PSIA-AASI & Penn State Collaborate on Snowsports Instruction Program

Penn State University announced today the official January 2024 launch of its new Professional Snowsports Education Certificate Program. Created over nearly seven years of collaboration with the Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowsports Instructors (PSIA-AASI), this program will introduce students to the fundamentals – People, Teaching, and Technical skills – of American snowsports instruction.

Since 2016, the Penn State Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management in the College of Health and Human Development has been working closely with PSIA-AASI to evolve the association’s National Standards, Performance Guides, Assessment Forms, and to transform practices to be consistent across the country based on What Makes a Great Snowsports Instructor. The partnership has been key to aligning PSIA-AASI’s educational framework and structure, while unifying the professional experience for snow pros across the nation.

“This really is a historic moment for U.S. snowsports instruction,” PSIA-AASI Chief Executive Officer Peggy Hiller said of the new program, which will require students to prove their membership or join PSIA-AASI before enrolling. “It presents a new academic pathway for those individuals who want to create a career in snowsports instruction, and also offers our more than 33,000 members an opportunity to continue to demonstrate the value of their PSIA-AASI certifications and their knowledge and professionalism.”

The online certificate program will also require students to prepare for and complete their PSIA-AASI Level I Instructor certification in alpine skiing, snowboarding, telemark skiing, or cross country skiing. Additionally, students will learn of leadership responsibilities and skills associated with working at ski areas and in winter environments.

Penn State Associate Professor of Values and Experiential Learning, Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management, Pete Allison, Ph.D., who worked directly with PSIA-AASI to initiate and launch the program, said, “At Penn State we are excited to launch the first online certificate in Snowsports Education in partnership with PSIA-AASI. This offers opportunities for university credit and recognition, and valuing of the skills involved in becoming a Snowsports Professional.”


He added that credits earned may apply toward a Snowsports Certificate, a bachelor’s degree at Penn State, or a degree at another accredited institution as the academic value of PSIA-AASI certification is recognized across the country.

“The online certificate program allows you to earn nine credits and your PSIA-AASI Level I certification anywhere in the United States,” Allison said, “giving you the opportunity to integrate your online learning experience with your professional development as a snowsports instructor at a snowsports area near you.”

“Penn State has deep roots in the ski industry. Max Dercum [one of the founders of PSIA] was a Penn State Professor of Forestry who not only founded our local ski area, Tussey Mountain, in State College, but also helped found Keystone and A-Basin in Colorado,” said Peter Newman, Ph.D., Professor and Department Head, Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management. “We share Max Dercum’s passion for snowsports, and we are very excited to partner with PSIA-AASI to host this program.”

Learn more about Penn State’s online Certificate Program for Professional Snowsports Education, including Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management (RPTM) Courses.

RPTM 115 Leadership Development in Snowsports (3 credits)

Students will learn to identify and understand content, proficiencies, and skills relevant to snowsports operations by drawing on multidisciplinary aspects from hospitality and guest experience to physiology and sports training principles.

RPTM 120 Leisure and Human Behavior (3 credits)

The course introduces students to theoretical concepts and practical applications of recreation and leisure as a contributor to healthy personal, family, and community life.

RPTM 215 Snowsports Education (3 credits)
The course is composed of three segments that focus on introducing snowsports education, completing the instructor Level I certification process (with PSIA-AASI) at a snowsports area near you, and planning for continued professional development.

“These courses are going to help PSIA-AASI members gain more skills in teaching on snow as well as in ongoing lifelong skills that can be validated in other potential career pathways,” said PSIA-AASI Director of Education Dave Schuiling. “This program represents a crucial step in helping quantify and validate the work you love doing with other snowsports education professionals, gaining skills that will be qualified and acknowledged by future employers.”

Snowsports enthusiasts, new instructors, and uncertified instructors seeking education to support their entry into the snowsports industry are encouraged to apply to the Professional Snowsports Education Certificate program by Monday, Jan. 1, 2024, to start in the spring semester.