College of Agriculture, Food & Environment

Forest & Natural Resource Sciences - Graduate


credit hours

thesis option masters


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non-thesis masters


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Forest and Natural Resource Sciences encompasses a wide variety of social and natural science disciplines while addressing issues that range from molecular to landscape and societal levels. This broad scope creates a stimulating atmosphere for graduate education and research, leading to innovative approaches in the sustainable management of forest and other natural resources.

Graduate study can be conducted in a variety of disciplines and interdisciplinary topic areas including plant physiology, genetics, forest management, forest soils, economics, invasive species, natural resource policy, wood utilization, wildlife biology and management, conservation biology, forest ecology, silviculture, hydrology, natural resource policy, restoration ecology (including mine reclamation), and watershed management.

Student doing on-site research
Working as a forester on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests has been an amazing experience. I have been actively mitigating spruce beetle damage in subalpine stands for sustainable timber products, fuel reduction, and regenerating a healthy new age class. The skills and education that I received in the undergraduate and graduate forestry programs at the University of Kentucky have granted me the opportunity to refine and expand my love for our nation’s forests.

Rachel L.

Master's (MS) Degree - Application Requirements

  • CV
  • Personal Statement
    • This should describe one’s academic and professional goals and interests. Applicant must indicate in personal statement: (a) which faculty member s/he wishes to have as the major professor, and (b) whether or not s/he is applying for an assistantship.
  • The GRE is not required for admission to this program.
  • Three letters of recommendation.

Applicants must meet the Graduate School admission requirements.

Application Deadlines

​Spring: December 9, unless applying for for an assistantship; if applying for assistantship, contact DGS

Summer: April 15, unless applying for for an assistantship; if applying for assistantship, contact DGS

Fall: July 22, unless applying for for an assistantship; if applying for assistantship, contact DGS

Doctoral (PhD) Degree - Application Requirements

  • CV
    •  In addition to standard information found on a CV, the applicant should place emphasis on research interests, publications, presentations and funding obtained.
  • Personal Statement
  • Writing Sample (optional)
  • The GRE is not required for admission to this program
  • Three letters of recommendation

Applicants must meet the Graduate School admission requirements.

Application Deadlines

​Spring: December 9 (domestic), August 15 (international)

Fall: July 22 (domestic), March 15 (international)

Clubs and Organizations

  • The University of Kentucky Department of Graduate Student Association: (Forestry GSA) is comprised of Forest and Natural Resource Sciences graduate students with the goal of enhancing graduate student professional, social, and personal development within the forestry department. The Forestry GSA meets regularly to facilitate social, philanthropic, and networking events to engage with other students, faculty, and the Lexington community. 

Our Students' Work

To better understand the interests and areas of study available within the Forestry and Natural Resources Department, browse these recent researches from our graduates:   

Genotyping Validating of Photographic Identification in a Capture-Mark Recapture Study Based on the Head Scale Pattern of the Prarie Lizard (Sceloporus consobrinus)
Sarah A. Tomke and Chris J. Kellner. 2020

Assistantships and Funding

  • Most Masters of Science in Forest and Natural Resource Sciences students are supported by Research and Teaching Assistantships, which include a stipend, a health insurance policy, and scholarship funds that cover in-state and out-of-state tuition forgraduatecourses. 
  • Additional assistantships are sometimes available from Department of Forestry and Natural Resources funds. These assistantships are ordinarily awarded in March to students admitted for the subsequent fall semester; thus, the admissions application deadline for Departmentally funded assistantships is usually February 1. 

Our Research Areas

Choosing from the many specializations of our professors, students will find a variety of hands-on experiences to suit their interests. Faculty and researchers in the Forestry and Natural Resources Department manage laboratories focused on: 

Students interested in learning more about these research operations are encouraged to email the associated contact listed above. 

Highlighted Courses

  • FOR 530 Freshwater Ecology: Advanced biology and natural resources course about the ecology of freshwater environments. Course material covers 1) interactions among freshwater species and between the species and their aquatic environment, 2) how these interactions influence distribution and abundance of freshwater species, and 3) conservation and management of freshwater species and aquatic systems. 
  • FOR 564 Forest Soils: The physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils as they relate to forest tree growth and the forest community. A study of the genesis, morphology, classification, and utilization of soils for forestry. Lecture, two hours; laboratory, two hours with occasional extended field trips. 
  • FOR 612 Forest Ecosystem Dynamics: The study of ecosystem structure and function with emphasis upon eastern deciduous forest ecosystems. Topics discussed will include energy flow, mineral cycling, the influence of disturbance upon ecosystem properties, and dynamic processes in the development of ecosystems. 
  • FOR 663 Spatial Analysis in Natural Resources: The application of spatial theory to natural resource management problems. Course topics include functions and uses of GIS, spatial theory and its application through GIS to resource management problems, linking aspatial and spatial databases, sources of spatial data, collecting and preparing spatial data for analysis, and spatial data confidence levels and spatial statistics. Lecture, three hours; laboratory, two hours per week.