Customize Your Curriculum
The MF curriculum includes coursework toward four core competencies: forest ecology and biology; measurement of forest resources; silviculture and management of forest resources; and forest resources policy, economics, and administration. Within these categories, students customize their course selections to emphasize particular resources (e.g., forest carbon, forest hydrology, biodiversity conservation) or analytic approaches (e.g., geospatial analysis, finance, environmental justice).
MF Credit Structure
Course credits are distributed among core competency areas specified by SAF, in addition to Nicholas School-wide requirements, quantitative analysis, and electives.
Specific to MF Students
- Competency Areas
- Forest Ecology & Biology: 6 credits
- Measurement of Forest Resources: 6 credits
- Silviculture & Management of Forest Resources: 8.5 credits
- Forest Resources Policy, Economics & Administration: 7.5 credits
- Quantitative Analysis: 6 credits
- Specializing Electives: 7-9 credits
- Trips and Additional Experiences
All MF and MEM Students
- Master's Project (MP): 4-6 credits
- Seminar: 1 credit awarded at the end of 4 semesters
TOTAL: Minimum 48 credits required
When taken on its own, the MF program requires a total of at least 48 credits and four semesters of enrollment. A student pursuing the MF concurrently with the MEM will need at least five semesters of enrollment to earn the minimum of 72 credit hours and fulfill degree requirements. If the joint degrees do not substantially overlap in coursework, six semesters might be needed to complete both degrees. Consult the concurrent degree requirements for additional information.
Course of Study
Prerequisites for admission to the Nicholas School are:
- Some previous training in the natural sciences or the social sciences related to the student’s area of interest
- At least one semester of college calculus
- A college statistics course that includes descriptive statistics, probability distributions, hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, correlation, simple linear regression, and simple ANOVA.
Additional prerequisites for MF students are:
- At least 1 introductory college course in principles of ecology
- An introductory college economics course that includes microeconomics
Students are strongly encouraged to complete all prerequisites before matriculating into the program.
Deficiencies must be made up in the student’s first year in residence.
Prerequisites do not count toward degree requirements.
- More information is available in the Statement of Prerequisite Coursework.
Competency areas include forest ecology and biology; measurement of forest resources; silviculture and management of forest resources; and forest resources policy, economics, and administration.
Courses taken to fulfill requirements other than those suggested here need advisor approval. (F) and (S) courses are usually offered in fall and spring semesters, respectively. An asterisk (*) indicates courses that are usually taught every other year.
Forest Ecology & Biology: 6 credits
- ENVIRON 503 Forest Ecosystems, 3 credits (S)
- One course from the options below:
- ENVIRON 505 Functional Ecology of Plants, 3 credits (F)
- ENVIRON 714 Landscape Ecology, 3 credits (F)
- ENVIRON 721 Soil Resources, 3 credits (F)
- ENVIRON 732 Hydrology in Environmental Management, 3 credits (F)
Measurement of Forest Resources: 6 Credits
- ENVIRON 701 Forest Measurements, 3 credits (F)
- ENVIRON 731 Dendrology, 3 credits (F)
Silviculture & Management of Forest resources: 8.5 credits
- ENVIRON 705L Silviculture, 3 credits (S)
- ENVIRON 708L Silviculture Prescription, 2 credits (S)
- ENVIRON 763 Forest Management Traveling Seminar, 1.5 credits (rotating topics; may be taken up to three times for credit). Either of two NCSU courses, FOR 514 or FOR 522, can replace ENVIRON 763.
- ENVIRON 806 Duke Forest Practicum, 2 credits (S)
Forest Resources Policy, Economics & Administration: 7.5 Credits
- ENVIRON 520 Resource and Environmental Economics I, 1.5 credits (F)
- ENVIRON 680 Economics of Forest Resources, 1.5 credits (F). NCSU’s course FOR 519 can replace ENVIRON 520 & 680.
- ENVIRON 727 Forests in the Public Interest, 1.5 credits (F) (may be taken up to 2 times for credit)
- One course from the options below:
- ENVIRON 550 Land Use Principles and Policies, 3 credits
- ENVIRON 577 Environmental Politics, 3 credits
- ENVIRON 790 Valuing Ecosystems for Investment and Conservation, 3 credits
- ENVIRON 835 Environmental Law, 3 credits
Quantitative Analysis: 6 Credits
- ENVIRON 710 Applied Statistical Modeling Environmental Management, 3 credits (S)
- One course from the options below, 3 credits:
- ENVIRON 558L Satellite Remote Sensing for Environmental Analysis
- ENVIRON 559 Fundamentals of Geospatial Analysis
- ENVIRON 724 Landscape Analysis and Management
- ENVIRON 761 Geospatial Analysis for Conservation & Management
- ENVIRON 796 Financial Foundations for Environmental Managers
- ENVIRON 832 Environmental Decision Analysis
- ENVIRON 859/A Geospatial Data Analytics
One methods-oriented quantitative course is required. One or more courses focusing on Geographic Information System/Geospatial Analysis are highly recommended to satisfy the Quantitative Analysis requirement or as Specializing Electives (next section).
Quantitative courses are also taught by the Duke Department of Statistical Science, Fuqua School of Business, Sanford School of Public Policy, and Departments of Biology, Economics, Political Science, Sociology, and Evolutionary Anthropology. In addition, various departments at NCSU and UNC offer graduate-level quantitative coursework that can be used to meet this requirement.
Electives provide students with a major opportunity to develop a field of specialization. Students are encouraged to coordinate electives to develop specialized skills or a specialized understanding of, for instance, a specific forest ecosystem or area of practice. Such specialization allows students to acquire proficiency in some aspect of the broad, multi-disciplinary field of forest resource management and should not confine students’ perspective, educational development, or career path.
Examples include forest carbon management, wetland ecology and management, hydrology and soil science, conservation ecology, GIS analysis, environmental justice, economics, finance, policy analysis, and business management.
The specialization is further developed with the Master’s Project.
Selection of electives is done in consultation with the student’s advisor, with some thought as to the topic of the Master's Project (MP). The identification of a specialization is usually done over the course of a student’s first two semesters.
Master's Project and Seminar
- ENVIRON 899.XX Master’s Project (4 to 6 credits)
A culminating hands-on experience, the Master’s Project allows you to apply the professional skills and knowledge acquired in the classroom and the field to projects that tackle real-world environmental challenges, often in service to an industry, government or nonprofit external partner.
The majority of Master's Project (MP) topics originate from external partners, faculty or a combination thereof. In some cases, students seeking an original or applied research experience may develop their own ideas. All MPs require a workload equivalent of 1.5 – 2 classes (i.e., 4-6 credit hours), depending on whether you choose a two-semester or three-semester format for your MP.
MF students should familiarize themselves with the Master’s Project Handbook, especially the Additional MP Guidelines for Master of Forestry (MF) Students. As discussed in the Additional Guidelines, MF students whose MP is not clearly forestry-relevant will need to complete an independent study (typically for 3 cr.) on a forestry-related project.
- ENVIRON 898.01 MF Seminar, 1 credit to be awarded at the end of four semesters (F – including two sessions on Ethics; S)
As an MF student, you will take this course every semester. Even though you will have registered for this course in multiple semesters, you will earn only one credit towards your degree at graduation. Seminar activities include MP status and practice presentations, registration and course advising, professional development activities, and two required Ethics sessions.
Field Trips and Additional Experiences
- Forest Field Trip Courses
- All MFs are assured a place in ENVIRON 766A, Ecology of S. Appalachian Forests, a 1-credit readings and field trip course offered every other fall.
- A 1-credit Western Forestry Field Trip, ENVIRON 760A, is offered occasionally in the early or late summer and may be repeated twice for credit.
- Duke Forest: 7,000-acre forest science teaching and research laboratory adjacent to Duke's campus
- Concurrent Degree Option - pursue the MF concurrently with the Nicholas School's Master of Environmental Management (MEM) or with degrees from other professional schools.
- Summer Internships and Experiences
- Career and Professional Development Workshops
- Certificate Programs
- Co-Curricular Opportunities
- Student Groups
The following is a suggested course sequence for students who are enrolled in the 2-year MF degree program on its own (not joint with the MEM or another professional degree). Because the suggested sequence is designed to progressively build up expertise, it is recommended that students in the joint MF/MEM degree program maintain the sequence to the extent possible.
2-Year Course Sequence
Note that the fieldtrip courses ENVIRON 760A, ENVIRON 763, and ENVIRON 766A might not be offered in the indicated semester or even every year. First-year students in the 2-year program are advised to contact the MF chair to find out when these courses will be offered. Also note that ENVIRON 727 and ENVIRON 763 may be taken more than once for credit.
Fall Year 1
- Resource & Env Econ I (ENV 520), 1.5 credit
- Econ of For Resources (ENV 680), 1.5 credits
- Forest Measurements (ENV 701), 3 credits
- Forests in the Public Interest (ENV 727), 1.5 credits
- Dendrology (ENV 731), 3 credits
- Program Area Seminar (ENV 898.01), 0 credits
- One course in For Ecol & Biol, For Pol, Econ & Admin, or Quant Analysis to meet MF requirements, or an elective, 3 credits
- TOTAL: 13.5
Spring Year 2
- Forest Ecosystems (ENV 503), 3 credits
- Silviculture (ENV 705L), 3 credits
- Silviculture Prescription (ENV 708L), 2 credits
- Appl Data Anal for Environ Sci (ENV 710), 3 credits
- Duke Forest Practicum (ENV 806), 2 credits
- Program Area Seminar (ENV 898.01), 0 credits
- TOTAL: 13
Summer Year 1
- Western Field Trip (ENV 760A), 1 credit - Course might not be offered every year.
Fall Year 2
- Forest Mgmt Traveling Seminar (ENV 763), 1.5 credits
- Ecol of S Appalachian Forests (ENV 766A), 1 credit
- Program Area Seminar (ENV 898.01), 0 credits
- Master’s Project (ENV 899.01), 2 credits
- Three courses in For Ecol & Biol, For Pol, Econ &. Admin, or Quant Analysis to meet MF requirements, or an elective, 9 credits
- TOTAL: 13.5
Spring Year 2
- Program Area Seminar (ENV 898.01), 1 credit
- Master's Project (ENV 899.01), 2 credits
- Two courses in For Ecol & Biol, For Pol, Econ & Admin, or Quant Analysis to meet MF requirements, or an elective, 6 credits
- TOTAL: 9 credits
Note: Students choosing the 3S MP option may distribute 4–6 MP credits among 3 semesters as is optimal for their schedule and take an additional course in Spring Year 2 to meet program requirements.
GRAND TOTAL: 50 credits
01 / 03 • Features
Keeping the Land in the Family
To help rural land owner James Peterson ensure that his family farm survives, five Nicholas students collaborated with a regional nonprofit to survey Peterson’s forest acreage, analyze its economic and ecological value, and develop a management plan with multiple options for generating sustainable revenues.
02 / 03 • FEATURES
Master's Project Studies drone use in forestry
For her master's project, Master of Forestry student Elisabeth McElwee worked with The Forestland Group to explore how drones could be used as a tool in forest management in the mountainous mixed broadleaf forests of West Virginia.
03 / 03 • FEATURES
MEM/MF Student Enjoys Conservation Summer Experiences
Israel Golden, a Master of Environmental Management (MEM) and Master of Forestry (MF) concurrent degree student, spent his summer interning with both the American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) and the Wild Bird Research Group in western North Carolina.
The Nicholas School’s dedicated Career & Professional Development Center helps MF graduates find positions with consulting firms and corporations, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies in forestry and related fields.
Most Recent Employer List for MF Graduates
BUSINESS / INDUSTRY / START-UP
The London Company; Equity Research Associate* - Richmond, VA
Hyde Engineering Services; Advanced Energy Analyst**** – Boulder, CO
PhD Student; ETH Zurich**** - Zurich, Switzerland
GOVERNMENT / PUBLIC SECTOR
NYC Dept. of Parks and Rec; NYC Forester II**** - New York, NY
US Forest Service; Forester - Athens, GA
NGO / THINK TANK / RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Conservation International; Director, Brand Partnerships**** - New York, NY
Dartmouth Health; Research Consultant**** - Sharon, VT
The Conservation Fund; Forest Analyst**** - Durham, NC
* MEM or MF/MBA concurrent degree
** MEM/JD concurrent degree
*** MEM/MPP concurrent degree
**** MEM/MF concurrent degree
The first destination employment report for December and May Master of Environmental Management and Master of Forestry graduates covers geographic distribution, employment by sector and salary ranges.
The exposure to real forestry practices through coursework, practicums, and internships were invaluable to being a dynamic professional in the forestry space. Additionally, the MEM helped give me a broader understanding of the economics and policy that influence environmental markets."
–Cakey Worthington, MEM/MF'16
director of forest carbon, the forestland group, llc
From Forestry Faculty
Forests are indispensable. They sustain local economies while providing environmental values ranging from mitigating climate change to protecting water quality and harboring biodiversity. Managing and conserving the world’s forest resources requires knowledge of biology, ecology, and economics, combined with skills in field measurements, silviculture, finance, and policy analysis. Duke’s Master of Forestry program trains students to apply an interdisciplinary approach to reconciling society’s many demands on forests and solving the complex challenges therein. Our students benefit from networking with our influential alumni, next-door access to the 7,000-acre Duke Forest, and participating in our innovative research programs and abundant internship opportunities.
Be Part of Something Bigger
At Duke Environment, you’ll find a customizable degree that gives you the skills, knowledge and networks needed to tackle today’s toughest environmental challenges and succeed in a career that creates real change—all while engaging you in a community of caring and conscious people who share your commitment to being part of the solution.
You don't have to wait until you graduate to start contributing to positive change in the world. As a professional master's student at Duke, you'll find abundant opportunities for immediate application of your learning through your Master's Project (MP), as well as internships, co-curricular activities and student groups.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
Connect with us at an upcoming event to meet our admissions team and gain in-depth information about our degree programs.
Visit the master's programs Admissions section to learn more about application requirements, find answers to frequently asked questions and start your application.
Come Change the World With Us
01 / 05 • Features
Nicholas Alumna takes us inside California’s wildfire crisis
As wildfires in 2020 sent thousands in California fleeing their homes, attention focused on the role of the state's largest utility. Duke alumna Melissa Semcer, MEM'07, had the job of holding the utility accountable.
02 / 05 • Features
Alum Helps Create National Marine Sanctuary
It took five years of planning, dozens of negotiations, hundreds of meetings, briefings and community events, and an inexhaustible supply of coffee and optimism for Joel Dunn MEM'04 to realize his dream of seeing Mallows Bay designated as a national marine sanctuary.
03 / 05 • Features
The Art of Mastering Concurrent Degrees
Environmental issues today can be complex, crossing many legal, political, economic and health fields, and requiring a multidisciplinary approach to finding solutions. Meet four alumni who took advantage of concurrent degree programs to expand their skillsets and professional networks.
04 / 05 • Features
MEM Alum to host National Geographic documentary
Shannon Switzer Swanson MEM'15 will act as on-air host for “The Last Drop," a National Geographic Channel documentary about water scarcity in the West and the extraordinary efforts underway to preserve the dwindling supply.
05 / 05 • Features
alums' research lights up flagship net zero energy Mcdonald's
From an environmental point of view, the most magical new attraction at the Magic Kingdom this year isn’t a ride or show. It’s a McDonald’s – the first of its kind anywhere – that generates all its own energy from renewable sources.
February 16, 2023
December 13, 2022
August 16, 2021