Concentrations in the Expeditionary Studies Major

Three Choices

As an EXP student, you’ll select one of three disciplinary concentrations to meet the degree requirements. Your choices are climbing, snowsports, or paddlesports. But that’s only the minimum! Most EXP students complete all or part of two concentrations, and many actually pursue advanced courses in all three, thus further strengthening their educational and professional profile.

Most EXP students complete all or part of two concentrations.

On an educational level, you’ll broaden your range of interests when, for instance, you add paddlesports courses to your rock and ice climbing studies. You’ll also discover that the "leadership" level of experience and training in one discipline will reinforce and enhance your abilities in another. Though it is different managing a group in avalanche terrain than in an ocean environment, group awareness and decision-making are front and center for leaders in both. Get better in one setting and you’ll get better in the other.

Professionally, being highly qualified in multiple disciplines means you have more job opportunities. Ask the EXP faculty where they’ve worked, and you’ll discover that their answers cross disciplines and specializations. That’s why we recommend the same for you.


The expeditionary studies rock and ice curricula will take you from your first climbing experiences on a top-rope to multi-pitch climbs in settings like Joshua Tree, Calif. or Red Rocks, Nev., to name just two possible locales. Along the way, you’ll be reading about history and weather and leadership, while completing assignments ranging over these and other topics throughout your classes. Your instructors may hold classes at the base of the crags or in a classroom. Either way you’ll be integrating climbing experiences with college-level materials.


Paddling courses are about more than paddling a canoe, sea kayaking, or whitewater boat. This discipline is about making decisions in dynamic water environments. Whether you’re learning management and access policies and protocols in Canada, interpreting tides and currents for a trip to the San Juan Islands, or planning an extended expedition to Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, the paddling curriculum will prepare you fully.


Backcountry Snowsports

For skiers or snowboarders, being a backcountry traveler in winter means being able to slide efficiently, but it also means being able to assess terrain, understand snowpack and weather and their interrelationships, and thermo-regulate yourself for long days of winter travel. The rewards, of course, come with long descents in remote backcountry settings.

EXP snowsports classes have traveled to northern Quebec’s Chic Chocs, the North Cascades, the Wasatch and Colorado Rockies, helping build diverse skier experiences in preparation for independent or professional backcountry travel in the future.

Contact Information

We invite you to learn more about expeditionary studies at SUNY Plattsburgh. Please feel free to contact the chair.

Jerry Isaak, Chair
Office: 102 Broad Street
Phone: (518) 564-5292