Accepting Applications for New Hybrid Online MS Degree in Forestry
MSU is now taking applications for a new hybrid online master’s degree program in Forestry. The program is tailored to learners that need flexibility, with the majority of the courses delivered in an online format coupled with field-based learning.
Michigan State University (MSU) is now taking applications for a new hybrid online master’s degree program in Forestry. The program is uniquely tailored to learners that need flexibility, with the majority of the courses delivered in an online format coupled with field-based learning in students’ local forests.
The degree, available starting late summer 2022, is intended for individuals with baccalaureate degrees in a field other than forestry who are interested in making a career change to forestry.
The main focus of the program is on learners already in the workforce seeking a change in career path. The program also could be appropriate for students who just completed a BS in another discipline. The hybrid structure is designed to be flexible, keeping in mind many will have existing personal and professional commitments.
MSU is the first forestry program to offer a master’s degree in forestry using this uniquely blended online and in-the-field approach: online instruction will guide learning in forests close to the learners’ homes, wherever they may reside. The hybrid online MS was designed with a view towards accreditation by the Society of American Foresters (SAF).
Per SAF procedures, the hybrid online program will be considered for accreditation after the program is up and running. While other universities offer in-person accredited master’s degrees aimed at students with bachelor’s degrees in fields other than forestry, MSU’s blended online and field learning is unique. The program is aimed at providing individuals with the flexibility to make a career change and meet the tremendous demand of employers for professional foresters with the skills to manage forests for goals ranging from conservation to timber production for sustainable bioproducts to carbon sequestration to combat climate change in both rural and urban forests.
The structure of the new Hybrid-Online degree will consist of:
- one nine-day intensive, field-based face-to-face short course
- a series of asynchronous, online courses, with applications in a forest near the program participant
- professional internship in forestry
- a final, intensive, face-to-face capstone project and examination (nine days)
Students will need to travel to Michigan for the face-to-face short courses at the beginning and end of their programs. The remainder of the program will be delivered in an online format to allow students flexibility in pursuing a rigorous degree program while balancing work or family obligations.
MSU’s Department of Forestry has extensive experience with coupled online and field instruction, with such courses first offered about ten years ago. The coronavirus pandemic accelerated further development of techniques for delivering field-based education remotely.
As part of this hybrid program, an entire semester block of field-based classes will be delivered online. Students will spend part of their time that semester in forested areas where they live completing exercises in dendrology, mensuration, ecology, and silviculture.
There is tremendous employer demand for professional foresters, as evidenced by near 100% placement rates of MSU Forestry graduates. At the same time, there are limited options, especially for working professionals in other fields, to obtain the education necessary to pursue a career in forestry.
MSU Forestry’s new hybrid degree offering will open up options for potential forestry professionals who previously didn’t have a way of changing careers while also meeting the forestry sector’s growing demand for professional foresters.