MF Program Description

The Master of Forestry integrates forest ecology and management within an educational program that also emphasizes related environmental fields. The program builds knowledge in basic forest ecology and ecological management of forests for a variety of uses, including nontraditional forest products and conservation. This distinctive approach is brought about by coordinating a core set of forestry courses in sampling, measurement, dendrology, silviculture, and ecology with electives in resource-oriented courses such as soils, hydrology, air and water quality, biological conservation, and physiology; statistical analysis and modeling; and resource economics and policy. The Duke Forest serves as an outdoor laboratory in many of these courses.


The Master of Forestry aims to provide: 

  1. 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.
  2. Quantitative and analytical skills of statistics and forest measurement, and a choice among geospatial tools, applied mathematics and quantitative modeling, and decision analysis.
  3. Management skills for effective stewardship and planning of forest resources, as well as the ability to work effectively in cross-disciplinary settings with a high degree of professional ethics in the government, non-profit, and business sectors.
  4. Oral and written skills to communicate management prescriptions and plans to a wide audience, and the ability to critically evaluate opposing viewpoints.

Curriculum Overview

The Society of American Foresters (SAF), the largest professional forestry organization in the United States, accredits the MF degree. SAF mandates coursework to ensure competency in five core areas: forest ecology and biology, measurement of forest resources, forest management, forest policy and administration, and professional ethics. At least one course is required in each of these categories. In some instances, a single course is required; in other cases, students may choose courses from a larger menu of options. Electives within these categories or beyond the core requirements allow students to develop deeper expertise in particular resources (e.g., water, soils, wildlife) or analytic approaches (e.g., finance, geospatial analysis). Field courses provide hands-on practical training in forestry skills while exposing students to working forests in a variety of regional settings. 

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 of 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 5 semesters, or more typically, 6 semesters. See Concurrent Degree Programs for details.