Doctor of Forest Sciences

Explore some of the course topics you would study in a doctorate-level forest science program. Programs in this field are usually based on campus at the PhD level, but online study options are available at the master's degree level. Get info on career opportunities and salary potential for graduates with a doctoral degree in forest sciences.

What Do Forest Science Graduate Courses Involve?

A Ph.D. in Forest Science program examines the interactions of plant and animal species inhabiting forest wilderness areas. You'll learn about soil compositions, wildlife disaster protocols and safe recreational forest use by humans. You usually can choose a specialization such as forest preservation, forestry management or ecology.

The coursework is very hands-on and often includes lab work, field trips, internships and teaching assistantships. You'll usually need to write and defend a dissertation, in which you must research an original forest science topic. Typical subjects that you might explore in a graduate forest science program include:

  • Tree physiology
  • Wildlife management and economics
  • Advanced ecology
  • Wildlife biology
  • Predator-prey relationships
  • Climate change
  • Wood science

Common Courses Ecology, wildlife biology, tree physiology, climate change
Other Requirements In-person internship, field trips, teaching assistantships, dissertation
Online Degrees Master's degrees available online
Career Options Postsecondary teacher
Job Outlook (2016-26)8% growth (for all postsecondary forestry and conservation science teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Are There Any Online Opportunities?

Forest science Ph.D. students may need to complete on-campus programs due to the need to collaborate with faculty members and students on dissertations and projects. However, you may complete online graduate study in forest science through a master's degree program in soil science or natural resources. These programs will teach you about forestry, agriculture and resource sustainability. Online master's degree programs usually focus on professional preparation for real estate, land management and conservation work.

During an online program, you might need to appear on campus for 4-7 days per year to complete laboratory assignments. You also might need to have your exams proctored at a testing center or a local school. Computer requirements for the program often include purchasing an Ethernet card.

What Careers Will the Program Qualify Me For?

With your doctoral degree in forest science, you can enter academic research and postsecondary teaching positions within forestry and conservation science. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the demand for professors would remain high because more students will be entering college in the coming years ( However, budget cuts may put constraints on the number of tenured, full-time postsecondary teaching positions available. According to the BLS, forestry and conservation science postsecondary teachers earned a mean yearly salary of $92,550 in May 2018.