The outdoors industry boasts a contribution of $646 billion to the U.S. economy, according to the most recent figures. Those are large numbers, and the outdoors industry needs strong business skills and leadership training to be able to manage the industry’s significant assets.

With no other Masters of Business Administration in the United States existing with a focus on the outdoors industry, Western State Colorado University has developed a hybrid program to be the first MBA offered in the outdoors industry.

Located in Gunnison, Colorado, the small-scale Western State Colorado University is looking to make a big splash in the outdoors industry with this groundbreaking offering.

“We were really interested in an MBA that strictly focused on the outdoor industry. And there’s not another one in the country,” Dr. Joel Watson (who is heading the MBA program) told K-BUT FM in an interview.

Starting in 2018, the Outdoors Industry MBA will be offered as a hybrid program, which means it’s not a resident program. Instead, it’s focused on working professionals looking to further their careers.

“We want people with work experience, because this is more of management training,” Dr. Watson said in the interview. “It’s not for undergrads to get an MBA. They need to have been out there a bit, seen the world, seen their industry a bit, to get the full impact of getting an MBA.”

Focusing on getting people who have been in the work place for a few years training for executive positions means this is certainly going to be a niche program. The hybrid aspect will encompass mostly digital classes with a requirement of being on-campus one week during each summer of the two years, as well as two weekends per semester for the two years.

The program will offer a full MBA class load, with a heavy focus in outdoor activities, companies and industry itself. With the outdoors industry growing year after year, this could be the next phase to solidifying it as a viable option for a career route.

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