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Forestry: MS, PhD


USU is the only university in the state with a college devoted to the study of natural resources, and it is the only university in the state and one of only a few in the  region with degree programs in forestry.

Forestry is a land management degree focused on the integration of biological, social, and physical sciences and their application to the management of forest ecosystems. While studying forest ecosystem management, students can focus on a variety of related areas, including forest ecology, economics, social sciences, natural resource policy, wildlife species and their impact on forest ecosystems, hydrological dimensions, recreational dimensions, and more.

Each student works with their graduate committee to create an individualized plan of study that supports their area of research interests. Students are able to take courses in other areas and departments, gaining an interdisciplinary education in forestry and related aspects.


  • Forest Ecology: A student opting for the Forest Ecology Specialization at USU will know and be able to show that they have taken courses and conducted research that prepares them for either additional forest related research or a career in the management of forests and woodlands.

Graduates in forestry are able to pursue careers as foresters in the following areas:

  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • National Park Service
  • Other federal land management agencies
  • State natural resource and forestry agencies
  • Forest industry
  • Forest land management
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Native American tribes
  • Faculty and research positions with universities

Admission Requirements

Students with undergraduate degrees in natural resources or sciences are preferred.

To be accepted to the program, it is recommended that applicants first contact a specific faculty member with whom they are interested in working. If the faculty member is accepting graduate students and agrees to work with the student, the student can then apply by completing the following application requirements:

Application Requirements:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee
  • Score at or above the 40th percentile on the GRE
  • Have a 3.0 or higher GPA on your last 60 semester or 90 quarter credits
  • Provide transcripts of all college/university credits
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation

International students have additional admissions requirements.

Admission Deadlines

Applications for graduate programs are accepted year-round. However, chances for acceptance are best if students apply from October through January of each academic year. It is also encouraged that students begin in the fall if possible.

Program Requirements

PhD Qualifying Exams:

PhD students must pass a comprehensive examination. This exam is used to assess whether a student is prepared to successfully conduct independent research. The assessment depends upon the student’s knowledge in his or her area of concentration and in supporting areas, understanding of philosophical perspectives on scholarship, and ability to communicate this knowledge effectively.

It is recommended that the comprehensive exam be taken by the end of the student’s second academic year, and it must be passed no later than one year prior to defending the dissertation and before candidacy will be recommended.

Master's Degree Plan Option(s)

Students can receive the MS by pursuing one of two options:

  • In the Plan A option, students complete graduate-level coursework and must write a thesis.
  • The Plan B option requires the production of a paper or creative work of art and is expected to reflect equivalent scholarship standards as a thesis.

Financial Assistance

The Department of Wildland Resources provides funding for all of its graduate students through research assistantships, available through professors having contracts, grants, or other awards.

A variety of additional funding opportunities are available, including fellowships, scholarships, tuition awards, and travel support. Additionally, students may be eligible for subsidized health insurance through qualifying assistantships.

Peter Adler, PhD, Colorado State University
Area: Community ecology, population ecology, theory, climate change, global change
Office: BNR 287
Phone: (435) 797-1021

Karen Beard, PhD, Yale University
Area: Community ecology, ecosystem ecology, conservation biology
Office: NR 132, 137
Phone: (435) 797-8220

Mary Conner, PhD, Colorado State University
Associate Professor
Area: Interface of empirical data and methods,with the use of quantitative ecology and population modeling
Office: BNR 359
Phone: (970) 217-3404

Michael Conover, PhD, Washington State University
Area: Animal behavior, wildlife damage management
Office: BNR 159
Phone: (435) 797-2436

Patricia Cramer, PhD, University of Florida – Gainesville
Research Assistant Professor
Area: Transportation ecology, wildlife connectivity, carnivore and ungulate movement
Office: BNR 373
Phone: (435) 797-1289

Johan du Toit, PhD, University of Witwatersrand
Area: Ecology and conservation of large mammals in terrestrial ecosystems
Office: NR 206
Phone: (435) 797-2837

Thomas Edwards, PhD, University of Florida
Area: Spatial ecology, habitat modeling, biostatics
Office: NR 126
Phone: (435) 797-2529

Richard Etchberger, PhD, University of Arizona
Associate Professor
Area: Wildlife-habitat interactions, natural resource education
Office: USU Uintah Basin campus
Phone: (435) 722-1781

Shandra Nicole Frey, PhD, Utah State University
Extension Assistant Professor
Area: Resolution of human-wildlife conflict
Office: SUU campus
Phone: (435) 586-1924

Eric Gese, PhD, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Area: Predator behavior and ecology
Office: NR 128
Phone: (435) 797-2542

Kris Hulvey, PhD, University of California, Santa Cruz
Assistant Professor
Area: Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, ecosystem services, restoration ecology, invasion biology
Office: NR 320
Phone: (435) 797-5522

Michael Jenkins, PhD, Utah State University
Associate Professor
Area: Disturbance ecology and management, insects, fire, snow avalanches
Office: NR 236
Phone: (435) 797-2531

Michael King, PhD, Utah State University
Associate Professor
Area: Wildlife management
Office: USU-CEU campus
Phone: (435) 613-5400

David Koons, PhD, Auburn University
Associate Professor
Area: Animal population and ecology
Office: NR 242
Phone: (435) 797-8670

Michael Kuhns, PhD, Auburn University
Department Head, Professor
Area: Forestry extension specialist, urban forestry, tree physiology
Office: NR 324
Phone: (435) 797-4056

Andrew Kulmatiski, PhD, Utah State University
Assistant Professor
Area: Plant-soil interactions
Office: NR 224
Phone: (435) 797-9485

James Long, PhD, University of Washington
Area: Forest ecology, silviculture
Office: NR 326
Phone: (435) 797-2574

James Lutz, PhD, University of Washington
Assistant Professor
Area: Forest ecology
Office: NR 214
Phone: (435) 797-0478

Dan MacNulty, PhD, University of Minnesota
Assistant Professor
Area: Wildlife ecology
Office: BNR 271
Phone: 435-797-7442

Terry Messmer, PhD, North Dakota State University
Area: Fisheries and wildlife extension, wild ungulate and waterfowl management, wetlands ecology, private land management, conservation communication
Office: BNR 279
Phone: (435) 797-3975

Karen Mock, PhD, Northern Arizona University
Associate Professor
Area: Conservation genetics and applied molecular ecology
Office: NR 338
Phone: (435) 797-7870

R. Douglas Ramsey, PhD, University of Utah
Area: Remote sensing, geographic information systems, landscape ecology, spatial analysis
Office: NR 355 A
Phone: (435) 797-3783

Eugene Schupp, PhD, University of Iowa
Area: Plant population ecology, restoration ecology
Office: BNR 373
Phone: (435) 797-2475

Eric Thacker, PhD, Utah State University
Assistant Professor
Area: Range extension specialist
Office: NR 144
Phone: (435) 797-3796

Helga Van Miegroet, PhD, University of Washington – Seattle
Area: Wildland soils and biochemistry
Office: BNR 157
Phone: (435) 797-3175

Kari Veblen, PhD, University of California Davis
Assistant Professor
Area: Rangeland ecologist
Office: NR 332
Phone: 435-797-3970

Juan Villalba, PhD, Utah State University
Associate Professor
Area: Foraging behavior
Office: BNR 213
Phone: (435) 797-2539

Julie Young, PhD, Utah State University
Assistant Professor
Area: USDA National Wildlife Research Center, Predator Behavior and Ecology
Office: BNR 165
Phone: (435) 797-1348

Professional Organizations, Honor Societies, and Clubs

Society of American Foresters: SAF is the national scientific and educational organization representing the forestry profession in the United States. Founded in 1900, it is the largest professional society for foresters in the world. SAF aims to advance the science, education, technology, and practice of forestry; to enhance the competency of its members; to establish professional excellence; and to use the knowledge, skills, and conservation ethic of the profession to ensure the continued health and use of forest ecosystems. SAF members include natural resource professionals in public and private settings, researchers, CEOs, administrators, educators, and students.

Labs, Centers, Research

Center for Integrated BioSystems: The CIB leads a progressive, interdisciplinary effort in research, core services, and education serving agriculture and life sciences. The CIB is where the first hybrid animal, a mule, was cloned, and was named one of “30 Awesome College Labs” by Popular Science magazine. The CIB has a research program with several active projects in diverse areas of life science that encompass plant, animal, and microbe functional genomics.

Rocky Mountain Research Station: The Rocky Mountain Research Station is one of five regional units that make up the US Forest Service Research and Development organization — the most extensive natural resources research organization in the world. It maintains 14 research locations throughout a 12-state territory encompassing the Great Basin, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, and parts of the Great Plains. One of these is the Logan Forestry Sciences Laboratory, which is situated on the campus of Utah State University and houses scientists who are actively involved in USU's graduate forestry program.

T.W. Daniel Experimental Forest: The T.W. Daniel Experimental Forest is located in the Cache Valley National Forest and is dedicated for the use of USU College of Natural Resources students. This property houses a cabin that serves as a base of operations for research, teaching, and road-building in the student forest. Since the 1950s, the 18x18-square-foot cabin has been restored by USU’s forestry club for the use of student outings.

Utah Botanical Center: The UBC, located in Kaysville, Utah, is home to research and demonstration projects focused on sustainable living in the Intermountain West. Studies of water conservation, horticulture, water quality enhancement, wetland ecology, integrated pest management, urban forestry, agriculture, fish and wildlife, highway enhancement, and storm-water management combine to make the center a living laboratory.



Academic Advising

Marsha Bailey
Wildland Resources Staff Assistant
Office: NR 206
Phone: (435) 797-2503

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