Forest Science, Doctor of Philosophy


College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Sciences

This is the terminal degree in the profession of forestry, and it prepares you for a career in research and/or education. We offer three concentrations within this doctoral plan-ecosystem science, forest management sciences and economics, and forest social science.
For this plan, which involves completing a dissertation, we expect you to demonstrate your skill in generating original ideas; your considerable command of the literature; your skill at designing, analyzing, and interpreting research; your skill in scientific writing, including publication of research results in major professional refereed journals; and your basic skills in teaching. We expect you to be self-motivated and to largely direct your own research program with advice and counsel from your major professor and dissertation committee. We evaluate your work on the basis of the originality and quality of the new knowledge you generate.

  • To receive a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD) at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses, from one or more disciplines, ranging from at least 60-109 units of graduate-level courses. Most plans require research, a dissertation, and comprehensive exams. All plans have residency requirements regarding time spent on the Flagstaff campus engaged in full-time study.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Attend the seminar series in the School of Forestry and present two seminars
  • Complete some teaching experience, regardless of the type of your financial support
  • Fulfill Northern Arizona University's residency requirements (for more information about residency and other requirements that pertain to this plan, see Doctoral Requirements)
  • Pass the oral exam on your dissertation (Dissertation Defense)
  • Complete Coursework

Minimum Units for Completion 63
Additional Admission Requirements Required
Dissertation Dissertation is required.
Comprehensive Exam Comprehensive Exam is required.
Oral Defense Oral Defense is required.
Research Individualized research is required.
Student Teaching/Supervised Teaching Required

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:

    • GRE® revised General Test
    • 3 letters of recommendation
    • Demonstrated competence in scientific research usually through completion of a Master of Science (thesis option).
    • 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. 
Doctoral Requirements

  • Please note that you must take at least two of these courses at Northern Arizona University and get your dissertation committee's approval for any courses taken elsewhere.

    Additionally, you can use FOR 506 and FOR 695, as well as special topics courses offered by other departments, in any of these concentrations, with approval by your dissertation committee.
    • Electives, with no more than 9 units of 400-level courses (19 units)
    • FOR 799, for the research, writing, and oral defense of an approved dissertation (15 units)
    Please note that you can only count 15 units of dissertation credit toward your degree; however, you may end up taking additional units since you must enroll each term while you're working on your dissertation.

    In choosing courses, please be aware that:
    • At least 39 units must be 500- and 600-level courses.
    • No more than 24 units from a master's plan can be credited toward degree requirements.
    • Your dissertation committee must approve all of your courses.
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.

  • Research Requirements

    In addition to completing 48 units of coursework, you must demonstrate your independence, research skill, and experience in a discipline within forestry by choosing a problem and research area in consultation with your dissertation committee and then satisfactorily completing a dissertation.

    Your dissertation research meets our standards when it is soundly based in the theoretical context of the subject, proceeds with a sound design that gives due attention to statistical adequacy, and concludes with findings and inferences set forth within an appropriate theoretical context. Your dissertation must demonstrate that you have mastered your field of specialization, carried out independent scholarly work, and contributed significant new knowledge. You must successfully pass an oral defense of your dissertation.

    Comprehensive Exams

    We also require that you demonstrate written and oral communication skills in English at a level that will allow you to effectively communicate your ideas and knowledge to a wide range of audiences. Part of this demonstration involves comprehensive written and oral exams designed to establish your competence in a breadth and depth of subjects within the larger field of forestry.

    Research Competency Requirement

    Northern Arizona University policy for Ph.D. programs includes a Research Competency requirement that must be satisfied before a student can be admitted to candidacy. In most departments, this is enforced as a requirement to demonstrate an ability to translate disciplinary literature from a foreign language into English. The School of Forestry has chosen to recognize FOR 690, STA 570 (or equivalent), plus one graduate-level course with significant content in statistics, as meeting this requirement.