Applications currently being accepted for the August 2022 cohort
Hybrid: Face-to-face and online
Two-Years to Complete
20 Person Cohort
App Deadline: Priority Feb 1-Final Jun 1
36 Total Credit Hours
Ideal for non-formal educators
Join us at one of our upcoming virtual Graduate School Open House events on Zoom! You'll have the opportunity to learn more about Western Carolina University, understand the Graduate School application process, and meet key program representatives.
The M.S. in Experiential and Outdoor Education is a two-year hybrid program. Hybrid coursework is a mix of online (synchronous and asynchronous) and face-to-face weekend (Friday and Saturday) core class sessions during Year 1 and elective courses (offered online, face-to-face and hybrid) in Year 2. The degree utilizes the philosophy of experiential education combined with the modality of outdoor education to provide students with necessary training to serve in a variety of educational contexts.
This degree works well for a wide range of professionals who work in outdoor and educational programs including: expeditionary learning schools, charter schools, independent schools with an experiential education program, community colleges, residential and day camps, environmental education programs, therapeutic experiential agencies and camps, university outdoor programs, and wilderness leadership programs.
The M.S. in Experiential and Outdoor Education is a two-year hybrid program.
In the first year, face-to-face coursework will include a 5-day intensive during the first week of classes in August on the Cullowhee campus followed by four weekends each in the fall and spring semesters (class all day Friday and Saturday). The weekend sessions are rotated between the Biltmore Park instructional site in Asheville. Students will be engaged in online (asynchronous and synchronous) coursework throughout year 1. Face-to-face class sessions in year 1 are are 8:00 am – 6:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays with an occasional evening session.
During the second-year, students will complete additional required and elective coursework (individual choice of face-to-face, online and/or hybrid course formats) including a thesis or project.
This format allows for students to remain employed full-time and/or pursue field-based coursework (e.g. internships) at regional agencies.
Fall 2021 Dates (Cohort 2 Face-to-Face Sessions for EOE 500, EOE 501, EOE 502 & EOE
EOE 500 – 5-day intensive (August 23 – 27) (Cullowhee)
Weekend 1 – September 10/11 (Cullowhee)
Weekend 2 – October 8/9 (Biltmore Park)
Weekend 3 - November 19/20 (Cullowhee)
Weekend 4 – December 10/11 (Cullowhee)
Spring 2022 (Cohort 2 Face-to-Face Sessions for EOE 600, EOE 601, and EOE 602)
Weekend 1 – January 14/15 (Cullowhee)
Weekend 2 – February 18/19 (Cullowhee)
Weekend 3 – March 18/19 (Biltmore Park)
Weekend 4 – April 21/22/23 (Biltmore Park)
Tentative Fall 2022 Dates
(Cohort 3 Face-to-Face; All-Day Sessions for EOE 500, EOE 501, EOE 502 & EOE 503)
EOE 500 – 5-day intensive (August 22 – 26) (Cullowhee)
Weekend 1 – September 9/10 (Cullowhee)
Weekend 2 – October 8/9 (Biltmore Park)
Weekend 3 - November 18/19 (Cullowhee)
Weekend 4 – December 9/10 (Cullowhee)
Tentative Spring 2023
(Cohort 3 Face-to-Face; All Day Sessions for EOE 600, EOE 601, and EOE 602)
Weekend 1 – January 20/21 (Cullowhee)
Weekend 2 – February 17/18 (Cullowhee)
Weekend 3 – March 17/18 (Biltmore Park)
Weekend 4 – April 19/20/21 (Biltmore Park) *3 Days
The Association of Experiential Education defines Experiential Education as: “… a philosophy that informs many methodologies in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people's capacity to contribute to their communities.”
Total credits: 36
Required core credits: 27
Electives credits: 9
Transfer credits are limited to 6 from an accredited university. Additional electives
may be taken from the list below and other WCU Gradute programs.
Note: Counseling electives available for EOE students may change. Contact the Counseling program for current course offerings. EOE students should contact the instructor for permission to register. All Counseling courses are offered in a face-to-face format at the Biltmore Park Instructional Site
|YEAR 1 FALL SEMESTER||YEAR 1 SPRING SEMESTER|
|EOE 500: Foundations of EOE (3)
EOE 501: Philosophy & Theory of Experiential and Outdoor Education (3)
EOE 502: Diversity and Social Justice (3)
EOE 503: Research Methods in Experiential and Outdoor Education (3)
|EOE 600: Advanced Research Methods and Evaluation Techniques (3)
EOE 601: Current Trends and Issues in Experiential and Outdoor Education (3)
EOE 602: Group Facilitation and Teaching Methods in EOE (3)
|YEAR 2 FALL SEMESTER||YEAR 2 SPRING SEMESTER|
|EOE 679: Thesis I/Project 1 (3)
Elective 1: (3)
Elective 2: (3)
|EOE 699: Thesis II/Project II (3)
Elective 3: (3)
Elective 4: (3) (optional)
||CURRENT COUNSELING ELECTIVES
|EOE 680: Independent Study in EOE (3, R6)
EOE 683: Internship in EOE (3, R6)
EOE 627: Wilderness Education (3-6)
EOE 621: Interpretation and Environmental Education (3)
EOE 623: Youth Development (3)
EOE 624: Social Media, Technology and EOE (3)
EOE 635: Sites, Facilities and Programs in EOE (3)
EOE 799: Continuing Reserach, Thesis (1)
EOE 693: Topics in EOE (3, R9)
EOE 625: Experiential and Outdoor Education Expedition (3-6)
|COUN 612: Sexuality Counseling (3) (Summers)
COUN 615: Cross Cultural Counseling (3) (Spring semesters)
COUN 617: Addictions Counseling (3) (Spring semesters)
COUN 620: Counseling Children and Adolescents (3) (Spring semesters)
COUN 693: Topics in Counseling (3) (possibly every semester)
"Educators working in this field have extremely varied backgrounds. We're excited
that the Experiential and Outdoor Education masters program will provide an opportunity for
educators from across the southeast to expand their skill sets, so they can create
better learning experiences for their students."
Lauren Pyle, Executive Director, Environmental Educators of North Carolina
"This is an exciting development to help prepare the future of the outdoor industry
for the demands of the next generation. WCU is gifted with an amazing faculty, outstanding
natural resources, and a tradition of excellence in training leaders in Experiential
and Outdoor Education. We at Southwestern Community College are proud of our strong
educational partnership over the decades that has allowed our Outdoor Leadership and
Wilderness Therapy graduates to continue their studies at WCU with seamless articulation
to help raise the bar of professionalism in our field. This new graduate program simply
extends that reach to impact graduates to make a difference in their lives and those
Paul Wolf, Program Director of Outdoor Leadership and Wilderness Therapy at Southwestern Community College and Chair of Standards of the Association for Experiential Education Accreditation Council.
"WCU has had wonderful foresight in designing and implementing this new program, at
a time when creative initiatives and leadership development are key components for
a productive economy for our outdoor industry."
Mairi S Padgett, Administrative Director, Landmark Learning
Diversity involves the affirmation, understanding, and professional application of the richness of human differences, ideas, practices, and beliefs that result from, but are not limited to, age, race, color, disability/health, ethnicity, gender identity, language, national origin, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, rural or urban status, as well as the intersectionality of these multiple identities. Professional practice that is responsive to diversity includes culturally appropriate communication skills; understanding power differentials and dynamics; and attending to the social and cultural values which influence the multiple areas of practice represented in EOE.
Commitment to Social Justice
A commitment to social justice serves as a guiding principle of the EOE Program and reflects our belief in the values and goals of a socially just society. Socially just societies are dependent upon the optimal functioning, health, and well-being of all persons in that society. Optimal functioning, health, and well-being of persons are contingent upon access to healthy environments that support healthy development and functioning. Our program is centered on a social justice approach by helping students to examine power structures resulting in social injustices and to adopt an advocacy role in working with marginalized and underserved populations. Our goal is to foster the development of professional advocates who work to change societal structures, practices, values, and policies which have long served to perpetuate unhealthy environments for these populations. By working to effect change at the individual, institutional and systemic level, our students assist in promoting greater access to economic, social, political, and cultural resources.
EOE and Parks & Recreation Management
EOE and Parks & Recreation Management