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Forestry – Urban Forestry Concentration Major Guide for 2016-2017

What is Urban Forestry

Urban forestry is a specialized branch of forestry that involves the management of forested ecosystems in urban areas. The urban forest may be defined as the sum of all woody and associated vegetation in and around dense populations, ranging from small communities in rural setting to suburban and/or urban areas. Majors in urban forestry at the University of Tennessee receive academic training in a full spectrum of disciplines including arboriculture, dendrology and silvics, forest ecology, forest measurement techniques, horticulture, human dimensions, silviculture, soils, urban forest soils, tree law, forest economics, urban forest management, urban wildlife, wood properties and identification. The diverse training is designed to prepare graduates who can evaluate, plan, and resolve problems in an urban and traditional forest. The forestry program at UT is the only accredited program in Tennessee.

Career Opportunities in Urban Forestry

Graduates will be trained in traditional and urban forestry techniques and may find employment in either the private or public sectors. Private sector opportunities include working as land management or procurement foresters in forest industry or as a private forestry consultant (see forest resource management). Public sector opportunities included working with state forestry agencies, as state urban foresters, city/municipal forester, urban forestry supervisor, and utility forester. State urban foresters coordinate and supervise environmental programs involving arbor management within cities. City/municipal foresters are involved in developing urban forestry management and educational programs along with supervising crews working on municipal properties for the maintenance of street trees, parks and landscapes. Utility foresters manage vegetation within utility corridors that contain high-voltage transmission, distribution and service lines to communities. Urban foresters are responsible for a variety of activities including inventory and assessment of city trees, maintenance, removal of hazardous trees, pest and disease monitoring, inventory reports and wildlife habitat management.

The Master of Science (MS) in Forestry and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Natural Resources degrees are offered through the graduate program in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries. Students receiving a MS in Forestry are hired by similar agencies as those with a BS; however, the opportunities for advancement and salary levels tend to be greater than for those with only a BS degree. Students receiving a PhD in Natural Resources are generally interested in teaching and/or research at universities or other institutions, or in serving in a variety of positions with conservation organizations and agencies.

Salary Trends in Urban Forestry

Graduates of the urban forestry program earn between $33,000 and $60,000 in entry-level positions, with an average beginning salary of approximately $45,000. Salaries vary depending on location, candidate’s abilities, and previous work experience.

High School Preparation

Students interested in majoring in urban forestry should focus on high school courses emphasizing science and math. Courses in biology, chemistry, and agriculture are particularly useful. Criteria for admission include successful completion of the full high school program, grade point average, and acceptable performance on the ACT or SAT tests. Students completing advanced placement high school courses may be able to test out of certain university courses following their enrollment at the University of Tennessee.

How to Major in Urban Forestry

Students interested in majoring in urban forestry should contact the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries. Each student is assigned to the urban forestry faculty member who advises the student with program planning and career counseling.

Requirements for Urban Forestry

All students at UT are required to complete 14 courses as part of the general education requirement. These courses have been integrated into the forest resources management curriculum and are completed as part of the four-year curriculum. To meet the requirements, courses must be completed in: English composition, mathematical sciences, humanities and the arts, cultures and civilizations, social sciences, and natural sciences.

All students in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries must apply for permission to progress to junior- and senior-level classes in the department. Students must obtain an overall 2.2 GPA in 13 core courses including English, mathematics, chemistry, botany, economics, public speaking, statistics, soil science, and ecology. In addition, each student must provide a statement of career goals, names of three references, a summary of work experience, and a transcript.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

A formal internship program is available for urban forestry students through the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries.  Most students acquire work experience during the summers preceding their junior and senior years, either through a formal internship or informally with private companies, non-profits, state or federal agencies.  Urban forestry faculty member will assist students in identifying work experience opportunities, and interviews for these positions are coordinated through the department.

Highlights of Urban Forestry

In the fall term of their senior year, majors in urban forestry enroll in a block of forestry courses designed to maximize hands-on experience in conducting management activities along streets, within city parks and greenbelts in urban areas. Fall block courses follow a specialized schedule that maximizes time in the field and facilitates in-state and out-of-state field trips requiring overnight stays. Courses offered within the fall block include:

  • People and Forest Practices
  • Wood Sciences
  • Inventory and Assessment of Urban Lands
  • Urbanization and Urban Soils
  • Trees and the Law
  • Practical Arboriculture
  • Wildlife Damage


Ready for the World

Students are encouraged to participate in faculty-led study abroad programs sponsored by CASNR, which include Thailand and Jamaica. Other UT faculty-led and semester abroad programs are offered through the Center for International Education. CASNR does offer some scholarships for CASNR students participating in study abroad programs. Students, faculty and staff participate in the annual Unity through Diversity Dinner held each fall. Some students select a minor in Modern Foreign Languages and Literature.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Experience Learning

Experience Learning LogoExperience Learning is a bold new initiative with the goal of transforming the educational student experience at the University of Tennessee. Over a five-year period, UT will transform our culture to give students more opportunities to be involved in civic engagement, solve complex real-world problems, and contribute to the welfare of their communities as part of their regular course work.

The purpose of Experience Learning is to help students apply the knowledge, skills, and values learned in the classroom to real-world challenges. Experience Learning also seeks to engage student learning through direct experience and intense reflection to increase knowledge, acquire lifelong learning and problem-solving skills, and elucidate values.

Learn more about Experience Learning.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. Beginning with first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students entering in the Fall 2013 semester, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, go to

For More Information

Dr. Keith Belli
, Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, 
427 Plant Biotech Building, 
Knoxville, TN 37996-4563  
(865) 974-7126


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.

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