Outdoor Education Major


Idaho State University







Questions and Answers About the Outdoor Education Major


What is the Outdoor Education Major?

Should I Supplement the Outdoor Major with Another Course of Study?

What employment opportunities are available for Outdoor Education Graduates?

I'm Thinking About Coming to ISU.  Can I talk to someone to make sure this program is for me?

Who Can Advise Me?

When are Classes Taught & Where Can I Find Scheduling Information?

What is the Attendance Requirement?

What ISU Departments Are Involved With the Major?

How Do I Sign Up For the Major?


What is the Outdoor Education Major?


To keep things simple and understandable, we often refer to the major as the "Outdoor Education Major."  It's just a bit easier to say, but the technical name of the major is Physical Education Major With an Outdoor Education Emphasis.    The major is offered through the Department of Sports Science and Physical Education (SSPE) at Idaho State University.   It's a small department and the faculty is very student oriented:  always available to help and committed to providing the best possible education.   It's a warm and inviting environment and the perfect place for the Outdoor Education Major.


That's one half of the winning formula.  The other half is the ISU Outdoor Adventure Center.  The Center provides most of the instructors, equipment, and guidance which makes the outdoor major and minor programs possible.   This nationally recognized program has been around for over 40 years, and it's open and friendly staff is always there to assist.


The major is a course of study in four general areas including outdoor leadership and teaching, outdoor safety, natural history, and outdoor recreation activity skills.  A total of 41 credits are required for the major and consist of a variety of skill and theoretical classes, concluding with a 48-hour practicum. 


Lower division courses included in the major are designed to help students learn basic skills and safety procedures in outdoor education activities, while upper division courses combine practical teaching and leadership opportunities with theoretical work in leadership theory, legal liability, ethics, and a study of the field’s literature.


Should I Supplement the Outdoor Major with Another Course of Study?


Yes.  If possible, we recommend that you combine your outdoor education studies with another major.  The most efficient way to do this is to select a major in which some of the course work overlaps with an outdoor education major.  The following are several key majors which have classes that can be applied to the outdoor education major:

  • Majors in Geology, Biology, Zoology or Botany.   You may apply as much as 15 credits of geology or biology credits to the major - which means that you only need to take 26 credits of outdoor courses to get a double major.  Before undertaking this course of study, however, it's important to talk to your Outdoor Education advisor and make sure that you have advanced approval.
  • Majors in Business may wish to take the Outdoor Education Major (Outdoor Business Option) if you have an interest in entrepreneurship or working in the growing outdoor industry. You may apply as much as 15 credits of business credits to the Major and it would only require 26 credits of outdoor classes to obtain a double major.
  • Majors in Journalism and Mass Communication may find the Outdoor Education Minor helpful in their field if they hope to include outdoor topic matter in their future work.
  • Various Majors in Physical Education.  Since Physical Education degrees have the same series of core classes, a second major in Physical Education is a natural choice for Outdoor Education students.
  • Teaching Major in a Natural Science.   Science teachers may apply geology, biology and physics credits to the Natural History and Elective components of the Outdoor Education Major. 
  • Teaching Major in Physical Education.  Another option is to obtain a teaching degree in Physical Education along with a Outdoor Education major.


Graduating with a double major provides you with a greater range of employment opportunities upon compeletion of your work at Idaho State.  While a variety of outdoor education jobs are available, many positions are, nevertheless, very competitive. 


Moreover, employers often look for candidates who have additional training and experience above and beyond what is offered in a college major program.  By graduating with an additional major, you have a fall back should you not obtain an outdoor job right away or need to gain additional experience. 


Additionally, the value of a double major is the flexibility that it affords you.  Often starting positions in the outdoor education field are seasonal.  With additional job qualifications, you will have the ability to work in other fields during off-seasons.


What employment opportunities are available for Outdoor Ed Graduates?


Outdoor Education is a unique degree offering a wide variety of careers depending on your areas of expertise. The military offers employment opportunities in it's Morale Welfare Recreation (MWR) program. Recreational jobs are available in public land agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forest, Park Service and Fish and Game. Other possible careers may include working for the youth programs, city parks and recreation departments, wilderness therapy, outdoor equipment manufacturing, and commercial guide services.


I'm Thinking About Coming to ISU.  Can I talk to someone to make sure this program is for me?


You bet!  If you have questions specifically about the Outdoor Education program, you are more than welcome to call us or drop an email.

  • Call our office Monday through Friday between 10 am - 6 pm at (208) 282-3912
  • The best way to learn about a university is to come see it yourself. You can schedule a campus visit by filling out the form here
  • General information on enrolling at Idaho State University is found here


Who Can Advise Me?


Advisors in the Outdoor Education major include the following:

  •  Peter Joyce (joycpete@isu.edu) 282-3912
  •  Justin Dayley (dayljust@isu.edu) 282-3912
  •  Ron Watters (wattron@isu.edu) 282-3912  or 232-6857

All four advisors can help answer questions and help plan the your class load.  Peter Joyce, Dana Olson and Justin Dayley are staff members of the Outdoor Program and are integrally involved in teaching outdoor education class.  Ron Watters is an senior lecturer with Sports Science and Physical Education Department.


When are Classes Taught & Where Can I Find Scheduling Information?



Many outdoor education classes involve class time on Saturday and Sunday.  The reason for this is that time is needed to travel to various backcountry sites where classes take place.  Often classes leave Friday evening or Saturday morning, spend the night out and return Sunday evening.  Students who have other activites taking place on weekends (sports, organizations, work, family and church responsibilities) need to realistically assess whether they can fit such weekend classes into their schedule.


Because of the seasonal nature of outdoor activity classes- and the need to hold classes on weekends - classes often do not follow a regular schedule like many other university classes.  Instead many classes are held on workshop or adapted workshop basis.  This allows the instructor to take advantage of the season:  early winter for winter-related activities and early fall or late spring for summer related activities. 


Because classes involve a combination of evening and weekends, scheduling is much more complicated than regular college classes, and there’s simply not enough space on the University Class Schedule to include all the important information.  The Class Schedule only provides an abbreviated list of times and dates.


If you are signed up for a class, your best source of information is check the Moodle site for the class.  If you're not signed up for a class and you'd like to find out about the schedule, drop the class instructor an email, and he or she will be more than happy to provide that information.  You are also welcome to contact the Outdoor Adventure Center which maintains information on all of the classes.  Feel free to call the Outdoor Program office (282-3912).


What is the Attendance Requirement?


Students have run into trouble when they didn’t take time to double check the dates that the class was held.  Be sure to write it down (or electronically enter it) on your calendar.


It’s important not to miss a Saturday or Sunday.  Outdoor Education classes follow the same policy as all SSPED classes.  No student can pass a class that they attend less than 75% of the time - and thus missing one weekend day (Saturday or Sunday) will easily drop the total time spent in class to less 75%. 


It is on the weekend when much of the instruction and participation takes place.  Missing a weekend day is the same as missing weeks of a class that meets on an hourly basis each week - and it is impossible for an instructor to provide make up work for clases that involve active participation.  Please keep this in mind, and make sure your schedule is arranged so you can attend all aspects of the class.


What ISU Departments Are Involved With the Major?


The Outdoor Education major is offered through the Department of Sports Science, Physical Education (SSPE), a part of the College of Education.  With the major’s emphasis on teaching and leadership, the College of Education is a perfect fit for the program. 


To maximize efficiency, keep costs low, and utilize existing University resources, the Department works closely with the ISU Outdoor Adventure Center which is under the Division of Student Affairs. The Outdoor Program provides many of the instructors for the classes and maintains the Intermountain Outdoor Resource Center, the largest collection of outdoor reference materials in the regional area. 


The Outdoor Education major is an example of the wonderful cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship that can exist between different departments at the university.  It is a win-win situation for all involved.  The state benefits by having a highly efficient and low-cost program.  The individual programs benefit.  And most of all, students benefit by having a course of study that they desire and support.


How Do I Sign Up For the Major? 


Stop in and see one of the outdoor education advisers to help you plan out your course load.  When you are ready to announce your intent to be an Outdoor Education major, you’ll need to fill out a “Declaration” form available from any of the outdoor education advisers.  This is important since it sets the process in motion which assures that the major will appear on your school and graduation records,  



Outdoor Education Links


Outdoor Education Major

Outdoor Minor Information

Brief Descriptions of Outdoor Classes

Course Syllabi & Course Information

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