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Advanced Silviculture for the Practicing Forester Graduate Certificate

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Certificate Overview Open Accordion

Build the skills to make more strategic, data-driven, and science-based decisions as a practicing forestry professional.

Earn a certificate in advanced silviculture forestry online

The online Graduate Certificate in Advanced Silviculture provides forestry professionals with current, research-based knowledge and hones the skills you need to make strategic, science-based decisions within an adaptive management context. Designed specifically for practicing foresters, this online certificate will prepare you with the in-depth knowledge, methods, theories, and tactics to identify, compare, and apply advanced ecological concepts to diverse forest ecosystems.

Managing forest systems effectively requires a diverse set of skills. Learn to develop, implement, and evaluate silvicultural solutions to help both forests and communities adapt to a changing climate. After completing the program, graduates will be able to:

  • Utilize current scientific methodologies to inform management decisions in the field
  • Effectively write silviculture prescriptions for specific management objectives that meet the diverse values of landowners
  • Develop on-the-ground actions for climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • Create a monitoring plan to effectively evaluate and assess management actions, and to inform future management decisions

What is the difference between forestry and silviculture?

Forestry can be generally defined as the practice and science of managing forests. Silviculture is an extension of the forestry discipline focused on sustainably managing the structure and growth processes of forested areas via science-based methods. Silviculture works to control tree and vegetation density, replenish unproductive areas with new trees, monitor forest ecosystems, protect existing trees from invasive insects, diseases, and other destructive agents, and harvests trees when needed. Foresters with in-depth knowledge of silviculture are well-equipped to take on land management projects with greater levels of complexity, scale, and responsibility.

Ideal Participants for the Advanced Silviculture Certificate Program

This certificate program, developed through online coursework by silviculture experts, is ideal for professionals working in a variety of forest management and conservation roles. It is tailored to suit individuals holding the following job titles:

Management and Planning

  1. Forest Manager: Responsible for overseeing forest operations, making decisions about timber harvests, reforestation, and maintaining forest health.
  2. Silviculturist: Specializes in the science and practice of silviculture, focusing on the growth and quality of forests.
  3. Forest Operations Manager: Oversees the daily operations related to forestry activities, requiring advanced knowledge in silvicultural practices.
  4. Land Management Forester: Manages public or private forest lands, planning and implementing silvicultural treatments to achieve desired outcomes.
  5. Forest Supervisor: Supervises forest management activities, ensuring they meet ecological and economic goals.

Conservation and Ecology

  1. Forest Conservationist: Works on conserving forest resources, requiring advanced silvicultural techniques to maintain biodiversity and forest health.
  2. Forest Ecologist Studies forest ecosystems, using advanced silvicultural knowledge to understand and manage forest dynamics.
  3. Wildfire Forester: Manages forests to benefit wildlife habitats, which often involves applying advanced silvicultural practices.

Research and Education

  1. Research Forester: Conducts research on forest growth, health, and management practices, benefiting from advanced knowledge in silviculture.
  2. Forest Scientist Studies various aspects of forest ecosystems and management, requiring deep understanding of silvicultural principles.

Operations and Technical Roles

  1. Forest Technician: Conducts research on forest growth, health, and management practices, benefiting from advanced knowledge in silviculture.
  2. Timber Cruiser: Assesses forest stands for timber value, needing advanced silvicultural knowledge to evaluate forest conditions accurately.
  3. Forrest Inventory Analyst: Analyzes data on forest conditions and growth, requiring detailed understanding of silvicultural practices to interpret data effectively.

Private Sector and Consulting

  1. Consulting Forester: Provides expert advice on forest management, requiring advanced silvicultural knowledge to offer accurate and effective recommendations.
  2. Industrial Forester: Manages forests owned by private companies, applying advanced silvicultural practices to meet industrial needs sustainably.
  3. Environmental Consultant: Advises on environmental impacts of forest management practices, needing in-depth silvicultural expertise to provide sound guidance.

These roles require a deep understanding of silvicultural techniques and principles to manage forests effectively, promote sustainable practices, and address complex ecological challenges. A graduate certificate in Advanced Silviculture equips professionals in these positions with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in their careers and make informed, science-based decisions.

Hear from Our Students Open Accordion

Hear more about the learning experience from a student who recently completed the online graduate certificate in advanced silviculture.

“We as foresters, need to incorporate new ideas and science to the silvicultural best practices we’ve established thus far. Practitioners like me are learning how to become leaders in silvicultural practices to guide our peers in implementing this new certificate.”

– Scott Johnson, CSFS Montrose Field Office

“Helping landowners steward forests that have recently experienced rapid, stand level changes, the certificate program has better prepared me to present a suite of science based silvicultural alternatives that can meet landowner objectives while incorporating climate adaptation into the forest management planning process.”

– Mike Tarantino, CSFS Gunnison Field Office

Faculty Open Accordion

Courtney Peterson

Courtney Peterson is a Research Associate in the Forest and Rangeland Stewardship Department and coordinator and instructor for the Advanced Silviculture Certificate. Her primary role is to serve as the Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change (ASCC) Network coordinator where she focuses on disseminating ASCC project findings and translating them into outreach and training opportunities with land managers and scientists working to manage forests for climate change adaptation. Courtney is also a climate adaptation specialist with the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS) where she supports partners through assistance in climate science communication and adaptation planning, resources, and training.

Wilfred Previant

Wilfred Previant is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship at Colorado State University. Drawing upon his extensive field experience in the Great Lakes, Interior West, and Pacific Northwest forests and landscapes, Wilfred builds around case-studies to help connect students to their interests. Wilfred’s research includes forest inventory, monitoring analysis, sampling techniques, silviculture, forest refugia, and carbon management.

Kristen Switzer

Kristen Switzer is an Experiential Learning Specialist at Colorado State Forest Service. She assists in course development and instructing for the Advanced Silviculture Certificate. Kristen serves as an academic liaison between the Colorado State Forest Service and Colorado State University, and as an advisor for the Society of American Foresters Alpha Chapter. Kristen earned her M.S. in Biological Sciences from Montana State University, and her B.S. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Vermont. Her past research focused on climate impacts on ecological communities.

Frequently Asked Questions Open Accordion

What is silviculture?

According to the US Forest Service, silviculture is the art and science of overseeing the establishment, growth, quality, and health of forests and woodland areas. Effective land managers must balance the needs of landowners and communities while considering the importance of biodiversity, wildlife habitats, water resources, and sustainable outdoor recreation. When carefully planned and implemented, various silvicultural tactics like planting, harvesting, thinning, pruning, and prescribed burning can help create a thriving forest ecosystem over time. The importance of silviculture and its impact can be clearly seen in well-managed forests, resulting in healthier trees, more accessibility for recreation, greater biodiversity, and improved habitats for wildlife.

Do I need forestry field experience to apply to the certificate?

Forestry field experience is highly recommended, but not a requirement to apply. However, the certificate is designed to culminate in a capstone course where you will use data and information from a forest stand of your choice to develop a comprehensive silviculture prescription. It is beneficial to have a forest in mind that you can access and gather data from to successfully complete the capstone course.

Do I need natural resource management experience to apply to the certificate?

This graduate certificate requires that students have a bachelor’s degree in forestry, natural resources, or another related field from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants with a degree in an unrelated field who have significant forestry experience may be considered. Examples of appropriate experience include:

  • Worked as a forester or natural resources manager
  • Significant volunteer experience in a natural resources-related field
  • Field experience as an undergraduate student in forestry/natural resources

Do I need undergraduate coursework in statistics and ecology?

Undergraduate coursework in statistics and ecology is required for several courses within the certificate. You can take these courses prior to or after admission.

If I’m receiving a CSU employee tuition benefit for the Silviculture Certificate, will it be taxed?

Employees taking graduate courses or post-bachelor undergraduate courses are limited to $5,250 of tax-free tuition. Any amounts over that limitation will be included in taxable wages.

What happens if I miss course content because I’m on a fire assignment or working in the field without internet access?

Every instructor will have a policy on missed assignments, so it is very important to initiate good communication and work closely with course instructors.

Can I earn Continuing Forestry Education credits for coursework?

Yes. Please let the Silviculture Certificate Coordinator or faculty member know you are interested, and they can apply for Society of American Foresters continuing education credits.

Curriculum Open Accordion

The Graduate Certificate in Advanced Silviculture requires the completion of six courses.

Required Courses

Note: You must be admitted to this program for the certificate to appear on your official University transcript.

How to Apply Open Accordion

Application Deadlines

Fall semester April 1

Start your application online and upload materials directly into the online system. You can save your progress and return any time.

Important note: Both your application and all supporting documentation (transcripts, statement of purpose, etc.) must arrive by the application deadline.

Apply Now

1Review Admission Requirements

This graduate certificate requires that students have a bachelor’s degree in forestry, natural resources, or another related field from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants without a related degree but with significant forestry experience may also be considered.

2 Prepare Application Materials

Statement of purpose

Your statement should be written in 12-point font, double-spaced, and address the following:

  • What do you hope to learn from this certificate program, and how do you think it will benefit your career? (Please limit response to <300 words.)
  • What do you anticipate being the biggest challenges to your participation in and successful completion of this online graduate certificate program? What is your plan for addressing these challenges? (Please limit response to <300 words.)
  • The Graduate Certificate in Advanced Silviculture for the Practicing Forester requires participants to complete group work and actively contribute to discussions in their classes. What is your experience collaborating on teams, and what do you value most in a “team member?” (Please limit response to <300 words.)

3 Complete Online Application

Complete the online graduate application and pay the nonrefundable application processing fee (payable online). As soon as you have completed the required information, please submit your application. You do not need to wait for recommendations or transcripts to move your application forward. Note: All application materials must be received by the application deadline.

  • Select “Advanced Silviculture for the Practicing Forester (Certificate) – Distance” when choosing the Program of Study. (Note: You must first select "Certificate" at the top.)

4 Request Transcripts

Request one official transcript from the institution where you earned your bachelor's degree. Transcripts must be received directly from the originating institution to be considered official. Transcripts from Colorado State University are not required.

Electronic (preferred):
Digital Transcripts must be submitted by the originating institution using a secure service such as parchment, eScrip-Safe, the National Student Clearinghouse, or e-Quals. Transcripts received via emails are considered unofficial.

Use institution code 4075 for Colorado State University or if the secure service requires an email address.

Mail (if necessary):
Graduate Admissions
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

Check Your Application Status

View your application status at any time to ensure your application checklist is complete or to check on updates.

Once your complete application, including supporting materials, is received, the department admission committee will review your application and notify you of their decision.

For International Applicants

Proof of English language proficiency is required for applicants from countries or United States territories where there are official languages other than (or in addition to) English. This includes the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about English language proficiency requirements.


We love learning about your goals and answering any questions you have.

Morgan Parsley
Prospective Student Support Coach
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Program Details

13 credits
$726 per credit
Same in-state tuition for all.
Learn more about financial aid and scholarships Tuition/fees are just part of the cost to attend CSU. Learn more about the full Cost of Attendance
Certificate Awarded
Graduate Certificate in Advanced Silviculture for the Practicing Forester
Time Frame
Can be completed in 2 years
Admission Reqs.
  • Undergraduate degree from an accredited four-year institution.

Application Dates

Fall semester
April 1

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