Outdoor Education and Leadership FAQs

CWC’s Outdoor Ed. And Leadership Degree  is an Associate of Arts (AA) degree that combines at least 1 field-based expedition course with outdoor education and general education classes taken through CWC. It prepares students for careers in outdoor or adventure education, guiding, trip-leading, and teaching in both formal and informal settings. To complete this degree, students may take up to 16 credits (1 full semester) through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Students who do not attend a NOLS course must take CWC’s Annual Summer Mountain Expedition Course (4 creds) in August and other CWC Outdoor Skills classes, such as: Introduction to Outdoor Rock Climbing, Indoor Rock Climbing, Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding, Avalanche Safety, Whitewater Rafting, and Dayhiking. This AA degree prepares students well to either continue their studies in a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree program at a university or begin a professional career in outdoor education.
Can the Outdoor Education & Leadership Degree be obtained via the internet? Some courses can be done through distance education, but you will still need to attend some classes for hands-on training. Even if you aim to take as many classes online as possible, you should still plan on spending at least 1 full semester in Lander or Riverton in order to complete your Associate’s degree.
What about Wilderness First Responder classes or the Wilderness EMT class on-line?           These courses are not something you can do online since they involve direct hands-on teaching. Most of our students take them at our Sinks Canyon Center in Lander through WMI of NOLS or in Jackson Hole through JHOLI.
Where should I look in the CWC catalog and course schedules for outdoor-related course descriptions? CWC courses related to the outdoors are located in several places in the catalog. Be sure to check the Education (EDUC) section, the Geography & Recreation (G&R) section, and the Physical Education Activity (PEAC) section. NOLS courses are found in the G& R, EDUC, and Biology sections. Wilderness Medicine courses are found in the Health Education (HLED) section.
What kinds of off-campus courses does CWC offer that do NOT involve NOLS?
In the Fall, we are usually offer Day Hiking, Outdoor Rock Climbing, and Avalanche Safety. In Spring we offer Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding, Avalanche Safety, and Outdoor Rock Climbing. Over the summer, we offer Whitewater Rafting and an annual 10-day Mountain Expedition. Our trip leaders are all either NOLS Instructors or professional mountain or river guides.
Do you offer the Wilderness First Responder class or the Wilderness EMT class in the summer?
CWC partners with the Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS and Jackson Hole Outdoor Leadership Institute (JHOLI) for wilderness medicine training. See http://www.nols.edu/wmi/courses/ for a full list of courses, schedules, and locations of WMI courses. JHOLI course dates are available at http://www.avalancheandwildmedtraining.com/.
We also offer a semester-length WFR course for credit through WMI which is taught each semester by CWC faculty member and WMI co-founder, Buck Tilton.
I have some college credits that I would like to transfer to CWC toward my degree. How many credits may I transfer?
You may transfer up to 52 credits. Have your transcripts sent to CWC and contact our Registration and Records office to request a transfer evaluation or fill out the online transfer evaluation request form. In order to obtain a degree from CWC you must have completed at least 12 credits at CWC.
NOLS-Specific Questions
Is college credit available for students taking National Outdoor Leadership School courses? Yes, college credit is offered by CWC for courses taught through NOLS. Students must be enrolled at both institutions to receive college credit.
How old must a student be to earn college credit for their NOLS course?
Any student 16 years of age or older can earn college credit for their NOLS course.
Does the tuition at CWC also cover the NOLS tuition?
If you choose to take a NOLS course for college credit through CWC, you must pay CWC’s regular tuition plus NOLS’ regular tuition for your course. Here’s how it happens: CWC bills the student directly for course tuition at both CWC and NOLS. This billing includes the equipment deposit for your NOLS course but does not include the NOLS application fee and the optional tuition protection program fee. The application fee and tuition protection fees must be paid directly to NOLS.
Because the NOLS tuition is billed through CWC, it can be calculated in your federal financial aid. This means that if you qualify for federal financial aid, you may use it to cover a portion of your NOLS course costs. The percentage covered, depends on which NOLS course you choose to take and how much financial aid you qualify for. Contact the CWC Financial Aid Office for more details.
Do I have to take a NOLS semester or can I take other NOLS courses?
You may take any NOLS course that is 7 days or longer for credit. All NOLS courses have different starting dates, so please check the NOLS catalog or website for additional information. In general, 7 days of a NOLS course amounts to 1 credit at CWC.
Is financial aid available for students to take NOLS courses?
Students who wish to use federal financial aid for a NOLS course must be enrolled in one of the CWC outdoor degree programs. Only 16 credits from NOLS can qualify for federal financial aid.
Do I take my NOLS courses before attending CWC or afterward?
For students who plan to take a NOLS semester, it is best to spend your first semester at CWC, then take your second or third semester with NOLS. This allows the student to spend their first 3 semesters developing a strong foundation in both Outdoor Ed. theory and practice which can then be used in student leadership positions and internships during the final semester. Be aware that some CWC courses are only offered on a Fall-Spring sequence, and other courses are only offered on alternate years. Plan your courses carefully or meet with your academic advisor to register for classes.
I just filled out and submitted my CWC application. When do I need to fill out the NOLS application?
You should apply directly to NOLS for your course 6-9 months before your NOLS course begins. Tell your NOLS Admission Officer that you intend to get credit from CWC. NOLS will then send CWC a copy of your acceptance letter. When its time to register for those course(s), the CWC registrar will place you in the proper course(s). You will then receive a tuition and fees bill from CWC for tuition from both organizations.
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