June 8, 2013

PSU adds graduate level to outdoor-careers study

PLATTSBURGH — SUNY Plattsburgh is bringing expeditionary studies to the graduate level in spring 2014.

The undergraduate program, which teaches advanced skills in paddling, climbing and skiing, combining them with lessons on history, leadership, land management, environmental science, ethics and education, was originally developed to give outdoor professionals needed advanced technical training, readying them for licensure in a variety of fields.

Now the college will provide even greater depth to post-baccalaureate students who want to further advance their outdoor careers. The degree will take them a step above the technical training in the undergraduate courses, according to Department Chair Larry Soroka.

“If you are a working guide, after this program, you might be the middle manager of a guide company, or you might become the leader guide trainer,” he said. 

“Beyond that, graduates will have broader and deeper perspectives of the complexities of the outdoor industry.”

Marguerite Adelman, director of graduate admissions, said the degree is great for students who do not live in the area.

“Because it is a low-residency program, there are only a few classes that need to be completed at SUNY Plattsburgh,” she said. “Everything else can be done wherever students are in the world.”

In fact, the graduate student controls the location and focus of the thesis component, which requires the student to design and execute three different expeditions. 

The graduate students will also be able to lead undergraduate students on Plattsburgh class expeditions.

Soroka’s favorite part of the program is the challenge that comes with traveling for extended periods of time in the outdoors.

The students are in unpredictable situations where they have to use their problem-solving skills.

“You have to be able to write, climb, facilitate, light a fire in the rain, make decisions in stressful and changing situations simultaneously,” he said.

To learn more, email Soroka at

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