Forestry Graduate Degrees

The forestry program provides high quality education in forestry and related disciplines; develops knowledge through scholarly endeavors; and disseminates information to the profession, the public, and the community through service and outreach. This focus on forestry extends into the broader arena of natural resources and environmental sciences through collaboration across the college and university.

Fields of Study for M.S. and Ph.D. Degrees include:

  • Forest Ecology
  • Forest Fire Science
  • Forest Economics and Policy Analysis
  • Forest Ecosystem Management
  • Quantitative Analysis of Natural Resource Policy and Management
trees and mountains

Forest Ecology

Research in forest ecology, both basic and applied, spans a breadth of important topics that increase understanding of forest ecosystems.  These include tree physiology, fire ecology, silviculture, forest soils, and forest biogeochemistry.  Processes determining patterns of forest development and resource production are being examined in several areas within forest ecology.  Faculty and graduate students are working on research projects that: quantify patterns of stand development, including relationships between density, tree size, and stand productivity; identify the degree of nutrient limitation of major forest types, including changes with stand development; examine the impacts of pollutants on forest biogeochemistry; explore the ecology of agroforestry systems; examine the population biology of rare species; investigate ecosystem processes at scales from single trees to the regional and global levels; and determine the importance of disturbance regimes such as fire on forest development, including species composition and resource production.

Ponderosa Pine tree trunk

Field study sites are located in a variety of forested ecosystems in the United States, including

  • high elevation subalpine forests of the Rocky Mountains
  • montane forests of the Colorado western slope
  • woodlands of the southwest
  • boreal forests in Alaska
  • native shrublands
  • woodlands and fuelwood plantations in Hawaii
  • commercial forests in the Southeast.

Complete laboratory facilities are available to support faculty and student research projects.

Forest Economics and Policy Analysis

Men coring an aspen tree in winter

The economics program investigates a full range of forest management situations and public policy issues.  Research efforts include advances to ecosystems management, analysis of public policies, fuels and wildfire management, financial management of commercial assets, non-market valuation, and the supply and demand situations of both public and private forestlands.  The economics and policy analysis program is supported by facilities for advanced computing, including a forest economics and management laboratory.  The program is closely affiliated with the Western Forest Fire Research Center (WESTFIRE) that houses a dedicated laboratory for fire management and economics.  Programs are individually tailored to best meet academic and career objectives.

Forest Fire Science

Wildland firefighters working on an active fire

Advanced studies in forest fire science cover a broad range of subject areas depending on academic interests, including fire behavior, fire economics, fire ecology, fire effects, fire history, fuels management, and fire modeling.  Student and faculty teams work on projects affiliated with the Western Forest Fire Research Center (WESTFIRE), an interdisciplinary facility aimed at solving wildland fire management problems.  Example research themes include the role of fire in managing ecosystems, cost-efficiency of fire management activities, linkages between fire behavior and fire effects on biotic and abiotic processes, and impacts of fuel treatments on reducing fire severity.  Close working relations with field practitioners assure the relevance of fire science instruction and research efforts.

Forest Ecosystem Management

trees and mountains

Forest ecosystem management is forest management with the objective of maintaining sustainable, productive, healthy, biologically diverse forests and woodlands for the long term.  Forest ecosystem management is a field that combines the environmental, managerial, and social sciences with modern technology in decision support systems including geographic information systems, spatial data management, and computer simulation to develop effective management tools for modern forest managers.  The objectives of the graduate program in ecosystem management are:

  1. To develop and enhance ecosystem management skills in students entering the forestry and land management profession,
  2. To conduct research in support of ecosystem management objectives, and
  3. To develop management techniques and models that improve our abilities to deal with the complexities of ecosystems.

Quantitative Analysis of Natural Resource Policy and Management

Student collecting soil samples in the forest

Six faculty form the basic core of expertise in this program. An extensive network of computing facilities within the department and University supports the quantitative natural resource management program. Specific areas of emphasis include optimization as applied to multiresource management, simulation of resource interactions, fire management systems, and timber growth modeling.  This program has achieved national stature, and graduates hold key positions within natural resource agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service.  Every graduate (both M.S. and Ph.D.) of this program has found excellent employment upon graduation.