Experiential learning, spiritual formation, and leadership development in the great outdoors. Outdoor & Adventure Leadership (M.A.)

If you are called to lead programs or organizations that impact youth, emerging adults, and families in church, college, or camp settings, the M.A. in Outdoor and Adventure Leadership is for you. With Wheaton, you can become an exceptional leader for Christian formation and ministry in a fast-changing, multicultural world. This degree is designed to serve emerging or current professionals through three concentrations: program leadership, organizational leadership or higher education.

Join us at HoneyRock, our outdoor leadership development center, for an immersive residential experience, or pursue your studies while continuing to work with your current organization.

Credential Type

  • M.A.

Major Credits Required

  • 38


  • 2-3 years


  • Residential or Hybrid

Funding Options

  • Students can apply for a variety of assistantships or tuition discounts.

3 Ways to Earn Your Degree

Pursue your M.A. in Outdoor and Adventure Leadership while living and working at HoneyRock, while serving at your current organization, or at one of our partnership organizations.

3 Concentrations to Focus your Training

Building off our foundational core courses, three concentrations provide specialized training in program leadership, organizational leadership, or higher education student development.

Industry Leading Faculty

Our faculty are global thought leaders and trainers, publishing widely in academic and professional journals, leading research on today's most compelling issues, and annually providing training to outdoor ministry professionals across the country and around the world.

Center for Leadership Development

An explicitly Christian leadership development center offering graduate students professional development and experiential learning opportunities.

Request Information

Or reach out to us anytime at graduate.admissions@wheaton.edu.

A group of young men putting up a tent

View videos to get a taste of the content and topics covered in OAL courses

Become an exceptional leader Why Wheaton for Outdoor & Adventure Leadership?

Our M.A. in Outdoor and Adventure Leadership (OAL) delivers the skills to effectively serve Christ and His Kingdom through national and global ministries in camps, churches, and colleges. Over 200 graduates of our program are leading in over 20 countries in a variety of applications including: outdoor education, urban recreation, global sports and camp ministries, college residence life and student development, outdoor orientation programs, youth and family ministries, and more.

Our program deepens your walk with Christ, sharpens your critical thinking about ministry programming, facilitation and leadership, and equips you with the skills to be an effective ministry practitioner and organizational leader. This degree is ideal for current ministry professionals as well as those looking for excellent training to launch them into leadership and ministry with youth and emerging adults.

Three Concentrations to Focus Your Training

Students must choose between one of three concentrations (or develop their own). Twelve hours of focused coursework is taught by scholar/practitioners in each of these fields. These concentrations equip you for innovative impact and ministry application.

Program Leadership Organizational Leadership Higher Education/Student Development
Specialized courses train you in program and curriculum development, implementation and evaluation through a variety of program types: wilderness, youth, gap year, outdoor orientation, student leadership development. Specialized courses train you in non-profit organizational leadership including marketing, finance, legal, strategic leadership, and staff development. Specialized courses in higher education and student development including emerging adult development, legal issues, building diverse learning communities.

Our Curriculum

The M.A. in Outdoor & Adventure Leadership curriculum focuses on biblically grounded whole person development as well as practical skills to design and lead ministries, organziations and programs in a variety of settings. The higher education concentration has additional requirements specific to leading in a college or university setting.

Please see the graduate course catalog for current requirements as well as the most up-to-date course numbers, titles, and descriptions.

Sample Courses

As an outdoor and adventure leadership student, you'll take core and elective classes such as:

  • Leadership & Spiritual Formation
  • Program Philosophy & Planning
  • Organizational Leadership and staff Development
  • Emerging Adult Development
  • Camp Ministry in Global Contexts

Our Faculty Compassionate and Intelligent Educators

Learn from global thought leaders with a passion to train practitioners who share the Gospel through transformational outdoor experiences for church, college, and camp settings. Our faculty include practicing and published professionals in global camp ministry, organizational and leadership change management, youth and emerging adult ministry, and care and counseling.

Rachael Botting, Ph.D. Headshot

Rachael Botting, Ph.D.

Adjunct Faculty and Program Assistant
Muhia Karianjahi, Ph.D. Headshot

Muhia Karianjahi, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Outdoor and Adventure Leadership Program Coordinator
Barrett McRay, Psy.D. Headshot

Barrett McRay, Psy.D.

Associate Professor of Christian Formation & Ministry
Rob Ribbe, Ph.D. Headshot

Rob Ribbe, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, A. Duane Litfin School of Mission, Ministry, & Leadership


Three Ways to Earn Your Outdoor Adventure Leadership Degree

Residential at HoneyRock Hybrid, Part-Time With a Partner Organization
Earn your degree as a full-time residential student for two years at HoneyRock while serving in crucial leadership roles as a Graduate Assistant. Pursue your degree part-time while continuing to serve in your current position. You'll take a combination of online modular courses and short-term residencies. Wheaton's OAL program partners with an array of regional camps and organizations to offer the M.A. to its members.
Two students talking at HoneyRock
Investing in You

Financial Wellness

The Wheaton College Graduate School Student Financial Services team can help you understand how much your graduate studies will cost and what discounts, scholarships, loans, and other aid may be available to you. 

One benefit of the M.A. in Outdoor & Adventure Leadership program at Wheaton, especially for our residential students, is the opportunity to earn while you learn through paid employment at HoneyRock. Both our fellowship program and graduate assistantships allow you to sharpen your skills and gain mentorship experience, while helping offset your tuition.

Financial Aid

Next Steps

Interested in earning a master's degree in Outdoor Adventure Leadership? The M.A. in OAL at Wheaton might be right for you. Request more information or start your application today.