout their studies in Adventure Education. In addition, students are expected to provide basic personal outdoor clothing and equipment. The program will provide group, technical, technological, and safety gear. Students are also able to rent outdoor equipment for FREE at the Outdoor Center, which is managed by the Adventure Education program.

Program Mission

The mission of the Adventure Education program is to provide an environmentally sustainable, academically comprehensive, and technically proficient education for future adventure educators. In addition, the program embraces the University motto Ut Prosim (That I may serve) by actively seeking and providing services to the campus and regional community.

Note: Because field-based courses may occur on weekends, the schedule for Adventure Education students needs to be carefully planned and may disallow participation in some athletic events and/or affect their availability for working during some weekends.


Program Coordinator, Adventure Education
Phone: (603) 535-2676
Office: Health & Human Enrichment, Human Performance Center, MSC 22, Plymouth, NH 03264

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Curriculum & Requirements

Course Title Credits
Major Requirements
AP 2010Foundations of Adventure Education3
AP 2210Adventure Education Teaching Theories and Methods3
AP 2300Rock Climbing Fundamentals3
AP 2400Canoe Paddling Fundamentals3
AP 2500Natural History and Ecology for Adventure Educators3
AP 3320Adventure Education Philosophy and Theory (WRCO)3
AP 3500Adventure Processing and Facilitation3
AP 3510Outdoor Skills Clinical1
AP 4200Teaching Assistantship in Adventure Education3
AP 4600Risk Management in Adventure Education3
PE 3565Measurement and Assessment in Physical Education (QRCO,WRCO)3
Complete the Fall Immersion Semester or NOLS Semester or an Outdoor Life Semester in Norway 1
AP 3101Immersion Wilderness Expedition (TECO)4
AP 3201Immersion Human-Nature Relationship3
AP 3301Immersion Adventure Leadership and Group Management4
AP 3401Immersion Wilderness First Responder4
Adventure Education Activity
Complete one course from the following:3
AP 3310
Lead Rock Climbing
AP 3410
Whitewater Kayaking
AP 3610
Wilderness Therapy
AP 3710
Adapted Adventure Programming
AP 3810
Alpine Mountaineering
AP 3950
Special Topics in Adventure Education
Adventure Education Capstone
Complete one course from the following:6
AP 4880
Adventure Education Internship 2
AP 3880
AP 3890
Adventure Education Practicum
and Adventure Education Clinical 3
General Education
EN 1400Composition4
IS 1115Tackling a Wicked Problem4
MAMathematics Foundations3-4
CTDICreative Thought Direction3-4
PPDIPast and Present Direction3-4
SIDIScientific Inquiry Direction3-4
SSDISelf and Society Direction3-4
Directions (choose from CTDI, PPDI, SIDI, SSDI) 44-8
DICODiversity Connection3-4
GACOGlobal Awareness Connection3-4
INCPIntegrated Capstone3-4
WECOWellness Connection3-4
Total Credits120

The Immersion courses are offered fall semesters only.  NOLS Semester are selected in consultation with the Adventure Education Coordinator.  Students selecting the Outdoor Life Semester in Norway will earn credits for AP 3101, AP 3201, AP 3301.


Adventure Education Internship (AP 4880) requires a minimum grade of C in Teaching Assistantship in Adventure Education (AP 4200). Adventure Education Internship (AP 4880) must be taken before the semester immediately prior to graduation.


Adventure Education Practicum (AP 3880) requires a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.00.


Directions should total 20 credits (unless the major has a waiver for a specific Direction).

National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)

The wilderness expedition experiences taken at the National Outdoor Leadership School will satisfy some of the following PSU courses. All courses will be evaluated for course content prior to enrollment.

Course Title Credits
AP 2309Rock Climbing Fundamentals3
AP 2409Canoe Paddling Fundamentals3
AP 3109Wilderness Expedition (not TECO)4
AP 3309Adventure Leadership and Group Management4
AP 3319Lead Rock Climbing3
AP 3409Wilderness First Responder4
AP 3419Whitewater Kayaking3
AP 3709Winter Backcountry Travel3
AP 3819Alpine Mountaineering3
AP 3959Special Topics in Adventure Education3

Credit will be awarded only once for PSU courses or NOLS courses or AMC courses.

Check all course descriptions for prerequisites before planning course schedule. Course sequence is suggested but not required.

To complete the bachelor’s degree in 4 years, you must successfully complete a minimum of 15 credits each semester or have a plan to make up credits over the course of the 4 years.  For example, if you take 14 credits one semester, you need to take 16 credits in another semester.  Credits completed must count toward your program requirements (major, option, minor, certificate, general education or free electives).

Plan of Study Grid
Year OneCredits
EN 1400 Composition 4
IS 1115 Tackling a Wicked Problem 4
MAMathematics Foundations 3-4
AP 2010 Foundations of Adventure Education 3
AP 2210 Adventure Education Teaching Theories and Methods 3
AP 2300 Rock Climbing Fundamentals 3
AP 2400 Canoe Paddling Fundamentals 3
AP 2500 Natural History and Ecology for Adventure Educators 3
CTDICreative Thought Direction 3-4
Elective 0-2
Year Two
The Fall Immersion Semester (includes TECO), NOLS Semester, or Outdoor Life Semester in Norway (does not include TECO) 15
AP 3101
Immersion Wilderness Expedition (TECO)
AP 3201
Immersion Human-Nature Relationship
AP 3301
Immersion Adventure Leadership and Group Management
AP 3401
Immersion Wilderness First Responder
AP 3500 Adventure Processing and Facilitation 3
AP 3510 Outdoor Skills Clinical 1
SSDISelf and Society Direction 3-4
Directions (choose from CTDI, PPDI, SSDI, SSDI) 1 4-8
Elective 0-3
Year Three
Complete one Adventure Education Activity Course from the following: 3
AP 3310
Lead Rock Climbing
AP 3410
Whitewater Kayaking
AP 3610
Wilderness Therapy
AP 3710
Adapted Adventure Programming
AP 3810
Alpine Mountaineering
AP 3950
Special Topics in Adventure Education
AP 3320 Adventure Education Philosophy and Theory (WRCO) 3
PE 3565 Measurement and Assessment in Physical Education (QRCO,WRCO) 3
PPDIPast and Present Direction 3-4
SIDI Scientific Inquiry Direction 3-4
GACOGlobal Awareness Connection 3-4
Years Three and Four
AP 4200 Teaching Assistantship in Adventure Education 3
AP 4600 Risk Management in Adventure Education 3
DICODiversity Connection 3-4
WECOWellness Connection 3-4
Year Four
Complete one Adventure Education Capstone Course from the following: 6
AP 4880
Adventure Education Internship
AP 3880
AP 3890
Adventure Education Practicum
and Adventure Education Clinical
INCPIntegrated Capstone 3-4
Electives 14-20
 Total Credits120

Directions should total 20 credits (unless the major has a waiver for a specific Direction).

The Adventure Education program focuses on safety, challenge, leadership and professional growth. Through a combination of classroom work, internships and field experiences, Adventure Education students also explore the theories, philosophy, history, ethics, and risk management related to Adventure Education. Specific learning outcomes include but are not limited to:
  1. Display professional competence in the following outdoor skills: backcountry camping, navigation, leave no trace practices, top rope rock climbing, and canoe paddling.
  2. Demonstrate effective leadership skills that include professional ethic, vision, communication, decision making, flexible leadership, and tolerance for adversity.
  3. Demonstrate effective teaching skills for a variety of outdoor related lessons.
  4. Demonstrate a basic level of ecological literacy in natural environment encounter during the curriculum.
  5. Demonstrate backcountry emergency skills at the level of a Wilderness First Responder.
  6. Demonstrate competent facilitation skills including assessment of client groups, planning and conducting adventure based learning experiences and promoting transference of learning.

Graduates pursue careers in outdoor/adventure leadership, outdoor/adventure education, state and national park outdoor education, therapeutic adventure, environmental education and recreation. Examples of alumni employment include but is not limited to these organizations:
  • Education
  • Independent School Outdoor Leadership Programs
  • Nature-oriented Charter Schools
  • Outdoor Education Centers
  • Environmental Education Centers
  • The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)
  • The National Center for Outdoor Adventure Education
  • The Outward Bound Schools
  • The Student Conservation Association
  • The Appalachian Mountain Club
  • National and State Park Nature Interpretation Programs
  • College and University Outdoor Recreation Programs
  • Town and City Youth and Adult Recreation Centers
  • US Military Base Recreation Programs
  • US Forest Service Recreation Programs
  • Outdoor Activities Guiding Companies
  • Adventure Tourism Industry
  • Adventure-based Therapy
  • Wilderness Therapy
  • Adapted Outdoor Adventure Programs
  • Veterans Outdoor Adventure-based Programs
  • Cooperate Adventure-based Training & Development Programs
  • Youth Development Programs
  • The YMCA
  • The Boy Scouts of America
  • The Girl Scouts of America
  • Faith-based Outdoor Adventure-based Programs

Explore Program Details

Adventure Education: More Than a Major

Program Highlights

Student canoeing

NOLS Agreement

Earn Adventure Education credits for studying at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). PSU and NOLS have developed a direct credit agreement, which allows students to earn credits toward their major or minor in Adventure Education by taking courses at NOLS. 

Student rock climbing

The Mountains in our Backyard

Surrounded by New Hampshire’s rivers, lakes and mountains, you will have the opportunity to explore skills in wilderness expedition, ropes courses, whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, mountaineering, backpacking, and winter camping. 

Adventure Education faculty

Amazing Faculty

Plymouth State University has a long tradition of meeting the evolving educational needs of the New Hampshire and New England community.

Alise Burgess ‘22

“The Adventure Education program is one of the main reasons why I chose PSU. I’m able to experience NH’s great outdoors through a whole new perspective!” 

Alise Burgess ‘22
Beverly, MA

Program News

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