Online Schools for Aspiring Arborists: How to Choose

Online degrees in forestry, agronomy and horticulture are available at the associate, bachelor's and master's level at select institutions. Discover how to best select a school as a future arborist.

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Online programs specifically for aspiring arborists do not exist, but many natural resource and science-related programs are available online. Learn about some of the common award levels and formats for these programs to help decide which one is right for you.

How to Select an Online Arborist School

Arborists diagnose the condition, health, structure, and safety of trees, as well as provide appropriate solutions where needed. Along with the award level, students should consider whether or not they want a fully online program or a hybrid program that includes some hands-on training.

Award Level

Entry-level arborists can receive on the job training, but students interested in pursuing advanced positions in urban design, conservation, or planning may need a more specialized degree in horticulture or urban landscape design.

Program Format

Online programs in forestry offer two options of enrollment: full online and low-residency (hybrid) programs. Online immersion programs provide course instruction though video, Web, and virtual platforms and generally don't require students to take classes on campus. They are well suited for working professionals or students who don't have the option to attend regularly scheduled classes.

The majority of online undergraduate degree programs in horticulture are offered in a hybrid format. A hybrid program provides a selection of courses online, but also requires students to spend at least part of the time in an internship or campus training under instructor supervision.

List of Popular Online Programs for Arborists

Online Associate Degree in Horticulture

This associate degree program is ideal for students who want to major in agronomy in a horticulture studies program. The degree program is designed for two years of full-time study and typically includes a combination of online and on-site instruction.

Students participate in online courses though a Web platform, such as Blackboard, where they view lectures and participate in classroom discussions. Courses that focus on hands-on skills such as tree climbing, pruning, and planting are typically taught on campus. Successful graduation includes the completion of an internship and an individual horticulture project. Online classes focus on:

  • Plant nutrition
  • Pruning and gardening
  • Introductory arboriculture
  • Greenhouse and irrigation design

Online Master of Applied Science in Agronomy

The Master of Applied Science (MAS) degree is designed for students who wish to pursue and advanced degree in agronomy or students who hold an undergraduate degree in an unrelated field. Unlike research based master's degree programs, the applied master's degree program is designed to help students focus on creative problem solving with practical hands-on methods.

Students interested in applying their degree to a managerial position can focus on horticulture management by taking courses that emphasize building sustainable communities though ecological economics, marketing, and sales. Students can also focus on forestry, natural resource management, and conservation education. The program takes two years to complete and includes courses in:

  • Crop genetic engineering
  • Germplasm and genes
  • Growth and yield modeling
  • Management of insects

Online Master's Degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences

The online master's degree in natural and environmental sciences is a broad and multifaceted degree program designed for students who wish to expand their degree through self-directed research.

During the study students are introduced to core concepts in tree physiology, tree management in the urban forests or forest conservation. Courses are typically offered in combination of online and on-site locations. Successful graduates complete all course requirements and an individual research project. Students interested in agronomy can focus on courses in:

  • Forestry management
  • Wildlife conservation
  • Applied ecology
  • Surface water system chemistry

Schools with Online Programs for Arborists

The University of Nebraska - Lincoln offers several online degree and certificate programs that can be applicable to aspiring arborists. Available programs include a master's degree in agronomy and a graduate certificate in horticulture. There are also certificates in plant breeding and genetics as well as grassland management. Classes can be taken synchronously or asynchronously, and many of the same services offered to traditional students, such as career services and the campus library, can be access by online students as well.

Edmonds Community College has degree and certificate options at the undergraduate level. A one-year certificate in landscape horticulture and a two-year associate degree in landscape and restoration horticulture are available partially online, as are several other related programs. Evening and weekend classes are also available, and students are allowed to begin their learning any quarter they choose.

It's important to preview several schools to find one offering the best online arborist education available for you. Consider factors like award level and program format to make the best decision.

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