leadership in the
outdoor recreation industry

the Graduate certificates

The University of Denver has partnered with the VF Foundation to launch the Outdoor Recreation Industry Program, two interdisciplinary graduate certificates targeted to individuals seeking to enter or advance in the outdoor industry.

These graduate certificates, which include courses from the Daniels College of Business, Josef Korbel School of International Studies and Sturm College of Law, will be taught fully online, including both asynchronous and synchronous content. A “Sprint” format, consisting of focused one-credit courses, will allow students and organizations extensive flexibility to tailor the programs to their specific needs.

Outdoor Recreation Industry Business Certificate

The Graduate Certificate in ORIB will prepare students to assume business-oriented roles across a range of functions and industries in the outdoor recreation sector. This certificate is best for:

  • Front line operators in the outdoor recreation industry who are interested in transitioning to business-oriented roles
  • Recent college graduates (with business or non-business degrees)
  • Individuals with limited professional experience in other industries, looking to transition to the outdoor recreation industry

Students will be educated in:

  • Functional areas of business, including accounting, finance, marketing and management
  • Legal and regulatory issues, such as land use and development policies
  • Policy considerations, including issues related to environmental sustainability and public-private partnerships.

View the curriculum

Outdoor Recreation Industry Leadership Certificate

The Graduate Certificate in ORIL will prepare participants to assume senior leadership roles in the outdoor recreation industry. Participants will be educated on salient issues and decisions facing the outdoor recreation industry in a range of domains:

  • Financial models and supply chain challenges
  • Legal and regulatory issues such as land use and development rules
  • Government relations and public policy

In addition, the certificate includes courses designed to further students’ individual leadership skills—understanding one’s own weaknesses and strengths as a leader, neuroleadership, emotional intelligence, negotiations, and having difficult conversations.

The certificate should be particularly relevant to: 

  • Mid-level professionals in the outdoor recreation industry looking to assume leadership roles and advance their careers
  • Graduate students (with experience) interested in the outdoor recreation industry
  • Individuals with professional experience in other industries, looking to transition to and assume leadership roles in the outdoor recreation industry

View the curriculum


4.3 million jobs

$689 billion in consumer spending annually

1.8% of the U.S. GDP

The outdoor industry

According to the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, the outdoor recreation economy generates more spending and jobs than industries such as mining, utilities, farming and ranching, and chemical products manufacturing. In Colorado alone, the outdoor recreation industry generates $28 billion in spending annually and employs 229,000 people earning $9.7 billion in wages and paying $2 billion in state and local taxes each year.

There is an increasing demand for tailored workforce development and professional education to meet the demands of this rapidly growing industry.

An interdisciplinary approach to outdoor recreation

The newly launched program will provide inclusive and interdisciplinary training to individuals seeking to enter the outdoor industry and those within the industry seeking to acquire advanced industry-specific knowledge and leadership skills.

This unique program, which integrates courses in business, law and public policy, was created with a generous grant from the VF Foundation to strengthen and redefine the talent pipeline for the outdoor industry, with a particular focus on developing a more diverse workforce and outstanding leaders.

mountain bikers

Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2021

Applications to the Outdoor Recreation Industry certificates will open soon. Sign up for more information and to be notified when applications are available.

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About the vf foundation

The VF Foundation is the philanthropic arm of VF Corporation, one of the world’s largest outdoor apparel and footwear companies, and is headquartered in Denver. The VF Foundation supports nonprofit organizations in driving movements for the betterment of people and the planet.

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