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Oregon State University launches nation’s first graduate program in urban forestry online

CORVALLIS, Ore — Oregon State University is giving forestry professionals an innovative and flexible way to advance their careers by offering the nation’s first online graduate certificate in urban forestry.

The certificate combines OSU’s expertise in forestry with its reputation as a national leader in online education to provide students with an interactive learning environment that better equips them to manage trees in and around urban areas.

“There isn’t another opportunity like this in the U.S. where a working professional can earn graduate-level education in urban forestry online and still retain their job, raise a family or remain at their home state,” said Paul Ries, the certificate director and an instructor in OSU’s College of Forestry. “It offers increased access to a first-rate education that they might not otherwise get.”

Oregon State is regarded as one of the world’s leading institutions for forestry education, having been ranked in the top 10 in an international survey the past two years. Ries says this first-of-its-kind urban forestry program will bolster OSU’s global reputation.

Delivered online by OSU Ecampus, the 18- to 20-credit certificate offers practical training for people who want to move forward – or put their foot in the door – in the urban forestry profession. Students can also use the certificate as a basis for Oregon State’s 45-credit Master of Natural Resources graduate degree online.

“Many people working in the field don’t have a degree or certificate that says ‘urban forestry’ because it hasn’t been around that long,” Ries said. “This will really open doors that haven’t been available to people before.”

Urban forestry, put simply, refers to the management of the trees where we work, live and play. It’s a practice that dates back centuries in America, but the term wasn’t actually coined until the 1970s. As many cities nationwide begin to invest more resources in green infrastructure, more jobs are being created to help shape policy and planning.

“Trees define our public spaces, whether it’s a business district or park where we hang out on the weekend,” Ries said. “Trees are often the common denominator. They give our spaces a sense of place and provide us with environmental, economic and social benefits. They play a big role in the livability of our cities.”

The certificate curriculum covers an array of topics that will help professionals enhance their knowledge and skill set. Required courses include Urban Forestry Leadership, Urban Forest Planning, Policy and Management, and Green Infrastructure. Students can also choose from a variety of electives, including Arboriculture, Ecological Restoration, and Geographic Information Systems.

Students must also complete an urban forestry capstone project, which will provide them with one-on-one mentorship from OSU faculty or other natural resources professionals in their local area.

“We’ll work with students wherever they’re at, so the capstone will not only be a meaningful demonstration of what they learned but also something they can use as a springboard to a better career.”

In recent years OSU Ecampus has gained recognition as one of the best providers of online education in the nation, from U.S. News & World Report, SuperScholar and other ranking agencies. The ranking criteria are based on such factors as academic quality, faculty credentials, student engagement, student satisfaction and degree selection diversity.

The urban forestry certificate program begins this fall. Learn more about the program, its curriculum and how to apply at


About the OSU College of Forestry: For a century, the College of Forestry has been a world-class center of teaching, learning and research. It offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs in sustaining ecosystems, managing forests and manufacturing wood products; conducts basic and applied research on the nature and use of forests; and operates 14,000 acres of college forests.

About Oregon State University Ecampus: Through comprehensive online degree programs, OSU Ecampus provides learners with access to a high-quality education no matter where they live. It offers more than 35 undergraduate and graduate programs online and is consistently ranked among the nation’s best providers of online education. Learn more Oregon State degrees online at