How to Declare
To declare the Forest Science major students must meet with CALS Transitional Advising and Outreach Services, Allee Hochmuth, Academic Advising Manager for Russell Labs in particular. If you have questions about the field of Forest Science, please contact Dr. Adena Rissman. For general information on admissions to the University of Wisconsin-Madison please visit the Undergraduate Admissions website
Major and Degree Requirements
University General Education Requirements
- Breadth – Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
- Breadth – Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
- Breadth – Social Studies: 3 credits
- Communication Part A & Part B
- Ethnic Studies
- Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B
CALS BS Degree Requirements
- First Year Seminar
- International Studies
- Physical Science Fundamentals – CHEM 103, 108, or 109: 4-5 credits
- Biological Science: 5 credits
- Additional Science: 3 credits
- Science Breadth: 3 credits
There may be overlap between University, CALS, and Forest Science major requirements. Students are strongly encouraged to work with their advisor to understand how these sets of requirements work together.
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: MATH 112/113 or 114 or may be satisfied by placement exam (5-6 credits)
- Statistics: STAT 224, 301 or 371 (3 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: A A E 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 300, 371 or GEOG 377, 309, 402, 410/1, 415, 500 or ENTOM 351, 501, 515, 550/1, 652, 658, and 675 Internship Experience (41-43 credits)
- Track Courses: Forest Management track, Forest Conservation track or Forests & Environment track, specific courses are listed in the UW-Madison Guide. (12 credits)
- Capstone: F&W ECOL 590 (3 credits)
Minimum Grade Requirement: Students are 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.
Additional information regarding general education requirements and a sample 4-year plan can he found in the UW-Madison Guide.
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.
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.
Forest Science Learning Goals
Undergraduate students majoring in Forestry will develop the following competencies:
Competencies in Ecology
- Understanding of taxonomy and ability to identify forest and other tree species, their distribution, and associated vegetation and wildlife.
- Understanding of soil properties and processes, hydrology, water quality, and watershed functions.
- 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.
- Ability to make ecosystem, forest, and stand assessments.
- 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
- Ability to identify and measure land areas and conduct spatial analysis.
- Ability to design and implement comprehensive inventories that meet specific objectives using appropriate sampling methods and units of measurement.
- Ability to analyze inventory data and project future forest, stand, and tree conditions.
- 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.
- Ability to analyze the economic, environmental, and social consequences of forest resource management strategies and decisions.
- Ability to develop management plans with specific multiple objectives and constraints.
- 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.
- Understanding of the valuation procedures, market, and non-market forces that avail humans the opportunities to enjoy non-consumptive products and services of forests.
- Understanding of the administration, ownership, and organization of forest management enterprises.
Competencies in Forest Resource Policy, Economics, and Administration
- Understanding of forest policy and the processes by which it is developed.
- Understanding of how federal, state, and local laws and regulations govern the practice of forestry.
- Ability to understand the integration of technical, financial, human resources, and legal aspects of public and private enterprises.
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.
Undergraduate Advising in Forest Science
All undergraduate students are assigned to a faculty and staff advisor when they declare the major. 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.
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 through the agreement form, 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 Allee Hochmuth, the Academic Advising Manager.
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.
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 Facebook page.
Careers and Professional Development
Students who graduate from our Forest Science program enter a wide variety of natural resource careers in a number of different sectors. Below is a table summarizing positions by sector for the first job following BS graduation. Coincident with the information below, our 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 large proportion 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*|
|Government Organization||57% (of which 6.7% are city, 26.7% state, and 66.7% are federal employees)|
|Position unrelated to Forest Science||4%|
*The information in this table is based on input from the 68% of individuals who responded to our annual survey of alumni 3 years after graduation. The data presented are from the most recent surveys, conducted in 2014-2017.
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.