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What is the Outdoor Skills and Leadership Certificate?

The certificate in Outdoor Skills and Leadership is an intensive nine-month humanities program that offers students the opportunity to better understand their relation to the natural world and to develop skills and characteristics that are essential to success as an individual, a group member, and a leader in outdoor and adventure settings. The program incorporates outdoor risk management, leadership skills, specific outdoor activity skills, and academic work. The combination of outdoor and academic courses is designed to develop not only knowledge but also personal traits such as self-reliance and good judgment. Students working to become outdoor professionals, wanting to achieve more general goals related to personal development and leadership, or wanting to better understand the natural world will benefit from the program.

What Does Participating in the Program Involve?

Avalanche class

Completing the program will require students to participate in a variety of outdoor activities such as climbing rock and ice, hiking, camping, kayaking, and skiing. As well, students will complete courses in areas such as swift-water rescue and wilderness medicine that will provide them with skills needed to act responsibly in backcountry settings. Academic courses, such as Perspectives on Wilderness and Small Group Communication and Team Building, will give students opportunities to reflect on many aspects of our interaction with nature and each other. There will also be a specialized course in outdoor leadership that is designed to ready students to lead groups in outdoor settings and to educate others in areas relating to outdoor recreation. The fact that such courses are taken at the same time as Outdoor Studies classes will give students the opportunity to consider and apply theoretical understanding in practical conditions. Because the program involves a number of outdoor skills courses that require full-day and multi-day outings, students must be prepared to spend many weekends in the field while they are enrolled in the program.


New students are generally admitted in the fall semester only; however, applications will be reviewed on a continual basis. Individuals interested in the certificate program are required to provide required application materials by July 1st of the year they wish to enroll. Applicants must provide:

  1. Submit a UAS Admission Application
  2. All high school and/or college transcripts.
  3. Resume or List of relevant experience, skills and/or certifications.
  4. 300 word essay describing the applicant’s goals and reasons for wishing to enroll in the Outdoor Skills and Leadership Program.
  5. Individuals who have not completed a college level English course must take a UAS English placement exam as part of the application process. (Call 907-796-6348 or visit the UAS Learning and Testing Center's website.)
  6. It is recommended that students also provide two letters of recommendation with the above information.

Application materials should be sent to:

Office of Admissions
University of Alaska Southeast
11066 Auke Lake Way
Juneau, AK 99801
Hiking in the sunshine

As a final criterion for admission to the program applicants must be able to demonstrate that they are in good physical condition and will therefore be required to have a physical exam at their own expense. Prior to visiting a doctor a medical history form and letter describing the nature of the program will be sent to all applicants that will require the doctor’s signature at the time of the physical exam.

Individuals wanting to enroll in the program must be available from ten days prior to the start of the fall semester to two weeks after the end of the spring semester (around the third week of May). Applicants are encouraged to apply early, as program size is limited.


The Outdoor Skills and Leadership Certificate requires a minimum of 34 credits of course work and participation in entrance and exit experiential outings (4 credits may be waived if students have received Wilderness First Responder certification elsewhere). The Outdoor Skills and Leadership program is designed to be an intense, nine month, program, that requires students to work closely with others in a group setting. Up to seven credits in outdoor skills may be transferred from UAA’s Alaska Outdoor and Experiential Education Program. Because of the nature and goals of the program, no other transfer credits will be accepted.

FjordStudents are required to demonstrate a level of competence in English equivalent to a grade of C in English 111 in order to graduate from this program. In addition, students must demonstrate competency in quantitative skills in one of the following ways:

1) Passing a UAS MATH 055 equivalency test. 2) Placing into MATH 105 by placement test through UAS Learning Center. 3) Completing two semesters of high school algebra. 4) Completing a math course at the level of MATH 055 or higher at an accredited university.

Placement tests for both Math and English may be taken through the UAS Learning and Testing Center. Call (907) 796-6348 or visit their website for more information. Additional courses may be required upon admission if they are needed in order to prepare students for required courses.

Class offerings for current and upcoming semesters can be found on the UAS Course Listings webpage.

Course Requirements

Please refer to the academic catalog for a complete list of course requirements.


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