University Credits, Certifications and Emphases

  • 15 upper-division University of Montana credits
  • Extensive Medical Clinical Experience Running a Free Health Clinic and Observing on an Ambulance and in the ER
  • Aerie Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) certification
  • National Registry EMT (EMT) certification
  • State of Montana EMT certification
  • American Heart Association Healthcare Provider CPR certification
  • High Angle Rescue certification
  • Leave No Trace (LNT) certification
  • Search and Rescue
  • Wilderness Survival
  • Wilderness Navigation
  • International Health
  • Disaster Management

  • Program Highlights

    The Montana-India Semester is a backcountry and international experience with emphases in wilderness medicine, international health, disaster relief and technical rescue.

    The program starts with 4+ weeks of intensive EMT training at the Jack Creek Preserve near Big Sky, Montana. Taught by top professionals in their fields, this course combines lectures on medical topics and significant hands-on learning with the tools of emergency medicine. Students will be given the opportunity to test for NREMT certification and given the tools to apply for state licensure. The EMT section culminates in Missoula, Montana with clinical rotations in the emergency room and on Advanced Life Support ambulances.

    Students then fly to Delhi, India and travel north to the Hanifl Centre in Mussoorie. Several days are spent at Hanifl learning about the area and culture and preparing gear for a trek into the Himalaya. A day of driving into the mountains ends in Sankri, a town that serves as our gateway to the Himalaya. Students spend over a week on a spectacular trip to the Har Ki Dun valley, studying outdoor leadership and wilderness medicine. Back at Sankri, students spend a week learning and practicing rope rescue before heading back to the Hanifl Centre.

    The last section of the course is spent in local clinics with our partners in northern India. These clinical rotations provide a unique opportunity to be immersed in rural, international medicine. Instructors are with the students in the clinics to help guide them through the experience and make sure they get a quality experience. Students are able to make a valuable comparison between the international health experience with their time spent in US hospitals.

    Heading out for a trek in the Indian Himalaya where students study wilderness medicine and outdoor leadership

    Students enjoying sunshine high in the Himalaya

    Views along the trek to Har Ki Dun

    Ellie Thompson, instructor, on a day hike near Har Ki Dun Valley

    Instructors James Pyke and Shantanu Pandit prepare students for a day of clinical rotations at Landour Community Hospital in India

    Wilderness survival skills in Montana

    The backcountry around Jack Creek; our Montana home

    More teaching around our home during the Montana section

    2019 Dates

    • August 5 - 26: on-line course work (6-10+ hours per week).
    • August 27: Course begins at Jack Creek Preserve near Big Sky, MT at 9:00am.
    • August 27 - September 19: EMT Section at Jack Creek Preserve.
    • September 19 - 28: Clinical week, students will stay in Missoula, MT and attend emergency room and ambulance rotations.
    • September 29: Flight to Delhi, India.
    • September 30 - October 1: Travel from Delhi, India to the Hanifl Centre in Mussoorie, India.
    • October 2 - 9: Outdoor leadership curriculum and trek preparation at the Hanifl Centre.
    • Octover 10 - 18: Trek to Har Ki Dun in northern India. The trek is supported by local porters, but students will be hiking with their equipment and camping in the magnificent Himalaya mountains. Students will study Outdoor Leadership and Leave No Trace practices along the trek.
    • October 19 - 25: Ropes section in the town of Sankri, near the start of the Har Ki Dun trek.
    • October 26 - November 1: Clinical rotations in Mussoorie and Dehradun, India
    • November 2 - 4: Search and Rescue training and final scenarios in Mussoorie, India
    • November 5 - 6: Graduation and travel days. The semester ends at noon on November 6th in Delhi, India.


    • $17,000 base cost (see Scholarships/ Discounts, below), including
      • 15 upper division credits from the University of Montana
      • Room, board
      • Health insurance while in India
      • These course texts
        • Leave No Trace
        • Rope Rescue
        • Outdoor Leadership
      • These certifications
        • Leave No Trace
        • Rope Rescue
        • Search and Rescue
        • Wilderness EMT
        • Red Card certification
      • In-country travel (shuttles to and from airports, etc)
    • Not included
      • International airfare
      • EMT text book (approximately $100)
      • National Registry of EMT on-line registration and computer testing fee (approximately $100)
    • Scholarships/ discounts available for:
      1. Early-Bird Registration: $1,000 for any student paying their non-refundable $2,000 deposit by February 1, 2017
      2. Students may be eligible for no more than one of the follow tuition discounts:
        1. AmeriCorps members/ alumni using their AmeriCorps awards will have their awards matched, up to $3,000 or
        2. Alumni of the following: Student Conservation Association, Washington Conservation Corps, Minnesota/ Iowa Conservation Corps and Montana Conservation Corps, $3,000 or
        3. Montana-state residents or students enrolled at a Montana school (for example, the University of Montana, Montana State University, Montana Tech), $3,000 or
        4. US Military Veterans, $3,000
    • In addition to Aerie's scholarships, students may also be eligible for:
      • FAFSA Awards
        • Because the program is offered through the University of Montana, students from the MT University System or other universities who are currently receiving FAFSA awards are often able to use their awards for the Semester. Aerie can help facilitate this process.
      • AmeriCorps Awards
        • Because the program is run through an accredited Title IV university, AmeriCorps members and alumni can use their Segal Education Awards to pay for their tuition. The process for doing this is described here. You can also contact our office for information.
      • GI Benefits


    Q: What credits are offered and how do I get my university to transfer the Semester credits?

    • For a general overview of the credits offered by the Semester, click here. The Semesters all consist of three, five-credit upper-division courses from the University of Montana: Emergency Medical Technician and Incident Management; Wilderness Medicine and Risk Management; and Wilderness Rescue and Survival Skills. Please write us for more information, and feel free to forward the syllabi to your advisor for review.
    • The issue of transferring credits is determined by your advisor - and possibly by your university's registrar. That said, most schools allow transfer of credits from other degree-granting institutions. Our students receive official transcripts from the University of Montana, as if they had taken classes on campus. That would be important information for your advisor to know.
    • Second, assuming your university will accept transfer credits from UM, your advisor will need to make a determination about HOW the credits will transfer to your degree. They may come in as upper-division electives, or your advisor may agree to use them towards a specific degree requirement.

    Q: Will there be tests and homework?
    A: Yes. Homework is assigned each night and initially may include up to 100 pages of reading per night. At least two written exams are given each week in addition to a weekly practical exam.

    Q: What are the physical requirements for the program?
    A: The Fall Semester is, at times, very physically demanding. Students will carry 30-60 lb backpacks 6-8 miles per day during certain sections of the program. During these days, they will climb 2000-3000 vertical feet and will be living at elevations of 3000-12000 feet above sea level. They will carry gear across uneven terrain and rivers and will be expected to move consistently in these environments. They will be in snow, rain and ice and will be expected to maintain a positive learning attitude regardless of the weather or activity. Great athletic, climbing or swimming experience are not necessary to successfully complete the program; however, all of these activities require physical conditioning and body habitus that are conducive to constant movement in these environments. Please contact us if you have any concerns.

    Q: Is this program considered an "international program" by university standards?

    A: Aerie's Spring (Costa Rica) and Fall (India) Semesters are approved by the University of Montana's Office of International Programs (OIP) as Faculty Directed Programs, and, students in UM's Global Leadership Initiative, required to pursue a study abroad program, can choose Aerie's Semesters as one of those options.

    Q: What does the "online coursework" consist of?
    A: Because of the heavy reading load in the National Registry EMT text, we assign two chapters of reading and associated online quizzes during each of the three weeks preceding the start of each Semester. Students can complete this work wherever they happen to be, as long as they have internet access to submit their quiz answers. Grades for these quizzes count towards the final score in the Emergency Medical Technician and Incident Management course.

    Q: What are Aerie’s academic expectations?
    A: High. Aerie’s course policies outline our academic expectations; you will be given a handbook outlining our course policies once you have been accepted into the Semester. Students must receive passing grades on weekly exams to be eligible to test for the National Registry final exam; this is not an Aerie policy – it is a National Registry policy. Poor grades may result in expulsion from the program and may result in not being able to test for, or receive, your National Registry EMT certification.

    Q: Are there any prerequisites for the Semester?

    A: Students must be ready for an intense, challenging experience; however, but there are no specific academic prerequisites. Many of our best students have had no previous medical training. Students must be 18 years of age. In addition, to test for and receive National Registry EMT certification, students must have a high school diploma/ GED and have no current felony convictions. Otherwise, we expect students to arrive with a solid work ethic, open mind and positive attitude. Physically, students must be capable of wearing a 40-60 pound backpack and carrying it 6-8 miles per day. They must also be capable of hiking over complex terrain, sometimes off trail, often carrying their personal gear as well as a litter or gurney to move a simulated patient. While no particular physical skill set or prowess is required (you don't have to be an experienced climber or skier), basic physical conditioning is essential to completing all of the backcountry sections of the program.

    Q: How long do the certifications last, who issues them, what are the their recertification requirements, and what types of jobs and/or further opportunities can I get with the experiences and certifications the Semester offers?
    A: The certifications and experiences the Semester offers are unique, professional-level, and rewarding, designed specifically for the highly competitive professional outdoor and medical/ nursing/ PA ambitions of our students. The following lists shows where our students use their certifications, but please remember that there are no guarantees that any organization or school is going to hire or admit you based on a certification or transcript.

    • Aerie Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) certification: Aerie WEMT certifications last for two years. To recertify, WEMTs need to also recertify their urban EMT (see next bullet) and complete 8 additional hours of wilderness-specific training. For jobs, the National Park Service, US Forest Service, many guiding and outdoor organizations such as NOLS, Outward Bound and the Student Conservation Association look for Wilderness EMTs to lead their backcountry crews. Wilderness EMTs must be current urban/ state/ National Registry EMTs to keep their "wilderness" certifications.
    • National Registry EMT (NREMT) certification. NREMT certifications are valid for two years. To recertify, NREMTs must complete 48 hours of continuing education, a 24 hour EMT refresher, and have six months affiliation with an agency providing EMT-level care. These requirements are listed here. This is the standard certification for working on an ambulance or in an Emergency Room as a Technician in many parts of the US. If you are looking to see what your home state require for EMT licensure/ certification, click here. Many ambulances around the US require EMTs to be 21 years old to drive the ambulance and work for an ambulance service.
    • State of Montana EMT certification, offered through the Montana Board of Medical Examiners. Montana EMTs must recertify every two years, complete 48 hours of continuing education, a 24 hour EMT refresher class, and have 6 months affiliation with an agency providing EMT-level care. You do not need your Montana EMT certification if you are not planning on working in MT as an EMT. This is the certification you will need if you want to work as an EMT in the state of Montana.
    • American Heart Association Healthcare Provider CPR certification. This certification lasts for two years and is recertified by taking a 2-8 hour refresher course. This is the highest level of CPR certification, is required for EMTs, and can be used for any job requiring CPR certification.
    • Search and Rescue certification is offered through Aerie. It is a two-year certification and is recertified by taking another SAR course through Aerie. This certification is typically not required for an employing agency but demonstrates skills and competencies necessary in an outdoor leader.
    • Leave No Trace certification is offered through and is taught by Aerie instructors who are also LNT Master Trainers. It is recertified by taking another LNT course. This certification is viewed by employing agencies as a standard for outdoor leaders and educators.
    • High Angle Rescue. This certification is offered by Aerie. It is a two year certification and is recertified by taking another high-angle rescue course. High Angle Rescue certification is typically not required for employment but is seen as a level of competence and skill necessary for outdoor guides and leaders working in mountainous environments.
    • Wilderness Survival. There is no certification for wilderness survival training. It's stuff you need to know to keep yourself and others alive.
    • Wilderness Navigation. The wilderness navigation skills are essential knowledge for any outdoor traveler and do not come with a specific certification.
    Q: Do I need to be enrolled in college to participate in the Semester?
    A: No. Students are automatically enrolled at the University of Montana for the duration of the Semester. It is important to recognize that this enrollment may not qualify them to receive federal financial aid and university sponsored health insurance.

    Q: What are the refund policies for the Semester?

    A: No refunds are given for any reason, including sickness, family emergencies, or expulsion from the program. For this reason, we STRONGLY encourage all participants to have travel and health insurance to cover the possibility of their not completing the program. In the event that a student leaves the program early, whether voluntarily or at Aerie's discretion, all expenses associated with their departure from the program, including airfare, travel to and from field sites to airports/ bus facilities, health costs, are solely the student's responsibility.

    Q: What gear is required and suggested for Montana and India.

    A: In general, you need to be prepared for outdoor scenarios in all types of weather and for living in the backcountry, as well as for living at a remote teaching facility.


    • Classroom supplies
      • 3-ring binder
      • At least 100 pages notebook paper
      • Pencils
      • EMT texts
      • Wristwatch for taking pulses and being on time to class and scenarios
      • Water bottle
    • Clothing
      • Shorts - 1-2 pairs
      • T-shirts – 2-3
      • Two pairs of long pants and long-sleeved shirts - one pair of jeans is fine, but for the expedition portion, please bring at least one pair of synthetic long pants
      • Long underwear base layer: poly-pro/synthetic or wool or silk top and bottom
      • Comfortable shoes: Chacos, Tevas or the like. It's nice to have shoes that are easy to get on and off as you will find yourself constantly having to put on and take off your shoes (no shoes in the teaching facility).
      • Light hikers or sneakers for scenarios around the teaching facility.
      • 1 raincoat or waterproof/breathable top layer
      • 1 pair rain pants or waterproof/breathable bottom layer
      • One baseball hat for shade
      • One warm hat – thin wool or synthetic for chilly backcountry evenings
      • One pair of thin wool or synthetic gloves
      • 3-4 pairs of synthetic or wool socks
      • one insulating layer - a down or insulating fleece layer
      • 1 set of clean dress-clothes for ER and ambulance observations
        • Button-up shirt
        • Pants (no jeans)
        • Clean, close-toed shoes (no boots, sneakers or sandals)
        • The hospitals and ambulance will not let students observe with ripped, dirty, or unprofessional clothing.
    • Camping gear
      • Backpack able to carry enough personal and group gear for a 7 day trip (minimum 70 liters in volume) - do not bring luggage that converts into a backpack by virtue of a few shoulder straps!
      • Waterproof pack cover
      • Sleeping bag. Your bag should carry at least a 15 degree rating. Either synthetic or down fill is fine in the sleeping bag; no cotton bags.
      • Sleeping pad – thermarest, ensolite or ridgerest foam pads; no open-cell foam pads
      • Crazy creek or backpacking-type camp chair
      • One pair of sturdy hiking boots. Make sure your boots are waterproofed.
      • One pair gaiters
      • Socks: polypro or silk liner sock plus a thin wool sock works well. Bring several pairs of this combination.
      • Insulated mug with lid
      • Bowl, spoon and fork
      • Pocket knife or Leatherman-style multitool
      • Compass: liquid-filled, declination adjustable - if you're not sure what this is, ask at an outdoor store. Yours must have a declination-adjusting screw built into the baseplate. Any of the Silva Ranger CL series are an example.
      • Plastic bags: 1-2 large plastic bags and a few smaller ones to keep things in your pack dry. Gallon-size ziploc bags work well for organizing socks & extra layers, and for keeping them dry.
    • Personal supplies
      • Toiletries – Condon has a small store but the selection is fairly limited
      • Lightweight towel
      • Medications – you may want to bring enough to last the duration of the program since it will be a bit of a journey to get to a pharmacy.
      • Headlamp – you will need a hands-free light source to do night scenarios and also during the expedition portion of the program. Turn one battery around backwards in the headlamp while traveling to avoid having a dead battery when you arrive (in case the headlamp accidentally gets turned on in transit)
        • Spare bulb and batteries
      • Sunglasses
      • Insect repellent
      • Sunscreen
      • Bedding: you are welcome to use your sleeping bag, or bring your own sheets, blankets and pillow. Bedding is not provided.
    • Money
        $200 - $300. The amount of spending money you may need is hard to predict - you will want money for laundry, for snacks or a meal out and for days when you travel to town for your emergency room and ambulance shifts


    • GPS unit
    • Cell phone (Please note that satellite phones are strictly illegal in India)
    • Bear spray (Montana only). You will most likely not be able to fly with bear spray.
    • First Aid Kit
      • wound cleaning and dressing
      • bleeding control
      • pain control
      • splinting
    • Camera
    • Binoculars
    • Trekking or ski poles


    Aerie's fall Semester is a rigorous backcountry and international program that involves risks inherent to living and traveling in these environments. We encourage you to talk with our staff about these risks before enrolling.

    Please do not register for any Aerie course, particularly our Semesters, without exploring, understanding and accepting these risks.