Programs & Courses

Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership

About This Program

For official information, please consult the MHC calendar. Find out about tuition and fees. Download a program planning guide here (2014-2015) (2015-2016). Contact your academic advisor for previous program planning guides.

Our Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership (ETOL) program is based on the principles of experiential education, where students learn by doing. We provide a broad range of courses for a comprehensive education while applying the theory learned in class through field experiences.

Our curriculum weaves natural resource themes throughout to create an understanding of current theory and practice of ecotourism and outdoor leadership. We expose you to a variety of aspects of the industry including geography, natural resources education, environmental interpretation, ecotourism issues and technical outdoor skills. Many of the courses provide opportunities to practice outdoor skills and apply theory in both practical and professional settings — sometimes completing projects for real clients in the industry. You will find many of the lab sessions and field trips are held outdoors in nearby natural areas such as Cypress Hills Inter-Provincial Park, various locations in the Rockies, as well as destinations further abroad.

Because of the highly experiential nature of this program, you will be expected to participate on average, approximately three field trips per semester.  The length and location of the trips will vary each year.

With the ETOL program, you have the option of pursuing a two-year diploma or a three-year applied degree ending in a field placement.

Our faculty are leaders in their field and are a part of ongoing professional development and research. They believe in working closely with students, providing the personalized and professional guidance not every post-secondary institution can offer.

Current students and graduates from our program have experienced a high rate of job placement within the ecotourism industry. Our facilities and equipment are among the most technologically advanced, so our students go into the workforce as highly skilled and experienced employees. Our students have gone on to pursue fulfilling careers in Canada and around the world. Areas of employment include, but are certainly not limited to, trip leading, interpretive planning, resource management, community development or adventure programming. Graduates may even choose to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities on their own.  

Graduates of this program may find employment opportunities in: 

  • Outdoor/environmental education facilities 
  • Interpretive/adventure guiding 
  • Resource planning and management

High School

Overall average of at least 60% and a minimum mark of 50% in

  • ELA 30-1
  • Social Studies 30
  • Any 30-level science (BIOL 20 is recommended)

Mature Route

Your admission may be based on prior learning experience and academic background. Additional assessment may be required.

Transfer Route

Your previous post-secondary education may be considered in the admissions process. 

Academic Transition Plan (ATP)

If you do not possess all of the admission requirements, the Academic Transition Plan (ATP) may provide conditional acceptance to this program, provided space is available. ATP is individualized to meet your needs.

Pre-Professional Requirements

You must meet the additional requirements following admission and prior to the first day of classes:

  • CPR Basic Rescuer (Level C), which must remain up-to-date throughout the duration of the program.
  • Standard First Aid Certificate, which must remain up-to-date throughout the duration of the program.

First Year
ETOL 102 Foundations of Ecotourism
ETOL 103 Outdoor Activities I
ETOL 111 Foundations of Outdoor Leadership
GEOG 201 The Physical Environment
Business Elective*

BIOL 258 Zoology
ENGL 155 Scientific and Technical Writing
ETOL 109 Outdoor Activities II
ETOL 112 Outdoor Recreation Management
GEOG 203 The Human Environment

ETOL 113 Wilderness Education Expedition

Second Year
BIOL 255 Terrestrial Ecology or BIOL 313 Introduction to Ecology and Evolution
ETOL 202 Foundations of Interpretation
ETOL 203 Outdoor Activities III
ETOL 212 Critical Thinking in Sustainable Ecotourism

ETOL 209 Outdoor Activities IV
ETOL 213 Foundations of Guiding
ETOL 220 Sustainable Ecotourism Operations
GEOG 332 Map and Air Photo Interpretation

ETOL 260 Applied Field Studies I

Spring/Summer (Diploma Exit Only)
ETOL 215 Practicum

Third Year
BIOL 254 Plant Taxonomy
ETOL 302 Interpretive Planning and Management
ETOL 303 Applied Experiential Learning
ETOL 340 Parks and Protected Area Management
GEOG 321 Environmental Problems and Resource Management

ETOL 413 Adventure Programming
ETOL 420 Directed Studies in Ecotourism
ETOL 432 International Ecotourism
ETOL 440 Wildlife Conservation and Management
Business Elective


ETOL 360 Applied Field Studies II

*Electives must be approved by the Program Coordinator

ANTH 203, ANTH 213
ARKY 205, ARKY 381
ARPH 235
ASTR 201
BIOL 259
BOTA 205
DRAM 200
EREC 100, EREC 220
FREN 200, FREN 202, FREN 219, FREN 221
GNED 210, GNED 220, GEND 230
HIST 331
PEAC 210, PEAC 228, PEAC 256
PHIL 249, PHIL 275
POLI 201
PSYC 205
SOCI 201, SOCI 203
SOSC 213
SPAN 201, SPAN 203
STAT 251
ZOOL 375, ZOOL 377

COMM 140
GTAM 103, GTAM 105, GTAM 144, GTAM 174, GTAM 206, GTAM 214, GTAM 271, GTAM 275, GTAM 284
MGMT 161, MGMT 193, MGMT 263, MGMT 270
MICO 191
MKTG 171, MKTG 206, MKTG 280


Continuation Requirements

Academic standards and continuation requirements are consistent with general College policies.  In addition, you must demonstrate a professional approach, an adequate level of fitness, and satisfactory work habits.  You may be asked to withdraw should you fail to meet these program standards.  Furthermore, any action that places colleagues and students in jeopardy at any time on any off campus trip may lead to being denied further participation on future trips.  As a consequence, you would be unable to successfully meet either the requirements of a particular course or core requirements of the program.

Graduation Requirements

  • You must complete all programs requirements with an overall cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or better
  • A minimum C- grade is required in all ETOL courses in order to continue.
  • No more than one D or D+ grade is permitted in each year of the program.
  • You are allowed only two D or D+ grades in all non-ETOL courses in the Diploma program.
  • You are allowed only four D or D+ grades in all non-ETOL courses in the Applied Degree program.


Medicine Hat College
If you have completed the first year of the Environmental Science Program you may transfer into the second year of the B.Appl.Sc. (Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership) program.

Graduates of the Global Tourism and Marketing Program may transfer into the third year of the B.Appl.Sc. (Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership) program.

College of the Rockies
Medicine Hat College has a transfer agreement with College of the Rockies that provides a two year block transfer from the Adventure Tourism Business Operations program towards the B.Appl.Sc (Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership) program. 


International Transfer Opportunities

Griffith University, Australia
Graduates with a B.Appl.Sc (Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership) are eligible to receive advance standing towards a Masters Degree at Griffith University in Australia. 

For more information, visit the International Mobility Program, or contact the Program Coordinator. 


International Exchange Opportunities

You can explore short-term study abroad and student exchange opportunities in countries such as Japan, Korea, and Thailand. Visit the International Mobility Program section to find out more.


In order to graduate from either the Applied Degree route or Diploma route, you are required to obtain industry-based certification.

Applied Degree Route:  Seven certifications are required.
Diploma Route:  Four certifications are required.

Wilderness First Aid and CPR are required for both the applied degree and diploma.  Both your First Aid and CPR certifications must remain valid for the duration of the program.  Your choices for the remainder of the certifications should be guided by your personal interests and career goals.

You will have the opportunity to obtain a number of certifications within the core courses of the program.  Certifications you possess prior to entering the program may be applied towards your degree or diploma as they remain current and meet the criteria established by the program.

Costs of certifications will range from $50 to $300 each; you are responsible for these costs.


This program requires you to be prepared with specialized clothing and equipment.  Examples includes a winter sleeping bag, personal camping equipment, quality outdoor footwear and clothing, internal frame pack, etc.  The expense of obtaining, renting or borrowing this gear, if it cannot be borrowed from the College, will be your responsibility.

Scholarship Info

Medicine Hat College distributes over $300,000 in scholarships and bursaries each year. Applying online is easy!

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Funding Your Education

There are several options to assist you in funding your education at MHC. Find out what option is best for you.

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