The OLP Certificate

WHAT will you learn?

WHAT will you learn?

Leadership and technical skills for the outdoor recreation and adventure education fields as a professional outdoor leader. In our 4-season outdoor classroom environment, you’ll learn a lot about the outdoors, and a lot about yourself.

HOW will you learn?

HOW will you learn?

By doing. You won’t spend much time in a typical academic classroom—our courses are a field-orientedhands-on immersion experience in multi-season land and water activities.

WHO will you learn from?

WHO will you learn from?

Experts with direct field experience. Our faculty includes nationally-certified instructors and international guides who have led hundreds of expeditions across the continent—and even around the globe.

WHO will you learn with?

WHO will you learn with?

Your team in OLP’s 4-season outdoor classroom: highly motivated lifelong learners with a range of ages, interests and outdoor experience. Students up for adventure.


The Certificate

Content Areas

Human Relations & Group Dynamics

Course Sequence


Please note! The information below reflects the 2016-17 academic year only. The program has since been restructured and tuition and fees will be billed on a per-course (vs. per-credit) basis. These figures are meant to give prospective students a general idea only of the cost of the program. A final tuition and fee structure will be available in June 2018.
The OLP certificate ranges from 32-40 credits. Student health insurance is an additional annual cost which students may be eligible to waive.
32 credits 40 credits
Tuition $832 $1248 $8992 $1040 $1560 $11240
College Service Fee $6112 $6112 $6112 $7640 $7640 $7640
Registration Fee $40 $40 $40 $40 $40 $40
Health Records Fee $22 $22 $22 $22 $22 $22
Student Activity Fee $60 $60 $60 $60 $60 $60
Field Service Fee $3500 $3500 $3500 $3500 $3500 $3500
Total $10,566 $10,982 $18,726 $12,302 $12,822 $22,502

Basic personal expenses

While the initial equipment expense of entering the field is considerable, your purchases will carry you for many years to come. Options exist for renting or borrowing some of the more expensive items like winter sleeping bags, double plastic boots, and dry suits. OLP does not want equipment to be a limiting factor in your education. We will make every effort to find ways to get you outfitted for the year. Please inquire directly with the staff. You are wise to explore advertised sales at discount houses such as Sierra Trading Post and Campmor and the 20% pro deals offered to OLP students at some local outfitters. Other strategies to reduce expenses include sewing some of your gear and borrowing or renting items such as winter sleeping bags.
  • Backpack (6000+ cu. inches) - $175-475
  • Bivy sack - $75-150
  • Fleece pants - $60-80
  • Fleece pullover - $60-80
  • Fleece vest - $35-60
  • Headlamp $20-60
  • Hiking boots - $150-250
  • Raingear (tops & bottoms) - $70-150
  • Synthetic long underwear (tops & bottoms) - $40-70
  • Expedition-weight long underwear (tops & bottoms) - $70-90
  • Sleeping bag (rated below 0°) - $250-550
  • Sleeping pad - $15-55
  • Sunglasses - $30-65
  • Windbreaker - $40-80
  • Winter parka - $150-400
  • Winter gloves or shell mitts - $30-50
  • Miscellaneous gear - $20-400
  • Total - $1,240 - $2,965

Additional trip expenses

  • Crampons (mountaineering option, rentals available) - $140-175
  • Gaiters (backcountry ski option) - $30-60
  • Plastic boots (mountaineering option, rentals available) - $250-350
  • Plastic sled (both trips) - $20-30
  • Super gaiters (mountaineering option) - $90-100
  • Sorels (backcountry ski option) - $50-90
  • Drysuit (river crossing & whitewater course) - $200-350
  • Miscellaneous gear - $200-300
  • Total - $1,000 - $1,495

Other educational expenses

  • Books - $300
  • Certification fees - $350
  • Leader's First Aid Kit - $30-45
  • Total - $700

What is the time commitment for the certificate program?
All OLP classes have their own schedule; most meet once a week for a full day and will often have an additional 2-hour class meeting each week. Students who elect to participate in OLP full-time can expect to be in class from 9am-4pm, Monday-Friday. Students who choose to participate part-time will have a different schedule based upon the courses they enroll in.

What is the time commitment on weekends?
All OLP classes meet during the week, Monday-Friday. However, the courses that involve longer overnight expeditions will run over into a weekend. These courses are OLP 112, 143, 239, and 147.

Is it possible to work at all (even part-time) while in the program?
Yes! Most of our OLP students work while they are in the program.

What is the size of the certificate cohort?
The maximum size for the full-time cohort in our year-long program is 20, though some of the classes may be larger as part-time students, other GCC students, and outside students participate.

Where do we go for classes and how much regional travel can I expect?
Our field classes go all over the local region depending on the course. We have many rivers in western Massachusetts and southern Vermont and New Hampshire that we use for our canoeing classes. Our coastal kayaking classes will take us to coastal Maine and/or Massachusetts. Our rock climbing courses utilize several crags in western and central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire and Vermont. Our expedition overnight courses take place in the Adirondack state park of New York and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Are certifications included in the cost of the program?
Beyond program tuition and fees, there are additional costs for Rock Climbing Instructor certification with the Professional Climbing Instructor’s Association (PCIA), River Canoe Instructor with the American Canoeing Association (ACA), Coastal Kayak Instructor with the ACA, and Challenge Course Practitioner with the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT). There may also be a small additional fee for Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification.  

If I apply when will I know if I’ve been accepted?
After you apply to the college and complete your additional OLP application, we will schedule an interview with you. This will give you an opportunity to learn more about OLP and if this is the right fit for you. We begin scheduling interviews in late January and continue through the spring semester until all of the 20 seats in our full-time cohort are filled. We are usually able to get back to you with a determination of your acceptance about a week after the initial interview.

Do I still need to take placement tests after general admission to GCC?
Yes, certificate students must pass an English proficiency test.

Is there an orientation before classes begin in September?
Yes. In addition to regular GCC Orientation, all certificate students are required to take OLP 112 in late August during the college’s Summer II semester. This course includes a wilderness orientation for all incoming OLP students. 

  • Intensive one-year program
  • Five national certifications offered
  • Exciting alternative to degree programs
  • Up to 37 transferable credits
  • Highest quality instruction at competitive cost
  • Unique learning community of adults
  • Job opportunities upon graduation
  • 1:5 staff to student ratio