01 / 05 • Student Stories
Master's Project Studies Drone Use in Forestry
For her master's project, Master of Forestry student Elisabeth McElwee worked with The Forestland Group to explore how drones could be used as a tool in forest management in the mountainous mixed broadleaf forests of West Virginia.
02 / 05 • Student stories
MEM/MF Student Enjoys Conservation Summer Experiences
Israel Golden, a Master of Environmental Management (MEM) and Master of Forestry (MF) concurrent degree student, spent his summer interning with both the American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) and the Wild Bird Research Group in western North Carolina.
03 / 05 • student stories
Nicholas School Financial Aid Helping Forge Future Leaders
Kendall DeLyser shares insights into her studies and how financial aid support helped her pursue her education.
04 / 05 • student stories
summer Internship experience
An inside look at Nicholas School graduate student Sunny Qiao’s Stanback internship at the National Parks Conservation Association in D.C.
05 / 05 • student stories
Field Course in oaxaca, mexico
Dr. Elizabeth Shapiro-Garza shares how her biennial field course to Oaxaca, Mexico provides Nicholas School graduate students with the chance to learn firsthand about community-based environmental management.
Master of Forestry students receive in-depth training in:
- Forest measurement skills (forest inventory; habitat assessment; wildlife sampling)
- Data analysis (growth and yield modeling; geospatial analysis; statistics)
- Forest economics and finance
The educational program leading to the Master of Forestry degree is accredited by the Society of American Foresters (SAF). Our MF curriculum includes coursework toward five core competencies: forest ecology and biology; measurement of forest resources; forest management; forest policy and administration; and professional ethics. Within these categories, students customize their course selections to emphasize particular resources (e.g., forest hydrology, wildlife) or analytic approaches (e.g., geospatial analysis, finance). Field trips are an essential element of the curriculum. Many of these trips utilize the 7,000-acre Duke Forest adjacent to campus.
Concurrent Degrees with the MF Program
Students interested in forest ecology and management might also combine the MF degree with a concurrent degree in the School’s Master’s in Environmental Management (MEM) program, in any number of complementary programs (Ecosystem Science and Conservation, Environmental Economics and Policy, Energy and the Environment, etc.) or with degrees from other professional schools; concurrent degrees with the Business School (MF/MBA), Policy School (MF/MPP), Law School (MF/JD) are especially popular. A concurrent degree requires coordination of coursework across the two programs and may be completed in as few as five semesters, or more typically, six semesters.
Tuition for concurrent degrees will be based on a blended rate. Financial aid from the Nicholas School, if awarded, will then be adjusted accordingly.
Prerequisites for all MEM Students:
- See Master of Environmental Management program prerequisites.
Additional Prerequisites for MF Students:
- At least 1 introductory college course in principles of ecology, and an introductory college economics course that includes microeconomics.
- Deficiencies must be made up in the student’s first year in residence; prerequisites do not count toward degree requirements.
Courses & Requirements
MF course credits are distributed among core competency areas specified by SAF as well as quantitative analysis, electives, and school-wide required courses. Competency areas include forest ecology and biology, measurement of forest resources, management of forest resources, forest resource policy and administration, and professional ethics.
The electives provide students with a major opportunity to develop a field of specialty. Students are encouraged to coordinate electives to develop specialized skills or a specialized understanding of a forest ecosystem. Such specialization allows students to acquire proficiency in some aspect of the broad, multi-disciplinary field of forest resource management and should not confine students’ perspective, educational development, or career path. Examples include wetland ecology and management, hydrology and soil science, conservation ecology, computer applications, quantitative analyses, GIS modeling, economics, finance, policy, and business applications. The specialization is further developed with the Master’s Project.
The MF program requires a total of at least 48 credits and four semesters of enrollment. A student pursuing the MF concurrently with the MEM will need at least five semesters of enrollment to earn the minimum of 72 credit hours and fulfill degree requirements. If the joint degrees do not substantially overlap in coursework, it might take six semesters to complete both degrees. MEM-MF students planning to complete coursework in five semesters should enroll in an average of 14.5 credits a semester.
Bold type indicates required courses or areas. Courses taken to fulfill requirements other than those suggested here need advisor approval. (F) and (S) courses are usually offered in fall and spring semesters, respectively. An asterisk (*) indicates courses that are usually taught every other year.
REQUIRED FOR ALL MEM AND MF STUDENTS
ENVIRON 898 Program Area Seminar (1 credit hour to be awarded at the end of 4 semesters)
- ENVIRON 899 Master’s Project (4-6 credit hours)
MF students develop Master Projects (MPs) that are clearly forestry-relevant as part of SAF degree accreditation. If the MP is not forestry-related, students will need to complete an independent study (typically for 3 cr.) on a forestry-related project.
FOREST ECOLOGY AND BIOLOGY (10+ CREDITS)
- ENVIRON 503 Forest Ecosystems, 3 credits (S)
- ENVIRON 705L Silviculture, 3 credits (S)
- ENVIRON 708 Silviculture Prescription, 2 credits (S)
One additional course in forest science from the options below:
- ENVIRON 714 Landscape Ecology, 3 credits (F)
- ENVIRON 721L Soil Resources, 3 credits (F)
- ENVIRON 734L Watershed Hydrology, 3 credits (F)
- ENVIRON 505 Functional Ecology of Trees, 3 credits (F)
- EOS 723 Landscape Hydrology, 3 credits (F)
MEASUREMENT OF FOREST RESOURCES (5 CREDITS)
- ENVIRON 731 Dendrology, 2 credits (F)
- ENVIRON 701 Forest Measurements, 3 credits (F)
MANAGEMENT OF FOREST RESOURCES (3+ CREDITS)
- ENVIRON 806 Duke Forest Practicum, 2 credits (S)
- ENVIRON 763 Forest Management Traveling Seminar, 1 credit (rotating topics; may be taken up to three times for credit) (Either of two NCSU courses, FOR 514 or FOR 522, can replace ENVIRON 763)
FOREST POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION (6+ CREDITS)
These two required courses in forest/resource economics:
- ENVIRON 520 Resource and Environmental Economics I, 1.5 credits (F)
- ENVIRON 680 Economics of Forest Resources, 1.5 credits (F)
(North Carolina State University’s course FOR 519 can replace ENVIRON 520 & 680)
One course in forest/resource policy from the options below:
- ENVIRON 577 Environmental Politics, 3 credits
- ENVIRON 550 Land Use Principles and Policies, 3 credits
- LAW 235 Environmental Law, 3 credits
- ENVIRON 790 Valuing Ecosystems for Investment and Conservation, 3 credits
This required course in forest policy and administration:
- ENVIRON 727 Forests in the Public Interest, 1 credit (F) (may be taken up to 3 times for credit)
QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS (6+ CREDITS)
One required course in statistics:
- ENVIRON 710 Applied Data Analysis for Environmental Science, 3 credits (F)
One course from the options below:
- ENVIRON 558 Remote Sensing for Environmental Analysis
- ENVIRON 559 Fundamentals of GIS and Geospatial Analysis
- ENVIRON 724 Landscape Analysis and Management
- ENVIRON 761 Geospatial Analysis for Conservation & Management
- ENVIRON 790 Financial Foundations for Environmental Managers
- ENVIRON 832 Environmental Decision Analysis
- ENVIRON 859 Advanced Geospatial Analysis
One methods-oriented quantitative statistics course is required. One or more courses focusing on Geographic Information System/Geospatial Analysis are highly recommended to satisfy the Quantitative Analysis requirement or as Specialized Electives (next section). Quantitative courses are also taught by the Duke Department of Statistical Science (formerly called ISDS), Fuqua School of Business, Sanford School of Public Policy, and Departments of Biology, Economics, Political Science, Sociology, and Evolutionary Anthropology. In addition, various departments at North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill offer graduate-level quantitative coursework that can be used to meet this requirement.
Electives provide students with a major opportunity to develop a field of specialization. Students are encouraged to coordinate electives to develop specialized skills or a specialized understanding of, for instance, a specific forest ecosystem or area of practice. Such specialization allows students to acquire proficiency in some aspect of the broad, multi-disciplinary field of forest resource management and should not confine students’ perspective, educational development, or career path The identification of a specialization is usually done over the course of a student’s first two semesters in consultation with the advisor and/or program chair.
FORESTRY FIELD TRIPS (Encouraged)
All MFs are assured a place in ENVIRON 766A, Ecology of Southern Appalachian Forests, a 1-credit readings and field trip course held every other fall. A 1-credit Western Forestry Field Trip, ENVIRON 760A, is offered occasionally in the early or late summer, and may be repeated twice for credit
- ENVIRON 898.01 MF Seminar, 1 credit (F – including two sessions on Ethics; S)
A variety of other topical seminars are available to MFs.
The following is a suggested course sequence for students who are enrolled in the 2-year MF degree program on its own (not joint with the MEM). Because the suggested sequence is designed to progressively build up expertise, it is recommended that students in the joint MF-MEM degree program maintain the sequence to the extent possible. Note that the field-trip courses ENVIRON 760A, ENVIRON 763, and ENVIRON 766A might not be offered in the indicated semester or even every year. First-year students in the 2-year program are advised to contact the MF chair or co-chair to find out when these courses will be offered. Also note that ENVIRON 727, ENVIRON 760A, and ENVIRON 763 may be taken more than once for credit; see details above.
Students who are enrolled in the joint MEM/MF program should discuss course sequencing with their coursework advisors.
SEMESTER - FALL YEAR 1
- Forest Measurements (ENV 701), 3 credits
- Dendrology (ENV 731), 2 credits
- Forests in the Public Interest (ENV 727), 1 credit
- Applied Data Analysis for Environmental Sciences (ENV 710), 3 credits
- Resource & Environmental Economics I (ENV 520), 1.5 credits
- Economics of Forest Resources (ENV 680), 1.5 credits
- Program Area Seminar (ENV 898.01), 0 credits
Total credits: 12.5
SEMESTER - SPRING YEAR 1
- Silviculture (ENV 705L), 3 credits
- Silviculture Prescription (ENV 708), 2 credits
- Forest Ecosystems (ENV 503), 3 credits
- Forestry Practicum (ENV 806), 2 credits
- Program Area Seminar (ENV 898.01), 0 credits
- One course in Forest Ecology & Biology, Forest Policy & Administration, or Quantitative Analysis to meet MF requirements, or an elective, 3 credits
Total credits: 13
SEMESTER - SUMMER YEAR 1
- Western Field Trip (ENV 760A), 1 credit (Western Field Trip (ENV 760A) might not be offered every year)
Total credits: 1
SEMESTER - FALL YEAR 2
- Ecology of Southern Appalachian Forests (ENV 766A), 1 credit
- For Management Traveling Seminar (ENV 763), 1 credit
- Program Area Seminar (ENV 898.01), 0 credits
- Master's Project (ENV 899.01), 2 credits
- Three courses in Forest Ecology & Biology, Forest Policy & Administration, or Quantitative Analysis to meet MF requirements, or an elective, 9 credits
Total credits: 12.5
SEMESTER - SPRING YEAR 2
- Program Area Seminar (ENV 898.01), 1 credit
- Master's Project (ENV 899.01), 2 credits
- Two courses in Forest Ecology & Biology, Forest Policy & Administration, or Quantitative Analysis to meet MF requirements, or an elective, 6 credits
Total credits: 10
GRAND TOTAL: 48
Note: To meet MF requirements, students must take at least 2 credits in Forest Ecology & Biology, 2 credits in Forest Policy & Administration, and 3 credits in Quantitative Analysis in addition to the specific courses listed above, and must complete at least 48 total credits, including electives. See preceding sections for details.
For Current & Admitted Students
The Nicholas School’s dedicated Career & Professional Development Center helps MF graduates find positions in environmental consulting and risk assessment, government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, public health departments, and nonprofit organizations such as Environmental Defense Fund.
Most Recent Employer List for MF Graduates
BUSINESS / INDUSTRY / START-UP
- ****Bluesource; Forest Carbon Analyst - San Francisco, CA
- ****Finite Carbon; Forest Carbon Analyst - Portland, OR
- + Resource Management Service LLC (RMS); Investment Analyst - Birmingham, AL
- + UPS; Marketing Strategy Senior Analyst - Atlanta, GA
FEDERAL / STATE / LOCAL GOVERNMENT
- ****US EPA; ORISE Fellow - Durham, NC
NON-PROFIT / NGO / RESEARCH / THINK TANK
- ****Ducks Unlimited; Science Integration Specialist - Rapid City, SD
- ****Forest Trends Association; Senior Associate - Washington DC
*MEM/MBA concurrent degree
**MEM/JD concurrent degree
***MEM/MPP concurrent degree
****MEM/MF concurrent degree (listed under both degree programs)
+ MF/MBA concurrent degree
++ MEM/MEM concurrent degree
The first destination employment report for December and May Master of Environmental Management and Master of Forestry graduates covers geographic distribution, employment by sector and salary ranges.
The exposure to real forestry practices through coursework, practicums, and internships were invaluable to being a dynamic professional in the forestry space. Additionally, the MEM helped give me a broader understanding of the economics and policy that influence environmental markets."
–Cakey Worthington, MEM/MF'16
director of forest carbon, the forestland group, llc
01 / 06 • Features
Keeping the Land in the Family
To help rural land owner James Peterson ensure that his family farm survives, five Nicholas students collaborated with a regional nonprofit to survey Peterson’s forest acreage, analyze its economic and ecological value, and develop a management plan with multiple options for generating sustainable revenues.
02 / 06 • Features
Nicholas Alumna takes us inside California’s wildfire crisis
As wildfires in 2020 sent thousands in California fleeing their homes, attention focused on the role of the state's largest utility. Duke alumna Melissa Semcer, MEM'07, had the job of holding the utility accountable.
03 / 06 • Features
Alum Helps Create National Marine Sanctuary
It took five years of planning, dozens of negotiations, hundreds of meetings, briefings and community events, and an inexhaustible supply of coffee and optimism for Joel Dunn MEM'04 to realize his dream of seeing Mallows Bay designated as a national marine sanctuary.
04 / 06 • Features
The Art of Mastering Concurrent Degrees
Environmental issues today can be complex, crossing many legal, political, economic and health fields, and requiring a multidisciplinary approach to finding solutions. Meet four alumni who took advantage of concurrent degree programs to expand their skillsets and professional networks.
05 / 06 • Features
MEM Alum to host National Geographic documentary
Shannon Switzer Swanson MEM'15 will act as on-air host for “The Last Drop," a National Geographic Channel documentary about water scarcity in the West and the extraordinary efforts underway to preserve the dwindling supply.
06 / 06 • Features
alums' research lights up flagship net zero energy Mcdonald's
From an environmental point of view, the most magical new attraction at the Magic Kingdom this year isn’t a ride or show. It’s a McDonald’s – the first of its kind anywhere – that generates all its own energy from renewable sources.
From Forestry Faculty
Forests are indispensable. They sustain local economies while providing environmental values ranging from mitigating climate change to protecting water quality and harboring biodiversity. Managing and conserving the world’s forest resources requires knowledge of biology, ecology, and economics, combined with skills in field measurements, silviculture, finance, and policy analysis. Duke’s Master of Forestry program trains students to apply an interdisciplinary approach to reconciling society’s many demands on forests and solving the complex challenges therein. Our students benefit from networking with our influential alumni, next-door access to the 7,000-acre Duke Forest, and participating in our innovative research programs and abundant internship opportunities.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
Connect with us at an upcoming event to meet our admissions team and gain in-depth information about our degree programs.
Visit the master's programs Admissions section to learn more about application requirements, find answers to frequently asked questions and start your application.
You’ll find Nicholas School alums pursuing their passion and making positive impacts worldwide. Our programs give them the foundational knowledge and practical skills to become leaders and innovators in a wide array of fields and sectors.
December 13, 2022
August 16, 2021
September 12, 2019 | Ecology & Conservation, ForestsFeature Story