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Southern Oregon University

The Department of Health, Physical Education and Leadership (HPEL) offers a BA/BS in Outdoor Adventure Leadership (OAL). For information about OAL contact Adam Elson at 541-552-6857 ( or Erik Sol at 541-552-8037 (

The Outdoor Adventure Leadership program has been designed from an integrative perspective offering comprehensive coursework in outdoor leadership, outdoor recreation management, adventure planning, tourism, risk management, stewardship, conservation, and preservation. The curriculum will help prepare students for a variety of certification opportunities in the outdoor recreation profession including Avalanche I (Forest Service), Leave No Trace Instructor, Swift Water Rescue (ACA), Open Water Diver (PADI), Introductory Canoe and Kayak Instructor (ACA), Wilderness First Responder (WSI), Safe Serve, Challenge Course Facilitator, and the National Recreation and Parks Association Certified Parks and Recreation Professional certification. Graduates from this program will be prepared to pursue studies in higher education and/or vocational pursuits in the areas of adventure services, outdoor recreation leadership and management, tourism, camp management, parks and recreation services, guide services, adult and youth recreation, adventure programming, etc.

The curriculum is offered through the HPEL department. Detailed information about the courses for both the major and the minor is available below.

A Growing Field in a Spectacular Region

There is growing opportunity to work in this field. The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) declares that "participation in outdoor activities is at an all-time high" and that "69% of the population age 16 and over participated in an outdoor activity during each of the last two years" (2003). Two-thirds of Americans participate in outdoor recreational activities monthly, up from 50% five years earlier, according to Outdoor Recreation in America (1999). This indicates a growing trend in the field of Outdoor Recreation.

We are now one of only two regional OUS institutions offering a program in outdoor recreation (OAL).

The program provides for transferability from regional and national institutions offering coursework and/or associate degrees in related fields. This program would be particularly beneficial to the many 2-year institutions in our region that offer coursework in outdoor recreation, AAOT programs, or offer an associate degree in outdoor recreation or related fields (Rogue Community College, RCC; Umpqua Community College, UCC; Southwest Oregon Community College, SOCC; Central Oregon Community College, COCC; Klamath Community College, KCC; Mt. Hood Community College, MHCC; Feather River Community College, FRCC, etc.).

SOU operates under permits issued by the Klamath National Forest.
SOU is an equal opportunity service provider.

Check out our region! Work and play in the Southwest Oregon.

  • Proximity to the Pacific Ocean.
  • Access to a large number of rivers and extended seasonal whitewater opportunities.
  • Optimal climate for “all-season” experiential based learning.
  • Convenient access to several local mountain regions and lush interior valleys, national parks and monuments
    (Siskiyou, Klamath, Marble, Trinity Alps, Russian and Cascade Mountains, Klamath Basin, Rogue Valley,
    Valley of the Rogue State Park, Oregon Caves, Lassen National Park, Crater Lake National Park,
    Kalmiopsis Wilderness, etc.).
  • Opportunities for study at the Deer Creek Center for Field Research and Crater Lake Science and Learning Center.

Jobs in outdoor recreation

  • Recreation Leader or Superintendent
  • Recreation Specialist or Supervisor
  • Recreation Programmer
  • Special Events Planner
  • Military Recreation Director
  • Director of Parks and Recreation
  • Recreation Center Director
  • Natural Resources Manager
  • Correctional Recreation Director
  • Community Recreation/Recreational Sports Director
  • Therapeutic Recreation Director
  • Leisure and Fitness Director for the Elderly
  • Wilderness Expedition Director
  • Rafting/Mountaineering Guide
  • Ski Instructor
  • Travel and Tour Director
  • Resort, Hotel, Motel Manager
  • Camp Director

Interested but can’t declare OAL as a major? Check out our Minor in Outdoor Adventure Leadership

Outdoor Adventure Leadership Major Requirements
This information is also available in the SOU Catalog online here.


ES/GEOG  Geog101 (social science-Univ Stud) OR ES 101/102/103(science-Univ. Stud)   4 cr.
OAL 194 Professional Activities: Outdoor Recreation Activities   (Fall only)   2 cr.
OAL 199  Land Navigation   (Fall & Spring only)   2 cr.
HE 250  Health and Society I    4 cr.
OAL 250 Foundations in Outdoor Adventure Leadership  (Fall & Winter only)  3 cr.
OAL 252 Wilderness First Aid & CPR (Fall & Spring only)  3 cr.
OAL 275 Adventure Based Facilitation (Fall & Winter only)  3 Cr.
HE 325 Nutrition  3 cr.
HE 331 Environmental Health  3 cr.
PE 372 Kinesiology  3 cr.
OAL 309 Practicum  3 cr.
OAL 362 Outdoor Recreation Programming and the Environment  3 cr.
OAL 375 Advanced Techniques in Aventure Leadership  3 cr.
OAL 409 Practicum  3 cr.
OAL 425 Program Evaluation  3 cr.
OAL 430 Outdoor Survival  3 cr.
OAL 443 Senior Capstone  3 cr.
OAL 444 History of the Pacific Northwest Wilderness  3 cr.
OAL 470 Environmental Physiology  3 cr.
Choose one of these:
       BA 312 Hospitality & Tourism Marketing  4 cr.  or  
       BI 386 Forest Ecology and Management  3 Cr.

Activity Classes

Land  Choose a minimum of 3 classes from this list:
       OAL 177  Rock Climbing I  1 cr.
       OAL 204  Rock Climbing II  1 cr.
       OAL 205  Rock Climbing III  2 cr.
       OAL 179  Skiing/Snowboarding  1 cr.
       OAL 180  Skiing/Snowboarding Maintenance  1 cr.
       OAL 175  Mountaineering I  1 cr.
       OAL 203  Mountaineering II  2 cr.
       OAL 176  Mountain Biking  1 cr.
       OAL 170  Bicycle Maintenance  1 cr.
       OAL 171  Boat Maintenance  1 cr.
       OAL 174  Hiking  1 cr.
       OAL 290  Challenge Course Facilitation  2 cr.
       OAL 481 Technical Rope Rescue  2 cr.

Water  Choose a minimum of 3 classes from this list:
       OAL 172  Fly Fishing I  1 cr.
       OAL 173  Fly Fishing II  1 cr.
       OAL 181  Whitewater Activities I  1 cr.
       OAL 207  Whitewater Activities II  2 cr.
       OAL 182  Whitewater Kayaking I  1 cr.
       OAL 208  Whitewater Kayaking II  2 cr.
       OAL 178  Sea Kayaking I  1 cr.
       OAL 206  Sea Kayaking II  2 cr.      
       OAL 234  Scuba Diving  3 cr.
       OAL 236  Advanced Scuba Diving  2 cr.
       OAL 399 Scuba Diving Leadership  2 cr.
       OAL 480 Swiftwater Rescue Technician I  2 cr.
       OAL 482 Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Technician  2 cr.
       PE 298 Lifeguard Certification   3 cr.

Minimum credits to graduate: 180 total credits; 60 Upper Division Credits

Recommended Courses:
OAL 495   Outdoor Pursuits  (various offerings, check with OAL advisor) 
OAL 370   Adventure-Based Therapy   3 cr.
ECON 399 Economics of Tourism   4 cr.
BA 310  Hotel and Motel Operations  4 cr.
BA 311  Food and Beverage Management (Safe Serve certificate)  4 cr.
BA 211/213  Financial and Management Accounting  4-8 cr.
PSY 438 Group Dynamics   4 cr.