Majoring in Ecosystem Management and Forestry

Ecosystem Management and Forestry (EMF)  focuses on the conservation and restoration of the earth's natural resources through hands-on study of the ecology, stewardship, and management of forest, woodland, and grassland ecosystems. The program offers two specializations to choose from, and if the student chooses a specialization in Forestry, they can qualify to take the Registered Professional Forester's licensing exam in California. Topics studied include wildlife and conservation biology, ecosystem restoration, rangeland management, water policy, fire science, GIS and remote sensing, environmental justice, and rural sociology. Students can participate in an 8-week summer field program in the Sierra Nevada. Offered by the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM).

Students interested in learning more about the EMF major can attend a Forestry Mini-Camp. Learn about the forest ecology of the Plumas National Forest, talk to an advisor about your options, and meet some of UC Berkeley’s forestry alumni professionals during a five day/four night camp in August. 

What will I study?

students in the forest looking through instruments

Many students interested in the EMF major have the chance to visit the site of Forestry Field Camp to learn more and get hands-on experience. Photo by Karina Bencomo.

Students in the EMF major select between two specializations:

 The Forestry specialization provides students with the ecological, quantitative, and social foundation to be the managers and leaders in the management of forests and forest resources.  The Forestry specialization is accredited by the Society of American Foresters and provides four years of qualifying education or professional experience for licensing as a professional forester in California. The goals of the Forestry specialization are very closely associated with the educational requirements of the forestry profession and prepare our students for a variety of  careers in forestry or closely related natural resource fields.

The Natural Resource Management specialization provides students with greater flexibility to explore subjects in ecology, physical environment, monitoring and measurement, and management and policy.  Students can choose to concentrate their studies in water management, ecology, climates change or design their own concentration based on interest.

Students in the program, regardless of concentration, have ample opportunity to acquire interdisciplinary skills in the ecology, stewardship, and management of ecosystems such as forests, woodlands, and grasslands. Within the program, students can choose to emphasize topics such as wildlife biology, water policy, fire science, ecosystem restoration, environmental justice, remote sensing and GIS, and rural sociology.


Forestry students are eligible for a series of endowed scholarships based on academic performance and financial need. These scholarships are awarded to students at all academic levels and are usually awarded in the fall semester. In 2012, scholarships totaling $60,000 were awarded in scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. Beginning in 2013, additional awards will be targeted for students in their first and second years in the major.

The George and Vi Craig California Forestry Association Scholarship Fund is an endowed fund managed by the Regents of the University of California. It was set up to benefit students studying Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) at the University of California, Berkeley. The payout from the endowment may be used to provide scholarships to individual students and/or pay for transportation or instructional equipment and material costs associated with field instruction in courses that support the FNR degree program. These funds are intended to increase field experience opportunities for students in the FNR program.

How much coursework is required?

Lower division requirements include courses in chemistry, environmental sciences, physical science, biology, calculus, statistics, GIS and economics. All students in EMF are required to complete three core upper divison courses in ecology, resource management, and a capstone course for a total of 11-12 units. Upper division electives vary for each specialization.

Participation in the eight-week summer field program—Forestry Field Camp—in the northern Sierra Nevada is required of all students specializing in Forestry. Natural Resource Management students have the option, but are not required, to complete a field program and can choose either the eight-week summer field program or the fall semester course on the Polynesian island of Moorea (Biology & Geomorphology of Tropical Islands).

What can I do with this major?

EMF provides specific analytical tools needed for graduate school or virtually any type of career in natural resources. Graduates can pursue careers in

  • environmental consulting
  • public agencies
  • non-profit conservation organizations
  • private companies
  • professional forestry
  • wildlife biology
  • range management

Some may tackle the planning and implementation of forest management projects, including fuel reduction, timber harvest, reforestation, urban forestry, and prescribed burning.

Others focus their professional work in areas such as wildfire, fire, water, wetlands, restoration, vegetation management, soil/erosion, cultural resources, policy, and the human aspects of natural resources. Much of natural resource management today is about working with, communicating with, and engaging the public and landowners.

The program itself has a longstanding history, so our graduates often find themselves sought after for employment by alumni established in both the public and private sectors.


The Cal Alumni Foresters (CAF) is the alumni association for the 100 year old forestry program at UC Berkeley. CAF helps bring alumni working in forestry and the diverse fields related to resource and environmental management together to support ongoing discussion and camaraderie. Alumni of all ages are bonded by memories of classes in Mulford Hall, bean feeds put on by the forestry club and summers spent in Meadow Valley learning about Sierra Nevada ecology and timber cruising.

Forestry has changed over the last hundred years since Berkeley’s program began, but this discipline is still very important as an ever growing local and global population place increasing pressure on California’s and our world’s forests. Therefore, CAF supports current Cal forestry students by providing scholarships, mentoring and introducing the new crop of managers to the Society of American Foresters (SAF) at the national convention each fall. We hope that these efforts will help ensure that Berkeley will continue to train excellent foresters and resource managers for our future state and world.

Forestry alumni who complete their qualifications can test to become Registered Professional Foresters in California.  Results of the exams are available here.


Undergraduate Advisor:
Sarah Rhoades
260 Mulford
University of California 
Berkeley, CA 94720-3100
View our advising hours schedule here

Faculty Advising:
Brandon Collins
Department of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management