Wednesday, June 12, 2024

15 Best Forestry Schools for the Nature Lover in You

Check out these quali-tree programs! 🌲

Saving Mother Earth is the main mission of environmental advocates, and students at the best forestry schools are at the frontline of putting those words into action. 🪧 

If you’d love a career where you don’t have to trade your overalls for a suit and tie and can make bank with your green thumb, conserving forests is the way to go. 🌳

We’ve scoured the woods and found the top 15 accredited forestry schools, all stamped with approval by the Society of American Foresters.

1. Oregon State University

There’s no better place to study forestry than in a state where forests take up almost half of the total land area. Introducing: Oregon State University (OSU). 👏

The school’s forestry program zeroes in on all aspects of forest conservation: managing wildfires and natural calamities, monitoring the forest and wildlife health, and efficiently and sustainably harvesting timber for the economy.

OSU even manages 10 research forests serving as playgrounds for students to go on hikes, picnics, and do experiments. With varied methods of learning, rest assured you’ll never be stumped at this forestry school. 😉

📍 Location: Corvallis, Oregon
💰 Cost of Attendance: $30,870 (in-state, on-campus), $52,662 (out-of-state, on-campus)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 89 percent

2. Michigan Technological University 

The College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Technological University can give you a National Geographic-esque perspective of nature. 📺

The model forests inside the school are where you get down and dirty learning soil science, biometrics, hydrology, and silviculture.

Dig deeper with fellow students as you brainstorm and learn key forestry skills (like tapping trees and marking timber) through a hands-on learning program. 🌲

Three forestry college students explore their school's nearby forest for hands-on learning
Michigan Tech’s forestry students harvest knowledge when they visit the Ford Forest doing activities like simulating rainfall and observing how trees adapt to the changes. Photo: master1305/Freepik

Michigan Tech also trains third-year students to survive in the forest through the Integrated Field Practicum, where they learn topics like chainsaw handling and map designing.

Taking the Accelerated Master of Forestry program is also a chance to snag a lucrative starting salary since you’ll graduate with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree within five years. 🥳 But, you need a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above.

📍 Location: Houghton, Michigan
💰 Cost of Attendance: $35,516 (in-state, on-campus), $58,150 (out-of-state, on-campus)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 74 percent

3. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)

Maintaining the sustainability of the wildland and urban forests is the name of the game for Virginia Tech’s forestry program.

It offers three majors to choose from, whether it’s dealing with Forest Operations and Business, getting busy with Forest Resources Management, or being involved in Urban and Community Forestry. ✅

Community involvement is also encouraged through student clubs like the Society of American Foresters and the Forestry Club, which can add to creating your killer resume.

Want to branch out even further? Join Virginia Tech’s research projects in forest biometrics and geomatics or forest operations and business molecular genetics (to name a few). 🔍

📍 Location: Blacksburg, Virginia
💰 Cost of Attendance: $32,274 (in-state, on-campus), $52,758 (out-of-state, on-campus) 
📈 Acceptance Rate: 66 percent

4. University of Georgia

How does the University of Georgia (UGA) prepare you for a lucrative forestry career? You’ll be drilled on essential courses like Soils and Hydrology and Forest Harvesting and Roads. 🛣️

You’ll also have access to the school’s Whitehall Forest, which houses UGA’s research laboratories and facilities. Plus, you can carve out your forestry career path with complementary elective courses like agribusiness or horticulture.

Five University of Georgia's forestry majors riding on a boat toward another part of the forest to collect plant samples
Access to extensive research sites like the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory makes the University of Georgia one of the best forestry schools in the US. Photo: Dorothy Kozlowski/University of Georgia Marketing and Communications

Students with a 3.0 GPA considering graduating with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree can do so through the Double Dawgs program. 😎

📍 Location: Athens, Georgia
💰 Cost of Attendance: $27,542 (in-state, on-campus), $47,416 (out-of-state, on-campus)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 48 percent

5. The State University of New York

The State University of New York (SUNY) has offered forestry education since 1911 and today, you’ll find three forestry-related majors under the College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). 😀

Take your pick between Forest Resources Management (FRM) or Natural Resources Management (NRM), or if you’re keen to do a full year of independent research, choose Forest Ecosystem Science (FES). 🌲

SUNY’s forestry students set out for an adventure during their summer program between the second and third years in college, with slight location tweaks.

While FES students journey to the Adirondack Mountains to attend SUNY’s Ranger School, FRM and NRM students blaze a trail to ESF’s Wanakena campus nestled near Cranberry Lake. ☀️

📍 Location: Syracuse, New York
💰 Cost of Attendance: $27,710 (in-state, on-campus), $37,720 (out-of-state, on-campus)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 68 percent

6. University of Florida

The University of Florida’s forestry program fits right in with Gainesville city’s lush urban forests and nature attractions. 🌿

With a Forest Resources & Conservation major, students have seven specialization options for their ideal career. For example, aspiring environmental lawyers may specialize in Environmental Pre-Law.

On the other hand, future urban planners working with nature could benefit from an Urban Forestry focus. ✍️

Two forestry students preparing their course project in their university's outdoor bench
One of the perks of being a forestry major at the University of Florida is studying and preparing projects in outdoor classrooms. Photo: Freepik

Classroom teachings are complemented by outdoor lessons at the 2,040-acre Austin Cary Forest. The forest is your playground when you participate in different areas of research such as tropical forestry and geospatial sciences. 🔎

📍 Location: Gainesville, Florida
💰 Cost of Attendance: $23,150 (in-state, on-campus), $45,428 (out-of-state, on/off-campus)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 31 percent

7. Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University’s forestry program equips its students to work in Flagstaff’s six climate zones, which can give them a leg up over other forestry professionals. 👍

Want exposure to even more varied climates and terrain? Study abroad to get front-row views of Panama’s evergreen and deciduous forests or fly further out to Australia’s diverse woods. 

Finish off your degree with a senior capstone project (similar to a thesis) and an approved certificate plan where you can choose to master topics like Fire Ecology & Management or Forest Health and Ecological Restoration, among many others.🌲

📍 Location: Flagstaff, Arizona
💰 Cost of Attendance: $29,302 (in-state, on-campus), $44,564 (out-of-state, on-campus)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 82 percent

8. North Carolina State University

Addressing challenges like climate change requires immersion in different forestry management topics, which is just what North Carolina State University has in store.

A specialization in ecology is all about natural forest ecosystems, while studying Production Concentration trains you in the area of the forest industry and plantations. 😀

A group of forestry students hiking during their semestral fieldwork
North Carolina State University’s forestry management majors’ regular treks to the forest train students in silviculture and restoration practices. Photo: Freepik

Students also trek to the nearby Schenck forest to apply their learning and join a nine-week summer camp in different forests.

Expand your horizons and explore the Bahamas’ biodiversity or Ecuador’s tropical ecosystems when you participate in short-term and year-long study abroad programs related to forestry and environmental resources offered by the school. 🌎

📍 Location: Raleigh, North Carolina 
💰 Cost of Attendance: $26,814 (in-state), $49,958 (out-of-state)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 46 percent

9. University of California-Berkeley

Aside from its contributions to the tech field, did you know that the University of California-Berkeley also leafs a great impression with its Ecosystem Management and Forestry (EMF) offering? 🍃

EMF students choosing the Forestry option get to camp in the mountainous area of Sierra Nevada for eight weeks as part of the curriculum.

Those choosing the Natural Resource Management option can either camp in the Sierra Nevada or explore nature on the Polynesian island of Moorea. ⛰️

Other direct outdoor learning opportunities are in store when you explore UC Berkeley’s five research forests: Baker, Blodgett, Grouse Ridge, Russell, and Whitaker’s.

Unearth forestal discoveries via the Sponsored Projects for Undergraduate Research guided by your professors and laboratory researchers. 🥼

📍 Location: Berkeley, California
💰 Cost of Attendance: $42,794 (in-state, on-campus), $73,820 (out-of-state, on-campus)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 17 percent

10. Auburn University

Explore your forestry education at Auburn University, a school located in the biologically diverse state of Alabama. 

Spend a summer in the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center to learn about Forest Surveying and Field Mensuration, which can kickstart your entry into professional courses or guide your senior capstone project. ☀️ 

Two forestry students measuring the distance between trees
Master your science and math subjects at Auburn University to accurately measure parts of the forest during fieldwork. Photo: Freepik

Hungry for more? Jet off to other countries via the school’s study abroad program to check forest operations in places like Brazil, or take part in research programs tackling Biology & Ecology to Biomaterials & Products during your undergraduate work. ✍️

📍 Location: Auburn, Alabama
💰 Cost of Attendance: $17,201 (in-state, on/off campus), $27,593 (out-of-state, on/off campus) 
📈 Acceptance Rate: 85 percent

11. Iowa State University

Forestry students have access to four specialization options when they choose to study at Iowa State University. 

A Natural Resource Conservation and Restoration focuses on environmental protection, while Urban and Community Forestry is about managing nature in urban settings. 🏙️

If you’re interested in sustainable products and services, you’ll find what you need with Forest Ecosystem Management. Meanwhile, your communication skills can be put to good use when you take the Interpretation of Natural Resources track.

The three-week fall forestry camp in your sophomore year will guide you in choosing which track to take as you meet natural resource professionals and get busy with fieldwork. 🥾

📍 Location: Ames, Iowa
💰 Cost of Attendance: $23,472 (in-state, on-campus), $39,956 (out-of-state, on-campus)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 88 percent

12. University of Montana

Did you know that the University of Montana has been offering forestry for more than 100 years? 🤯 As such, they’re one of the best forestry schools in the US.

Students explore and conduct research in multiple university facilities, such as the Lubrecht Forest and the Bandy Ranch, alongside US Forest Service areas within the state.

Two female forestry students taking a closer look at plants in the forestry school's research laboratory
Be at the forefront of new discoveries when you participate in the University of Montana’s forestry and ecological conservation research activities. Photo: DCStudio/Freepik

You can take a pick of professional electives among the offered subjects on biophysical sciences, policy and social science, and more. 🧐

Upon graduation, you’ll be getting not only a degree but 400 hours of work experience under your belt. 💪 This is made possible by this university’s efforts in connecting its students with employers for industry exposure during (and after) the program.

📍 Location: Missoula, Montana
💰 Cost of Attendance: $25,534 (in-state, on-campus), $48,936 (out-of-state, on-campus)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 96 percent

13. University of Kentucky

Wood you believe that almost all wildfires in Kentucky are caused by humans? 😢 This, along with the need for sustainable conservation practices, makes the University of Kentucky’s (UK) forestry program all the more important.

The Division of Forestry partnered with the US Forest Service to create the UK Fire Cats, a program of paid on-call UK forestry majors as emergency firefighters. 🔥

Junior students can also go on trips around Kentucky to familiarize themselves with forest operations and industry practices.

There are plenty of electives and minor courses offered too. For example, aspiring entrepreneurs benefit from a Business/Management/Economics elective. Meanwhile, animal lovers could take a Wildlife and Biology minor. 🐿️

📍 Location: Lexington, Kentucky
💰 Cost of Attendance: $6,429.50 (in-state), $16,138 (out-of-state)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 96 percent

14. University of Minnesota

Imagine studying at a prestigious public university that produced Norman Borlaug, a forestry alumnus with a Nobel peace prize. In-tree-ducing: the University of Minnesota! 📣

Forest and Natural Resource Management majors choose from three specialization tracks. Take Forest Ecosystem Management & Conservation for lessons on forest conservation and timber production. 🪵

If you’ve got a soft spot for parks from when you were a child, go for Park & Protected Area Management. Meanwhile, urbanites who’d love to see more greenery in the cities could learn a thing or two from Urban & Community Forestry. 🍃

Two forestry students pointing out which tree they'll be studying for their senior capstone project
The best forestry schools like the University of Minnesota give multiple options for their students to go off the beaten path in pursuit of forest conservation Photo: teksomolika/Freepik

Taking your studies a step further is possible with a complementary minor (ranging from Geographic Information Science to Sustainability Studies).

📍 Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
💰 Cost of Attendance: $31,348 (in-state, on-campus), $52,088 (out-of-state)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 70 percent

15. University of Washington

Turn your passion for the environment into a flowering career through the University of Washington and its forestry program. 🍃

While a general degree in Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management is enough, branching out is also possible with four specialization options: Sustainable Forest Management, Natural Resources and Environmental Management, Restoration Ecology and Environmental Horticulture, or Wildlife Conservation. 

Forestry students get to call the Pack Forest and the Hoh Rain Forest (within the Olympic National Park, a World Heritage Site) their outdoor classrooms and research spots. 🌲

Plus, students can access research hubs like the Center for International Trade in Forest Products and contribute to projects like mass timber demand.

📍 Location: Seattle, Washington
💰 Cost of Attendance: $32,090 (in-state), $60,588 (out-of-state)
📈 Acceptance Rate: 56 percent


And there you have it — the best forestry schools to help you make an impact on the environment, fir real. 

If you’re pining for a career that lets you work with nature, just leaf it to these schools to provide you with the tools to succeed.🍀

The Best Forestry Schools in the US: Frequently Asked Questions 

What college has the best forestry program?

Is forestry a popular major?

What majors are similar to forestry?

What should I study for forestry?

If you want to take up forestry in college, study Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects to prepare you for math and the natural sciences (such as chemistry and biology) before your professional courses.

What forestry job pays the most?

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