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Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife

Degree: BS

Campus: Columbus

School: Environment and Natural Resources

The forestry, fisheries and wildlife major at Ohio State is an applied-science major that equips students with the knowledge and skills to solve problems in the conservation and restoration of landscapes, ecosystems, habitats, and plant and animal species that are affected by human’s use of resources. Intensive training in one or two of the disciplines as well as a broad base of knowledge helps students to advance in future careers as biologists, administrators and education specialists.

Admitted students can directly enroll as majors in forestry, fisheries and wildlife within the School of Environment and Natural Resources. A student’s first year will include several foundational courses in environment and natural resources as well as general education requirements such as mathematics, chemistry, biology, the humanities, etc. 

The following foundational courses provide an initial exposure to an array of issues that impact natural resources, focusing on physical and natural sciences as well as the social sciences:

  • Introduction to Environmental Science
  • Society and Natural Resources
  • Introduction to Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife
  • Introduction to Soil Science 


Forestry: Many foresters work for federal and state land management agencies, manage public lands, and provide technical assistance to private landowners. The private sector offers opportunities to manage pulp and timber operations. A forester or forest biologist will look at the diversity of tree species, investigate soils, slope, water and all aspects of the environment and its effects on the forests ability to thrive. Forestry students may take courses in ornithology, animal diversity, wildlife ecology, biology of woody forests, forest ecosystems, forest biometry, photo interpretation, silvaculture, city and regional planning, fire ecology, and forest entomology.

Fisheries: Fish are important for food, recreational sport fishing and as indicators of the water quality in the streams, rivers, lakes and oceans. Fisheries biologists and technicians work for aquariums, public land management agencies like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and both private and government fish hatcheries. Students will take courses in chemistry, physics, ecology, plankton, limnology, fish ecology, aquatic entomology, wetland ecology, ichthyology, aquaculture and fisheries management.

Wildlife: Wildlife biologists spend considerable time outdoors determining size and health of wildlife populations for improved management. With our increasing human population and urban sprawl, there is an ever increasing pressure on wildlife and competition for habitat. Many wild animals have been managed back to abundance from the brink of extinction. Wildlife management emphasizes managing ecosystems so that each component remains healthy and balanced. They work for public and private agencies conducting research and implementing management plans. Students can expect to take courses in chemistry, physics, ornithology, animal diversity, ammology, wildlife ecology and management, wildlife identification, local flora, animal form and function, environmental communications, entomology, and more depending on their area of interest. Because veterinary prerequisites are included in the program, many students in this program pursue veterinary medicine.

All students are encouraged to gain an international experience with study abroad. Several study tours offer programs focusing on aspects of the environment, natural resources or sustainability in places such as China, the Dominican Republic, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Iceland.

Students gain valuable work experience through internships in federal, state and private agencies and organizations. By working with SENR Career Services, students can find local, national and international internships related to their career goals. 

The Environment and Natural Resources Honors program challenges high-ability students by providing a program in greater breadth and depth and provides special recognition and scholarships for outstanding scholastic achievement. Students are able to design their own study plan that guides their course selection and honors research. Freshmen with University Honors standing may be accepted directly as a candidate for the Environment and Natural Resources Honors program.

Environment and Natural Resources Scholars live together in Morrill Tower and share an interest and passion for the environment and being outdoors. Students participate in service learning projects, educational trips, and seminars and workshops with leading environmental researchers. 

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Students interested in pursuing research can engage in the generation of new knowledge and understanding alongside world-class faculty and complete requirements to graduate with research distinction.

Students present their research at the college’s Undergrad Research Forum to prepare for the university-wide Denman Undergraduate Research Forum.

Students can also take advantage of research projects monitoring the health of the Lake Erie environment at Stone Lab.

Student organizations, such as the Fish and Wildlife Club and Forestry Forum, give students hands-on experiences in the field and help them develop network connections with professionals.

Students have the opportunity to join the SUSTAINS Learning Community, which fosters connections among students who are interested in becoming sustainable leaders. Students will learn how sustainability influences their own and others' lives and how their actions impact society.

The School of Environment and Natural Resources Career Services Office assists students with one-on-one counseling to identify job opportunities, preparing cover letters and resumes, and preparing for interviews.

Graduates of the forestry, fisheries and wildlife program will find themselves in a competitive and rewarding career field. Students are encouraged to pursue advanced education, giving them substantial research experience, which is needed to work as a biologist in many areas. More than half of the students in forestry, fisheries and wildlife go on for advanced degrees.

Entry-level positions as natural resources specialists and technicians in forestry, fisheries and wildlife can expect typical salaries around $34,000 to $56,000 per year. Those with advanced degrees may find starting salaries slightly higher at $61,000 per year and up.