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College creates online master’s program to address forest industry workforce needs

By March 31, 2023August 3rd, 2023No Comments

Auburn University has addressed a workforce development void in the forest industry by creating a new online Forest Business and Investment, or FBI, Master of Science degree within the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment, or CFWE.

The new degree is the first online business degree created to serve the forest industry’s unique needs and was developed by a faculty team in consultation with industry stakeholders.

Adam Maggard, CFWE extension specialist and associate professor of forest systems management, who is the faculty lead for the program, partnered with several others to create a degree program that would address the complexities of this resource industry yet still provide the convenience of an online program for working professionals and employers.

Traditionally, to gain the required business knowledge and skills, many forestry professionals have enrolled in an executive MBA. This approach represents challenges both for students and the industry.

“Forest businesses require a workforce skilled in forestry technical skills, business techniques, and financial decision-making to maximize their return on timber investments,” said Maggard.

Maggard said there are two types of people working in the forest business—those that have forestry technical skills but lack forestry business knowledge and those who have some background and expertise in business, finance, or economics but lack forestry knowledge.

“With this graduate degree program, we will educate and train the former with more business, finance, and investment knowledge and the latter with more forestry-specific courses before blending with business, finance, and investment curriculum, said Maggard.

“This provides students with an understanding of the forestry-based skills and applications and the business skills needed to function effectively in the forest business and investment sector.”

The new master’s degree program is designed to reach nontraditional students who work full time and students from across the nation and the world seeking a graduate degree in forest business but cannot relocate to a university.

“There is no pausing of careers to earn their degree or need to be in a specific place at a specific time. This program allows students to work around their daily schedule,” said Maggard.

Another unique attribute of this program is the array of elective course options available for students from the College of Business, said Maggard.

The program contains a core combination of courses focused on forest business paired with various elective courses, including business administration, finance, accounting, and supply chain management.

“This allows students to tailor their courses around their interests, needs, and goals. Students can also earn a professional graduate certificate in several topic areas to accompany their master’s degree if they choose to do so with a combination of required courses as part of their plan of study,” said Maggard.

To learn more about the online FBI master’s program, visit the CFWE website.

(Written by Avy Elmore)

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  • Non-thesis (no research, courses only)
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  • 31 credit hours required
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