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Preparation for professional careers in the management of forest resources.

The Master of Forestry degree is intended for students wishing to pursue professional careers in the management and policy of forest resources, across the span of urban to rural environments. These professional opportunities can be private-sector forest management—corporate or consulting; public-sector forest management—federal, state, county, local government; stewardship and conservation of forest resources -  government, private or non-profit sector; or education. The goal is to prepare students to manage forest resources for various public and private values within a complex social, political, and ecological environment.

The curriculum draws from coursework in the natural and social sciences and focuses on the complex relationships among the science, management, and policy of forest resources. Students are also expected to hone their capacities as leaders and managers through summer internships, professional skills courses, and other opportunities.

Two themes dominate the structure of the Master of Forestry curriculum: multiple disciplinary exposure in the biological and social sciences, and progressive integration and synthesis of knowledge in resource measurement, analysis management and policy. The curriculum is designed in three educational stages along with an emphasis on professional skill development. 

STAGE ONE Basic Knowledge, is a focus on understanding the biological, physical, and social science that is the foundation for forest ecology, management and policy. The purpose is to provide students with a scientific understanding of ecological and social systems that can be applied in a policy or management context. 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 is the baseline upon which the remaining framework for synthesizing and integrating knowledge for management decisions is built. This curriculum encourages students to understand the land, plants, ecosystems, and people 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 of scientific information within a social and political context. This stage includes courses that teach management techniques, economic and finance methods, and quantitative skills for both temporal and spatial measurement of natural 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 real-world problems and resource conflicts. The courses fall into two main categories. 

The first is the management of forest resources, and includes interdisciplinary courses that teach students to approach complex issues, ask relevant questions, in useful sequences, to gather data to answer these questions, and develop a coherent and well thought out management or policy plan. 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.

The second category is that of professional knowledge, including courses which provide exposure to aspects of forestry that broaden and add to the student’s knowledge base from a professional perspective. Included in this category are extensive field trips, and professional skills useful for working in an organizational context.    All MF students are required to take an evening session on professional ethics and encouraged to take a session in conflict resolution.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 individual’s analytical, communication, and publication skills.

During summers students are encouraged to learn technical and management skills through the Apprentice Forester Program at the School Forests, an internship with a forest management organization, or an independent management and research project that can lead to publication.

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 student 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 allows the student to tailor required courses to a  desired specialization. Sample specializations are: 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;  7) agroecology and agroforestry; and 8) urban forestry.

The two-year 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 conforms to the standards set by the SAF. The Master of Forestry program is overseen by a committee consisting of faculty and an MF program coordinator. Mary Tyrrell is the current coordinator. 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 for 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 Committee. 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. The one-year Master of Forestry degree is not accredited by the Society of American Foresters (SAF).

Master of Forestry Curriculum

Master of Forestry Curriculum

Students are required to choose courses from the lists in each category as indicated below:  basic knowledge (biological sciences, physical sciences, social sciences), frameworks and skills, resource management, and professional skills.  The capstone course is a requirement.

  • Students with previous relevant coursework may petition their advisor and the MF Coordinator to waive courses that they have had for requirements under basic knowledge and frameworks and skills. 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 frameworks and skills, resource management, and professional skills. Nevertheless, no student will be required to repeat previously taken coursework.
  • The resource management and leadership/project seminars will involve significant group and individual project components respectively.
  • The MF coordinator in consultation with the MF Committee 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 Committee.
  • Joint degree programs are available with the School of Management, the Law School, the Divinty School, the School of Architecture, and the School of Public Health. Individuals participating in joint programs are subject to the joint school agreements and approval of the MF Committee.

Courses Offered That Meet the Master of Forestry Curriculum

Basic Knowledge

(Bracketed  courses [ ] will not be offered during the current academic year)

BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (Three courses from three different topic areas)

Topic Area 1 Tree Physiology, Morphology and Taxonomy

Topic Area 2   Forest Ecology and Forest Dynamics

Topic Area 3   Wildlife and Community Ecology

Topic Area 4 Forest  Health

PHYSICAL SCIENCES (Two courses from two different topic areas

Topic Area 1  Soils and Geology

Topic Area 2   Hydrology

Topic Area 3 Biometeorology

SOCIAL SCIENCES (Two courses two different topic areas

Topic Area 1   Social and Political Ecology & Anthropology

Topic Area 2 Policy Science & Law

Synthesis and Analysis of Knowledge



(Examples–most advanced level courses are acceptable)

*Students are strongly encouraged to go on at least one extended (week plus) field trip concerning forest resource management, complete F&ES 576a Collaboration and Conflict Resolution Skills, and take F&ES 669B Forest Management Operations for Professional Foresters.

CAPSTONE (One course)

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.

Career Outcomes of MF and MFS Graduates (First Destinations)

Master of Forestry                            
Career Sector 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Responses | Class Size 10 12 10 10 7 8 13 13 12 12 12 12 11 10
Response Rate 83% 100% 88% 100% 100% 100% 91%
Private (business/law) 1 10% 2 20% 1 14% 2 15% 2 17% 0 0% 2 18%
Consulting n/a n/a n/a n/a 1 13% 0 0% 1 8% 0 0% 3 27%
Not for Profit 1 10% 2 20% 1 13% 2 15% 3 25% 1 8% 2 18%
Government/Public Sector 1 10% 5 50% 0 0% 4 31% 3 25% 2 17% 2 67%
Seeking Employment 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 1 8% 1 8% 0 0%
Education - Further Study 4 40% 1 10% 3 38% 1 8% 0 0% 3 25% 0 0%
Unknown 1 10% 0 0% 1 13% 0 0% 0 0% 1 8% 1 9%
Academic 2 20% 0 0% 1 13% 4 31% 2 17% 3 25% 0 0%
Entrepreneur n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 0% 0 0% 1 8% 0 0%
Master of Forest Science                            
Career Sector 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Responses | Class Size 3 3 3 3 4 4 9 10 5 5 11 11 2 2
Response Rate 100% 100% 100% 90% 100% 100% 100%
Private (business/law) 1 33.3% 0 0% 0 0% 1 10% 1 20% 0 0% 1 50%
Consulting 0 0% n/a n/a 1 25% 2 20% 1 20% 0 0% 0 0%
Not for Profit 0 0% 1 33.3% 2 50% 1 10% 1 20% 3 27.3% 0 0%
Government/Public Sector 1 33.3% 1 33.3% 0 0% 2 20% 1 20% 2 18.2% 1 50%
Seeking Employment 0 0% 1 33.3% 0 0% 1 10% 1 20% 1 9.1% 0 0%
Education - Further Study 1 33.3% 0 0% 1 25% 2 20% 0 0% 3 27.3% 0 0%
Unknown 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 1 10% 0 0% 2 18.2% 0 0%
Academic 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
Entrepreneur n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
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