Graduate degree programs, such as a Ph.D. 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.

phd in forestry

Table of Contents

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

phd in forestry

How do I earn a Doctor of Forestry degree?

Prerequisites for earning a Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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 the 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.

phd in forestry

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?

phd in forestry

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 Ph.D. 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.

phd in forestry

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), which offers voluntary certifications.

phd in forestry

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 2019. 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 the 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 Ph.D. 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 employs many who have a passion for our trees and wildlife.

Popular career options also include Forest Ecologist, Conservation Scientist, or Nature Preserve Specialist. The average salary earned for a forester as of May 2019 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 5 percent between 2018 and 2028, as fast as the average for all occupations.

phd in forestry

What schools offer on-campus PhD in Forestry programs?

There are a variety of schools that offer forestry-related doctoral programs and most choose to concentrate on certain aspects of forestry. Therefore, through careful research and consideration, you will, without a doubt, find the right program to fit your needs. Some of the best schools offering Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Forestry include Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ; North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC; Michigan Tech in Houghton, MI; the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO; and the University of Montana in Missoula, MT.

Best Doctor of Forestry Schools

NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY

northern arizona

FOREST SCIENCE, DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

School Highlights: Northern Arizona University has been included on numerous Online-PhD-Degrees.com lists and rankings, but typically for its fabulous distance education programs. Since, as of today, there are no doctoral degrees in forestry available online, we now recognize NAU for its outstanding terminal, on-campus program in Forest Science. Through this curriculum, students concentrate their coursework in Ecosystem Science, Forest Management Science, or Forest Social Science, and, despite their choice, the degree is perfect for students pursuing careers in either research or education. There is also an optional emphasis on Ecology, Evolution, & Conservation Biology, which further refines this excellent Ph.D.

Concentration Options:

  • Ecosystem Science
  • Forest Management Science
  • Forest Social Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, & Conservation Biology Emphasis

Campus Location: Flagstaff, AZ

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois 60604
    www.hlcommission.com, (800) 621-7440
  • Society of American Foresters

Acceptance Rate: 85% Retention Rate: 76% Graduation Rate: 53%

LEARN MORE ABOUT NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY’S DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN FOREST SCIENCE

NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY

nc state

FORESTRY AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES DOCTORAL PROGRAM

School Highlights: There are thirteen concentrations available at North Carolina State University, which is plentiful compared to other curricula throughout the country. Students can carve personal academic pathways at this outstanding institution, where all learners are incredibly committed to their pursuits, which is quite clear through NC State’s phenomenal retention rate of 94%. Some of the most exciting specializations are listed below, and a few others include Bioremediation, International Forestry, and Spatial Information Systems. Students are also required to choose a minor as part of the Ph.D. in Forestry.

Concentration Sample:

  • Tree Improvement and Biotechnology
  • Forest Economics, Business, and Taxation
  • Silviculture

Campus Location: Raleigh, NC

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois 60604
    www.hlcommission.com, (800) 621-7440
  • Society of American Foresters

Acceptance Rate: 45% Retention Rate: 94% Graduation Rate: 77%

LEARN MORE ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY’S FORESTRY AND ENVIORNMENTAL RESOURCES DOCTORAL PROGRAM

MICHIGAN TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY

michigan tech

FOREST SCIENCE—PHD

School Highlights: Michigan Technological University supplies two vast and exciting options for students pursuing a doctor of philosophy in forestry. Despite their choice, they are provided with all of the highest quality tools and resources from an institution steeped in STEM-focused research. Both curricula offer in-depth training and knowledge in all areas of the discipline, from forest ecology to growth and yield to geographic information systems. Applicants with either a bachelor’s or a master’s are welcome. The only difference is thirty additional credits for those with an undergraduate degree.

Degree Options:

  • Forest Science
  • Forest Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology

Campus Location: Houghton, MI

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois 60604
    www.hlcommission.com, (800) 621-7440
  • Society of American Foresters

Acceptance Rate: 74% Retention Rate: 84% Graduation Rate: 67%

LEARN MORE ABOUT MICHIGAN TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY’S FOREST SCIENCE PHD

UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI

missouri

PHD IN NATURAL RESOURCES WITH AN EMPHASIS IN FORESTRY

School Highlights: The University of Missouri offers a unique option in forestry that gives students a more broad approach to the discipline. The curriculum requires students to participate in educational and professional activities such as conference lectures and seminar presentations. There is also a significant amount of independent study required for graduation, wherein doctor of philosophy learners work alongside some of the industry’s most respected experts. Graduates go on to provide the community with pivotal research findings in contribution to massive global issues such as climate change, forest reduction, and endangered species

Coursework Sample:

  • Ecohydrology: Contemporary Topics
  • Landscape Ecology and GIS Analysis I and II
  • Methods in Aquatic Ecology

Campus Location: Columbia, MO

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois 60604
    www.hlcommission.com, (800) 621-7440

Acceptance Rate: 81% Retention Rate: 89% Graduation Rate: 68%

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI’S PHD IN NATURAL RESOURCES WITH AN EMPHASIS IN FORESTRY

UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA

missouri

PHD IN FOREST & CONSERVATION SCIENCES

School Highlights: The University of Montana provides several Ph.D.’s that are applicable to Forestry, such as Resource Conservation, Wildlife Biology, and Forest & Conservation Science. Doctoral students delve deeply into their research projects, of which the Franke College of Forestry and Conservation supplies 20. Some exciting options are listed below in the Concentration Sample. The curriculum provides pathways for all pursuits and takes students out into the real world to develop their knowledge and skills. Graduates have received grants worth tens of thousands, some now work in the wildest tropical forests, and others provide crucial findings at the intersection of economic development and conservation.

Concentration Sample:

  • Biometrics and Ecological Modeling
  • Fire Science
  • International Conservation and Development

Campus Location: Missoula, MT

Accreditation:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
    8060 165th Avenue NE, Suite 200
    Redmond, Washington 98052
    www.nwccu.org, (425) 558-4224

Acceptance Rate: 94% Retention Rate: 69% Graduation Rate: 42%

LEARN MORE ABOUT UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA’S PHD IN FOREST & CONSERVATION SCIENCES
phd in forestry

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!