Here Are the 10 Best Forestry Schools in the US

In recent years, areas of study in Forestry programs have been expanding. The field includes many kinds of outreach, maintenance, research, and cultivation careers. 

Industries partner with many academic programs to create sustainable working forests, and many offer internships and employment after graduation.

The National Parks Service and other preservation organizations also collaborate with graduate and even undergraduate programs nationwide. With the right choice of institution, prospective Forestry students can experience a spectrum of potential career paths while they study.

Excellent Forestry programs exist in most regions of the country where the school can have access to large swaths of forested lands for training and research; the Pacific Northwest, West Coast, Northeast, Midwest, and the South all have strong Schools of Forestry. 

From glaciers to bogs, from urban herbariums to thousands of acres of hardwoods, forestry students are experiencing hands-on learning and acquiring the skills to help preserve the world’s precious natural resources.

These outstanding programs accommodate a wide range of interests. Each school offers at least a few programs with Society of American Forester-certified degree paths. 

Sustainability coordination, Fire management, Ecotourism—no matter what kind of forestry-related vocation candidates plan to pursue, there’s a program out there designed to prepare them for a future in the woods.

Here are 10 of the best forestry schools in the US.

Oregon State University College of Forestry (Corvallis, OR)

Oregon State University
M.O. Stevens, OSU Dixon Rec Center, CC BY 3.0

The College of Forestry at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, offers a broad scope of study options. 

With its 15,000 acres of research forest and extensive facilities, Oregon State’s location and environment support a full complement of undergraduate and graduate majors and concentrations, including commercial, research, and public service roles.

The program’s mission involves giving students and faculty the conditions and tools needed to solve environmental issues, develop sustainable land management practices, and nurture the wood resources society needs for products and buildings. 

Undergraduates can explore options like Forest Engineering, Renewable Materials, or Natural Resources as areas of focus. The Tourism, Recreation, and Adventure Leadership major provides training for students interested in pursuing careers in sustainable tourism and outdoor recreation management.

The variety of spaces dedicated to research and learning demonstrate the range of this program’s paths of study. 

The Oregon Forest Science Complex houses the program’s Forest Science Center, the Wood Products Laboratory, the Tallwood Design Institute, classrooms, and laboratory space. Labs here allow for wood manufacturing, structure testing of up to three stories, and an Arboretum for active learning and research. 

Elsewhere on campus, Oak Creek Greenhouse offers space for seedling research, and for water analysis, students have the Cooperative Chemical Analytical Laboratory. The campus has a controlled environment for the study of non-indigenous arthropods as well.

The program at Oregon State also has outreach programs covering everything from wood use innovation to wildfire management. Lectures, agroforestry workgroups, support for women owning woodlands, and master programs for forestry professionals all originate through the College of Forestry’s extension programs. 

Over 200 graduate students study Forest Ecosystems, Sustainable Forest Management, Wood Science, or earn a Master of Natural Resources degree.

The school’s Chile Initiative gives Oregon State Forestry students the chance to acquire useful work experience, global perspective, and collaboration skills as they join with their counterparts at various universities and research departments in Chile to study international trade and forest management policy.

The College of Forestry is located on the University’s Corvallis campus, recognized as one of the friendliest and most beautiful college towns in the United States. 

The Willamette River and Oregon coast provide scenic hikes and recreation; the area is known as a popular destination for birders around the world. Whether you enjoy taking advantage of access to regional outdoor sports and activities or going to shows at the historic Majestic Theater, Corvallis is a vibrant town in a spectacular geographic location.

Michigan Technological University College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science (Houghton, MI)

Michigan Tech University
Bobak Ha’Eri, Michigan Tech Memorial Union, CC BY 3.0

Michigan Tech’s College of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences calls itself “a scholarly community on a first-name basis.” 

This dynamic program highlights their fieldwork, research, and student satisfaction. Their Lake Superior base and 5,000 acres of research forest give students plenty of room to train and to find their vocation in forestry.

Today, research subjects among Michigan Tech projects include wildlife ecology, biotechnology and molecular genetics, biofuel exploration, forest biomaterials, fire and grassland restoration. 

The longest-running predator-prey study in the world, focused on wolves and moose of Isle Royale, also is situated at Michigan Tech. Forestry study encompasses a lot more than trees at Michigan Tech.

The Michigan Tech program requires over 700 hours of outdoor coursework—great news for students passionate about Forestry. Stewardship and conservation are hallmarks of the program, along with a strong awareness that changes in global circumstances require new skills and training to meet the upcoming environmental challenges. 

Dating back to 1936, the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences has continued expanding, developing, and adding new dimensions to its course and degree offerings. Students can earn Bachelor of Science degrees in Forestry, along with Wildlife Ecology, Sustainable Bioproducts, Natural Resources Management, and Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences. 

Graduate areas of study include Master of Forestry, Master of Geographic Information Science, Master of Science in Applied Ecology, and doctoral programs in Forest Science and Forest Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology.

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (Syracuse, NY)

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
DASonnenfeld, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, CC BY-SA 4.0

At the State University of New York at Syracuse, the forestry program is part of the College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry, an award-winning academic and research facility with 25,000 acres of university land for research and training. 

The program offers a wide scope of degrees, including the Ranger School, a two-year Associate in Applied Science degree encompassing forest technology, land surveying, and natural resources conservation that has been training park rangers since 1912.

The Adirondack mountains provide a stunning backdrop as well as a living laboratory for SUNY ESF students. 

With 27 undergraduate departments and 54 graduate areas, ESF has one of the largest environmental and forestry studies programs. 

The sustainable campus implements student solutions from the program at ESF and in the community beyond the grounds, practicing clean energy, resource management, recycling, and other projects driven by campus working groups and academic research.

Students ready to make a difference in the environment will have that chance at ESF. The SUNY Institute for Climate Change, currently being developed, will help all 64 SUNY campuses throughout New York State adapt their practices to reduce their environmental impact. 

Another current project involves rethinking mass timber construction and developing more sustainable and less costly manufacturing practices. Researchers at ESF have developed a blight-tolerant American chestnut tree, rescuing a species that nearly disappeared from our forests.

The school’s Open Academy offers online and continuing education programs for professionals, and coursework includes the same faculty as the full-time program. 

ESF students have access to SUNY’s career counseling services, as well as a worldwide job database. Alumni go on to careers as diverse as landscape architects, United Nations consultants, Forest Service rangers, golf course designers, award-winning scientists and educators, entrepreneurs, and public servants.

University of Minnesota Department of Forest Resources (Minneapolis, MN)

University of Minnesota
Dragne SDI, Northrop Mall, CC BY-SA 4.0

For 50 years, Minnesotans with questions about trees have turned to volunteer Tree Care Advisors who answer their calls or emails. 

Citizen Pruners with professional help Minneapolis city staff maintain the municipal flora. 

Tree Stewards help throughout the community, monitoring for problems with watering or tree diseases and participating in tree-planting initiatives. 

All of these community programs come through the Department of Forest Resources at the University of Minnesota.

This program has a hands-on, service-focused approach to forestry science. Students are encouraged to pursue interdisciplinary coursework to tailor their study paths to suit their educational and professional goals. 

The program’s mission considers the urgent need for new minds and hands in the process of educating the public and managing the resources we have to preserve the world’s forests.

Within the College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences, the Department of Forestry Resources centers on the Cloquet Forestry Center, a place of study, research, and recreation since 1909. In keeping with the Department’s mission, this center is at times open to the public. It also provides the setting for Forestry Resources students to practice forestry management techniques, study forest genetics, monitor climate change effects on forest productivity, and participate in numerous research opportunities.

Students can focus on issues from invasive species to the mechanics and structural design of wood products. Additionally, students can participate in research projects around the world in places as diverse as Uganda and Antarctica. 

But even back on campus in the Twin Cities, the thousands of acres of forest by the shores of Lake Superior mean most of the learning will be going on outside for the future arborists, sustainability consultants, environmental lawyers, public educators, and researchers the program trains annually. 

Some students even get to be Tree Care Advisors.

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment (Lexington, KY)

University of Kentucky Arboretum
University of Kentucky Arboretum – Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

The Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Kentucky frames the study of forestry within environmental, scientific, and commercial contexts, focusing on providing students with the tools they need to make the necessary decisions foresters face in the world outside the classroom or laboratory. 

Kentucky’s Department of Forestry works on the premise that our forests support us all, and their preservation and use are community concerns.

While students in Forestry will take courses like Geospatial Technology and Winter Dendrology, they’ll also have a chance to learn about sawmill equipment and logging, along with other more industry-specific skills and techniques. 

Looking for a maple syrup workshop? Kentucky will be offering a program to help students interested in joining this niche industry seeing a resurgence in this time of small-batch products and artisanal farming.

Forestry students at Kentucky spend around 14 weeks in outdoor, hands-on learning environments, often among the 15,000 acres of woodlands to which the university has access. 

Kentucky has a particular focus on wildlife fire management and trains students for careers in that field; the UK Fire Cats, UK student firefighters, work as employees of the Kentucky Division of Forestry fighting wildland fires on weekends during fire season.

Surrounded by horse farms and situated in Lexington (ranked often in the Top 20 College Towns in the United States), the University of Kentucky also offers exciting college sports teams, highly-ranked dorm facilities, and the beneficial funding of a state land-grant college.

University of Washington School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (Seattle, WA)

University of Washington
Richardmouser, Campus Scene in March 2021 at Drumheller Fountain, Seattle, CC BY-SA 4.0

Not many forestry programs can be located in an actual rainforest. 

Still, students and researchers from the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences often conduct research in the Hoh Rainforest – sometimes high above it

Access to places like Olympic National Park, Blue Glacier, the Pack Experimental Forest at Mt. Rainier, and the Hoh Rainforest give the program and students at UW a unique advantage and opportunity for study.

Besides access to the classroom of the extraordinary terrain of the Pacific Northwest, UW students have a metropolitan fieldwork location at the UW Botanic Gardens, where more than 20,000 living plants from around the world have been collected. 

Rare plants, wetlands, and forests make up a living classroom, along with a library and herbarium. 

On campus, SEFS shares laboratories with other departments, including a biofuels lab, a wildland fire service lab, and facilities focused on soil analysis and geospatial analysis.

Conservation, rehabilitation, and real-world problem solving make up the focus at UW. 

Undergraduate degree programs at UW SEFS include ESRM (Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management) and BSE (Bioresource Science and Engineering), along with a minor option in Ecological Restoration. 

Masters and doctorates of science continue the program, along with specialized professional degrees like the Master of Environmental Horticulture and the Master of Forest Resources, an SAF-accredited program.

Partnerships with government agencies, private industry, and other research entities afford UW students many and various opportunities for research, funding, and work experience. 

The Center for Sustainable Forestry, the Center for International Trade in Forest Products, and Precision Forestry Cooperative, among others, are collaborative programs working toward conservation and efficient industry practices with UW’s faculty and students.

Auburn University School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences (Auburn, AL)

Auburn University
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Auburn University’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences applies experiential learning, extension programs, and global outreach toward sustainability and conservation. 

Offering rich continuing education and online graduate programs, Auburn demonstrates a commitment to lifelong learning and the changing nature of environmental science.

Alabama’s natural biodiversity provides an ideal environment for research and training. Undergraduates often serve as research assistance, gathering and analyzing field data or managing project sites. 

The School of Forestry and Wildlife organizes a host of clubs, along with annual social and professional development events and fairs, encouraging an atmosphere of collegiality and collaboration.

Unique to the program is the Online Master of Forest Business & Investment degree, a Master of Science degree offered in collaboration with the College of Business at Auburn. 

Undergraduate majors include Wildlife Ecology and Wildlife Sciences Pre-Vet alongside Forestry and Forestry Engineering, a joint degree through the Engineering program.

Forestry students spend their summers away from campus at the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center, gaining practical training and experience, preparing for the two-year capstone project that all Forestry majors complete before graduation.

University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources (Athens, GA)

University of Georgia
Coxonian, Miller Learning Center UGA, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia is one of the larger programs on the list, with about 200 graduate students and 300 undergraduates studying in one of its forestry-related majors. 

Warnell has the faculty, facilities, and resources to match its student population, along with ample research and professional opportunities.

Students interested in pursuing careers at the highest professional level find the challenging curriculum and faculty to support that role at Warnell. 

The Double Dawgs program allows students to simultaneously work on an undergraduate and graduate degree, graduating with both degrees in five years or less. 

These programs offer opportunities to diversify study as well; for instance, a student might choose to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Fisheries and Wildlife with a Master’s in Forest Resources.

Doctoral degree programs are designed to prepare students for faculty or research specialist positions, and they include areas of study like Community Forestry and Arboriculture, or Policy and Sustainability. 

Interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs in Conservation or Toxicology are offered through departmental collaboration.

Warnell began in 1906 as the Peabody School of Forestry, and its enviable geographic position between three distinct geographic regions (coastal plains, piedmont, and mountains) has allowed it to develop into one of the most respected forestry programs, a leader in training not only foresters but also the next generation of forestry educators. 

Its research programs and community outreach put it at the forefront of forestry innovation and development, addressing sustainability issues and the future of forests globally.

University of Florida School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences (Gainesville, FL)

University of Florida
UF Library – Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

The University of Florida’s recently-renamed School of Forest, Fisheries, & Geomatic Sciences houses the Forest Resources and Conservation program, dedicated to providing the training and tools for forest conservation and management. 

Not only does this program prepare professionals in the field, but it also seeks to educate the public, landowners, and anyone involved in the management of forest lands and natural resources.

Because of Florida’s region and geography, the Forest Resources and Conservation program at the University of Florida has research programs in subtropical agroforestry and forest hydrology. 

The Austin Cary Forest just north of Gainesville provides more than 2,000 acres of teaching forest, along with research and conference facilities.

University of Florida students have access to a large, diverse faculty that is driving research and development globally. Dr. Raelene Crandall was recently awarded a sizeable grant for her work with the Longleaf Pine, as well as for her research on fire ecology

Dr. Karen Kainer, a joint appointee with the Center for Latin American Studies, works with its Tropical Conservation and Development Program. Dr. Ajay Sharma, silviculturalist and forest ecologist, worked in India with the Government of Delhi Department of Forests and Wildlife.

The School of Forest, Fisheries, & Geomatic Sciences is technologically ahead of the curve, staffed with leaders in the field, and situated in a geographically advantageous location. These features, along with a mission to educate, make it one of the top forestry schools nationwide.

UC Berkeley Rausser College of Natural Resources (Berkeley, CA)

UC Berkeley
Firstcultural, UC Berkeley Wheeler Hall and Library, CC0 1.0

The Rausser College of Natural Resources at the University of Caifornia at Berkeley offers Ecosystem Management in Forestry; Rausser has been recognized as one of the top programs in the world for studying ecology and the environment.

Forestry Field Camp is a summer program required of all students specializing in Forestry within the EMF major. For eight weeks, EMF students live in the Sierra Nevada, attending daily lectures and practicing fieldwork skills. 

Students earn academic credit for their coursework and forge strong bonds with faculty mentors and their peers.

The AMF major prepares students for careers in consulting, range management, non-profit conservation work, professional forestry, and other professional environmental work. The program’s alumni association, Cal Alumni Foresters, provides mentorship and funding to current degree candidates.

Ongoing work in the Berkeley research forests tests management strategies for different climate change situations. The growing problem of West Coast wildfires also factors into Berkeley’s research, as faculty members strive to understand and address the source and impact of these devastating fires. 

Students entering forestry studies to make a difference in the future of our natural resources nationally and globally will find a place to begin at Berkeley’s Rausser College.