By Annaleis Smith
Aug 22, 2016

Earning a degree in Commissioner Science

collegeWhen you attend a Commissioner College you will find that it is set up like a traditional college, with requirements that can lead you to bachelors, masters, and doctorate “degrees” in commissioner science. I am going to share a little insight into the process and an overview of the requirements to earn a degree in the Utah National Parks Council.

My personal experience

Back in the fall of 2008, I was a part of the Palmyra district’s Cub Scout roundtable staff.  Our Cub Scout roundtable commissioner asked if I would like to attend a training called Commissioner College with her.  This training was to be held the next week in a town almost 2 hrs from my home. At that time, roundtable staff were not commissioners but being the “Training Junkie” that I am, I said yes. And so we registered and attended together.

It was a fun day full of information that included an introduction to commissioner service and the rest of my day was spent learning more about roundtable basics.  I would have taken notes differently if I had known that a month later she would step down as roundtable commissioner and recommend me to take her place. So the next chance I had (about a year later), I went again and took the same roundtable classes again.  In fact, I took the same 3 roundtable classes (108, 109 & 314) each multiple times and then at a Commissioner College in 2011, I found myself teaching them for the first time.

I’m not sure when I first heard about the degrees you could earn, but I thought “whatever” and really didn’t care. I earned my bachelors without really trying—or at least it wasn’t something specific I was trying to do. Once I understood the requirements and saw them as a learning plan or a way to continue learning I thought ‘Sure, why not. I guess I can earn my masters too.’  Once I made this goal, my attendance at commissioner college had more meaning.  I used to attend, take a few classes and be done.  But with the specific requirements in mind, it changed the way I picked classes.  I took a few classes that I probably wouldn’t have taken otherwise and found out that they were applicable to my situation after all.  It also helped motivate me to earn my commissioner’s key.

I never really intended to earn my doctorate, but once I had earned my Masters and had been on staff at a few colleges, it didn’t seem quite so daunting. So eventually, I did earn my doctorate as well in 2015—7 years after attending my first college. You can complete it faster than that or you can take longer—it’s up to you.

I love commissioner college.  I have learned a lot by attending.  And I have made some really great friends by being involved. I urge all commissioners to attend.  But if you look at the degree requirements as a learning plan, it will help you branch out and learn even more.  It’s really all stuff a good commissioner should be doing anyway. Consider it! (Read this post for more info)

So, should you decide to earn one or more of the degrees how do you go about that?

Summary of the Requirements to earn Commissioner College Degrees from the Utah National Parks Council.

National has given some examples of degree requirements but then includes the following statement:

” College course and degree requirements are not standardized nationally. The College of Commissioner Science is strictly a local council event.”

So, that being said, our council has looked at the recommended requirements from national and set the following as the requirements for a degree through the Utah National Parks Council Commissioner Science system.

Bachelor of Commissioner Science (BCS): 

CollCommScienceBachelors_4k Prerequisites:

  • Be registered as a Commissioner with current YPT
  • Complete Commissioner Basic Training for your current position

Course Requirements: Complete at least 7 courses (with at least 5 at the BCS level)

Master of Commissioner Science (MCS):

CollCommScienceMasters_4k_thumb Prerequisites:

Course Requirements: Complete at least 14 courses (w/at least 5 at MCS level)

Doctor of Commissioner Science:

CollCommScienceDoc_4k_thumb Prerequisites:

  • Earn the Masters Diploma and the Commissioner’s Key,
  • Completed an approved Thesis or Project (A thesis is defined as a written document detailing research on any topic of value to commissioners and the council. A project may be any service that directly benefits the council and at least indirectly benefits its commissioners, approved in advance by the dean of the doctor’s program and Commissioner Cabinet President.)
  • Serve on staff or faculty for a Commissioner College within the UNPC

Course Requirements: completed at least 24 courses (with at least 5 at the DCS level)

Commissioners will be awarded a certificate after earning each degree—our council has specially designed certificates featuring some of the national parks in our council. Patches (like those shown here) may be purchased at the Scout Shop or online, but are not for uniform wear.  And in our council with each degree, you will also earn a segment for our UNPC Commissioner College patch.

Additional Notes:

The council commissioner registrar (currently Judi Hansen) must approve any courses that are taken outside of the Utah National Parks Council. Teaching a class counts as attending.

But that’s not all…

Even after you have earned your degrees you can continue to be recognized for continued attendance and learning.

Postgraduate Studies Certificates (may be earned multiple times)
1. Current registration as a commissioner.
2. Completion of master’s degree.
3. Completion of 5 additional classes that were not applied to any other degree.
4. Service on the faculty or staff of a college of commissioner science within the Utah National Parks Council not already applied to a Doctorate degree.

UNPC CCPatchSo, are you working towards your degree in Commissioner Science?  If you have attended a college you may be closer to a degree than you think.  Often it’s just the basic training requirements (we offer it at commissioner college) or the Arrowhead Honor that are holding participants back.  And of course, you are welcome to attend classes and enjoy all that Commissioner College has to offer even if you never earn a degree.  Training —It’s worth the time and effort!


Every Boy Deserves a Well-Trained Leader and Ever Leader Deserves a Well-Trained Commissioner!


Annaleis Smith

Annaleis Smith – Is a “stay-at-home” mom and dedicated Cub Scout leader. She has filled many positions over the years including Cub Scout Roundtable Commissioner, Assistant District Commissioner over Roundtable, Assitant Council Commissioner for Cub Scouting and is currently a Unit Commissioner and a member of the UNPC Commissioner College Cabinet.

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