The Outdoor Academy

The Outdoor Academy is an academically rigorous semester school for high school sophomores and juniors located in the uniquely beautiful and ecologically rich Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina.


We often brag that there are no desks at The Outdoor Academy. Our 180 acre campus is our primary classroom. It is quite common to find our students following their Natural Science teacher through the woods to find a beautiful bed of mushrooms, reading poetry on the dock with their English teacher, or debating articles for Environmental Seminar sitting in the meadow. While maintaining an honors level curriculum, we believe the more engaging and hands-on our classes can be the more motivated and excited our students become.

Our curriculum consists of college preparatory courses taught by expert faculty, many of whom possess advanced degrees in their fields. Our small, highly interactive classes foster intellectual confidence and build communication skills. Students routinely lead discussions, present lessons to their peers, explore their personal ethics, and share their passions and perspectives. OA graduates routinely take on leadership positions in student government, environmental and social justice clubs, sports teams, and artistic organizations in their high schools after returning home. They go on to attend distinguished colleges and graduate programs.

Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the credit for our courses will transfer directly to your high school transcript. Our approach to teaching and learning is inclusive, Socratic, engaging, and experiential. Courses include English, Natural Science, Math (Algebra II, Geometry, Pre-Cal, Advanced Math, etc), Environmental Seminar or World History, Second Language (Spanish or French, levels 1-4), and Art. We invite you to read detailed descriptions of these courses in our online curriculum guide.

Community & Environment

Community living is central to the OA experience. Students and faculty work alongside one another during morning chores, kitchen duties, and work crew. They interact in the evening and on weekends, developing authentic, meaningful relationships. We put an emphasis on living simply, appreciating the value of making our own music, crafts, and food while interacting with one another without the distractions of technology. By working together on the land, students develop an exceptional sense of personal responsibility. Our garden-to-table program enables us to see the resources and collective labor necessary to sustainably produce high-quality food. With this comes an appreciation for the resources and relationships that support us.

Faculty members guide our wilderness excursions, which include backpacking, rock climbing, whitewater paddling, and exploring the unique history and cultures of the Southern Appalachians. Students take on wilderness leadership roles as their skills advance. Relationships created at The Outdoor Academy are based on open communication and mutual respect, fostered within a nurturing community. These friendships are enduring, both between the students and with the staff.

In addition to our core academics, students gain experience in:

  • Community Building and Leadership
  • Service Learning and Work Crew
  • Wilderness Skills and Outdoor Leadership
  • Environmental Awareness and Ethics

As a semester school primarily for 10th graders, we can offer placement to select ninth and eleventh graders. OA welcomes students from diverse backgrounds who attend public, charter, private, or home schools. Our inclusive OA community offers students the best opportunity to better understand themselves, how they learn most successfully, and how important they are to the world around them. We believe this understanding provides a foundation for responsible leadership. The Outdoor Academy offers an extraordinary environment where all members of the community are encouraged to reach their full potential as thinkers, citizens, and leaders.

School Facts

Semester Size


Student Teacher Ratio


Grade Levels

Sophomore, Junior

Focus / Specialty

Wilderness, Community, Character, Environmental Stewardship


Pisgah Forest, North Carolina



Admission Deadlines

Rolling admissions year round.


Accepting Applications for Fall 2021
Accepting Applications for Spring 2022

Contact Information

Think, create, explore, learn, grow.

For more information and to apply, please visit — The Outdoor Academy Web Site.

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