Several public and private universities around the U.S. have undergraduate and graduate programs in forestry, forest management or forest resources accredited by the Society of American Foresters (SAF). Although some colleges also offer 2-year associate degree programs, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that would-be foresters, forest resource managers and conservation scientists need a 4-year bachelor's degree or higher (www.bls.gov).
Top Forestry Schools
According to a 2019 ranking by Top Universities, the following schools are the top ten agriculture and forestry institutions:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)*|
|University of California - Davis||Davis, CA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$14,402 (In-state) $43,394 (Out-of-state)|
|Cornell University||Ithaca, NY||4-year, Private||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$55,188|
|University of Wisconsin - Madison||Madison, WI||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$10,555 (In-state) $36,805 (Out-of-state)|
|Texas A&M University||College Station, TX||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$11,807 (In-state) $37,495 (Out-of-state)|
|Purdue University||West Lafayette, IN||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$9,992 (In-state) $28,794 (Out-of-state)|
|Oregon State University||Corvallis, OR||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$11,166 (In-state) $30,141 (Out-of-state)|
|Pennsylvania State University||University Park, PA||4-year, Public||Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$18,454 (In-state) $34,858 (Out-of-state)|
|Iowa State University||Ames, IA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$8,988 (In-state) $23,392 (Out-of-state)|
|Ohio State University||Columbus, OH||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$10,726 (In-state) $30,742 (Out-of-state)|
|University of California - Berkeley||Berkeley, CA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$14,184 (In-state) $43,176 (Out-of-state)|
*Source: National Center for Education Statistics
School Selection Criteria
A large part of a forestry curriculum is spent conducting research outdoors, so students want to ascertain whether the school is near significant, and academically appealing, forest resources. The SAF also reports that employers tend to hire graduates who have come from a forestry program in their area, so the student may want to choose a school in a location in which they'd like to build a career.
- When selecting a forestry program, the first thing students may want to consider is the school's location.
- Forestry programs require a set of core courses in addition to advanced forestry courses in ecology, soil science and wildlife, and it is important to make sure the program's curriculum meets the requirements for the career you want.
- Additionally, students may look for a forestry program that places a lot of importance in practical, hands-on research and experience.
Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Forest Technology
Designed for students looking to become forest technicians, a 2-year associate's degree program in forest technology provides both practical and theoretical experience in forestry and related sciences.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Forestry or Forest Management
In these programs, students complete several practical courses in research methods, as well as participating in fieldwork experiences. Students may choose to emphasize their program in several areas, including human-forest interactions, restoration of forest landscapes and forest operations.
Master's Degree in Forestry or Forest Resources
A Master of Science in Forestry program takes about two years to complete, including time spent conducting original research for a thesis. The graduate candidate must choose an area of specialization within forestry, such as forest economics, policy or biotechnology. Applicants into this program must hold a bachelor's degree in forestry or a related field.
Ph.D. in Forestry and Environmental Resources
Doctorate programs explore advanced topics within forestry and natural resources, and they are heavily focused on original research and scientific inquiry. Prior to completion of the program, students complete a comprehensive exam and a dissertation. These programs are designed for those looking for a career in postsecondary teaching and research.
Students interested in studying forest management can pursue a degree at the undergraduate or graduate level, and focus their studies on areas best suited for their desired careers. Often, students will need to consider the location of the school and experience opportunities the program provides when choosing the right school for them.