FES Degree Offerings

For additional information about these degree programs, please see the FES Graduate Program Handbook on the tab on the right or on the Student Resources page.

Students in our program pursue their Master of Science (MS), Master of Forestry (MF), or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree. Some students will pursue more than one of these degrees through our program.

The standards and challenges associated with these degrees vary greatly. If you are pursuing one these degrees, please review the FES Graduate Program Handbook for details on degree requirements and deadlines.

Master of Science (MS)

The MS degree focuses on building both disciplinary depth and interdisciplinary knowledge and skills in a research context that will qualify graduates for careers in research, teaching, industry, consultation, and other roles that require specific or generalized expertise.

Who applies to the MS program?
The MS degree is a research and thesis based degree designed to enable students to work directly in their specific discipline or at the intersection of a diversity of disciplines at an advanced level. Some students in FES pursue their MS as the next step after earning an undergraduate degree or as a natural precursor to seeking their PhD. Others are seeking to redirect or advance their careers. MS students typically need 6-8 terms (2 - 2.5 years) to complete their degree.

What is a typical MS degree program like?

Throughout their program, most MS students learn the skills required to participate in high-level research. This includes developing researchable questions or hypotheses, crafting a professional research proposal, managing timelines, collecting and analyzing data, communicating their results, and ensuring all aspects of their research adhere to ethical standards. MS students are usually expected to publish 1-2 articles in journals as a result of their thesis and present their results at professional meetings. MS students are also expected to devote time and effort to professional development activities.

Although the student can count on their major professor and graduate committee for guidance, they must be responsible for managing their own time, taking actions to meet learning outcomes, fulfilling program and University requirements, and making timely progress on their research and degree.

Master of Forestry (MF)

The MF degree builds skills and knowledge that graduates can quickly and directly apply to their careers.

Who applies to the MF program?
The MF degree is a non-thesis degree, typically designed for working professionals who are seeking continuing education. Some MF students are fully employed and remain fully employed for the duration of their program. Others may be seeking an opportunity to take their career to the next level or prepare for a career after completing an undergraduate degree.

What is a typical MF degree program like?
Unlike MS students, MF students typically do not develop or conduct high-level research, and are not required to submit a research proposal, do a presentation of this proposal, or write a thesis (although some major professors and graduate committees may ask for a proposal and/or presentation). Instead, MF students must complete a capstone project with the guidance of their major professor and graduate committee. MF students typically need 3-5 terms (1-1.5 years) to complete their degree.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The PhD degree prepares students to conduct original research in a specific field and includes deepening disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge and skills.

Who applies to the PhD program?
The PhD degree is designed for students seeking careers at the highest levels of research in their specific discipline or at the intersection of a diversity of disciplines. A PhD can be a pivotal benefit for those seeking high-level or impactful careers in biophysical or social science, but it requires a serious, long-term commitment of mental, physical, and emotional energy. Students should carefully consider their goals and evaluate whether earning a PhD is the best way to meet these goals. Applicants to the PhD program in FES are not required to have earned a Masters degree in their intended PhD field. Please see the ‘Considerations for Admission’ tab for further information on applying for a PhD without a Masters degree.

What is a typical PhD program like?
Newly enrolled PhD students are expected to be familiar with the basic concepts of research, including defining researchable questions or hypotheses, writing a research proposal, collecting and analyzing data, and communicating their results. PhD students are expected to provide the creativity and rigor to identify impactful areas of research, develop researchable questions or hypotheses and research investigations, carry out these investigations, and effectively communicate their results. PhD students are usually expected to publish 3-4 papers in journals as a result of their dissertation and present their results at professional meetings. PhD students typically need 3-5 years to complete their degree.

PhD students are expected to build credibility in their field by publishing their research, contributing to peer-reviewed journals, presenting at conferences, attending workshops and meetings, and seeking collaborations with other members of the field. Depending on their goals and interests, PhD students may also be expected to build teaching experience, engage in professional development opportunities, and provide service to their discipline or the department, college, or university.