Master of Science in Experiential Education
Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Master of Science in Experiential Education has been preparing and renewing professionals for leading, teaching, and facilitating since 1972. The program holds a strong reputation for providing graduate students with opportunities to explore their passions in experience-based learning both in and beyond the classroom. Students are encouraged to embrace their creativity, investigate relevant problems, build on their life experiences, and develop new areas of focus by engaging in self-designed independent learning experiences such as practicums, internships, research, and project-based learning. Students from a variety of undergraduate disciplines are accepted into the program, in alignment with the philosophy that experiential education is a broad approach and philosophy to learning with varied expressions that can be integrated into multiple education-related endeavors.
The M.S. in Experiential Education began in 1972 as a joint venture between MSU and Minnesota Outward Bound School (now Voyageur Outward Bound School). Such partnerships between outdoor adventure programs and higher education in the U.S. were in their beginning stages at that time. In 1974, a conference on Outdoor Pursuits in Higher Education was held at Appalachian State University, with Henry Taft, president of Outward Bound, Inc., delivering the keynote speech. MSU, Mankato, hosted the 1975 conference of these like-minded adventure educators and students, from which a core group founded the Association of Experiential Education just a few years later in 1977.
Today, the MS in ExEd program offers a curriculum that combines face-to-face required and elective courses with self-designed independent experiential learning courses. The degree entails 34 graduate credits, a portion of which can be transferred in from other universities. On-campus courses utilize seminar, project-based, and active learning instructional approaches. Course options include philosophical and controversial issues, nature and experience, teaching methods, reflection and processing, educational reform, and brain-based learning. Students can opt to complete the degree entirely on campus, often funded through graduate assistantships, or complete their independent learning credits from a distance.
Graduates from the MS in ExEd program are working around the world in outdoor environmental or adventure programs, K-12 classrooms, alternative education, higher education, non-profit leadership, entrepreneurial endeavors, therapeutic interventions, and many other education-related arenas.
The MS in ExEd faculty are Drs. Scott Wurdinger and Julie Carlson, both seasoned professionals hailing from different branches of experiential education. Scott is a graduate from the program and holds expertise in project-based learning, the charter and small school movement, and educational reform. Julie’s background and expertise includes residential outdoor environmental education, adventure education, group dynamics, and brain-based learning approaches.