This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2024-2025 VCU Bulletin. Courses that expose students to cutting-edge content and transformative learning may be added and notification of additional program approvals may be received prior to finalization. General education program content is also subject to change. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

The Certificate in Outdoor Leadership is designed to prepare undergraduate students for work in a variety of professional outdoor experiential leadership positions. Course work focuses on the development of core competencies in outdoor leadership and students will gain experience through hands-on leadership opportunities, case studies and field activities.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Articulate foundational theory as it relates to the study of outdoor leadership
  2. Develop effective leadership processes and management strategies as they relate to leading in the outdoor context
  3. Demonstrate technical skills as they relate to planning, preparing and leading in the outdoors

Certificate requirements

Admission to the program

Admission to this certificate program requires completion of a minimum of 30 credit hours of accredited undergraduate course work and a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. International students will need evidence of English language proficiency based upon satisfactory scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (minimum 550 from paper or 80 via internet), Pearson Test of English (53 or better) or the International English Language Testing System (6.0 or better). Students may earn this certificate either concurrently or independently with a baccalaureate degree program at the university.

Curriculum requirements

The 12-credit core curriculum will focus on educating students in the theory, processes and skills required for advanced careers in the field of outdoor recreation and education. Students will gain experience through hands-on leadership opportunities, case-studies, field time, lecture, structured feedback and guided inquiry. Course work will focus on outdoor leadership core competencies, foundational knowledge, self-awareness and professional conduct, decision- and judgment-making, teaching and facilitation, environmental stewardship, program management, safety and risk management, and technical expertise. Students may take an optional elective as noted below; these courses may add one to four credits to the certificate.

Course Title Hours
Core courses
ENVS 260Outdoor Leadership3
ENVS 360Outdoor Programming and Event Management3
ENVS 361Outdoor Team Building and Group Facilitation3
ENVS 460Wilderness First Responder3
Optional electives
ENVS 491Topics in Environmental Studies1-4
ENVS 492Independent Study1-3
Total Hours12

Degree-seeking students may take courses in conjunction with their regular course load. Students attending full time can complete the certificate in one academic year (two semesters). Students attending part time and maintaining a course load of six credit hours per semester will complete the program in two years (four semesters). Students may take an optional elective (ENVS 491 or ENVS 492), which may add one to four credits to the certificate.

Year one
Fall semesterHours
ENVS 260 Outdoor Leadership 3
ENVS 361 Outdoor Team Building and Group Facilitation 3
 Term Hours: 6
Spring semester
ENVS 360 Outdoor Programming and Event Management 3
ENVS 460 Wilderness First Responder 3
 Term Hours: 6
 Total Hours: 12