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Graduate Education


Master of Forestry
The M.F. is a non-thesis degree aimed particularly at practicing professionals who desire to further their education. Minimum residency requirement is two semesters. Candidates must prepare a degree paper for which 3 to 6 credits will be given toward the 30-credit-hour minimum for the degree.
Master of Science

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.

Doctor of Philosophy

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: In the MPS program, students use molecular approaches to understand how plants grow and interact with their environments. Additional details can be found at

Graduate Brochure
FREC Graduate Stipends and Funding

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):

  • Robert S. Burruss Fellowship - $2,000 stipend supplement annually plus tuition

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).

  • William J. Dann Fellowship - $3,000 stipend supplement annually plus tuition

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.

Graduate Student Forms


The Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation (FREC) at Virginia Tech is one of the top programs in natural resource management in the United States. Our graduate science and management programs are diverse and approach critical natural resource issues from many disciplinary perspectives.  From the management of protected areas and economic policy to forest soil productivity, urbanization, and genomics, we seek to discover new knowledge and technology to address the global challenges to come.

The department has approximately 25 faculty, 6 postdoctoral associates, 8 research and extension associates, and 7 support personnel.  Over 75 graduate students are enrolled in the areas of:

Forest Biology

Forest Biometrics and Geomatics

Forest Economics, Policy, and Management

Forest Genetics and Biotechnology

Forest Hydrology and Watershed Management

Forest Operations and Business

Forest Soils, Silviculture, and Ecology

Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management

Natural Resource Recreation

Urban Forest Ecology and Management

The department is housed in Cheatham and Latham Halls on the central campus, where the bulk of teaching and research activities take place.  Specialized research facilities for plant physiology and biochemistry, forest soils, remote sensing and spatial data analysis, water resources, and computer applications are maintained in Cheatham and Latham Halls. In addition, the department maintains a 710-acre field research facility for biological investigations at the Reynolds Homestead Forest Resources Research Center in Critz, Virginia.   


Students are strongly encouraged to apply online. This streamlines the application process and reduces processing time.   Applicants must pay a $65 non-refundable fee.  Students are encouraged to contact faculty in their research interest area prior to application.  Additional information is available at

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) General Test is required for all applicants to the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation. Also required is a passing grade on a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) for applicants who did not receive their bachelor’s degree from an American, Canadian, or British university and whose first language is not English. 

Test scores should be sent to the Graduate School.  Scanned transcripts will be required during the online application process; however, please do not mail official transcripts until you have received an offer of admission from Virginia Tech. 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to have online recommendations completed.  Names and email addresses for each reference may be provided in the online application.  If applicants choose to have paper letters of recommendation submitted, the letters should be sent directly to the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, ATTN:  Graduate Coordinator, 313 Cheatham Hall (0324), Blacksburg, VA  24061 U.S.A. 


We offer very competitive stipends for graduate students pursuing M.S. or Ph.D. degrees; on occasion, stipends may also be available for non-research M.F. degrees.

All students on assistantship receive a waiver of academic-year tuition, and highly qualified students are considered for several departmental fellowships or awards:

  • Robert S. Burruss Fellowship
  • William J. Dann Fellowship

Virginia Tech offers enhanced benefits to graduate students on assistantship by covering 90% of the cost of an individual student medical policy at the $100,000 rate.   Additional details are available on the Graduate School website:

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FREC Strategic Plan


2015 FREC Annual Report


Fall 2016 FREC Newsletter

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FREC Career Book


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FREC Undergraduate Checksheets

Undergraduate Brochure (pdf)

Graduate Brochure (pdf)