Jun 13, 2024  
2021-2022 Catalog 
2021-2022 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Mountain Research Skills Certificate (In Moratorium)

Department of Environmental Sciences, Huxley College of the Environment

Note: The Mountain Research Skills Certificate Program is currently not accepting new students. For further information contact the Environmental Sciences Department, Western Washington University, Environmental Studies Building, Room #522, 516 High Street, Bellingham, WA 98225-9181, 360-650-2844.

33 credits


The goals of this program are to foster the development of interdisciplinary research skills for students intending on working in remote or mountain environments. Mountain environments possess unique characteristics that make them vulnerable to environmental perturbation and difficult to study. Students in this program will learn basic environmental science of mountains, general expedition safety skills and logistics, research techniques to study these complex socio-ecological systems, how to build collaborative community research relationships, and effective mountain stewardship strategies.  Certificate program students will learn essential research skills, develop a research project, and then carry out the project during a field research experience either domestically or internationally. Many classes are offered only through Outreach and Continuing Education and most are only offered once per year. Also, courses generally should be taken in sequence, so careful planning with an advisor is recommended.

Students enroll by submitting an application to the MRS (Mountain Research Skills) Advisor. Non-matriculated individuals must complete the Special Student Enrollment form, found on WWU’s website by typing “special student enrollment” in the search field. Please check with WWU’s Registrar’s office for the particular dates of acceptance of these forms. Aside from regular tuition and course fees, there is a small additional fee associated with enrollment for this certificate.

Why Consider a Certificate in Mountain Research Skills?

Employers want to hire students who have both knowledge and experience.  It is straightforward to gain knowledge in the classroom through your major and so this certificate is focused on helping you develop experience – through field trips, real world data collection and processing, and by focusing on academic skills that translate into practical outcomes. This certificate was developed in consultation with employers including the US Forest Service, US Park Service, the Northwest Avalanche Center, WA Departments of Natural Resources and Ecology, American Alpine Institute and others that need employees who have the skills to do research in remote locations. We have determined what skills are most in demand and this certificate is intended to help you gain experience with those skills.

 Contact Information

Department Chair
Ruth Sofield
Environmental Studies 344

 Sample Careers

Field biologist, resource manager, mountain guide, park ranger, field ecologist, timber manager, field geologist, USAID program leader, international development specialist, NOAA fisheries monitor, university professor, restoration ecologist

 Major/Career Resources


How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):

Please contact Ruth Sofield for inquiries about this program at 360-650-2181 or Ruth.Sofield@wwu.edu.

Grade Requirements

A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s certificate courses, and supporting courses for certificates.


Core (27 credits)

Electives (6 credits)

❑ An additional 6-credits are required above the 27 core requirements as follows:

  • 3-credits of Independent Study earned from outside (non-WWU) training programs in consultation with MRS advisor - includes Wilderness First Responder, AIARE Level 1 and 2 avalanche, high angle rescue, advanced outdoor navigation and leadership.
  • 3-credits (one course) from the list below or any relevant course in consultation with MRS advisor.