Step out of the classroom, and into the educational experience of a lifetime.
- Face adversity in organizations by coping with unpredictable environmental conditions on a backpacking expedition.
- Heighten your risk management skills through technical canyoneering.
- Build relationships with classmates while canoeing.
This unique 32-credit, 12-month program challenges the paradigm of traditional learning by combining online coursework with three wilderness expeditions in Utah and Alaska. In a dynamic, online classroom, you will build the necessary foundations to develop a unique leadership style fitted to your personality. Exciting coursework and class discussions will enhance your understanding of ethics, collaborative problem solving, systems thinking, cultural awareness, and sustainability. You will then put theory into practice by venturing into unpredictable remote wilderness settings, where decisions have immediate real-world consequences.
Great leaders know how to manage risk, lead people and make decisions with incomplete information during times of ambiguity. Develop tolerance for uncertainty and adversity by coping with the complexities of a wilderness environment on a backpacking expedition. Heighten your risk management skills through technical canyoneering. Build authentic and collaborative relationships with classmates while whitewater canoeing. The program is designed to create a robust learning community.
Upon graduating, you will be prepared to integrate what you’ve learned into your professional field, be it in domestic and international businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, or consulting.
Step out of the classroom and into the educational experience of a lifetime
Admissions Requirements. Saybrook University and NOLS are working in partnership to offer this innovative degree program. To that end, there are several requirements of the application process that we request each applicant read, review and agree to for full admissions consideration. These requirements include the following items:
- Review of general information as included on the NOLS and Saybrook University websites
- Completion of the Saybrook Admissions Application, including all relevant materials and applicable fees
- Review of Saybrook University Catalog and Student Handbook
- Completion of the Saybrook University Student Agreement Form
- Review of NOLS Student Handbook, Admissions Policies, the statement titled Risk Management at NOLS, and the course descriptions
- Completion of the NOLS registration process, including the NOLS Student Agreement Form, NOLS Health Form and NOLS Insurance Form
All applications, admissions, and enrollment materials will be shared between both organizations. All academic, residential and expedition criteria must be met prior to admission. These forms will remain a part of your student records.
Program Dates for 2019 – 2020
Semester One: August 24 – December 2, 2019
- Conference/Expedition dates: October 7 – November 2, 2019
Semester Two: January 6 – April 13, 2020
- Conference/Expedition dates: March 5 – 27, 2020
Semester Three: May 4 – July 27, 2020
- Conference/Expedition dates: June 2 – 18, 2020
Program Objectives. At degree completion, learners will be able to:
- Assess and intervene within a systemic framework, at the levels of intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, organizational and community dynamics (Systemic Facilitator).
- Develop and apply values-based ethical codes to guide their work, judgment and decision making (Ethical Practitioner).
- Diagnose and improve the social, economic and environmental sustainability of human and other living systems (Sustainability Change Agent).
- Plan and implement strategies that engage stakeholders to collectively address problems and dilemmas common to groups, organizations, communities and ecosystems (Collaborative Problem Solver).
- Identify and cultivate awareness of one’s individual cultural-self, and its impact on their thinking, assumptions, biases and actions; while striving to translate this deeper level of self-awareness into specific leadership actions (Culturally-Self Aware Individual).
- Identify, articulate and leverage their own unique “Signature Style” of leadership through critical analysis, scholarship and through repeated action and reflection in the field of practice to promote healthy social systems (Authentic Leader).
Conference and Expedition Requirements. Participation in all three conferences is required. These conferences are linked to each expedition at the location of the expedition. Participation in all three expeditions is also required. They are scheduled as followed:
- First semester: a three-day conference followed by a 24-day white water canoeing expedition, Vernal UT.
- Second semester: a 21-day technical canyoneering expedition followed by a two-day conference, Vernal, UT.
- Third semester: a three-day conference followed by a 14-day backpacking expedition, Palmer, AK.
Course Requirements. This program is designed for a small interdependent cohort where 13 courses are taken in a prescribed sequence. All courses are 2 or 3 credits, comprising the 32 credits required to graduate. Coursework must be evaluated as equivalent to B or better at the graduate level to earn credit.
No transfer credit is allowed into this program due to the lockstep nature of the curriculum
Course Participation. Satisfactory “class attendance” in online courses requires learners to log into the University’s online course site multiple times during the week to participate in discussions and other learning activities. Course syllabi indicate their specific participation requirements. Participation in conferences and expeditions is required. Most courses have an expedition component that must be fulfilled.
Semester and course sequence. The prescribed sequence for the MA in Leadership is as follows:
Semester 1: Self and Systems
- MAL 6001 – Foundations of Leadership (3 credits – 1 credit delivered in conference/expedition)
- MAL 6002 – Systems Thinking and Adaptive Leadership (3 credits – 1 credit delivered in conference/expedition)
- MAL 6003 – Coaching and Neuro-Leadership (2 credits – 1 credit delivered in conference/expedition)
- MAL 6004 – Information Competency (2 credits)
Semester 2: Group and Organizational Leadership
- MAL 6005 – Group Dynamics and Leadership I (2 credits – 1 credit delivered in expedition)
- MAL 6006 – Ethics and Sustainability (3 credits – 1 credit delivered in expedition)
- MAL 6007 – Diversity Inclusion and Action (2 credits – 1 credit delivered in conference)
- MAL 6008 – Change Leadership (3 credits – 1 credit delivered in expedition)
- MAL 6009 – Managerial Leadership and Organizational Behavior (2 credits)
Semester 3: Community and Capstone
- MAL 6010 – Group Dynamics and Leadership II (2 credits – 1 credit delivered in conference/expedition)
- MAL 6011 – Virtual Global Leadership (2 credits)
- MAL 6012 – Social Change Theory (3 credits – 1 credit delivered in conference/expedition)
- MAL 6013 – Capstone Project (3 credits – 1 credit delivered in conference/expedition)
Can I complete this program while working full time?
Yes, some current learners are doing this. The program does require flexibility for you to be away from work for three extended periods (between 17 and 28 days) over the 12 months. Consult with your employer to ensure you will have that flexibility and enough time to complete online coursework within each semesters’ deadlines.
How can I use this degree if I’m not interested in Outdoor Leadership?
There are many fields where this degree can be applied. The program is purposefully designed to be applied in a variety of different leadership contexts – group leadership, organizational leadership, or community leadership – in service of developing your ability to be a transformational change agent. The expeditions are designed to be a leadership laboratory, not an opportunity to professionalize in outdoor leadership.
How many learners are admitted into a cohort?
By design, this program can accept no more than 12 learners into a cohort. This intimate size creates a rich learning environment that allows for faculty mentoring, learning partnerships with colleagues, individualized attention, and other opportunities.