Assessing the Value of a College Degree in Outdoor Education or Recreation: Institutional Comparisons Using the College Scorecard and Surveys of Faculty and Employers


  • Jayson Seaman
  • Brent J. Bell University of New Hampshire
  • Nate Trauntvein University of New Hampshire



higher education cost, outdoor education, outdoor recreation, degree value


In this article, we report on research undertaken in 2016 to assess a number of trends influencing the current status of degree-granting outdoor programs in the United States, including factors that bear on the value of degrees. We analyze data provided by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and results of a survey comparing 59 programs in the United States by size, geographic region, and public/private status, focusing on cost, postgraduate employment, and select program features tied to alumni employability. Results are discussed in the context of wider trends in higher education, projections for job growth in outdoor areas, and preferred qualifications as reported by employers. Findings are useful for identifying challenges and opportunities for active outdoor fields as a whole and may help individual programs situate themselves among comparators in a way that informs future planning.

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Special Issue: Campus Outdoor Recreation Programs