Master of Forestry — MF

The two-year Master of Forestry (MF) degree, which is accredited by the Society of American Foresters (SAF), prepares students for careers in sustainable natural resource management and policy — solving critical sustainability challenges and resource conflicts across a complex web of social, political, and ecological systems.

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    Program Overview

    The MF curriculum focuses on two major themes: multidisciplinary exposure in the biological and social sciences and a progressive growth of experience in resource measurement, analysis, management, and policy. Students gain hands-on research and technical experience alongside faculty at 11,000 acres of Yale-owned forested properties as well as benefiting from opportunities in management and policy development through YSE centers and programs.

    Accredited by the Society of American Foresters (SAF) under its Forestry standard, 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.

    MF Courses MF Curriculum Description

    Why choose the Yale School of the Environment?

    Students on a field trip at a water treatment facility

    Experiential Learning

    At YSE, education and training extend well beyond the classroom. Participate in our unique summer orientation program, MODs; travel widely for field research and internships; attend global conferences and climate talks such as the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP 26).

    Professor Marian Chertow with a student at Commencement

    Acclaimed Faculty

    Working closely with some of the top experts in their fields is one of the advantages of a YSE graduate degree. Our faculty are committed to mentoring the next generation of environmental leaders to tackle the world’s most urgent problems.

    Student and Alumni Impacts

    Reid Lewis on a snowy day near a frozen lake

    Stewarding Forests in the Face of Climate Change 

    Forests help mitigate climate change because of their ability to remove and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but they become carbon emitters during wildfires. PhD student Reid Lewis '20 MF is researching how satellite data and machine learning models can help fire-prone forests become more resilient.

    “When we make these forests more fire resilient, we can not only store more carbon, we can also help protect human communities, foster wildlife habitat, safeguard watersheds, and can use the process of restoration to partner with and empower Indigenous nations,” says Lewis.

    Pete Caligiuri in a forested area

    Fighting Fire with Fire

    As wildfires across the U.S. and Canada continue to endanger human health and wildlife, Pete Caligiuri ’10 MF, forest strategy director for The Nature Conservancy in Oregon, is working on fire suppression.

    And these efforts include setting fires. “Frequent, extreme wildfires are a threat, but fire has to be part of the solution. Fire always has been a part of these landscapes. Beneficial fire — like prescribed burns and managed wildfires — is essential to the long-term resilience of these forest landscapes into the future,” Caligiuri says.

    Ki’ila Salas

    Restoring Belize’s Landscapes

    Ki’ila Salas ’19 MF returned to her home country of Belize to participate in its first landscape restoration initiative, helping to develop its National Landscape Restoration Strategy for the Belize Forest Department. The project is part of the country’s national restoration commitment to the Bonn Challenge, which has a global goal to bring 350 million hectares of degraded and deforested landscapes into restoration by 2030.

    “The project gave me great pride and joy in guiding the process of how the restoration strategies should be accomplished,” Salas says.

    Portrait of Nikola Alexandre

    Indigenous Restoration Approaches

    As co-founder and executive director of Shelterwood, Nikola Alexandre ’18 MF, MBA leads the restoration of a 900-acre forest in Northern California with Black and Indigenous community approaches to land care.

    His work creates partnerships with and between traditional conservation NGOs, Indigenous and racial justice organizations, government agencies, and private landowners to model socially just and ecologically sound pathways to protecting and restoring nature. In 2020, Alexandre was named a Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Award candidate for his work.

    Hugh Brown under a canopy of bamboo

    Rehabilitating Ghana’s Forests

    After a decade as director of operations for Ghana’s Forestry Commission, overseeing the country’s commercial forest plantation development and land restoration, Hugh Brown ’10 MF was named executive director of the Commission's Forest Services Division in 2022.

    The Commission has begun the restoration of more than 450,000 hectares of degraded forests and planted millions of new trees under Brown's leadership — part of a major reforestation initiative by the Ghanaian government to contribute to global climate action.

    MF Program Timeline


    The broad objective of the two-year, SAF-accredited MF program is realized by requiring a multidisciplinary suite of formal course work coupled with a progressive synthesis of knowledge into a resource management plan and a significant professional project along with a host of allied extra-curricular fieldwork activities.

    First Semester

    During their first semester students are encouraged to meet the foundational and basic knowledge of working in a forest and with people. 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 (e.g stand dynamics, Tree ecophysiology), social (political ecology, human equity, law and policy), and physical disciplines (hydrology, soils and climate). 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 policy.

    Second Semester

    In the second semester students start to take framework and techniques courses that integrate biological, physical and social science knowledge together through courses in silviculture and economics. And by taking  quantitative skills and tools courses (statistics, measurements and GIS/spatial analysis courses) they learn how to collect and integrate foundational knowledge and information appropriately for analysis and synthesis.


    During the summer between first and second year a student's education is realized further by gaining management experience in the the Apprentice Forester Program of the Yale Forests or working as a community forester with URI; taking up a host of policy and analysis internships offered through The Forest School via ELTI and TFD, or conducting an independent research project sponsored by TRI. Experience in management, policy and research can be gained at regional, national or international scales depending upon a student's focus..

    Second Year

    In the third semester students focus on "Synthesis and Analysis of Knowledge". Generally, students take courses that are designed to address and prepare them for solving important problems in the real world. Courses concerning resource management focus on increasing the students ability to ask relevant questions in useful ways, and to gather data to answer these questions. These courses are designed to maintain high faculty-student and student-student interaction. A significant project component is expected in these courses, some being client driven (e.g. management plans) while others are research reports or assessments (e.g. independent research; seminar projects; and forest management 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 of courses students take during their second year concerns "professional knowledge." This category strives to provide aspects of forestry that broaden and add to the students knowledge base from a professional perspective in a self-designed area of interest (e.g urban forestry, tropical forest restoration, conservation and ecological forestry, agroforestry, climate change and carbon, business and investment, watershed management, social equity and justice). Lastly, during a student's fourth semester the MF capstone course, ENV 955, addresses leadership, among other management skills, a characteristic that we have seek to strengthen in all of our students since the inception of the School.

    Throughout the two-year education experience for a student there is an array of local, regional, national, and international field trips extended field experiences, and fellowships to witness and participate in the practice of forestry in diverse settings; and workshops and seminars to engage students that are designed to expose students to the breadth and complexity of real world forest issues..

    Contact Master’s Admissions

    Introduce yourself to the YSE master’s admissions team.

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    Learning Communities

    YSE's Learning Communities were created to offer robust interdisciplinary experiences and networks. Students may engage with as many learning communities as they choose, regardless of their degree program or specialization.