Master of Forestry (MF)


Preparation for professional careers in the management of forest resources.

The MF degree is intended for students wishing to pursue professional careers in the management and policy of forest resources. These professional opportunities can be private-sector forest management—corporate or consulting; public-sector forest management—federal, state, county, local government; stewardship, education, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations. Two themes dominate the structure of the Master of Forestry curriculum: multiple disciplinary exposure and progressive integration and synthesis of knowledge.

These themes are represented by three educational stages:

STAGE ONE Basic Knowledge, is the development of an information base. This can be described as a process of assimilating knowledge, understanding values, and comprehending the relationships between knowledge and values that form essential concepts and hypotheses within the biological, social, and physical disciplines. This stage can be regarded as the baseline upon which the remaining framework for synthesizing and integrating knowledge for management decisions is built. This curriculum encourages students to understand the resource, people and science before developing management and policy solutions.

STAGE TWO Frameworks and Skills for Integrating Knowledge, provides many of the analytical techniques and tools for synthesis and analysis. This stage includes courses that teach techniques and frameworks as well as quantitative skills that master both temporal and spatial measurement of resources and human behavior.

STAGE THREE includes both Synthesis and Analysis of Knowledge and the Capstone. Generally, students take these courses during their second-year. Both are designed to address and prepare students for solving important problems and resource conflicts in a real world. Courses concerning Resource Management focus on increasing the students ability to ask relevant questions, in useful sequences, and to gather data to answer these questions. These courses are designed to maintain high faculty-student and student-student interaction. A significant group project component is expected in these courses, some being client driven while others are research reports or assessments.

These projects are intended to be of high professional/academic caliber, publishable as part of the School’s communications or in recognized journals. Another category concerning professional knowledge strives to provide aspects of forestry that broaden and add to the student’s knowledge base from a professional perspective. The topic areas selected do not necessarily address basic or advanced perspectives within a discipline or management issue.

The Capstone course in our program addresses leadership, among other management skills, a characteristic that we have sought to strengthen in all of our students since the inception of the School. This can be a formal seminar or a project course that strengthens an individuals analytical, communication, and publication skills. In addition all MF students are required to take an evening session on professional ethics and encouraged to take a session in conflict resolution.

During summers students are encouraged to learn technical and management skills through the Apprentice Forester Program at the School Forests, and independent management and research projects that can lead to publications.

Electives allow the student to choose a variety of courses, or to concentrate on a particular area as a specialization. Specializations are constructed by the students and his or her advisor. Their focus should be a particular land use or management issue concerning forest resources. The flexibility of course choice within the required topic areas of the mf curriculum also allow the student to tailor required courses to a desired specialization. Sample specializations: 1) community development and social forestry in urban or rural environments; 2) protected areas management; 3) extension and education; 4) finance, consulting and business around forest products and services; 5) watershed health, ecosystem services, and restoration; 6) tropical forest ecology and management; and 7) agroecology and agroforestry

The Master of Forestry is a professional degree reviewed and accredited by the Society of American Foresters (SAF). It is the policy of the School to insure that each student’s program conform to the Standards set by the SAF. The Master of Forestry program coordinator is Professor Mark Ashton. Students should formally notify the program coordinator of their intent to do the MF. Should you have questions about the program course requirements please seek advice and counsel from the program coordinator in consultation with your advisor. Forms may be obtained from the program coordinator for crosschecking each student’s individualized course of study against SAF Standard II. (See further details).

Master of Forestry One-Year Program

Professionals pursuing the one year Master of Forestry degree are interested in acquiring new skills and broadening their perspectives, are people whose career objectives are in the general area of forest management and administration, and wish to fill known voids in their educational backgrounds. Admission to this program will be granted by the admissions committee only to individuals who appear to be able to achieve the level of professional competence represented by the Master of Forestry degree in one year of residence work. A minimum of one year in residence and eight full courses (24 credits) is required for completion of this program.

Students in this program are not required to elect any specific courses, or meet any course distribution requirements. Participation in all or part of the summer training modules in technical skills is optional. Students will be required to elect one-half of their courses in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and will have to develop course programs acceptable both to their faculty advisor and to the MF Coordinator. Deviations from the four full course (12 credit) school requirement that have faculty advisor support can be made only via petition to the curriculum committee.


Master of Forestry Curriculum

Students are required to choose courses in different topic areas of the biological, physical, and social science sections of basic knowledge.

  • Students with previous relevant coursework may petition their advisor to waive courses that they have had for requirements under A and B. This has to be clearly apparent—for example: a student who majored in economics as an undergraduate should not need to do the economics requirement; or a student with a forestry undergraduate major should not need to take silviculture. No substitutions will be allowed for requirements under C and D. No student will be required to repeat previously taken coursework.
  • The resource management and leadership/project seminars will involve a significant group and individual project components respectively.
  • The MF coordinator will determine each year which courses offered that year fit each of the topic descriptions.
  • The one-year MF program is a custom program and will be developed between student and advisor, with program approval by the MF coordinator.
  • Joint degree programs are available with the School of Management, the Law School, Divinty. Architecture, and the School of Public Health. Individuals participating in joint programs are subject to the joint school agreements and approval of the MF coordinator.

Courses Offered That Meet the Master of Forestry Curriculum

(Bracketed courses [ ] will not be offered during the academic year 2012–2013.)

Basic Knowledge

BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (Three courses in total from any four topic areas)

Topic Area 1 Tree Physiology, Morphology and Taxonomy

  • F&ES 654A Structure, Function and Development of Trees and Other Vascular Plants
  • F&ES 731B Tropical Field Botany
  • F&ES 656B Physiology of Trees and Forests
  • F&ES 671A Natural History and Taxonomy of Trees

Topic Area 2 Forest Ecology and Forest Dynamics

  • F&ES 732A Tropical Forest Ecology: The Basis for Conservation and Management
  • F&ES 530A Ecosystems and Landscapes
  • F&ES 660A Forest Dynamics: Growth & Development of Forest Stands

Topic Area 3 Wildlife and Community Ecology

  • [F&ES 737A Biodiversity Conservation]
  • [F&ES 738A Aquatic Ecology]
  • [F&ES 500A Landscape Ecology]
  • F&ES 740B Dynamics of Ecological Systems

Topic Area 4 Forest Health

  • F&ES 650B Fire: Science and Policy
  • [F&ES 651B Forest Ecosystem Health: Urban to Wilderness]
  • F&ES 663A Invasive Species: Ecology, Policy and Management

PHYSICAL SCIENCES (Two courses in total from any of three different topic areas)

Topic Area 1 Soils and Geology

  • F&ES 709A Soil Science
  • G&G 210A Physical and Environmental Geology

Topic Area 2 Hydrology

  • F&ES 515A Physical Sciences for Environmental Management
  • [F&ES 714A Environmental Hydrology]
  • F&ES 708A Biogeochemistry and Pollution
  • F&ES 719A River Processes & Restoration
  • [F&ES 724B Watershed Cycles &Processes]
Topic Area 3 Biometeorology
  • F&ES 703B Climate and Life
  • G&G 322A Introduction to Meterology and Climatology

SOCIAL SCIENCES (Two courses in total from different topic areas)

Topic Area 1 Social and Political Ecology & Anthropology

  • F&ES 836A Agrarian Societies: Culture, Society, History and Development
  • F&ES 535A Social Science of Development and Conservation
  • F&ES 520A Society & Environ. Intro to Theory & Method
Topic Area 2 Policy Science & Law
  • F&ES 739A Species and Ecosystem Conservation: an Interdisciplinary Approach
  • F&ES 824B Environmental Law and Policy
  • F&ES 826A Foundations of Natural Resource Policy & Management
  • F&ES 525A The Politics and Practice of Environmental and Resource Policy
  • [F&ES 829A International Environmental Policy Governance]

Frameworks and Skills for Integrating Knowledge

ECONOMICS (One course)

  • F&ES 680A Forest and Ecosystem Finance
  • F&ES 804A Economics of Natural Resource Management
  • F&ES 802B Valuing the Environment
  • F&ES 505A Economics of the Environment

MEASUREMENT (One course)*

  • F&ES 751A Sampling Methodology and Practice
  • F&ES 753B Regression Modeling of Ecological and Environmental Data
  • F&ES 510A Introduction to Statistics for the Environmental Sciences
  • F&ES 758B Multivariate Statistical Analysis
*It is strongly recommended to select two courses — one concerning GIS and spatial technology and the other involving sampling design and statistics.


  • F&ES 659B Principles in Applied Ecology: the Practice of Silviculture

Synthesis and Analysis of Knowledge


  • F&ES 658A Global Resources Exchanges
  • F&ES 954A Management Plans for Protected Areas
  • F&ES 657B Managing Resources
  • [F&ES 667B Rapid Assessment in Forest Conservation]
  • F&ES 819B Strategies for Land Conservation
  • F&ES 963B Payment for Ecosystem Services


  • F&ES 576A Negotiation and conflict resolution skills
  • F&ES 669B Forest Management Operations for Professional Foresterss

(Examples–most advanced level courses are acceptable)

  • [F&ES 886A] Greening Business Operations
  • F&ES 550A Natural Science Research Methods
  • F&ES 745A Environmental Writing

*Students are strongly encouraged to go on at least one extended (week plus) field trip concerning forest resource management

CAPSTONE (One course)

  • F&ES 837B Seminar in Environmental and Natural Resource Leadership

Or a project course (or equivalent) with a significant product that is published and presented at a professional meeting.

In between the first and second years, students are strongly encouraged to select internships such as those offered by the Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry, the Tropical Resources Institute and the Urban Resources Initiative. These internships provide real field and professional experience and compliments student coursework and area of focus. One such opportunity that most Master of Forestry students take is the Apprentice Forestry Program organized by the School of Forests.