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National Outdoor Leadership School

National Outdoor Leadership School

Experience the great outdoors, while learning life skills along the way. Whether it's a semester in the Rocky Mountains, Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, or the American Southwest, students will experience the outdoors in a unique and exciting way leaving no trace of their journey. With the NOLS program students will understand where they fit in the balance of nature through hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, mountain climbing, or back packing.

Discover More

All Messiah approved semester-long, off-campus programs are approved and designed to meet the requirements for the Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI). To learn more about the process, please explore the ELI Off-Campus Study Information Page.

  • Students will complete all of the Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI) requirements that are a part of this program.
  • Sophomore, Junior, Senior
  • 2.75 GPA or higher
  • Since studying off-campus for a semester is a privilege, please note the following implications of being place on probation at Messiah University:

    Chapel Probation: A student currently on chapel probation for the first time (or with an impending chapel probation for the upcoming semester) will be required to communicate or meet with the Director of the Intercultural Office to determine the potential impact on the student’s upcoming semester off-campus.  If a student has been placed on chapel probation more than once during their time at Messiah, they will not be eligible to study off-campus for a semester.

    Academic Probation or Low GPA: A student on academic probation or whose GPA drops below 2.75 will be not be eligible to study off-campus.

    Disciplinary Probation: A student who has been placed on disciplinary probation at any time during the off-campus study application / acceptance process will be required to meet with the Director of the Intercultural Office to determine the potential impact on the student’s upcoming semester off-campus.

Off-Campus study is a time of challenge and change. The following are some things you should understand about this program before you participate:

  • Participants must be able to recognize and respond to a variety of hazards.
  • Students need to competent camping skills.
  • Students live in a physically demanding, remote backcountry environment for extended periods in varying—sometimes extreme--climates.
  • May not have quick access to medical care
  • At minimum, be able to negotiate through varied wilderness terrain with a backpack weighing up to or exceeding 60 pounds
  • Travel conditions may include, but are not limited to, rough, rugged, uneven steep and sloping terrain and will navigate rivers and creeks without the aid of bridges.
  • Travel distances can range from less than one mile to more than ten miles in one day.
  • Additional conditions may be present depending on course in which students enroll.

Courses may meet general education or major requirements.

Courses will come back on your transcript with a letter grade

Participation in this program does not meet cross-cultural requirements.

Pass/Fail Option

During their university careers, students may take a maximum of four courses on a pass/fail (P/F) basis with these conditions: 

  • Such a course must be from a discipline other than those required for the student's major or minor.
  • Courses fulfilling requirements for a major, minor, or general education may not be used.
  • Students may declare their intention to take a course under the Pass/Fail option when they register or through the first calendar week of classes at the beginning of the new term. Students may also select to return to the letter grade system during this same time period. The selection cannot be changed after the first calendar week of classes.
  • The cut-off point to obtain a P is C–.
  • The instructor will submit only conventional letter grades to the Registrar's Office. This office will then convert the grade to P or F. (An instructor does not know which students are taking a course on a pass/fail basis.

The first FIVE DAYS of your classes are critical:

Recognizing that courses change while abroad, a student is required to communicate to the Registrar’s Office within the first FIVE DAYS of classes if their Off-Campus Course Approval Form in Terra Dotta has changed since the original submission/approval. Specifically, if a student desires to change a course to a pass/fail instead of a letter grade, this must be approved by Messiah University Registrar’s Office within the first FIVE DAYS of classes at the host partner program.

Auditing

Students are required to take no fewer than 12 credits towards their overall degree requirements and no more than 18 credits. These 12-18 credits include courses taken as pass/fail and letter grades. However, in addition to those 12-18 degree credits, students who would like to audit an academic course for no credit are permitted to do so for up to one 4 credit hour course for the sake of learning, cultural immersion or personal interest at no additional charge. This audited course will not appear on the Messiah University student’s transcript.

Messiah Pre-Approval Deadlines

  • Fall - December 1
  • Spring - April 1

NOLS Deadlines

  • Fall - March 20
  • Spring - October 20

What do you pay?

TOTAL COSTS = Messiah tuition + Messiah room + Messiah board + Student services fee+ $1,910 off-campus study fee

 *Note: Off-campus study fee increases annually at the same rate as the yearly tuition increase. 

These Costs Include:

  • tuition, housing, meals
  • equipment rental allowance
  • tuition protection
  • pre-departure and re-entry orientation  
  • student services fee
    • Student Services fee includes access to various services available to all students, including internet access, the Learning & Writing Centers, Career Services, Disability Services, Library, Department of Safety, Intercultural Office Off-Campus Programs, and other campus offices that provide services to students both on and off campus.

Note: additional fees students may encounter include (but are not limited to) transportation and additional course fees.

Credit Limit Policy for Semester-Long, Off-Campus Program

Typically when students study off-campus in Messiah-approved, semester-long programs, students earn between 13 and 18 credits. All students must be enrolled in at least 12 credits.

The tuition/fees charged for Messiah’s approved study abroad programs permits a student to complete 12-18 credits.  Messiah University will process up to 18 credits.  If a student completes more than 18 credits and would like the additional credits applied to their transcript, additional tuition will be charged for credits over 18 and would be assessed after the official transcript is received/processed by Messiah.

Updated 03 March 2021