Department of Forestry Graduate Requirements

Department of Forestry

Dr. Joshua L. Sloan, Department Chair and Assistant Professor
Ivan Hilton Science Center, Room 335
Phone: 505-454-3208
FAX: 505-454-3103

The Department of Forestry offers an MS Natural Science degree with a concentration in Environmental Science & Management. This program is designed around a core set of foundational courses after which students develop individualized programs of study (coursework plus independent research) that incorporate each student’s distinctive background, educational goals, and career objectives. Students gain experience in the design, execution, and reporting of scientific research by completing a master’s thesis (thesis option) or an independent study/research project (non-thesis option). The MS Natural Science degree provides a unique opportunity for students to broaden their educational experience to include courses from fields they are less likely to encounter at traditional graduate programs as they prepare for employment in industry, government, or education or entry into doctoral programs.


James Biggs, Ph.D. (Forestry)

Blanca Cespedes, Ph.D. (Forestry)

Joshua L. Sloan, Ph.D. (Forestry)

Joseph P. Zebrowski (Geographic Information Science, Forestry)

Master of Science in Natural Sciences

Concentration in Environmental Science and Management

Required Core Courses: 15 credit hours

FORS 5250 Field Safety Practices (1)

BIOL 6000 Research Methods in Life Science (3)

FORS 6200 Advanced Topics in Natural Resource Management (2/2)*

FORS 6250 Advanced Quantitative Methods in Natural Resource Management (3)

FORS/BIOL 6500 Graduate Seminar in Life Science (1/1/1/1)**

*Repeated for credit with different subject matter for a total of 4 credits.

**Repeated 4 times for a total of 4 credits.

Thesis or Independent Study/Independent Research Credits

Thesis Option:

FORS 6990 Thesis (VC 1-7)*

*Students register for thesis until complete which may exceed the one credit-hour minimum. No more than 7 thesis credits can be counted towards the student’s program of study.

Students choosing the thesis option are required to form a thesis advisory committee and submit a program of study and thesis proposal within the first semester of study. Students are further required to complete a written thesis, following the guidelines established in the Graduate Handbook, and present the thesis orally to the thesis committee.

Non-Thesis Option:

FORS 6900: Independent Study (3)


FORS 6920: Independent Research (3)

Students choosing the non-thesis option are required to form an independent study/independent research advisory committee and submit a program of study and independent study/independent research proposal within the first semester of study. Students are required to submit a written document and present an oral presentation of the independent study/independent research to the advisory committee. Students are also required to pass a comprehensive exam with a grade of 75% or greater. The exam is to be compiled by the student’s committee chair with questions submitted by faculty who taught courses within the student’s program of study. The advisory committee chair will administer the exam and the exam will be graded by the faculty who contributed the questions.

Elective Credit Requirements:

Students are required to take a minimum of 12 (thesis) and 22 (non-thesis option) elective courses. With the advice and consent of an adviser, students choose 5000- and 6000-level courses offered in forestry, geology, biology, chemistry, mathematics, or other appropriate disciplines to develop their program of study.

Degree Total:

Thesis: ≥ 34 credit hours

Non-Thesis: ≥ 40 credit hours

Courses in Forestry (FORS) 

FORS 5000. Surface Hydrology (3); Alt, Sp, Even
This is a course designed for graduate students in earth sciences and natural resources management. The course combines a qualitative conceptual understanding of hydrologic process, an introduction to the quantitative representation of those processes, and an understanding of approaches to hydrological measurements and the uncertainties involved in those measurements. Previous NMHU FOR 500.

FORS 5020. Silviculture (3); Sp
Silviculture is the set of practices to grow and manage trees. The course focuses on the factors affecting tree growth, tree stand dynamics and health, and the impact of management on ecosystem values. The ecological practices to sustainably produce forest products are emphasized. Previous NMHU FOR 502.

FORS 5050. Wildland Fire Management (3); Var
This is a course on the behavior of wildfires in forest and range ecosystems. The course reviews methods for fuel load assessment, fire weather prediction, fire suppression, and prescribed fire. Contrasts will be made between the costs and benefits of fires on ecosystem and humans. Previous NMHU FOR 505.

FORS 5080. Limnology (4); 3, 2; Alt, Fa, Even
This course is a study of the interrelationships among plants, animals, and environmental factors in aquatic ecosystems. The course is field oriented and concentrates on the development of sampling techniques and the analysis of biotic and abiotic components of nearby lakes and streams. Previous NMHU FOR 508.

FORS 5100. Forest Management (3); Fa
This course focuses on the economic and scientific decisions for large tracts of land and multiple types of forest stands. The elements of planning management activities to create the least costs and greatest benefits to a landowner are explored. Previous NMHU FOR 510.

FORS 5110. Mensuration and Biometrics (4); Fa
Mensuration is the practice of measuring lengths and angles. Biometrics is the set of techniques for measurement and analysis of biological phenomena. Together, these topics provide a comprehensive overview of measurement and analysis techniques used in forestry and natural sciences. Previous NMHU FOR 511.

FORS 5120. Surveying and Geographic Information Systems (4); 3, 2 Fa, Sp
Surveying is the determination of boundaries and positions on the earth’s surface. Geographic information systems are geospatially referenced databases that relate positions of objects to associated data and properties. The course explores the application of these technologies to forestry and geology problems. Previous NMHU FOR 512.

FORS 5130. Ecological & Environmental Monitoring (3); Var
Monitoring is the observation of treatment effects on the conditions of natural and human systems over time. Many systems are monitored for pollutants and regulatory compliance, adverse outcomes of environmental management practices, and to determine trends in animal and plant populations. The course explores roles of monitoring in environmental management and ecology, considerations in designing monitoring programs, sampling methodologies for soil conditions, water quality, animal and plant populations, and responses to treatments, and uses of monitoring results. Previous NMHU FOR 513.

FORS 5150. Dendrology (3); 2, 2 Fa
Dendrology is the study of trees and woody vegetation. The course will first look at tree and shrub identification with associated botanical nomenclature. The second portion of the course examines the structure and function of trees and woody vegetation. A collection of local trees and shrubs is a requirement of the course. Previous NMHU FOR 515.

FORS 5160. Soil Science (4); Fa
This course provides students with basic soil science concepts. The physical, chemical, and ecological properties of soils are applied to soil classification, genesis, fertility, productivity, irrigation, and erosion. Previous NMHU FOR 516.

FORS 5170. Watershed Management (4); 3, 2 Alt, Fa, Even
This course emphasizes the interdisciplinary characteristics of watershed management and the need to incorporate physical, chemical, biological and socioeconomic factors when planning and implementing natural resource programs to achieve sustainable, environmentally sound natural resource development. Previous NMHU FOR 517.

FORS 5200. Wildlife Habitat Management (3); Sp
This course explores principles and practice of wildlife management; with emphasis on habitat, distribution, abundance and legal considerations. Previous NMHU FOR 520.

FORS 5220. Forest Pathology (3); Var
This course is a survey of the beneficial and pathogenic microorganisms found in forests. Particular focus will be on pathogens that reduce commodity value and stand productivity, and microorganisms that have beneficial effects in forested ecosystems. Methods of detection and response to pathogen infestations will be examined. Previous NMHU FOR 522.

FORS 5250. Field Safety Practices (1); Fa
This course provides training to graduate students in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s heavy equipment and field operations regulations, safe practices for field workers, and risk management and liability issues surrounding field work by various types of personnel. Field Safety Practices is required for natural resources management graduate students. Graduate students will prepare a field risk-management plan for their thesis work. Previous NMHU FOR 525.

FORS 5280. Forest Entomology (3); Var
This course is an introduction to the study of arthropods and insects. Particular focus will be on arthropods that reduce commodity value, threaten human and animal health, or have beneficial effects. Methods to manipulate arthropod population to achieve management objects are discussed. Previous NMHU FOR 528.

FORS 5310. Terrestrial Ecology (4); Var
The ecology of natural and artificial groups of terrestrial organisms used in the production of goods and services is the focus of this course. Course topics include biological productivity, vegetation dynamics, biodiversity, range ecosystems, forest ecosystems, and pest populations. Previous NMHU FOR 531.

FORS 5350-6350. ST: Selected Topic in Natural Resources Management (1-4 VC); Var
Course in topic(s) in natural resources management. May be repeated with change of content. Previous NMHU FOR 535-635.

FORS 5400. Integrated Natural Resources Management (3); Var
This course is an introductory course to the broad field of natural resources management for graduate students who do not have a resource management background. The course will cover the ecological and biological underpinnings of agriculture, forestry, range management, watershed management, and ancillary fields, as well as the decision-making processes that are utilized. Natural resources management will be placed in the context of broader societal mandates and concerns about natural, environmental, and cultural resources. Previous NMHU FOR 540.

FORS 5530. Toxicology in Life Science (4); 3, 2 Var
Toxicology studies the effects of chemical substances on the health of organisms and ecosystems. Toxic substances from industrial activities have wide ranging effects on natural systems at long distances from sources. Moreover, toxic substances are utilized in health care, agriculture, forestry, wildlife management, and fisheries to manipulate populations of pests. This course explores the basic principles of toxicology, and application of toxicology to life science and environmental problems. Previous NMHU FOR 553.

FORS 5610. Atmospheric Science (3); Var
Atmospheric science embeds the disciplines of meteorology, climatology, and air pollution regulation and management. The structure and dynamics of the atmosphere will be explored with an emphasis on air pollutant dispersion. The linkage of atmospheric dynamics to biotic, geologic, aquatic and marine systems phenomena will be highlighted. Previous NMHU FOR 561.

FORS 5890. Applied Ecology and Environmental Restoration (3); Alt, Fa, Even
This course explores ecological principles applied to solving environmental problems including pest and biological resource management, conservation biology, environmental planning, impact assessment, remediation, reclamation and ecological restoration. Previous NMHU FOR 589.

FORS 6020. Environmental Assessment (NEPA) (2); Var
This course explores principles and practice of the science and art of assessing environmental impacts of various stress agents in the environment. It includes consideration of the legal framework (e.g., National Environmental Policy Act), various approaches to prediction and assessment of environmental impacts, and factors entering environmental decision making. Previous NMHU FOR 602.

FORS 6200 Advanced Topics in Natural Resource Management (2); Var
This course is an in-depth consideration of a specific topic of interest to faculty and graduate students. Subject matter will vary from semester to semester, and, the course may be repeated for credit. Previous NMHU FOR 620.

FORS 6250 Advanced Quantitative Methods in Natural Resource Management (3); Fa
The course provides hands-on experience with the analysis and design of experiments and observational studies. Parametric and nonparametric techniques commonly utilized in the analysis of ecological, biological, and environmental data sets will be explored. Students will gain familiarity with the use of spreadsheets and statistical software programs for data analysis. Previous NMHU FOR 625.

FORS 6300 Vegetation Analysis and Management (3); Var
Vegetation analysis entails the methods to measure and characterize plant communities and associations. These techniques are useful in habitat typing and the recognition of sensitive systems. The other aspect of the course are the techniques that are commonly utilized to manage vegetation, both desirable and undesirable. Economic and social considerations in vegetation management are also discussed. Previous NMHU FOR 630.

FORS 6400 Recreational Resource Management (2); Var
This course explores the fundamentals of managing recreation on or near public lands to minimize disruption of natural ecosystems and cultural artifacts. Recreation is currently the greatest social and monetary use of public lands in the United States. Natural resource managers are often involved with teams to analyze and mitigate adverse impacts from pack stock in wilderness areas, off-road vehicles, heavy pedestrian traffic, campgrounds, trails, and unwanted vegetation and animals. People with a background in recreational resource management are involved in local, state, and federal parks and monuments, and public lands with recreational uses. Previous NMHU FOR 640.

FORS 6900. Independent Study (1-4 VC); Fa, Sp, Su
Independent study arranged with an instructor. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Previous NMHU FOR 690.

FORS 6920. Independent Research (1-4 VC); Fa, Sp, Su
Independent research arranged with an instructor. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Previous NMHU FOR 692.

FORS 6990. Thesis (1-7 VC); Fa, Sp, Su
Individual research and writing in preparation of a graduate thesis. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Previous NMHU FOR 699.