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
  • Forestry Coursework

  • 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 Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
Emphasis or Coursework Required

An emphasis or coursework is required for this degree.

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 wanting to pursue a research- and thesis-based Master’s degree that provides direct experience with original scientific research aimed at advancing scientific understanding of forest ecosystems and their management. The intensive research core of the MSF prepares students for doctoral programs in Forestry and related disciplines, and for careers that require experience and skills in planning, executing, and interpretation of original research in Forestry. These careers include positions such as research assistant/technician, forester, wildlife biologist, policy analyst, and forest health specialist. The MSF is appropriate for students with a Bachelor’s degree in Forestry or closely related disciplines.
The MSF emphasizes training in research methods and statistics; original research development and implementation; quantitative analysis; professional presentations; emerging issues in forestry; electives that provide advanced training in specific skills; and a final thesis that showcases the student’s skills in original research, quantitative analysis and interpretation, and writing.

Emphasis in Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biology (EECB)

The MSF includes an optional multi-disciplinary emphasis in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology (EECB).  The EECB emphasis provides a structured curriculum for students wanting to focus on ecology and conservation biology within the context of forest science.  The course requirements of the EECB are designed to be taken as elective hours within the MSF degree.

Student Learning Outcomes

Core Forestry Outcomes

  • Demonstrate the ability to apply graduate level critical thinking skills to identify, explain, synthesize and solve complex professional forestry problems through acquisition and application of fundamental knowledge of forest ecosystems and human management of forests.
  • Select, implement and interpret appropriate methods and statistical analyses for a research project.
  • Apply an understanding of professional ethics to forest research and professional activities.
  • Design a forestry research study including planning, organizing, scheduling and executing the project, with guidance.
  • Effective written communication about forestry research.
  • Effective communication about forestry research in oral and poster presentations.
Emphasis in Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biology (EECB)
  • Demonstrate the ability to synthesize and discuss the history and conceptual and theoretical foundations of ecology.
  • Demonstrate the ability to discuss current and emerging topics in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology, and ability to discuss these topics with peers and experts including two of three listed below:
    • Demonstrate the ability to use quantitative research approaches in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology.
    • Demonstrate an understanding of ecology, evolution, and conservation biology at physiological, population, and community scales.
    • Demonstrate an understanding of ecology, evolution, and conservation biology at ecosystem and global scales.

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
    • NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution.
    • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or the equivalent.
    • Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
    • Transcripts.
    • For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy.
    • International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    Individual program admission requirements include:

    • 3 contact references
    • 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
  • This Master’s degree requires 32 units distributed as follows:

    • Forestry Common Requirements: 15 units
    • Forestry Coursework or the Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology Emphasis: 10 units
    • Thesis: 8 units

    Of all of the following course requirements, 17 units must be in FOR courses

    Take the following 32 units, as well as any required remedial coursework:

    Forestry Common Requirements (15 units)

    Select one of the following:


    • Foresty Science elective coursework (10 units)

      • 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 (10 units):

      • (BIO 577 or ENV 577 or FOR 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)
Additional Information
  • 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.