cals-forestscience

Forest ecosystems cover one third of the world’s land area and nearly half of Wisconsin. They provide a range of benefits to society including wood and fiber, wildlife habitat, biological diversity, clean water, carbon storage, recreation, beauty, and cultural values. The Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology trains foresters to sustainably manage forests toward sustainable ecological, social, and economic outcomes. Forest science students also learn how to respond to forest disturbances from insects, diseases, fire, and other changes. Beyond a core of basic science and forestry coursework, students have flexibility to customize their learning experience within one of three tracks: forest conservation, forests and the environment, and forest management. All three tracks meet accreditation standards of the Society of American Foresters, a key credential that employers seek. Students are also well positioned to pursue graduate training in forestry, ecology, remote-sensing, natural resource policy, and related fields.

Students learn through a mix of classroom, laboratory, and field instruction that emphasizes independent thinking and problem-solving. Students make frequent visits to forests to develop and hone their skills, essential for future job opportunities. Students also engage professional and student-led trainings and networking that further build skills. Graduates go on to jobs in private, public, and non-governmental sectors or pursue graduate degrees.

To declare this major, students must be admitted to UW–Madison and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). For information about becoming a CALS first-year or transfer student, see Entering the College.

Students who attend Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences have the option to declare this major at SOAR.  Students may otherwise declare after they have begun their undergraduate studies. For more information, contact the advisor listed under the Advising and Careers tab.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • 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 *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Requirements

In addition to the University General Education Requirements, all undergraduate students in CALS must satisfy a set of college and major requirements. Specific requirements for all majors in the college and other information on academic matters can be obtained from the Office of Academic Affairs, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, 116 Agricultural Hall, 1450 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-3003. Academic departments and advisors also have information on requirements. Courses may not double count within university requirements (General Education and Breadth) or within college requirements (First-Year Seminar, International Studies and Science), but courses counted toward university requirements may also be used to satisfy a college and/or a major requirement; similarly, courses counted toward college requirements may also be used to satisfy a university and/or a major requirement.

College Requirements for all CALS B.S. Degree Programs

Quality of Work: Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000 to remain in good standing and be eligible for graduation.
Residency: Students must complete 30 degree credits in residence at UW–Madison after earning 86 credits toward their undergraduate degree.
First Year Seminar1
International Studies3
Physical Science Fundamentals4-5
General Chemistry I
Chemistry in Our World
Advanced General Chemistry
Biological Science5
Additional Science (Biological, Physical, or Natural)3
Science Breadth (Biological, Physical, Natural, or Social)3
CALS Capstone Learning Experience: included in the requirements for each CALS major (see "Major Requirements")

Major Requirements

Select one of the following (or may be satisfied by placement exam):5-6
Algebra
and Trigonometry
Algebra and Trigonometry
Select one of the following:3
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences (recommended)
Chemistry
Select one of the following:4-5
General Chemistry I
Chemistry in Our World
Advanced General Chemistry
Biology
Select one of the following options:10
Option 1 (recommended introduction to biology sequence):
General Botany
and Animal Biology
and Animal Biology Laboratory
Option 2:
Introductory Biology
and Introductory Biology
Option 3:
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
and Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
and Cellular Biology
and Cellular Biology Laboratory
Economics
A A E 215 Introduction to Agricultural and Applied Economics 13-4
or ECON 101 Principles of Microeconomics
Conservation
Select one of the following: 22-4
Wetlands Ecology
Extinction of Species (recommended) 3
Principles of Landscape Ecology
Conservation Biology (recommended)
Environmental Conservation
Core
Grade of C or better required in each core course
SOIL SCI 301 General Soil Science4
F&W ECOL 300 Forest Biometry4
GEOG/​CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST  377 An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems3-4
or F&W ECOL/​ENVIR ST/​G L E/​GEOG/​GEOSCI/​LAND ARC  371 Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing
F&W ECOL/​HORT/​LAND ARC/​PL PATH  309 Diseases of Trees and Shrubs3
F&W ECOL 399 Coordinative Internship/Cooperative Education1-8
BOTANY/F&W ECOL 402 Dendrology2
F&W ECOL 410
F&W ECOL 411
Principles of Silviculture
and Practices of Silviculture
4
F&W ECOL 415 Tree Physiology3
F&W ECOL/​ENTOM  500 Insects in Forest Ecosystem Function and Management2
F&W ECOL 501 Forest Fire Behavior and Management1
ENVIR ST/F&W ECOL 515 Natural Resources Policy3
F&W ECOL 550
F&W ECOL 551
Forest Ecology
and Forest Ecology Lab
4
A A E/ENVIR ST/F&W ECOL 652 Decision Methods for Natural Resource Managers4
F&W ECOL 658 Forest Resources Practicum3
Electives
Select one of the following tracks:12
Forest Management Track
Forest Conservation Track
Forests & Environment Track
Capstone
Grade of C or better required in Capstone
F&W ECOL 590 Integrated Resource Management3
Total Credits83-96

Minimum Grade Requirement

Students who declare the major in fall 2012 or later will be required to receive a grade of C or 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.

Tracks

Forest Management Track

Select 12 credits from any of the following courses:12
Soils and Landscapes:
Principles of Landscape Ecology
Landforms and Landscapes of North America
Soils and Landscapes
Environmental Biogeochemistry
Economics and Business:
The Environment and the Global Economy
Environmental Economics
Agricultural Finance
Fundamentals of Accounting and Finance for Non-Business Majors
Fundamentals of Management and Marketing for Non-Business Majors
International Business
Communication in Life Science Industries
Managing Organizations
Human Resource Management
The Management of Teams
Operations Management
Urban and Wildland Forest Management:
Environmental Law, Toxic Substances, and Conservation
Special Topics (Tree Stability Analysis)
Landscape Plants I
Plant Nutrition Management
Special Topics (Aboriculture)
GIS/Remote Sensing:
Special Topics in the Environment: Biological Aspects of Envir St (Fieldcraft & Field Methods for Environmental Researchers)
Remote Sensing Digital Image Processing
Assessment of Environmental Impact
Applications of Geographic Information Systems in Natural Resources
Introduction to Cartography
An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Introduction to Geocomputing
Wildlife and Fisheries Ecology:
Terrestrial Vertebrates: Life History and Ecology
Principles of Wildlife Ecology
Extinction of Species
Special Topics (Wildlife-Habitat Relationships)
Principles of Wildlife Management
Wildlife Damage Management
Animal Population Dynamics
Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources
Laboratory for Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources
Ecology of Fishes
Ecology of Fishes Lab
Ornithology
Birds of Southern Wisconsin
Conservation Biology
Total Credits12

Forest Conservation Track

Select 3 credits from each of the following areas:
Plant Ecology and Diversity:3
Fungi
Vascular Flora of Wisconsin
Plant Geography
The Vegetation of Wisconsin
Forest Stand Dynamics
Environmental Biogeography
Animal Ecology and Diversity: 3
Introduction to Entomology
Insect Ecology
Plant-Insect Interactions
Terrestrial Vertebrates: Life History and Ecology
Special Topics (Wildlife-Habitat Relationships)
Animal Population Dynamics
Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources
Laboratory for Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources
Ecology of Fishes
Ecology of Fishes Lab
Ornithology
Birds of Southern Wisconsin
Conservation Biology: 3
Wetlands Ecology
Extinction of Species
Principles of Landscape Ecology
Conservation Biology
Environmental Conservation
Evolutionary Biology
Natural Resources Management and Policy: 3
The Environment and the Global Economy
Environmental Economics
Natural Resource Economics
Environmental Law, Toxic Substances, and Conservation
Government and Natural Resources
Assessment of Environmental Impact
Principles of Wildlife Management
Communities and Forests
World Forest History
Wildlife Management Techniques
Principles of Landscape Ecology
An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Restoration Ecology
Total Credits12

Forests & Environment Track

Select 12 credits from any of the following courses:12
Earth and Atmospheric Science:
Weather and Climate
Global Change: Atmospheric Issues and Problems
Global Warming: Science and Impacts
Atmospheric Dispersion and Air Pollution
Landforms and Landscapes of North America
Geography of Wisconsin
Biology of Microorganisms
Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory
Soils and Environmental Chemistry
Soil Biology
Soils and Landscapes
Environmental Biogeochemistry
Plant and Animal Ecology:
Fungi
Vascular Flora of Wisconsin
Plant Geography
The Vegetation of Wisconsin
General Ecology
Introduction to Entomology
Insect Ecology
Plant-Insect Interactions
Wetlands Ecology
Terrestrial Vertebrates: Life History and Ecology
Principles of Wildlife Ecology
Extinction of Species
Special Topics (Wildlife-Habitat Relationships)
Principles of Landscape Ecology
Forest Stand Dynamics
Conservation Biology
Animal Population Dynamics
Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources
Laboratory for Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources
Ecology of Fishes
Ecology of Fishes Lab
Ornithology
Birds of Southern Wisconsin
Natural Resources Management:
Renewable Energy Systems
Energy Resources
Assessment of Environmental Impact
Energy Economics
Principles of Wildlife Management
An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Introduction to Plant Pathology
Restoration Ecology
Human Dimensions of Resources:
The Environment and the Global Economy
Environmental Economics
Natural Resource Economics
Environment, Natural Resources, and Society
Literature of the Environment: Speaking for Nature
History of Ecology
Environmental Law, Toxic Substances, and Conservation
Environmental Ethics
American Environmental History
Communities and Forests
World Forest History
Environmental Conservation
Total Credits12

Honors in the Major

To earn Honors in the Major, students are required to take at least 20 honors credits. In addition, students must take F&W ECOL 681 Senior Honors Thesis and F&W ECOL 682 Senior Honors Thesis when completing their thesis project; please see the Honors in Major Checklist for more information.

University Degree Requirements 

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

1. (Ecology) Understanding of taxonomy and ability to identify forest and other tree species, their distribution, and associated vegetation and wildlife.

2. (Ecology) Understanding of soil properties and processes, hydrology, water quality, and watershed functions.

3. (Ecology) 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.

4. (Ecology) Ability to make ecosystem, forest, and stand assessments.

5. (Ecology) Understanding of tree physiology and the effects of climate, fire, pollutants, moisture, nutrients, genetics, insects and diseases on tree and forest health and productivity.

6. (Forest Resources Measurement and Management) Ability to identify and measure land areas and conduct spatial analysis.

7. (Forest Resources Measurement and Management) Ability to design and implement comprehensive inventories that meet specific objectives using appropriate sampling methods and units of measurement.

8. (Forest Resources Measurement and Management) Ability to analyze inventory data and project future forest, stand, and tree conditions.

9. (Forest Resources Measurement and Management) 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.

10. (Forest Resources Measurement and Management) Ability to analyze the economic, environmental, and social consequences of forest resource management strategies and decisions.

11. (Forest Resources Measurement and Management) Ability to develop management plans with specific multiple objectives and constraints.

12. (Forest Resources Measurement and Management) 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.

13. (Forest Resources Measurement and Management) Understanding of the valuation procedures, market, and non-­market forces that avail humans the opportunities to enjoy non-­consumptive products and services of forests.

14. (Forest Resources Measurement and Management) Understanding of the administration, ownership, and organization of forest management enterprises.

15. (Forest Resource Policy, Economics, and Administration) Understanding of forest policy and the processes by which it is developed.

16. (Forest Resource Policy, Economics, and Administration) Understanding of how federal, state, and local laws and regulations govern the practice of forestry.

17. (Forest Resource Policy, Economics, and Administration) Ability to understand the integration of technical, financial, human resources, and legal aspects of public and private enterprises.

Four-year plan

Sample Forest Science Four-Year Plan

Freshman
FallCreditsSpringCredits
F&W ECOL 1002MATH 113 or 1143
Economics Course3-4CHEM 103, 108, or 1094-5
MATH 112, 113, or 1143BOTANY/​BIOLOGY  13025
COMM A Course3Electives (to reach ~15 credits)0-4
INTER-AG 155 (1st Yr Seminar)1 
Electives (to reach ~15 credits)10-3 
 12-16 12-17
Total Credits 24-33
Sophomore
FallCreditsSpringCredits
ZOOLOGY/​BIOLOGY  101
ZOOLOGY/​BIOLOGY  102
5F&W ECOL 3004
SOIL SCI 3014GEOG/​CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST  3774
F&W ECOL/​BOTANY  4022Statistics Courses9
F&W ECOL 4153 
 14 17
Total Credits 31
Sophomore
SpringCredits
F&W ECOL 658 (even #’d summers)3
 3
Total Credits 3
Junior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
F&W ECOL 5503F&W ECOL 4103
F&W ECOL/​ENTOM  500 (odd falls only)2F&W ECOL 501 (odd springs only)1
Track Course3Track Course3
Elective Courses4Elective Courses6
 12 13
Total Credits 25
Junior
SummerCredits
F&W ECOL 39941
 1
Total Credits 1
Senior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
F&W ECOL 590 (Capstone)3F&W ECOL/​A A E/​ENVIR ST  6524
F&W ECOL/​HORT/​LAND ARC/​PL PATH  3093F&W ECOL/​ENVIR ST  5153
Conservation Course (or spring)2-4Track Course3
Track Course3Electives6
Electives (to reach ~15 credits)3 
 14-16 16
Total Credits 30-32

Undergraduate Advising in Forest Science

All undergraduate students are assigned to an advisor when they declare the major. If you were not assigned an advisor, do not know who your advisor is, would like to talk to someone about switching advisors, or if your advisor is not available, please contact our student services coordinator, Sara Rodock (rodock@wisc.edu, 608-262-9926 or appointment link for current UW–Madison students).

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 may be accommodated by someone in the department, the student is best served by making an appointment with the assigned advisor.

For more information about the forest science B.S. or the department in general, please contact the student services coordinator, Sara Rodock (rodock@wisc.edu, 608-262-9926 or appointment link for current UW–Madison students).

Careers and Professional Development

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 B.S. students, please visit the CALS Career Services page.  Students in the major are welcome to make an individual appointment with Sara Rodock (appointment link for current UW–Madison students) to discuss a number of career-related topics such as career exploration, search strategies, graduate school, and review of application materials (resume, CV, letters, etc.).

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics updated its 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 an excellent way to learn more about careers in forestry, upcoming trends, and related careers.

Professors

Bowe, Scott
Drake, David
Karasov, William
Kruger, Eric
Mladenoff, David
Radeloff, Volker
Ribic, Christine
Rickenbach, Mark (chair)
Samuel, Michael
Stanosz, Glen
Townsend, Philip
Van Deelen, Timothy

Associate Professors

Lutz, R. Scott
Ozdogan, Mutlu
Pauli, Jonathan
Peery, M. Zach
Pidgeon, Anna
Rissman, Adena

Assistant Professors

Johnston, Craig
Zuckerberg, Benjamin

Affiliated and Adjunct Faculty

Alix-Garcia, Jennifer (Agriculture and Applied Economics)
Allison, R. Bruce (adjunct)
Balster, Nick (Soil Science)
Lindroth, Richard (Entomology)
Marin-Spiotta, Erika (Geogrgaphy)
Meine, Curt (adjunct)
Meyer, Michael (adjunct)
Raffa, Kenneth (Entomology)
Santana-Castellon, Eduardo (adjunct)

Faculty Associate

Berkelman, James

Forestry Field Camp at the Kemp Natural Resources Station

F&W ECOL 658 Forest Resources Practicum is an intensive, three-week field course conducted in even-numbered years at the Kemp Natural Resources Station in Woodruff, Wisconsin. Affectionately known as Forestry Camp, F&W ECOL 658 Forest Resources Practicum 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.

Internships

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 Professional Development in Forest & Wildlife Ecology 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 Sara Rodock, the student services coordinator.

Independent Study Credits

Any student completing either F&W ECOL 299 Independent Study or F&W ECOL 699 Special Problems credits is required to complete the Forest & Wildlife Ecology Independent Study Agreement form with the independent study instructor.  A copy of this form should be kept by both the student and the instructor.

Forestry Club

Forest science undergraduates have an active student organization called the Forestry Club.  For more information on the club and their activities, please see their website or their Facebook Page.

Accreditation

Society of American Foresters

Accreditation status: Accredited. Next accreditation review: 2027.