Graduate Education and Options
An M.S. degree prepares the individual to seek employment in his or her area of specialty, or it may provide background for continuing study toward the Ph.D., since it is research-based.
Minimum requirements for the M.S. include 30 total semester hours of credit, of which at least 20 hours must be graded. Research and thesis credits for the M.S. range from 6 to 10 hours.
The Ph.D. is a research degree in which students specialize in a supporting discipline. The Ph.D. prepares candidates for employment primarily in teaching and/or research.
Each Ph.D. student must complete at least 90 credit hours, with a minimum of 30 graded hours and at least 27 5000-level or higher hours. In addition to the course work and research requirements, Ph.D. students are required to successfully pass the preliminary and the final comprehensive examinations.
Additional Ph.D. options are available through the college-wide Geospatial and Environmental Analysis (GEA) program and the inter-college Molecular Plant Sciences (MPS) Program. In both programs, students are assigned the same home department as their major advisor. GEA combines cutting-edge geospatial science with environmental analysis to enhance research on a broad range of contemporary natural resource and environmental issues.
For further details visit: http://cnre.vt.edu/students/graduate/degree-programs/geospatial/index.html. In the MPS program, students use molecular approaches to understand how plants grow and interact with their environments. Additional details can be found at http://www.molplantsci.org.vt.edu/.
We offer very competitive stipends for graduate students pursuing Ph.D. or M.S. degrees. Depending upon project funding, stipends may be available for non-research Master’s degrees as well. Stipends are usually provided through Graduate Teaching Assistantships or Research Assistantships. Blacksburg is a highly desirable place to live, yet the cost of living is low, increasing the value of your stipend.
How to Apply
When your application is submitted to the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation you will automatically be considered for funding. Funding typically includes a 9- or 12-month stipend and graduate tuition. In addition, highly qualified students will also be considered for departmental fellowships.
Departmental Fellowships (examples):
The Robert S. Burruss Fellowship was established by Mrs. Robert S. Burruss in memory of her husband. Until his death, Burruss was a member of the General Assembly of Virginia and a distinguished leader in the forest products industry. This fellowship provides a supplement of $2,000 per year beyond a normal graduate stipend and payment of tuition charges. The fellowship is available to both Master’s (two years) and Ph.D. students (three years).
The William J. Dann Fellowship was established by Mrs. William J. Dann in memory of her husband. Dann was a tree farmer in Virginia and owned the Balls Quarter Tree Farm in Lancaster County. He was named Virginia’s Tree Farmer of the Year in 1978 by the Virginia Forestry Association. The Dann Fellowship provides a supplement of $3,000 per year and tuition charges. The fellowship is available to both Master’s (two years) and Ph.D. students (three years).
Outside Sources of Funding
Many students qualify for outside sources of funding (from WPI or the National Science Foundation, for example). We encourage potential students to seek these funds to fund their program or as a supplement. More information on funding sources is available through the Graduate School.
Account Request Form for the CEARS Lab (PDF format)
Graduate Student Evaluation form (WORD file)
5974 Graduate Independent Study Request form (WORD file)
Graduate Plan of Study template (WORD file)
Qualifying Exam Form (WORD file)
Undergraduate Education and Options
The Forest Resources Management Option emphasizes the biological and social sciences needed to make sound management decisions concerning regeneration, growth, protection, management, and sustainability of forest ecosystems. Graduates pursue careers in the forest industry, public agencies, non-governmental agencies, and private forestry companies.
The Forest Operations and Business Option prepares students for an active role in assuring that the sale, harvest, and conversion of standing timber to products is done in an efficient, economic, safe, and environmentally sound manner. Graduates pursue careers in forest industry, national and state forest services, forestry consulting firms, and the equipment industry.
The Urban Forestry Option is a multidisciplinary degree program focusing on the management of forest resources in cities, towns, and other urbanized environments. Students take classes in Horticulture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Affairs and Planning to customize a blended curriculum that supports their career goals. Graduates pursue careers in municipal forestry, commercial tree care, utility vegetation management, urban environmental consulting, public agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
All of the options under the Forestry Major are accredited by the Society of American Foresters (SAF), the national scientific and educational organization representing the forestry profession in the United States.
Download brochure (pdf)
The Conservation and Recreation Management Option prepares students to be the managers, planners, and program administrators who deal with today’s complex conservation challenges. Courses in ecological, natural, and social sciences, planning, tourism, and business management, are combined with a deep understanding of recreation resources. Graduates pursue careers in government and non-government organizations as well as commercial recreation and green businesses.
The Environmental Education Option offers a balance of natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities to give students a well-rounded base of knowledge about the natural world. Graduates pursue careers in nature education, environmental interpretation, resource education, and communications, or they may pursue licensure for an elementary education career.
Students receive a solid background in a wide variety of environmental issues, including forest resources, soils, water, environmental law, policy and planning, and environmental economics. Graduates pursue careers in public agencies, private industry, and firms that deal with forested wetland protection, endangered species, the urban-rural interface, and sustainability. Students are encouraged to pursue minors in Watershed Management, Urban Forestry, Forestry or others to provide in-depth expertise in a given area.
Virginia Tech’s bachelor of science degree in Water: Resources, Policy, and Management addresses the protection and development of water resources by providing the interdisciplinary training required to meet water challenges and opportunities now and in the future. The degree will be overseen by an advising committee with representatives from five colleges.
The Forestry minor is ideal for those in related natural resource fields such as wood products, fisheries, wildlife, and recreation who would like to broaden their ability to work with forest-related issues. Expertise is gained in ecology, forestry fundamentals, tree identification, and land measurements.
The Urban Forestry minor is especially suited to students majoring in environmental resource management, forestry, horticulture, landscape architecture, urban planning or other related fields who wish to develop expertise in managing forest resources in urbanized areas and learn to address the specific challenges related to trees in the built environment.
The Recreation minor in Natural Resource Recreation emphasizes the tools and perspectives needed to manage and maintain high quality recreation resources and experiences with emphasis on the ecology of the setting, the psychology of recreation experiences, and the management science behind trails, parks, scenery and facilities management.
The Watershed Management minor integrates existing programs and courses from five colleges and 10 departments at Virginia Tech to provide an interdisciplinary and substantive understanding of watershed science, policy, and decision-making. By working with a faculty advisor, students can also select additional courses that will allow them to pursue careers in positions such as hydrologists or water quality managers with the USDA and other state and federal agencies.