Forestry, Master of Science in Forestry


College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences

Our traditional thesis option is an individually tailored plan of study that gives you experience in carrying out the kind of research you can expect to do throughout your professional career. This academic plan normally requires two calendar years of academic work that you may begin in either Fall or Spring term.

  • Available Emphasis Areas:
  • Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology - Emphasis

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master's degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.

    Read the full policy here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 32
Additional Admission Requirements

Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

Thesis Thesis is required.
Oral Defense Oral Defense is required.
Research Individualized research is required.
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study

Purpose Statement

The Master of Science in Forestry (MSF) degree is intended for students wishing to pursue professional and research-oriented careers in the management and policy of forest resources for public, private, and non-profit sectors.  Through our thesis degree, students design and conduct an original research project that advances scientific understanding of forest ecosystems and human management of forests.  The writing and defense of a professional-quality thesis also prepares students for the pursuit of a doctoral degree.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students work closely with their advisor to create a course of study wherein they achieve the following competencies:

  • A thorough understanding of fundamental knowledge about forest ecosystems and human management of forests  This understanding includes familiarity with major theories, areas of agreement and controversy, significant challenges, and leading edges of forest ecosystem science, forest management sciences and economics, and forest social sciences
  • Examination of the broad range of research methods, modes of inquiry, and quantitative methods used in Forestry, including such elements as: the philosophy of science, epistemology, and statistics.   Through this exploration, students broaden their ability to apply the range of approaches used in the science of managing, using, conserving, and restoring forests.
  • A thorough understanding of research ethics, particularly the ability to examine how ethical issues impact decisions concerning research design, and applying this knowledge to develop ethical approaches to research methodology and data collection. 
  • Ability to effectively communicate in oral presentations, writing, and using posters to scientists, forestry professionals, and the general public about the student’s thesis research and topic.
  • Advanced scientific understanding of forest ecosystems and human management of forests through original scientific research, as demonstrated by the implementation and completion of a thesis.  Students design a research study of personal or professional interest and importance including: planning, organizing, scheduling, and executing the project with the guidance and input of their thesis advisor.  The thesis includes a thorough literature review related to the thesis area; selection of quantitative research methods appropriate to the research design with faculty guidance; analysis, interpretation and explanation of findings with faculty guidance, and a thesis defense delivered to a community of forestry faculty.
Emphasis in Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biology (EECB)

The EECB emphasis provides the opportunity for students in the Forestry M.F. Program to specialize in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology. Students completing the EECB emphasis will have the following competencies:
  • A solid understanding of the history and conceptual and theoretical foundations of ecology
  • Knowledge of current and emerging topics in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology, and ability to discuss these topics with peers and experts
  • Two of three listed below:
    • Understanding of and ability to use quantitative research approaches in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology
    • Understanding of ecology, evolution, and conservation biology at physiological, population, and community scales
    • Understanding of ecology, evolution, and conservation biology at ecosystem and global scales


Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • GRE® revised General Test
    • Three letters of recommendation
    • Prerequisites (may be completed concurrently with the program)
      • 15 hours of Forestry coursework
    • Resume or curriculum vitae
    • Statement of research interests
    • All applicants should make contact with potential faculty members in the department BEFORE APPLYING.
Master's Requirements
  • Take the following 32 units, as well as any required remedial coursework:

    Select from the following (6 units):
    • BIO 682
    • CCJ 614
    • SOC 655
    • STA 570, STA 571, STA 572, STA 574, STA 676
    • or other graduate-level course with significant content in statistics
    • Electives - select in consultation with your major professor and thesis committee including at least 6 units of formal graded coursework. Electives may include the Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biology Emphasis (12 units):
  • Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biology Emphasis:

    • BIO 577 (3 units)
    • Select one seminar course from: FOR 505, BIO 698 (1 unit)
    • Breadth Courses (6 units): Select one course from each of two of the following groups:
  • Thesis
    • FOR 699, for the research, writing, and oral defense of an approved thesis. Please note that you may end up taking more than the 8 units of thesis credit you can count toward your degree because you must enroll for it each term while you are working on your thesis. (8 units)
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.