Detailed Look at Online Forestry Degrees

From undergraduate certificates to advanced degrees, there are many options for studying forestry online. Learn which programs are right for you and take the next step toward an education and career protecting our natural forest ecosystems.

2020’s Best Online Forestry Degree Programs

No two online forestry degree programs are the same. Each offers a unique combination of education philosophy, subject focus, program format, curriculum requirements and other elements. The key is to find the online programs that best fit your unique professional goals, personal needs, and study preferences. A great way to begin your program search is with our list of the best online forestry degree programs. We’ve chosen programs based on several important factors, such as affordability, financial aid availability, accreditation, and course delivery format. Learn more about our top picks for 2020.

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School Rank Number School Name City, State PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs Get Info School Information AmeriCorps match Top Peace Corps School Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students Institutional Aid Total Cost (In-State) Median Earnings 10 Years Post-Entry
1 University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO ONLINE FORESTRY PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs2 Get Info

Students interested in forestry work can get the education they need entirely online through University of Missouri - Columbia. The school offers two entirely online programs in agroforestry: a master's program and a graduate certificate. The Master of Science program requires 30 credit hours to complete, with all studies delivered 100 percent online. Course topics include watershed restoration, natural resource policy, soil fertility, plant nutrition, economics and policy of agroforestry, and more. The graduate certificate requires 12 credit hours, which can be completed in one to two years. Applications for both require a bachelor's degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher; those seeking the certificate do not have to take the GRE, but it is required for those entering the master's program.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchYes ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolYes ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students8,380 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementYes Institutional Financial Aid65% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)$$ ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$48,300 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.
2 University of Florida Gainesville, FL ONLINE FORESTRY PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs1 Get Info

The School of Forest Resources and Conservation at University of Florida offers several online programs for those who want to further their education while still gaining work experience in the field. The Master of Science in Forest Resources & Conservation offers three concentrations: geomatics, ecological restoration, and natural resource policy and administration. There is also a Master of Fisheries and Aquatic Science. Each master’s program requires between 30 and 32 credits. There are currently seven certificates available, such as those in geospatial analysis, quantitative fisheries sciences, and mapping with unmanned aerial systems. Though no campus visits are required, students in these programs do have the option of taking weeklong field courses in the United States and international countries to supplement their learning.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchNo ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolNo ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students30,795 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementYes Institutional Financial Aid32% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)$$ ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$56,000 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.
3 University of Idaho Moscow, ID ONLINE FORESTRY PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs1 Get Info

The College of Forestry at the University of Idaho offers numerous degree options in forestry and related fields, including three online opportunities. The first is the M.S. in Environmental Science, a non-thesis option that requires 30 credits in three option areas: physical, biological, and social sciences. The second is the Master of Natural Resources (M.N.R.), with two concentrations: Fire Ecology & Management and Integrated Natural Resources. Students can transfer up to 12 pertinent credits into the 30-credit program, and could complete the degree within three semesters. The third opportunity is the Fire Ecology, Management & Technology Certificate, which requires completing 15 credits with a grade of “B” or higher in each. In some cases, students might be eligible to receive credits for work experience, which can lessen the time they spend in the program.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchNo ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolNo ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students3,647 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementYes Institutional Financial Aid88% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)$$ ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$41,900 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.
4 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR ONLINE FORESTRY PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs2 Get Info

The College of Forestry at Oregon State University is home to two degree programs in forestry and related areas that can be taken online. The bachelor’s program in natural resources offers 12 concentrations, including those in forest ecosystems, natural resource education, fish and wildlife conservation, and policy and management. Though the program can be taken online, students are expected to complete internships, job shadowing, mentored employment, and other options in their local area. The Master of Natural Resources (M.N.R.) is also available online, requiring 45 credits to complete. Those who choose the graduate certificate pathway can concentrate on one of seven areas, such as fisheries management, urban forestry, or forests and climate change. Many students choose the certificate option to become comfortable with the online format and make sure they’re interested in the subject before jumping into the master’s program; all certificate credits will transfer to the M.N.R. program.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchNo ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolNo ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students12,725 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementYes Institutional Financial Aid68% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)$$ ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$49,600 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.
5 Mississippi State University Mississippi State, MS ONLINE FORESTRY PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs1 Get Info

At Mississippi State University, the Master of Science in Forestry is presented entirely online. This 30-credit graduate degree requires that the student’s undergraduate or previous graduate degree be in biological or natural sciences, or business, economics, and policy. Those who don’t have degrees in those areas must have at least two years of experience in a forestry-related field. Students can choose between the thesis and non-thesis option, both taught by instructors with advanced degrees who are actively working in the field. All aspects of the program are delivered through Canvas and MyState platforms. It is important to note that while most course are asynchronous, students must complete the courses within the typical semester system timeframe; a particular course might be offered only at specific times, such as once per year during fall semester.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchNo ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolNo ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students3,690 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementYes Institutional Financial Aid83% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)$$ ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$40,200 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.
6 Kent State University at Trumbull Warren, OH ONLINE FORESTRY PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs1 Get Info

The Environmental Management – Associate of Technical Study at Kent State University at Trumbull prepares students to either move into the bachelor’s program or start work in a forestry-related field, such as aboriculture, urban forestry, or landscape management. Open only to those who have already completed registered green industry apprenticeship or journeyman training programs, this online program requires a minimum of 61 credit hours with a 2.0 overall GPA. Course topics include supervision and labor relations, communication, sociology, accounting, computer systems, and management technology. Though the admissions process can begin with a high school diploma or GED and standardized test scores, these requirements may vary.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchNo ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolNo ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students1,342 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementYes Institutional Financial Aid50% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)$$ ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$38,000 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.
School Rank Number School Name City, State PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs Get Info School Information AmeriCorps match Top Peace Corps School Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students Institutional Aid Total Cost (In-State) Median Earnings 10 Years Post-Entry
1 Holmes Community College Goodman, MS ONLINE FORESTRY PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs1 Get Info

At Holmes Community College in Mississippi, students can dive into the Science, Technology, and Mathematics pathway (STEM), where they will find an associate degree in forestry. The 66-credit program is designed to allow students to complete their first two years at HCC and later transfer to Mississippi State University to complete their forestry bachelor’s degree. Students who want to simply earn their associate degree and move into working in the field can do so by focusing on particular courses that might give them a boost during the hiring process. All courses are delivered via the Canvas learning management system.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchNo ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolNo ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students2,731 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementYes Institutional Financial Aid48% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)N/A ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$28,300 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.
2 Dakota College at Bottineau Bottineau, ND ONLINE FORESTRY PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs2 Get Info

The Urban Forest Management program at Dakota College at Bottineau leads to either the Associate of Applied Science or an undergraduate certificate. Those in the associate track usually take two years to complete their 60-64 credit degree, which includes some general education courses as well as proper tree care, safe work practices, pruning techniques, communication skills, and disease management. The 32-credit certificate/diploma track takes one year to complete and covers many of the same topics as the associate degree, but doesn’t provide a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree. Courses are delivered via Blackboard. A related degree offered by the college is the AAS in Wildlife and Fisheries Technology, which might be perfect for those who are interested in forestry but don’t want to work in more urban forestry areas.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchNo ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolNo ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students691 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementNo Institutional Financial Aid42% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)N/A ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$37,900 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.

Top 5 Reasons to Enroll in Online Forestry Courses & Programs

1

Broaden your career opportunities in the natural resources field.
A forestry degree or certificate allows you to pursue a broad range of related occupations, including forest ranger, forest management technician, wetlands specialist, conservation specialist, environmental biologist, and many, many more.

2

Complete your forestry education while still working.
Schools offering online forestry degrees and certificates design their programs with the convenience and flexibility that allows you to complete your studies while maintaining your current employment.

3

Study at a potentially lower cost than on-campus programs.
Online forestry programs sometimes feature lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. You can take the money saved and use it for major expenses like housing and transportation.

4

Earn respected professional certifications.
Possessing a certification, like the Society of American Forester’s (SAF) Certified Forester or Candidate Certified Forester, demonstrates a high level of professional competence. Both SAF certifications require a college degree from a SAF-accredited degree program.

5

Fulfill your continuing education requirements remotely.
Online continuing education programs and courses, like those offered by the (SAF), allow certified and state licensed forestry professionals to conveniently fulfill their continuing education requirements from the comfort of their own homes or offices.

Understanding Your Options for Forestry Education Online

There are seven types of forestry postsecondary education: the career diploma, associate and bachelor’s undergraduate degrees, master’s and doctoral graduate degrees, and undergraduate and graduate certificates. Each targets specific academic and career needs for students and has unique admissions requirements. All forestry degree and certificate types have some level of distance learning available. Here’s a look at the options:   

Online Forestry Education at a Glance

Program
Type
Total Credits
(Semester)
Time to
Complete
Availability
Online
Career Diploma in ForestryDo not award credits typically4 to 6 months full-time 

Up to 1 year or longer part-time
Fully-online with asynchronous/self-paced study.
Undergraduate Forestry Certificate18-331 year full-time,
although some programs allow more time for completion.
Fully-online coursework delivered asynchronously.
Associate Degree in Forestry60-652 years full-time
 
Part-time options with longer completion times are common.
Programs may be entirely online or include some online/on-campus coursework and/or other in-person components.
Bachelor’s Degree in Forestry1804 years full-time.

2 to 3 years for some accelerated programs.

5 years or more for part-time programs.
On-campus, with some online coursework for some forestry-specific programs. Fully-online or partially-online for related majors.
Graduate Certificate in Forestry 12-191 to 2 years full-time.
 
Part-time study options up to 3 years are common.
Most certificate programs are 100% online, while others include hybrid coursework or other in-person components.
Master’s Degree in Forestry302 to 3 years full-time. 

Part-time completion times up to 7 years are common.
Programs may be 100% online, mostly online, or mostly on-campus. Some programs include additional in-person components.
PhD in Forestry40-80 (including didactic coursework, research, and dissertation)Up to 7 or 8 years total, full-time or part-time, to complete all coursework and dissertation.On-campus programs are the most common, although some may include online courses. In-person research and dissertation presentations are typically required.

Forestry Diploma Online Options

Earning a career diploma in forestry qualifies graduates for entry-level positions in the wildlife and forestry conservation field. Diploma programs offer introductory courses in wildlife, forests, rangeland, fish, and parks management, as well as conservation and wildlife law enforcement. Graduates typically find jobs as forestry technicians and culturalists, and as tree farm and nursery laborers.

Online forestry career diploma programs can normally be completed entirely online via asynchronous coursework. Programs can be completed in as little as four to six months, but most programs are self-paced, allowing students ample time for completion. Program length and study flexibility make online forestry diplomas a great choice for those interested in entering the job market quickly but without the time or resources to take on a full degree program.

Undergraduate Online Forestry Certificate Programs

Undergraduate certificates in forestry and related subjects are designed to prepare students for entry-level jobs in a range of occupations with federal, state, and municipal public agencies, as well as private businesses and nonprofit organizations. Curriculums often mirror the major-subject coursework of an associate degree program minus that degree’s general education requirements.

Online undergraduate forestry certificate programs are available from both two-year and four-year schools. Credit requirements vary by program, but most are designed to be completed with one year of full-time study. Programs are typically offered in a fully-online format with asynchronous coursework. Titles for online certificate programs include:

  • Public Lands Management
  • Urban Forest Management

Online Associate Degrees in Forestry

Associate degrees in forestry serve two basic functions for students. First, they prepare students for entry-level positions in forestry, environmental science, natural resources, and other related fields. Second, they allow students interested in obtaining a bachelor’s degree in forestry (or closely-related field) to complete much of their general education and foundational major-subject coursework in a convenient and affordable associate program prior to transferring to a bachelor’s degree program.

Titles for associate degrees currently offered online include:

  • AAS in Natural Resource Management
  • AAS in Urban Forest Management
  • AS in Natural Resources

Specializations, such as environmental science, natural resources, and earth science, may be also be available.

Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Forestry

Graduate Online Forestry Certificate Programs

Online Master’s Degrees in Forestry

PhD in Forestry Online Programs

Degree Spotlight: Online Master’s in Forestry

Master’s degrees in forestry are geared toward providing the knowledge and skills needed for advanced practice and leadership roles in forestry research, management, policy, teaching, outreach, and more. Most students enrolled in these programs are working adults who must fit their degree studies into already busy job and life schedules. Colleges and universities know this and design their online programs with the working student in mind. Below is a comprehensive look at the elements and features you can expect to find in your online master’s degree forestry program.

Practical Forestry Skills Gained in an Online Master’s

Students in forestry master’s degree programs gain a wide variety of skills that can be applied to their professional practice, including:

  • Assessment of ecosystems and their health
  • Planning, implementing, managing, and optimizing of forest operations
  • Forest ecology and fire management
  • Analysis of applicable legal and policy issues
  • Monitoring and inventorying
  • Urban forestry and greenspace planning and management
  • Scarcity and biodiversity
  • Forest mensuration and mapping
  • Environmental impact assessment

Common Online Forestry Courses in a Master’s Program

Forestry master’s degree curriculums feature advanced coursework covering a wide range of issues and topics that apply the concepts and practices of the biological, physical, and social sciences to the forestry field. Below are descriptions of courses offered by online forestry-related master’s degree programs:

Carbon Sequestration in Forests

Carbon sequestration refers to the processes used to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Through lectures, discussions, and simulation modeling, students in this course learn about the various methods for controlling the sequestration of carbon in forests and wood products.

Ecology of Managed Forests

Fire Ecology

Forest Policy

Forest Resource Economics

Graduation Requirements to Earn a Forestry Master’s Degree

Besides standard coursework, online forestry master’s programs often include one or more additional graduation components, some of which require on-campus or other in-person appearances by the student.

Thesis

Some programs require completion of a research-based written thesis. Thesis requirements themselves include a given number of coursework credits and research hours. Students must also present an in-person defense of their thesis, although some programs allow the defense to be presented online.

Capstone Project

Final Written or Oral Examinations

Admissions Criteria for Forestry Master’s Programs

Specific admissions requirements for forestry master’s programs vary from program to program. However, there are a number of requirements common to most.

  • Undergraduate degree: Programs typically require applicants hold a bachelor’s degree in forestry or closely-related major. Some also accept students with bachelor’s degrees in other fields, usually in combination with substantial work experience in a forestry-related occupation.
  • Undergraduate GPA: Applicants must submit certified transcripts for prior undergraduate coursework that indicate they meet a stated minimum cumulative grade point average.
  • GRE test scores: Programs may require applicants to submit a test score for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Programs may or may not have a set score minimum.
  • Prior experience: Prior work experience in forestry or a closely-related field is required by some programs. Length and nature (paid, volunteer, etc.) of that experience varies by program.
  • TOEFL/IELTS score: Non-native English speakers may be required to demonstrate English language proficiency by taking either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam.

By the Numbers: Tuition Costs for a Master’s in Forestry Online

Cost is always a major factor in choosing any college degree or certificate program, online forestry programs included. The chart below provides examples of tuition costs (as of summer 2019) for five online forestry master’s programs. These figures show tuition costs only, however. Total program costs will likely include additional fees.

School NameNo. of CreditsCost/CreditEst. Total Tuition Cost
Colorado State University30$705$21,150
Mississippi State University30$489$14,670
Oregon State University45$560$25,200
University of Florida30$565$16,950
University of Missouri30$368$11,028

Need some help paying for your online forestry degree or certificate? Check out our financial aid and scholarships guides for helpful ways to save on college.

Checking Accreditation for Forestry Degrees Online

Accreditation is the process used to confirm that colleges and universities – and their degree and certificate programs – meet or exceed stated minimum quality academic standards.

There are two types of postsecondary education accreditation: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation is conferred on colleges and universities by both regional and national accreditation agencies approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Programmatic accreditation of forestry degree programs in the U.S. is administered by the Society of American Foresters.

Proper accreditation is crucial, and prospective students should seek out only those degree programs with both institutional and programmatic accreditation. Students can determine the accreditation status of schools and programs they’re considering by visiting specific degree program websites or by visiting the websites of the accrediting agencies listed by the U.S. Department of Education.

What Can You Do with an Online Forestry Degree?

Getting an online forestry degree can lead to many rewarding career paths. Some of the most common careers are listed below, along with salary and career outlook information for each. Information and data were taken from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and O*NET websites.

  • Plant seedlings for reforestation
  • Clear brush and debris from camping areas, trails and roadsides
  • Help with forest fire suppression
  • Count, measure and cut trees
  • Spray trees to prevent disease and kill insects
  • Identify and remove diseased trees
Median Salary (May 2018)

$27,460

Projected Job Growth (2016 to 2026)

-2%

Typical Education Required

Diploma or two-year technical degree

  • Provide technical assistance on the conservation of forests, soil, water, or related natural resources
  • Compile data regarding forest tracts
  • Train and lead forest workers in fire prevention and suppression, and forest propagation
  • Assist scientists in managing, protecting, and improving rangelands and wildlife habitats
Median Salary (May 2018)

$37,180

Projected Job Growth (2016 to 2026)

2% to 4%

Typical Education Required

Diploma or associate degree

  • Oversee conservation and forest workers and technicians
  • Negotiate land-use contracts
  • Develop plans for forest lands and resources
  • Monitor forest-cleared lands
  • Work with landowners, farmers, the government, and others to improve lands for forestry purposes
Median Salary (May 2018)

$61,310

Projected Job Growth (2016 to 2026)

6%

Typical Education Required

Bachelor’s degree

  • Supervise the activities of conservation and forest workers and technicians
  • Prepare sites for new tree plantings
  • Monitor forest regeneration
  • Participate in and direct forest fire suppression activities
  • Develop timber removal methods.
Median Salary (May 2018)

$61,410

Projected Job Growth (2016 to 2026)

5%

Typical Education Required

Bachelor’s degree

  • Collaborate with biology and field staff to oversee implementation of restoration projects and develop new projects
  • Process and synthesize scientific data for use in practical strategies, restoration, monitoring, and management
Median Salary (May 2018)

$71,130

Projected Job Growth (2016 to 2026)

10% to 14%

Typical Education Required

Master’s degree

  • Teach courses in colleges and universities
  • Grade student exams, papers, and assignments
  • Develop curriculum in line with college and department guidelines
  • Conduct and publishing original
Median Salary (May 2018)

$86,900

Projected Job Growth (2016 to 2026)

5% to 9%

Typical Education Required

Doctoral degree