FES Degree Offerings

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

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

The standards and challenges associated with these degrees can 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 Ph.D. Others are seeking to redirect or advance their careers. MS students typically need 6-7 quarters (2 - 2.5 years) to complete their degree.

What is a typical MS degree program like?
Throughout their program, MS students learn the skills required to participate in high-level research. This includes developing researchable questions, 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 scientific journals as a result of their thesis and present their results at professional scientific meetings. MS students are 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 action to meet learning outcomes, fulfilling program and University requirements, and making 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 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?
MF students typically do not develop or conduct research, and are not required to submit a research proposal, do a presentation of this proposal, or write a thesis. Instead, MF students are required to 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 FES Ph.D degree prepares students to conduct original scientific research in a specific field and includes deepening disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge and skills.

Who applies to the PhD program?
The Ph.D 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 Ph.D 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 Ph.D is the best way to meet these goals. Applicants to the FES Ph.D program are not required to have an MS degree in their intended Ph.D field.

What is a typical PhD program like?
Newly-enrolled Ph.D students are expected to be familiar with the basic concepts of scientific research, including defining researchable questions, writing a research proposal, collecting and analyzing data, and communicating the results. Ph.D students are expected to provide the scientific creativity and rigor to identify impactful areas of research, develop researchable questions and research investigations, carry out these investigations and effectively communicate the results. Ph.D students typically publish 3-4 papers in scientific journals as part of their dissertation. Ph.D students typically need 4 - 5 years to complete their degree, although some students complete in 3 - 3.5 years.

Ph.D 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, Ph.D students may also be expected to build teaching experience, engage in professional development opportunities, and provide service to their discipline or their department.