Online Graduate Degrees in Forestry: Program Overviews

Get info about online programs in forestry. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Online and hybrid master's degree programs in forestry are offered at just a few schools, although many campus-based programs are available. Online programs in natural resources management may offer a concentration in forest resources or agroforestry, and general natural resources degree programs teach many of the same principles.

Students may study natural resource laws and policies, as well as exploring forest economics and forest resources. Doctoral degree programs in this field are not offered in a distance-learning format.

Online forestry programs can be completed fully online, though some programs offer voluntary internship opportunities. Graduation requirements may include a thesis or other final professional project. Applicants are often already working professionally in the forestry field and seeking advancement. They need to hold a bachelor's degree, typically in a related field.

Master's Degree in Forestry

Online forestry master's degree programs focus on science, and students learn to effectively manage natural resources including wildlife, rangeland, water and fish. Prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited school, and some schools require a concentration in social or natural science. Other typical admission requirements include a minimum grade point average in college coursework, letters of professional reference, and successful scores on proficiency testing and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Some schools offer different areas of emphasis, including fisheries management, water conflict management or geographical information science.

Information and Requirements

These programs are available entirely online, and some schools also offer on-campus or blended formats. Depending on semester or quarter credit requirements, students must complete 30-60 hours for graduation. Thesis and non-thesis programs are available, and some programs require successful scores on a final exam for completion.

Students must have a personal computer and Internet connection to access classes, assignments and materials. Some schools manage their courses, communication and program through an educational delivery system, such as Blackboard.

Common Courses

Courses in these online graduate degree programs encompass natural resource conservation, sciences, and other topics related to ecology and sustainability. Some of the common courses are described below.

Principles and Policy Ecology Restoration

This class covers the ecological concepts related to forests and plants. Students examine ecological processes and services, ecosystems and sustainability practices. The course also requires students to develop a plan in ecological restoration by assessing, researching and synthesizing information.

Wetland, Watershed and Aquatic Resource

Students study wetland ecosystems and watershed sustainable management practices. The class focuses on ecology and restoration, as well as the relationship between land and water environment use.

Resource Management

This class teaches students how to manage natural resources and preserve quality in the environment. Students also explore ecological effects of fire, timber harvesting, and other issues related to preserving and maintaining wildlife.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for forest and conservation workers was $26,190 in May of 2015 ( The BLS also reported that the top paying industry in the field was services to buildings and dwellings, and the top paying state was Pennsylvania.

Continuing Education Information

For those wishing to pursue further education, Ph.D. programs are available in forestry and natural resources. These programs are usually designed for those aspiring for research positions in the field.

Individuals pursuing a career in the forestry field can complete a master's degree program entirely online or as a hybrid. Students learn about managing natural resources along with coursework in ecology and sustainability.

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