Undergraduate students majoring in Forestry will develop the following competencies:

Competencies in Ecology

1. Understanding of taxonomy and ability to identify forest and other tree species, their distribution, and associated vegetation and wildlife.

2. Understanding of soil properties and processes, hydrology, water quality, and watershed functions.

3. Understanding of ecological concepts and principles including the structure and function of ecosystems, plant and animal communities, competition, diversity, population dynamics, succession, disturbance, and nutrient cycling.

4. Ability to make ecosystem, forest, and stand assessments.

5. Understanding of tree physiology and the effects of climate, fire, pollutants, moisture, nutrients, genetics, insects and diseases on tree and forest health and productivity.

Competencies in Forest Resource Measurement and Management

1. Ability to identify and measure land areas and conduct spatial analysis.

2. Ability to design and implement comprehensive inventories that meet specific objectives using appropriate sampling methods and units of measurement.

3. Ability to analyze inventory data and project future forest, stand, and tree conditions.

4. Ability to develop and apply silvicultural prescriptions appropriate to management objectives, including methods of establishing and influencing the composition, growth, and quality of forests, and understand the impacts of those prescriptions.

5. Ability to analyze the economic, environmental, and social consequences of forest resource management strategies and decisions.

6. Ability to develop management plans with specific multiple objectives and constraints.

7. Understanding of the valuation procedures, market forces, processing systems, transportation and harvesting activities that translate human demands for timber-based and other consumable forest products into the availability of those products.

8. Understanding of the valuation procedures, market, and non-market forces that avail humans the opportunities to enjoy non-consumptive products and services of forests.

9. Understanding of the administration, ownership, and organization of forest management enterprises.

Competencies in Forest Resource Policy, Economics, and Administration

1. Understanding of forest policy and the processes by which it is developed.

2. Understanding of how federal, state, and local laws and regulations govern the practice of forestry.

3. Ability to understand the integration of technical, financial, human resources, and legal aspects of public and private enterprises.

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How to Declare

To declare the Forest Science major students must contact the Student Services Coordinator (Sara Rodock, 608-262-9926, 276 Russell Labs, 1630 Linden Dr, appointment link for current UW-Madison students). From there students will need to go to Room 116 Agriculture Hall to declare the major. Current College of Agricultural and Life Science (CALS) students will just need to fill out a declaration form. Students in another college (Engineering, L&S, etc.) will need to attend a transfer session. For general information on admissions to the University of Wisconsin-Madison please visit the Undergraduate Admissions website.

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Forest Science Major Requirements

Current Forest Science Major Requirements

Forest Science students complete the CALS degree requirements, common major requirements and one of the three tracks. The three tracks are; Forest Management, Forest Conservation and Forests & the Environment. Some of the tracks have common courses, but each allows students to either diversify 12 credits in one of the tracks or, in some tracks, complete courses around a single topic within a track, such as wildlife and fisheries ecology within the Forest Management track or human dimensions of resources within the Forests & Environment track.  All tracks are accredited by the Society of American Foresters.

The course requirements for the major include:

  • Mathematics and Statistics: Math 112/113 or 114 or may be satisfied by placement exam; Stats 224, 301 or 371 (8-10 credits)
  • Chemistry: Chem 103, 108 or 109 (4-5 credits)
  • Biology: Zoology 101/102 and Botany 130, or Biology 151 and 152, or Biocore 381, 382, 383 and 384 (10 credits)
  • Economics: AAE 215 or Econ 101 (3-4 credits)
  • Conservation: Envir St 361, F&W Ecol 360, 565, 651 or Geog 339 (2-4 credits) *the conservation course may double count in the track
  • Forest Science Core: Soil Sci 301, F&W Ecol 100, 300, 371 or Geog 377, 309, 399, 402, 410, 415, 500, 501, 515, 550, 652 and 658 (~45 credits)
  • Track Courses: Forest Management track, Forest Conservation track or Forests & Environment track, specific courses are listed on the pdf curriculum sheet below (12 credits)
  • Capstone: F&W Ecol 590 (3 credits)

Minimum Grade Requirement:

Students who declare the major in Fall 2012 or later will be required to receive a grade of "C" of higher on all of the Forest Science Core courses and the Capstone.  Students who receive a grade of "D" or below will be required to retake the course for graduation.

Course Exception Requests:

Students who wish to substitute a course requirement with another course taken at UW-Madison, on study abroad, or taken over the summer at an institution closer to home must receive permission for the course exception in advance of taking the course.

For more information on the major please consult the following resources (all links below are PDF documents):

  • Forest Science Curriculum Sheet and 4-Year Plan: contains information about the general BS degree requirements in CALS and all of the courses needed to complete the Forest Science major and a listing of the major and degree courses to help students plan when to take which courses.
  • Forest Science Course Titles: since the above documents only include department name and course numbers we have compiled a list of the titles and common course descriptions in this document. 

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Forestry Field Camp at the Kemp Natural Resources Station

Forest Resources Practicum (F&W ECOL 658) is an intensive 3-week field course conducted in even-numbered years at the Kemp Natural Resources Station in Woodruff, WI. Affectionately known as Forestry Camp, F&W ECOL 658 introduces students to the complexities of forest ecosystems. Through a series of integrated exercises, students learn first hand about forest ecosystem structure, function, processes, and services. Along the way students develop the knowledge necessary to conduct a comprehensive forest resource assessment. Subject areas include: basic field skills, plant identification, GPS & GIS, timber cruising, forest soils, wildlife identification and survey methods, forest ecology, and forest habitat classification. Forestry Camp also provides students with opportunities to work closely with faculty and "real world" natural resource professionals in a beautiful north woods setting.

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Undergraduate Advising in Forest Science

All undergraduate students are assigned to an advisor when they declare the major. If you were not assigned an advisor, do not know who your advisor is, would like to talk to someone about switching advisors, or if your advisor is not available, please contact our Student Services Coordinator, Sara Rodock (email, 608-262-9926 or appointment link for current UW-Madison students).

Undergraduates in Forest Science are required to meet with their advisor before they can enroll for the upcoming term. Please remember to bring a DARS report with you to any advising appointment. You can request a DARS through your student center in MyUW. Although drop-ins and emergencies can be accommodated by someone in the department, the student is best served if they make an appointment with their assigned advisor.

For more information about the Forest Science BS or the department in general, please contact the Student Services Coordinator, Sara Rodock (email, 608-262-9926 or appointment link for current UW-Madison students).

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AP Biology Policy

The Forest and Wildlife Ecology department’s policy states that a student who receives a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Biology test (or a 4 on the IB Biology test) may bypass the first course in their biology sequence. Students should either enroll in Zoology 152 or Botany 130 as their first biology course at UW-Madison. Please note that the Forest Science program prefers the Zoology 101/102 and Botany 130 biology sequence over other sequences. Students who elect to participate in the Biocore sequence will be required to take all of the Biocore courses.

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All Forest Science students are required to complete either an internship or professional work experience for their degree. Students are encouraged to talk to their advisor about internship possibilities and departmental internship policies.  In order to receive credit for an internship for the Forest Science major students must find an internship, get it approved by their advisor, and enroll in F&W ECOL 675 Internship Experience in the following fall semester.  These steps need to be completed by May 15.  Students who have questions about the internship can also talk to Sara Rodock, the Student Services Coordinator.

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Independent Study Credits

Any student completing either F&W ECOL 299 or 699 credits are required to complete the Forest & Wildlife Ecology Independent Study Agreement form with their independent study instructor.  A copy of this form should be kept by both the student and the instructor.

Forestry Club

The Forest Science undergraduates have a fairly active student organization called the Forestry Club.  For more information on the club and their activities, please check out their website.

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Careers and Professional Development

Students who graduate from our Forest Science program enter a wide variety of natural resource oriented careers in a number of different sectors.  Below is a table of positions by sector for first job following BS graduation.  For the information below alumni reported an average time of 5.16 months from graduation to starting their position.  While we do not have average salary information, we can see that a goodly number of our students work in the federal government and the average starting salary for a GS-5 position (BS degree required) is around $34,500 per year.

Sector % of Alumni
Further Education/Training 3.8%
Government Organization 57.7% (of which 6.7% are city, 26.7% state, and 66.7% are federal employees)
Non-Profit/NGO 7.7%
Private Organization 23.1%
University Staff 3.8%
Position unrelated to Forest Science 3.8%

*This information is based on alumni who responded to our annual survey of alumni 3 years out from graduation.

For more information on careers available to Forest Science and Wildlife Ecology students please visit our Internship & Job Resources page. For more information on other academic, co-curricular, financial aid and career opportunities and services available to Forest Science BS students, please visit the CALS Career Services page.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics updated their Career Outlook: Careers in Forestry page in August 2016 and it gives a great overview of the types of jobs related to forestry.  This website is a great way to learn more about careers in forestry, upcoming trends, and related careers.

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Last updated: August 8, 2016 (SR)

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