You are here

Masters in Forest Science

Printer-friendly version

Please note: we will NOT be accepting students to the MFS program for the academic year beginning September 2014.

Harvard Forest in the AutumnThe masters program at the Harvard Forest provides an exceptional opportunity for students with strong backgrounds in biology, forestry, environmental sciences, geography or related fields to pursue independent research in ecology, conservation, forestry and environmental science. The program is strongly oriented towards innovative research in close collaboration with Harvard Forest scientists that will lead to published results in major research journals.

The central requirement for graduation is completion and defense of a thesis within the two year duration of the program.

Applicants are reviewed with the criterion that they come equipped with a strong background in relevant coursework, laboratory and field studies, and scientific writing such that upon acceptance they can apply themselves effectively to the completion of significant research. In some cases students are able to take a small amount of supporting coursework. The Harvard Forest awards degrees through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

The number of students in this program is small (1 - 4). This allows each individual to work closely with their advisor and other Harvard Forest scientists. Students assemble a committee that includes their advisor, at least one additional scientist from the Harvard Forest and one individual from an outside department at Harvard or another institution.

CompassApplicants accepted into the program develop a strong idea of their research interests and directions through consultation with scientists at the Forest before formally applying. Generally it is advisable for prospective students to discuss their research interests with the MFS Program Coordinator or other staff scientists to ensure that applicant reseach interests closely relate to those of Harvard Forest scientists. Applicants are encouraged to arrange a visit to Petersham to meet with potential advisors and other Harvard Forest staff. Accepted students generally begin their studies during the summer before their September matriculation. This initial research period is supported through a summer stipend and enables the students to gain an additional summer season for their studies.

Students are encouraged to write their thesis with a future publication in mind. Most students publish their studies within a year of graduation.
Completion of the program is contingent on:

  • the presentation of a public seminar on the thesis research
  • approval of the final written thesis by the committee
  • an oral defense of the thesis to the committee following the public presentation

Students receive strong financial support to cover the costs of tuition and stipend. Following graduation previous students have continued in academic pursuits by entering doctoral programs or careers in conservation, natural resource management, consulting, and public education.

Students interested in the program should become familiar with the research directions of the scientists at the Harvard Forest as these strongly shape the possible areas of student work.