A Year in the North Cascades

Study_Residencya professional residency at North Cascades Environmental Learning Center in North Cascades National Park

The Learning Center opened in 2005 and serves as the residential field campus for North Cascades Institute. It features comfortable lodges for program participants, a library, classrooms, an administrative building and a dining hall. Hiking trails connect the campus with over a million acres of public lands of the North Cascades mountains.

In the living classroom of the North Cascades, students act as professional instructors for a variety of Institute programs, including Mountain School, our award-winning residential school program for elementary, middle and high school students. Graduate students explore all aspects of curriculum design while working with schools to meet grade level learning standards. In addition, students undertake many responsibilities under the supervision of North Cascades Institute faculty and staff – from planning, teaching and evaluating programs to nonprofit administration, risk management, marketing and community relations.

Students participate in natural and cultural history seminars and professional development trainings, design individual projects in curriculum development and non-profit administration, and complete a practicum in Learning Center operations. In doing so, students collaborate with many of the Northwest's best educators, naturalists and conservation leaders, including rangers and researchers with North Cascades National Park.

Graduate M.Ed. Program Brochure
Online Resources






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  • Western Washington University is the highest-ranked public master’s-granting university in the Pacific Northwest according to 2013 college rankings from U.S. News and World Report, and was named a Top 50 university offering “outstanding value with a first-class education” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. Ranked in the top 50 of Sierra Magazine’s Coolest Schools.

  • Bellingham was named one of the best outdoor adventure towns by Outside Magazine and National Geographic Adventure and one of the “24 Best Places to Live and Work” by Sunset Magazine.

  • North Cascades Institute is the Recipient of the Environmental Education Association of Washington’s Organizational Excellence award, Charity Navigator’s Best Environmental Protections and Conservation Group, Bellingham Alive! Readers Poll "Best Place to Work" and Sunset Magazine’s Environmental Heroes award.