Graduate degree programs, such as a PhD in Forestry, are not generally available in the U.S. at this time through the 100% online format, although you can often find a master’s degree or graduate certificate program in forestry through the hybrid format. Typically, an extensive research and dissertation process, hands-on training, lab work, field trips, internships and/or teaching assistantships are often required in an on-campus setting.
What is involved in the field of Forestry?
You don’t have to be Smokey Bear to appreciate the invaluable work of the forester! Undoubtedly, the field of forestry is a balancing act. Why, you ask? On the one hand, trees must be used wisely for human use. On the other hand, maintaining a growing population of trees for use can be challenging. As a forester, you are responsible for preserving and protecting valuable trees while also providing them for corporations to produce building materials, paper, maple syrup, paint and soaps, as well as, medicines and cosmetics.
Foresters also supervise recreational activity locations related to the field of forestry management, such as state parks, wildlife preserves, camping and hiking areas and those areas specifically reserved for hunting. Important research is done each year to promote forest conservation, historical preservation and fire prevention in our woodlands.
How do I earn a Doctor of Forestry degree?
Prerequisites for earning a PhD in Forestry are similar to most other topics. You will need to have completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree program, submit your official transcripts, as well as, provide letters of recommendation and have excellent GRE scores.
Your PhD program will take approximately four years to complete. The program is an intensive research program designed for those who would like to teach at the university level or conduct research at accredited universities, forest product firms or perhaps, government agencies. Most likely, you will be required to work an internship with a forestry or conservation agency.
Coursework can vary greatly depending on your specialization, however, you can expect studies in plant, tree and wilderness animal species, as well as, silviculture, soil compositions and conservation, forest preservation, botany, tree physiology and forestry management. You may also study wildlife biology, climate change and ecology.
What specializations can I choose from in the field of Forestry?
As you embark upon earning a doctorate degree in forestry, you may be interested in choosing a specialized area in the field. The topic of forestry covers a wide array of subjects. You may be interested in forest management and economics or ecosystem science. Or, forest social science, watershed management or genetics and physiology? Other choices may include forest biometrics and geomatics, sustainable engineering or biodeterioration and materials protection. What are you truly interested in?
Can I earn a Certificate in Forestry instead of a Doctorate degree?
Graduate certificates in forestry are available for professionals who would like to earn the accolade, however, they primarily focus on a major of your choice and do not include general courses like a PhD program does. You may choose from many concentrations such as, Ecological Restoration, Natural Resource Policy & Administration, Environmental Education and Communication, Forest Health or Wilderness Management, just to name a few options.
Do I need to be licensed to be a Forester?
In some states, you will need to be licensed or registered. Continuing educational opportunities are also available from the Society of American Foresters (SAF), who offer voluntary certifications.
What kind of career and salary can I expect in the field of Forestry?
If you intend to use your doctoral degree in forestry and conservation science within the realm of teaching at the postsecondary level, you can expect to earn $87,420 to upwards of $147,740 annually, according to the BLS, as of May 2017. In addition, your doctoral degree will help you demonstrate the skills needed to conduct your own scientific research in the field of forestry. Of course, your options are limitless when research is involved. Such areas may include testing and analyzing data, as well as, publishing your results in major journals in forest management or natural resource policy and law.
Perhaps your desired results of your doctoral degree are for that promotion you want, such as for an administrative or management position as a head forester or department manager in forest conservation. Most PhD holders in forest sciences find employment with government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The U.S. Forest Service also employees many who have a passion for our trees and wildlife.
Popular career options also include Forest Ecologist, Conservation Scientist or a Nature Preserve Specialist. The average salary earned for a forester as of May 2017 according to the BLS was between $60,120 to $84,830 per year, however, this can vary greatly depending on many factors, such as experience, job location and education. The field of forestry is expected to grow 6 percent between 2016 and 2026, as fast as the average for all occupations.
What schools offer on-campus PhD in Forestry programs?
There are a variety of schools that offer forestry-related doctoral programs; most choose to concentrate in certain aspects of forestry, therefore, through careful research and consideration you will, without a doubt, find the right program to fit your needs.
Northern Arizona University, located in Flagstaff, AZ offers their students the opportunity to earn a PhD in Forest Science with an emphasis on Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology. They offer three concentrations, as well: Ecosystem Science, Forest Management Sciences & Economics or Forest Social Science.
NC State University – Raleigh, NC, offers an on-campus doctoral degree call a PhD in Forestry & Environmental Resources.
Michigan Tech – Houghton, MI offers a PhD in Forest Science or Forest Molecular Genetics & Biotechnology.
The famous writer Paulo Coelho once said, “In a forest of a hundred thousand trees, no two leaves are alike. And no two journeys along the same path are alike.” So, follow your dreams and take the next step in your educational journey that will help you achieve your dreams. Your love for nature will lead the way!