The BA in Outdoor Studies prepares students for careers in outdoor recreation and education through expedition and classroom learning. Outdoor Studies at APU is an interdisciplinary degree drawing on courses throughout the university in order to address issues with regional, national, and global importance. Professional competencies are built into the program leading to successful placement of graduates in a range of outdoor and environmental services, operations, and organizations.
OS majors begins with courses focused on recreational program design, natural history, and wilderness skills. As specific interests develop, students choose from several optional concentrations to distinguish the degree: Land Management, Outdoor Education, Outdoor Entrepreneurship, Snow Science, Adventure Therapy, or a self-designed option.
In the junior year, students undertake practicum - a pre-professional experience where students earn credit while working in the field or for organizations such as Alaska Mountaineering School, Trailside Discovery, U.S. Forest Service, and Alaska Public Lands Information Center, among many others options. The program culminates with the senior project which combines knowledge gained with the skills to apply that knowledge to real-world situations.
As a graduate, a student will earn an Bachelor of Arts degree with realized proficiency in APU’s Core Competencies:
- Effective Communication [EC]: Demonstrate the ability to get one’s point across in writing, presentations, and organizations in order to share information, teach others, and foster collaboration
- Critical Thinking [CT]: Demonstrate the ability to compute, analyze, make sense of information or data, and reach reasoned conclusions cognizant of possible bias or fallacies
- Cultural & Historical Perspective [CH]: Demonstrate the ability to effectively consider tradition and heritage in relation to decision-making in a world shaped by diverse cultures and abiding histories
- Scientific Inquiry [SI]: Demonstrate the ability to reach verifiable conclusions based on documented observations, findings, and recognized methods in order to know how things work in our world
- Ethical Engagement [EE]: Demonstrate ability to raise needed questions and apply ethical and effective problem-framing and problem-solving to make things better
The degree is designed to meet the following Professional Competencies:
- Recreational Programming: Design, implement, and evaluate indoor and outdoor recreational programs
- Expedition Leadership: Demonstrate the art of expedition leadership and related outdoor skills
- Public Lands Awareness: Understand the significance of public lands to a culturally diverse outdoor community
- Educational Curricula: Interpret natural history for educational curricula
- Ethics and Professionalism: Articulate ethical principles and standards relevant to outdoor recreation professional
Foundational Studies (32-40 credits)
- EC Written Communication** (WRIT 20100) (4)
- EC Presentation & Media Literacy (from 10000-20000 level COMM) (3-4)
- CT Critical Thinking (from 10000-20000 level CRIT) (3-4)
- CT Computation** (MT 10100, BAM 10500, or higher placement) (3-4)
- CH Intellectual Traditions (various) (3-4)
- CH Creative Endeavors (various) (3-4)
- CH Intercultural & Spiritual Understandings (various) (3-4)
- SI Biological/Physical Scientific Inquiry (various) (4)
- SI Social/Behavioral Scientific Inquiry (various) (3-4)
- EE Social Responsibility (LS 10200) (2)
- EE Personal Responsibility (various) (1-2) †
[† Foundational Studies requirement satisfied in the Major Studies]
[** Minimum grade of ‘C’ (defined as C+, C, C-) must be earned]
(Unless otherwise noted, check for courses which satisfy Foundational Studies categories under ‘Bachelor-level Degree Requirements- Overview’)
Major Studies (65-78 credits)
Self-Determined Studies (varies)
- Students are encouraged to pursue one of the optional Outdoor Studies concentrations, take a minor, or undertake an Eco League exchange to distinguish their studies at APU.
Minimum Graduation Credit Hour Requirement: 128
Statistics requirement (4)
Select one course from the following:
Natural History requirement (8)
Select two courses from the following (in addition to course satisfying SI Biological/Physical Scientific Inquiry for Foundational Studies):
Upper Division requirement (8)
Select two 30000-40000 level courses from:
Expedition requirement (4)
Select one course from:
Outdoor Skills requirement (6)
Complete 6 credits from the following:
Research Methods requirement (3-4)
Select one course from:
OS Concentration Options
Students can choose to develop a concentration that builds skill, experience, and knowledge transforming the major through self-determined study. Options include: Land Management, Outdoor Education, Outdoor Entrepreneurship, Snow Science, Adventure Therapy, or a self-designed concentration. Ultimately, thoughtful concentrations lead to successful Senior Projects.
The concentration in Land Management prepares students for careers with agencies and organizations that manage public domain. This concentration provides students the deep understandings necessary to balance the interests of the public with the interest of the resource.
The concentration in Outdoor Education prepares students for careers with outdoor centers, programs, and schools around the world.
The concentration in Outdoor Entrepreneurship with its strong emphasis on business prepares students for the rewards and challenges of commercial recreation.
The concentration in Snow Science prepares students for careers in snow science including snow safety, avalanche education, and applied avalanche research.
The concentration in Adventure Therapy prepares students with the skills and understandings necessary to use outdoor recreation as a therapeutic tool.
The self-designed concentration requires 24 credits that meet the student’s educational goals. The student initiated plan is designed with the student’s academic advisor, approved by the OS Department, and submitted to the Registrar with their graduation application.