Study Forestry at the University of Montana
Earn your bachelor’s degree in forestry at the University of Montana and make the world your classroom. In our forestry program, you’ll put boots to the ground to study ecology, fire, silviculture (the growing and cultivation of trees), sustainable timber harvesting and many other topics in a vast outdoor laboratory that provides unique opportunities for field education and hands-on experience.
Surrounded by national forests, wild and scenic rivers, national parks, wilderness areas, and our own Lubrecht Experimental Forest, our Missoula campus offers connections to the vast and diverse landscapes of the West no other location can match. Western Montana is also home to a competitive and innovative forest products industry. There's simply no better place to study the ecology and stewardship of forest resources.
Our forestry program is one of the oldest in the western United States, and has been accredited by the Society of American Foresters since 1934. Our faculty members are world-renowned scientists who are particularly well-known for their collective expertise in wildland fire, forest ecology, wilderness studies and climate change impacts.
of our graduates have won the Society of American Foresters’ Young Forester Leadership Award in the past 7 years
of FCFC graduates are employed or in graduate school
acres of land managed for faculty and student research and learning
Other degree options for forestry at UM
What can you do with a forestry degree?
Our graduates oversee public and private forestlands across the country, working as foresters, fire supervisors, silviculturists, forest planners, timber managers, business owners and more. Because our forestry degree is accredited by the Society of American Foresters, you can also meet federal civil service requirements for forester, ecologist, soil conservationist, range technician, botanist and hydrologist.
What you’ll learn as a forestry major at UM
- How to promote, sustain and conserve forest resources, from water and wildlife to wood products.
- How forest landscapes function, from soil to canopy.
- How to manage forests for resources as diverse as wildlife habitat, wood products, recreation and sequestered carbon.
- How to collaborate on important natural resource challenges.
Why employers choose UM graduates
A comprehensive, field-based forestry management education coupled with a strong liberal arts foundation provides our graduates with the scientific background and professional skills to succeed. Alumni of our forestry program have pursued careers and risen to leadership roles in public and private land management organizations, ranging in scope from the U.S. Forest Service to the Nature Conservancy to nationally prominent forest products companies.
Our graduates work for state and federal agencies, private timber companies, nonprofit conservation organizations, consulting firms and large multinational corporations. Others go on to become self-employed entrepreneurs. Forestry jobs include:
- District ranger
- Field forester
- Forest ecologist
- Fire supervisors
- Forest and conservation planners
- Timber managers
- Geospatial analyst
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, foresters and conservation scientists earn an average of $62,410 per year, nationally. Foresters in Montana have a median annual income of $57,150, while Montana conservation scientists earn an average of $67,080 per year.
Video: W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation
UM’s forestry program was founded in the aftermath of the great fires of 1913 and has been a hallmark of the conservation movement for more than a century. It was one of the first forestry programs in the country to be accredited in 1935 and remains the only professionally accredited forestry degree in Montana.
Student Success Stories
Several of our graduates have won the Society of American Foresters’ Young Forester Leadership Award, which recognizes outstanding leadership by a young forestry professional.
Beyond the classroom: Hands-on learning in the forestry degree
Hands-on, experiential learning is a cornerstone of the forestry degree at UM. These experiences bring classroom discussions to life, and offer opportunities to develop practical, real-world skills that employers want. Here are just a few examples:
- Engage in hands-on field activities to develop skills in orienteering, map reading, GPS, tree measurements, fire and fuels management, recreation, hydrology and more.
- Take part in weekly field labs that introduce you to fundamental concepts in climate, hydrology and soil science.
- Study live examples of North American trees using the Montana State Arboretum, located on UM’s campus.
- Study forest ecology in the many forested areas within a short drive of Missoula, and get experience designing silvicultural prescriptions at Lubrecht Experimental Forest.
- Tour manufacturing facilities in Montana to support a survey of wood-based product production.
- Take weekly excursions to active harvesting operations and forest road projects within the local area.
Internship opportunities for forestry majors
Internships are another excellent way to gain hands-on experience in your field, and we can connect you with opportunities in Montana and across the nation. Our students have participated in internships with the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Land Management, Montana Department of Natural Resources Conservation and Sierra Pacific Industries, just to name a few. Many of these internships turn into full-time job opportunities for our graduates. Learn more about internships for the degree in forestry.
Study abroad opportunities in the forestry program
Interested in an adventure overseas? The W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation offers a variety of study abroad opportunities, featuring field-based, faculty-led, experiential classes that focus on environmental and conservation issues. Our students also qualify for Franke Sustainability Fellowships, which fund international research and education focused on sustainability. Learn more about study abroad opportunities for forestry majors.
Undergraduate research and service learning
Participate in undergraduate research through volunteer or paid positions. You can assist faculty and graduate students, or engage in research experiences designed in partnership with your faculty mentor. Explore scholarships for undergraduate research at the University of Montana.
Our forestry program also includes a service-learning capstone that involves a semester-long stand-level planning project conducted by teams of forestry students for a local forestland owner/manager.
Career development in the forestry program
When you earn your bachelor’s degree in forestry at UM, you can count on having the support you need to succeed — both in school and beyond graduation. Our faculty are outstanding teachers and dedicated mentors who bring deep connections with professional land managers and are here to help guide you on your chosen career path. We also offer scholarships specifically for forestry majors, as well as student organizations that offer great opportunities for career development and networking.
In recent years, the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation has awarded approximately $275,000 in scholarships to over 90 of our students. These college-level scholarships complement other scholarships and financial aid opportunities awarded at UM and include many awards devoted specifically to forestry students.
Student organizations and facilities for forestry majors
Students have ready access to the college’s 25,000 acres of land managed for student and faculty research and learning. These include Lubrecht Experimental Forest and Bandy Ranch at the south end of the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex. Student clubs include:
- Fire Club
- Foresters’ Ball
- Forestry Club
- Society of American Foresters Student Chapter
- Woodsman Team
Explore classes for the forestry program
Combining field and classroom experiences, the bachelor’s degree in forestry at the University of Montana explores the core biophysical and ecological processes that shape forested landscapes, and methods to effectively manage, conserve and restore natural resources.