NOLS Expeditions

Explore the wild

Credit: Julia Ring


Learn to lead on an immersive wilderness expedition

Find adventure and perspective in the outdoors. Develop lifelong leadership skills as you dive into our time-tested curriculum. Build courage and competence under the guidance of the best instructors in the industry. 

On a NOLS expedition, you’ll spend one week to several months in the wilderness learning outdoor skills like backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking, and more. At the same time, you’ll dive into a rigorous leadership progression, building your confidence as you practice leading in real-life situations with the support of expert instructors. 

Start your adventure at one of our 16 locations worldwide. Broaden your cultural perspective on an international course or find new challenges in a wilderness area closer to home. On every course, you’ll explore a beautiful and remote environment few people get to see.

A NOLS expedition is your opportunity to find the confidence and perspective you need to lead—no matter where you find yourself. 

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Course Types




Your expedition will focus on one or more skill types to navigate the wilderness. You’ll learn to explore mountains, sea, and coasts while practicing leadership, wilderness skills, risk management, and environmental studies.

Your experience will be about hands-on learning. Every day will be a new opportunity to practice and grow your skills.

Credit: Devin Duffy

Core Curriculum


NOLS teaches leadership as “situationally appropriate action that directs or guides your group to set and achieve goals.” Students will be able to:

  • Serve a team in a variety of roles: self leader, peer leader, designated leader, and active follower
  • Demonstrate good expedition behavior—take initiative, balance group and personal goals, and remain respectful and inclusive of their team members
  • Demonstrate competence
  • Communicate effectively
  • Make sound decisions
  • Display a tolerance for adversity and uncertainty
  • Demonstrate self-awareness
  • Display initiative by setting and achieving goals


NOLS teaches the expedition skills necessary to live and travel in the wilderness. Students will be able to:

  • Live comfortably (select a campsite; set up shelter; organize, pack, and maintain gear; cook; manage nutrition; and use clothing as protection from the elements)
  • Travel (hike, climb, paddle, row, sail, ski, snowboard, cave, and/or horsepack)
  • Navigate using maps, charts, compass, GPS, and/or terrain
  • Prevent, assess, and treat injury and illness in the wilderness


NOLS teaches risk management by applying leadership and wilderness skills and facilitating experiences to develop judgment. Students will be able to:

  • Identify and assess hazards and understand risks in the wilderness
  • Use technical skills, leadership, judgment, and situational awareness to manage risks
  • Use risk management terminology and models to assess and communicate decisions and actions
  • Create and implement contingency plans


NOLS connects students to wild places. Students will be able to:

  • Explore the natural world through observation and application of ecological concepts
  • Develop a sense of place by experiencing wilderness and exploring relationships with their surroundings
  • Articulate an environmental ethic
  • Understand land management and environmental issues
  • Apply Leave No Trace principles to camping and travel


Make your course a reality

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Explore options for funding your course

Credit: Emilee Brackenbury

“Above all, I learned how to make my voice heard, to be organized, to deliver constructive feedback, embrace hardship and the unknown, be intentional, and to live minimally. I learned to appreciate each moment.”

-Sadie S., Semester in the Rockies Graduate

Semester Scholarships Available

Receive financial support on a semester course

NOLS scholarships are need-based. We offer over $1.9 million in scholarship funds each year to lower, middle, and upper-middle income families. 

Fill out our simple scholarship form and NOLS’ Financial Aid Counselor will be in touch with you within two business days to discuss options for you.

You can apply for a scholarship before or after applying for a course.


Earn academic credit for high school, college, and continuing education. 

Take a Semester With NOLS

FEATURED courses