We strive to provide students:

  • A knowledge base with breadth in the ecology and management of forest resources and depth in biology and physical sciences, silviculture, forest measurement, and resource policy, economics and administration
  • Quantitative and analytical skills in statistics and forest measurement, and a choice among geospatial tools, applied mathematics and quantitative modeling, and decision analysis
  • Management skills for effective stewardship and planning of forest resources, and successful collaborations in cross-disciplinary settings in the government, nonprofit and business sectors
  • Oral and written skills to communicate management prescriptions and plans to a wide audience and critically evaluate opposing viewpoints


Forests are managed for a broad variety of goods and services, in an increasingly complicated context of changing climate, land-use pressures, global markets and conflicting cultural values. Our aim is to train foresters to work effectively on the emerging frontiers in forest management, conservation and policy, with a skillset grounded in practical field skills and augmented by cutting-edge tools in fields such as geospatial analysis, multi-resource assessment, and finance.


As accredited by the Society of American Foresters, 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.

Transferable Skills

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

Your Future

The Nicholas School’s dedicated Career 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.

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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.



During the first year of study, students work with a course advisor on course selection and on determining an area of study for the Master’s Project (MP). By the end of the first year, the student will choose an MP advisor who will work with the student on developing a Master’s Project, and will continue to consult with the course advisor on courses to be taken during the second year. Master’s Projects may be either individual or group projects.


  • 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

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. During the fourth and fifth semesters the student will complete the course requirements and devote time to the completion of the Master’s Project. A Master’s Project paper and presentation will be made at the end of the fifth or sixth semester.

Requirements for all MEM AND MF STUDENTS

  • ENVIRON 896 Professional Communications (1/2 credit)
  • ENVIRON 897 Writing a Master’s Project (1/2 credit)
  • ENVIRON 898.01 MP Seminar (1 credit to be awarded at the end of 4 semesters)
  • ENVIRON 899.01 Master’s Project (4 to 6 credits)

Successful completion of online Introductory Master’s Project Tutorials is also a requirement. The tutorials offer information on various types of MPs and principles of research design.

Required for MF PROGRAM

The MF degree requires 48 credits that comprise courses in five core areas, electives, field trips and seminars, and the Master’s Project.  Examples of such courses include (required courses in bold):

1. 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)

2. Measurement of Forest Resources (4 credits):

  • ENVIRON 731 Dendrology, 2 credits (F)
  • ENVIRON 701 Forest Measurements, 2 credits (F)

3. Management of Forest Resources (3+ credits):

  • ENVIRON 806 Duke Forest Practicum, 2 credits (S)
  • ENVIRON 763 Forest Management Traveling Seminar, 1 credit

Note: Rotating topics; may be taken up to three times for credit

4. 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

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)

5. 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 559 Fundamentals of GIS and Geospatial Analysis
  • ENVIRON 724 Landscape Analysis and Management
  • ENVIRON 761 Geospatial Analysis for Conservation & Management
  • ENVIRON 857L Satellite Remote Sensing for Environmental Analysis
  • ENVIRON 859 Advanced Geospatial Analysis
  • ENVIRON 832 Environmental Decision Analysis

Total Credits: 11.5

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.

6. Specializing Electives

Electives should be chosen to help develop a special perspective or area of specialization. This is done in consultation with the advisor and program chair, with some thought as to the topic of the MP. The identification of a specialization is usually done over the course of a student’s first two semesters.

7. 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 (itinerary alternates annually between the east side and the west side of the Cascades).

8. Seminars

  • ENVIRON 898.01 FRM Seminar, 1 credit (F – including two sessions on Ethics; S)

A variety of other topical seminars are available to MFs.

Course Sequence

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). 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), 2 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
  • Professional Communications (ENV 896), 0.5 credits
  • Program Area Seminar (ENV 898.01), 0 credits
  • Resource & Environmental Economics I (ENV 520), 1.5 credits
  • Economics of Forest Resources (ENV 680), 1.5 credits

Total credits: 11.5

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

Total credits: 1

Semester - Fall Year 2

  • Ecology of Southern Appalachian Forests (ENV 766A), 1 credit
  • Writing a Master's Project (ENV 897), 0.5 credits
  • 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

  • For Management Traveling Seminar (ENV 763), 1 credit
  • 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

Master's Projects

Each MF student must complete a Master’s Project. This project provides an opportunity to integrate your coursework and showcase your ability to use what you have learned at the Nicholas School to design and carry out a well-formulated and defensible analysis of a management-related problem. The Master’s Project may be done individually or in a group and typically culminates in a paper and presentation in the program’s final semester. The Master’s Project fulfills 4-6 credit hours.