Non-Thesis Master of Forestry Program

Our non-thesis Master of Forestry program is a professional degree for students pursuing careers in traditional forest management with private companies, federal or state governments, and nonprofit organizations. The curriculum is accredited by the Society of American Foresters (SAF). Graduates are able to take the SAF-Certified Forester examination and most state registration examinations, including North Carolina, after completing this program. Many employers expect foresters to become certified or registered within a few years.

The Master of Forestry curriculum is ideal for students with undergraduate degrees in fields related to forest management, such as natural resources, hydrology, wildlife management, plant biology, and environmental sciences. Graduates with a Bachelor’s degree in forest management from an SAF-accredited program are not eligible to apply for this program.

Students from non-natural science degrees are welcome to apply for this program. Students without a natural sciences background will need additional coursework to meet SAF standards for general education. If your undergraduate major was in the natural sciences (e.g., biology, natural resources), you might only need a few undergraduate courses, such as soils or microeconomics, for this program, which you could take as part of the program or during our Summer Camp intensive courses. But if your undergraduate studies were not in the natural sciences, your pathway could take longer.

Students should, at the very minimum, have the equivalent of:

  • Two semesters of college-level mathematics or statistics (equivalent to, for example, NC State’s MA 114, MA 121, MA 131/231, MA 141/241, or ST 311)
  • Two courses in the following subject areas: English composition, technical and business
    writing or communications;
  • Two courses in the following subject areas: plant biology, terrestrial ecology, plant physiology or plant anatomy;
  • One course in chemistry and a second course in either chemistry or physics;
  • Two courses in humanities; and
  • Two courses in social sciences.

Applicants lacking some or all of the general education courses will need to take these classes in addition to the 40 hours required for the professional component. Equivalent courses are offered at many community colleges and four-year universities and do not need to be taken at NC State.

Students in this program must complete 40 credit hours: 39 hours of traditional course work and 1 hour for a project (FOR 630). All course work is prescribed; no elective courses exist, and a research thesis is not required. Traditional course work is approximately balanced among four categories: Ecology and Biology, Measurement of Forest Resources, Management of Forest Resources, and Forest Resource Policy, Economics and Administration. Many courses have outdoor laboratories, where basic principles are applied to real-world situations.

Students may write a management plan as their professional project. Other past student projects analyzed of wood procurement systems, estimated growth and yield functions, assessed forest fire fighting systems, and analyzed effects of tree species introductions to the United States. Data for the project is normally collected in the summer.

Required courses (40 hours)

Required courses are often offered only once each year, necessitating careful planning. The order shown below is recommended, but not required.  Course titles followed by an asterisk (*) contain out­door laboratories or assignments.

Fall Semester FOR 501, Dendrology* – 3 credits

FOR 502, Forest Measurements – 1 credit

SSC 461, Soil Physical Properties and Plant Growth* – 3 credits

FOR 574, Forest Measurement, Modeling and Inventory* – 3 credits

Spring Semester FOR 504, Practice of Silviculture – 3 credits

FOR 506, Silviculture Laboratory* – 1 credit

FOR 534, Forest Operations and Analysis* – 3 credits

GIS 510, Intro to GIS – 3 credits

Summer Session I or II FOR 630, Master’s Supervised Research* – 1 credit
Fall Semester NR 560, Renewable Natural Resources Administration and Policy – 3 credits or NR 571, Current Issues in Natural Resources Policy – 3 credits

PB 421, Plant Physiology – 3 credits

FOR 519, Forest Economics – 3 credits

Spring Semester NR 500, Natural Resource Management – 3 credits

PB 565, Plant Community Ecology* – 4 credits

FOR 531, Wildland Fire Science* – 3 credits

It is possible to take fewer courses per semester, although the degree must be completed within six years of the first course taken towards this degree. While some of these courses can be taken online, most of the program courses require students to attend on-campus classes.

Faculty who often work with students include Drs. Richard Braham, Joe Roise, Fred Cubbage, Jim McCarter and Doug Frederick. Students are encouraged to contact them directly about graduate opportunities and whether undergraduate course work satisfies the general education requirements.