Outdoor Leadership And Adventure Education - Garrett College
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Outdoor Leadership & Adventure Education

Associate of Applied Science degree

Career advancement program

Outdoor Leadership & Adventure Education (OLA) is an innovative major leading to an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree. OLA students learn the necessary skills to work in the outdoor, adventure, and recreation fields. With experiential learning opportunities such as backcountry living, ropes/challenge, and adventure-based skills classes like rock climbing, whitewater kayaking, and skiing, OLA professors use Garrett County’s mountains, lakes, forests, and whitewater rivers as classrooms.

OLA students have the opportunity to earn several national certifications including but not limited to:

  • American Canoe Association (ACA)
  • American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA)
  • Leave No Trace (LNT)
  • Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA)
  • Swiftwater Rescue
  • Wilderness First Responder (WFR)

Career Opportunities

Employment: Graduates of the Garrett College Outdoor Leadership & Adventure Education program can be found working in commercial, government and nonprofit outdoor programs. Examples of positions attained by program graduates include college and university outdoor program manager, outdoor guide, outdoor education, wilderness therapy field instructor, adaptive recreation facilitator, ski industry professional, climbing ranger, river patrol ranger, backcountry ranger, and many other outdoor industry positions. Click here for Garrett College's Career Services.

Bachelor’s Degree: OLA students also have the option to transfer to a four-year college or university to pursue a bachelor's degree in recreation, business, education, or a variety of other fields. Click here to explore Transfer Information.


  • Program Requirements
  • Students will complete an OLA Skills Track consisting of an introductory, intermediate, and instructor level course. Track choices include whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, flatwater paddlesports, snow sports, and alpine climbing.
  • Academic Map
  • Course Descriptions

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Students will make connections that create meaning between themselves and their audience.
  • Students will critically analyze situations, events, issues, ideas, and texts by fusing experience, reason, and training into considered judgment.
  • Students will demonstrate a strong sense of environmental stewardship.
  • Students will effectively plan and facilitate an instructional experience.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to successfully plan an adventure program.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to assess and respond to an emergency situation.
  • Students will facilitate at least one adventure sports field skill at an industry-standard intermediate level.

In the News

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Why GC?

Program Highlights

  • Garrett College's location in Garrett County, Maryland provides scenic year-round opportunities for climbing, camping, skiing, rafting, and biking.
  • The region is home to some of the best adventure activities in the eastern United States including mountain biking at Fork Run, whitewater paddling on the Youghiogheny River, and rocking climbing at Coopers Rock and Seneca Rocks.
  • An internship is required for the program. Students have the opportunity to practice their adventure and leadership skills in a real-world setting in places such as ski resorts, state parks, outfitter/guide services, and camps.
  • The Outdoor Leadership & Adventure Education program has received Statewide Designation status from the State of Maryland. Verifiable Maryland residents who meet enrollment criteria will receive the in-county tuition rate.
  • Student Spotlights
  • Explore Potential Transfer Opportunities
  • Schedules & Catalogs

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