Master of Forestry Curriculum

Many of the classes you need to satisfy Society of American Foresters national accreditation standards are only offered once each year. It is critical to take your classes in the specified order. If your background includes classes in one or more of the courses outlined in the curriculum, work with the Program Director to determine another course that meets the accreditation standards. The course listing and program requirements will change slightly starting in academic year 2018–19 to continue to meet SAF accreditation standards.

Beginning with the 2018-2019 class, all students must submit a Pre-Enrollment and Completion Check Form to the Program Director to ensure SAF accreditation standards are met.  There may be additional courses to the ones listed below that you need to meet these standards, so talk with your Program Director.

Master of Forestry students graduate at the end of their second fall semester, or third semester.

Fall Semester (11 credits)

The first fall semester classes include fundamental forest biology, ecology, and field skills in plant identification, orienteering, and forest inventory:

  • FW 5020—Woody Plants of North America (2 credits)
  • FW 3020—Forest Ecology (3 credits)
  • FW 5330—Forest Soil Science (4 credits)
  • FW 5377—Forest and Environmental Resource Management (FERM, 2 credits)

Spring Semester (15 credits)

Spring semester topics include collecting, managing, presenting, and analyzing information that helps make forest management decisions using more advanced tools and problem-solving skills. These classes are a framework for analyzing ecological, social, and financial implications of forest management decisions:

  • FW 3110—Natural Resources Policy (3 credits)
  • FW 3540—Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Natural Resource Management (4 credits)
  • FW 5200—Biometrics and Data Analysis (4 credits)
  • FW 5088—Forest Finance and Economics (3 credits)
  • FW 5800—Masters Graduate Seminar (1 credit)

Final Semester—Integrated Field Practicum (8 credits)

The third semester is your Integrated Field Practicum (IFP, traditionally called Fall Camp), at the Ford Center 40 miles south of Houghton. Classes begin two weeks before the regular fall semester in August, and are done before Thanksgiving break.

Students also have the option to complete IFP as a summer camp in their third semester, during Track B. If you want to do this, talk to your advisor.

Although students in the Master of Forestry program sign up for only one 8-credit class, FW5700 Graduate Field Forestry, it covers a wide range of topics, including:

  • Silviculture—the management approaches foresters use to regenerate and grow productive forests
  • Forest health—an introduction to potential biological agents, like insects and fungi, that can attack trees and endanger forest ecosystems and how to control them
  • Wildlife habitat—focuses on the ecological requirements of wildlife species
  • Land Measurement and GPS—develops GPS skills for collecting spatial information in the woods and incorporating that data into mapping software
  • Timber harvesting—addresses tree-harvesting methods that preserve ecological values and sustainability while providing economically efficient timber harvest to satisfy society's needs
  • Multi-resource assessment—students exercise all the skills they have learned during the Master of Forestry program to develop a management plan for a tract of land

Housing at Fall Camp

Most students choose to live at the Ford Center for the term. Master of Forestry students generally live together in one of the Center’s houses. The houses sometimes accommodate both Master of Forestry and Peace Corps Master’s International students.

"I feel beyond lucky to have had the opportunity to join the MF program here at Michigan Tech.  The school is full of brilliant and kind people, while the coursework is both highly practical and intellectually rigorous. Each of my cohorts has found a job that fits their personal interests and life situation."Stella Dee, '16

General Procedures for the MF Degree

Most students are coursework-only, using the approved curriculum to develop their program. A plan of work showing courses to take, is prepared by the student and the MF Program Director.  An oral defense is required to earn the MF degree.

Students also have the option to complete a report (Plan B) or thesis (Plan C) master of forestry degree. The oral defense for Plan B master's students focuses around the student's report and course work.  Plan B students must give a scheduled oral presentation before their defense. The oral defense for Plan C students focuses on their course work:

  • The study plan must be presented to the student's advisory committee no later than the end of the second semester in residence.
  • A copy of the approved study plan is given to all committee members once approved by the advisory committee.
  • All graduate students must be enrolled each academic semester, except summer, until completion of all degree requirements. A full-time student must enroll in a minimum of 9 credit hours per semester except for the semester with 8 credits of field forestry.
  • Early in the student's last semester, a report draft must be submitted to the student's advisor. Following review and revisions by the advisor, the report is submitted to the student's advisory committee, at least two weeks before the scheduled oral examination.