Photo of Spring Field Semester 2018

The Forestry major is a professional degree program and is the only one in Kentucky accredited by the Society of American Foresters. Forestry students are trained to grow, manage, and protect healthy forest ecosystems. The Forestry major offers a diverse career path in an outdoor office.

Earn a Bachelor of Science in Forestry Degree

What is Forestry?

Forestry is the science, art, and practice of sustainably managing forested resources for the benefit of humans. Forestry is a profession – not just a job or occupation. Forestry is guided by the principles of sustainability and involves more resources than just trees. Foresters manage for a broad spectrum of benefits that humans desire from their forests.

What can you do with a Forestry major?

The Forestry major offers a diverse career path in an outdoor office. Foresters are qualified to do almost any job that involves assessing, utilizing, protecting, preserving, restoring or re-establishing forests. Career opportunities are strong and are likely to remain so as the large, post-war baby boom generation retires.

Foresters can find employment in both the public and private sectors of the economy. Also, many forestry graduates continue their education in graduate school.

What are top reasons to major in forestry?

The reasons for choosing this major are probably as varied as the students who choose it, but some reasons that we keep hearing repeatedly are:

  • I want to work outside. 
  • I want to make a difference in the world. 
  • I want a career with variety so I am not stuck doing the same thing year after year.
  • I want a career that can take me to new places and experience new things.
  • I want a career that utilizes new technologies.
Why choose forestry and not another related major?

To answer this question, you have to ask yourself: “What natural resources am I most interested in?” and “What do I want to be able to do when I graduate?” Many natural resource programs exist at a variety of colleges and universities and it is important to carefully study the curricula to see where their emphases lie and what accreditation (if any) they carry.

Forestry by definition concerns itself with forests and affiliated resources. While that covers a very broad range of natural resources, it does not cover everything. Students with an interest in solid waste management, urban air and water quality, or environmental issues dealing with agricultural operations, for example, may be better served by a natural resources degree. Students who want to spend their careers working in and with forests are probably best served by a forestry degree.

Many natural resource curricula do contain forestry options, and these must be viewed carefully in light of one’s career goals. Knowledge of forests and some aspects of forestry can be very valuable in support of natural resource jobs situated in forests (National Park Guide for example), but they do not make you a professional forester.

If you wish to be a professional forester with all of the knowledge and practical field training that this implies, you need to earn a forestry degree from an SAF (Society of American Foresters) accredited institution. UK’s Forestry program is SAF accredited. Many state boards of licensure for foresters require a SAF degree. An SAF accreditation assures that degree program has met quality standards set by the profession.

What Makes Us Unique?

Spring Field Semester

During the spring semester of the junior year, forestry majors participate in a semester-long, field-oriented immersion into the practice and application of forestry, wildlife, and natural resource management techniques. The first half of the Spring Field Semester is spent traveling throughout Kentucky and the surrounding region to learn about different ecosystems, land uses, landownership types, and wood industry facilities. The second half of the semester is spent at the university’s 15,000-acre experimental forest in southeastern Kentucky to give students additional hands-on field experience.

Forestry Professional Electives

The nine hours of professional electives are designed to give forestry students supplemental coursework to support their career interests. We encourage students to use these professional electives to enhance their knowledge base and build their resume.

Depending on a students’ career interest they may take a series of courses in wildlife to help qualify them for the Associate Wildlife Biologist Certification by The Wildlife Society. Students interested in consulting forestry, timber investment management organizations, or forest industry may take courses in business, management, or economics. Students interested in extension or environmental education may take courses in education, leadership, communication, or agriculture. For students planning to attend graduate school, upper-level science courses or statistics may be used. Communication, GIS, policy, and agricultural economics are examples of other areas students may choose as professional electives. We also encourage students to enroll in study abroad, research, or internship experiences to meet their professional elective requirements.

What is a wildlife forester?

A wildlife forester has the skills to manage wildlife and their forested habitats. UK students with an interest in both forestry and wildlife studies have the opportunity to combine these exciting outdoor career paths. For most students, adding one or two semesters to our accredited professional forestry program provides the courses necessary to meet the minimum requirements for the Associate Wildlife Biologist Certification by The Wildlife Society (TWS).

UK Fire Cats - Student Wildland Firefighter Organization

The UK Fire Cats is a program in partnership with the UK Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Kentucky Division of Forestry (KDF), and the U.S. Forest Service. The purpose of the UK Fire Cats is to provide UK Forestry Majors hands-on experience with wildland firefighting.

UK Fire Cats are paid employees by the Kentucky Division of Forestry and are classified as “Emergency Firefighters.” UK Fire Cats are on-call to fight wildland fire on weekends during the fall and spring fire seasons. There are 21 slots available for UK Fire Cats.

Forestry Curriculum

Learn more about the requirements for a Bachelor of Science in Forestry.

View Curriculum

Spring Field Semester

View week-by-week summaries of the Spring Field Semester that occurs during spring of the junior year.

View Field Semester

Wildlife Biology and Management Minor

View the requirements for the Wildlife Biology and Management Minor.

View Wildlife Minor

Forestry and Natural Resources Job Board

View job opportunities in forestry and natural resources. Includes graduate school, temporary, part-time and permanent positions.

View Jobs

Career Opportunities

Learn what you can do with a degree in forestry.

View Careers

Explore Forestry

Watch or listen to our From the Woods Today show to learn about all things forestry in Kentucky.

View Episodes

Gain Experience
Forestry Club

A Student Chapter of the Society of American Foresters (UK Forestry Club)

Learn More

UK Fire Cats

A student wildland firefighter organization to provide UK Forestry majors hands-on experience with wildland firefighting.

Learn More

Undergraduate Research

Meet our faculty to learn about potential undergraduate research opportunities.

Meet Our Faculty

Contact Us

For questions about the UK Forestry program or to schedule a visit, contact Laura Lhotka, Forestry Academic Coordinator.

Contact Laura

Key Resources

Learn more about key resources for prospective undergraduate students.

Learn More


View scholarship opportunities for undergraduate forestry students.

View Scholarships

Some states may require a professional license, certification, registration, or permit be obtained before engaging or working in forestry. Students interested in practicing forestry in another state should learn more about whether their undergraduate or graduate program will lead to licensure or certification, etc. in each state. 

How can we help? 

If you have questions about the UK Forestry program or would like to schedule a visit, let us know.

Contact Laura Lhotka, Forestry Academic Coordinator 859-257-8718,