Welcome to COPA!

COPA Outdoors

In 2008, a concentration in College Outdoor Program Administration (COPA) was created for the purpose of training graduate students in College Student Development (CSD) to work within an outdoor programs unit in a college/university setting.

COPA is a unique intersection of the fields of student development with outdoor education. The COPA curriculum is a blend of the study of student development theory coupled with concepts of experiential education and outdoor education within the context of student life in a higher education setting. These concepts are explored through hands-on experience, group work, and individual reflection as applied to theoretical constructs.

Copa Circles Picture.PNG

COPA is ideal for students who have some practical work experience and technical (hard) skills in the outdoors but limited theoretical knowledge. COPA is designed to provide a theoretical basis for gaining an understanding of the field of student development (student affairs) coupled with using the outdoors as a powerful medium for the growth and development of college students. COPA is not a graduate degree in Recreation Management, Parks and Recreation, nor Outdoor Recreation/Education.

The development of the first and only COPA concentration within a student development graduate preparation program in the USA seemed like a natural next step and fit for an institution like Appalachian State University. ASU is located in a rural mountain community in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northwestern North Carolina. ASU has enjoyed a long tradition of outdoor education and attracts students who have a love and appreciation for the great outdoors. The COPA program collaborates with the Recreation Management Department and Outdoor Programs at ASU to offer a Field Lab course with emphasis upon expedition learning.

In addition, ASUs Outdoor Programs (OP) offers excellent opportunities for students to gain practical experience in a nationally recognized and well-respected college outdoor program unit. Some COPA students will get the chance to work in OP assisting with adventure trips, instruction and clinics, facilitating group interaction courses, managing the climbing center, supervising undergraduate staff, directing the summer wilderness orientation program, as well as many other opportunities. Abundant recreation opportunities enhance the student experience.

As a course of instruction in the Reich College of Education's Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling, Appalachian State University's Master of Arts in College Student Development offers emphases in Student Affairs Practice and Outdoor Program Administration. The Master of Arts in College Student Development prepares students to work in a variety of Student Affairs functional areas at colleges and universities. Recent graduates have secured employment in Career Development, First Year Student Programs, Orientation, Residence Life, Service Learning, Student Activities, Leadership Development, Learning Assistance Programs, Academic Advising, Outdoor Programs, Student Athletic Support Services, and many other areas of Student Affairs.