Life Sciences – Forest Science

Contribute to sustainable solutions for future challenges in the forest industry. This master's programme equips you with the necessary specialist knowledge, methodical and management skills.

MSc in Life Sciences degree programme – Forest Science

  • qualifies you for work as a well-rounded specialist: you will delve into your chosen area of special expertise while studying a broad variety of methodological approaches and topics;
  • expands your network: whether in class, internships or your thesis work, you will interact with a host of players in the forest industries;
  • is practice-based: your presentations and case studies will be based on real-life practical examples, and your master’s thesis will take a hands-on approach;
  • prepares you for future leadership roles in the forest industries: in addition to comprehensive knowledge of specialist topics and methods, you will also hone your social and leadership skills;
  • opens the door to the international job market: you may complete your master’s thesis abroad or in cooperation with an international organisation;
  • allows you full flexibility: you can study full- or part-time and combine your master’s thesis with your regular job.



  • Title/Degree MSc in Life Sciences – Forest Science
    Double degree title of the major: International Management of Forest Industries (MSc), Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences
  • Specialisations Majors: International Management of Forest Industries; Regional Management in Mountain Areas
  • Mode of study Full-time (3 semesters) or part-time (4 - 6 semesters)
  • Start date Spring: calendar week 7
    Autumn: calendar week 38
  • Application deadline Programme start autumn: 30 April
    Programme start spring: 30 September
    Later registrations will be considered up to 30 June or 30 November at the latest, subject to availability of places. Please contact the head of specialisation.
    Deadline for people who need a visa: 30 April or 30 September.
  • ECTS credits 90 ECTS credits
  • Teaching language English, major ‘Regional Management in Mountain Areas’ partly German
  • Location BFH-HAFL Zollikofen (online)
  • School School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL
  • Next info event There are currently no information events - for further information please contact the study programme assistant:
    +41 31 848 63 69 |

Structure + Content

The forest and timber industry is facing major challenges both nationally and internationally. Climate change, scarce resources, biodiversity and conflict between society, nature and the economy require sustainable management of forests and rural areas. Safeguarding the various functions of forests is essential for life in the mountains, in urban areas and also in the countries of the Global South. The use of technology and digitalisation offers new opportunities to manage these complex challenges with sustainable approaches.
There is great demand for well-educated experts and innovative solutions in this exciting field. Our MSc in Forest Science equips you with the knowledge and skills you will need.

Learning outcomes

  • During the MSc programme in Forest Science, you will gain comprehensive knowledge and become a top specialist in your selected area of special expertise.
  • You will develop the ability to delve quickly and independently into unfamiliar areas, then implement your new knowledge in practice.

  • You will master a broad spectrum of methodological and leadership skills and learn to manage complex projects competently.

  • You will become adept at making scientific contributions in multidisciplinary teams.
Testimonial Torben Claas Enlarge image

Programme structure

The International Management of Forest Industries major has a unique structure and is offered as a double degree with Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences (HSWT). The spring semester is organised entirely by HSWT and the autumn semester by BFH-HAFL. In this way, you benefit from the expertise of both universities. The third semester is reserved for working on the thesis. The hybrid structure ensures flexibility and compatibility with your professional life, as you can complete parts of your studies online.

The core of the degree programme is your master's thesis, in which you specialise in a particular topic.

‘The structure of the major in International Management of Forest Industries differs from this description because part of the programme is taken as a double degree at Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences’
 Master’s thesis – the core of your studies     30 credits
 Specialisation modules  min. 30 credits
 Cluster-specific modules (Environment Cluster)  min. 9 credits
 Core-competence modules (Data and Business Management)  min. 12 credits


You will choose one of the following majors, depending on your previous education, interests and personal career plans.

In this major you will concentrate on international forest policy and forest-related business management skills. You will gain a firm understanding of the stakeholders and mechanisms in international forest industries.

You will also explore the impacts of climate change and many further aspects such as infrastructure, social and political organisation, knowledge exchange, innovation promotion and the recreational and environmental services of forests.  In all of this you will consider the linkages between natural systems and human economies and societies. 

The major is a cooperative double degree offered jointly with Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences (Freising near Munich). This gives you access to international know-how, an exciting international network of fellow students and industry partners. The programme prepares you optimally for leadership positions in international companies and organisations. 

Core topics are:

  • forests and global change processes
  • integrated natural resource management and climate change
  • international agreements and law
  • logistics and supply chain management
  • sustainable production
  • Industry 4.0 in forest management
  • markets for timber, wood products and non-wood products, certification
  • assessment of forest products and services
  • business planning, international management, cost management and controlling  

  • business information technology 

  • intercultural competence

Your area of special expertise

Typical topics for individual specialisation within this major include global forest policy, forest management in the tropics and boreal regions, the role of forests in climate strategies, REDD+, biodiversity conservation and the role of forests and trees at landscape level (e.g. agroforestry systems). In geographic terms, there is a focus on West Africa, the Andean region, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.

Testimonial Ayélé Fifonsi Enlarge image

In this major, you will combine your knowledge of ecological and socio-economic issues with the management of regional development for mountain areas. You will study the interrelationships between nature, land use, society and politics.

In particular, you will deal with:

  • the agricultural use of the Alpine region
  • specific natural hazards and risk management
  • current methods for geospatial analysis, such as GIS
  • changing living conditions in the Alpine region
  • project management
  • regional planning
  • nature reserves
  • tourism
  • leadership and human resources management
  • public relations and conflict management

The content relates specifically to mountain areas and will be illustrated by examples from the Alps.

Testimonial Franziska Imhof Enlarge image

Mode of study + Duration

The programme is entirely modular, which allows you to select the modules that appeal to your interests and accommodate your work or family obligations. Independent study accounts for much of the programme and promotes this flexibility.

The programme takes three semesters of full-time study. If you choose to attend part-time, you should aim to complete the programme within six to seven semesters.
Part-time and full-time students attend the programme simultaneously. As a part-time student, you will simply enrol in fewer modules per semester. 

Structure + Modules

Effective from 1 August 2023
Code   Module title   ECTS
    Major-specific Modules at HSWT – compulsory    
IMFI-11   Economic planning and management in forest industries   5
IMFI-12   Cost management and controlling   5
IMFI-13   Law for Leaders   5
IMFI-14   Information management   5
IMFI-15   International timber trade   5
IMFI-16   Electives   5
    Minimum required   30
    Major-specific Modules at BFH-HAFL – compulsory    
AF-03   Integrated Natural Resources Management   5
AF-11   Logistics, Supply Chain and Network Management   5
AF-12   Consumer Behavior, Markets and Trade   5
AF-41   International Forestry   5
    Minimum required   20
    Further Specialization Modules at BFH-HAFL – compulsory     
AF-02   Knowledge Management and Sharing in Agriculture and Forestry   5
AF-25   Current Topics in Applied Agricultural and Forest Research   5
    Minimum required   10
All areas   Minimum required (has to be completed by taking additional modules from the area ‘Further specialization modules’)   60
Thesis   Required from master’s thesis   30
Total   Minimum required   90
Effective from 1 August 2023
Code   Module title   ECTS   Module type
    Major-specific modules – compulsory        
AF-51   Agricultural and Forest Production in Mountain Areas    → Module video   5   compulsory
AF-52   Natural Hazards and Risk Management    → Module video   5   compulsory
AF-53   Analysis of Spatial Data – GIS    → Module video   5   compulsory
AF-55   Regional Management, Tourism and Parks    5   compulsory

RMA Integrated Project

  5   compulsory
AF-56   Landscape development and planning   5   compulsory
    Minimum required   30    
    Further specialization modules – compulsory optional        
AF-03   Integrated Natural Resources Management   5   optional
AF-24   Advances in Agricultural and Forest Sciences   5   optional
AF-32   Policies and Institutions as Drivers for Development and Innovation   5   optional
    Cluster-specific modules – compulsory optional        
E1   Journal Club Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences   3   optional
E2   Life Cycle Assessment   3   optional

Sustainable Natural Resource Management   

  3   optional

Ecological Infrastructure in Landscapes

  3   optional


  3   optional

Water Management for Households, Industry and Agriculture

  3   optional
    Minimum required   9    
    Core competence modules – compulsory optional        

Business Administration for Life Sciences

  3   optional

Management and Leadership for Life Sciences

  3   optional

Innovation and Project Management

  3   optional

Politics and Society

  3   optional

Handling and Visualising Data

  3   optional

Design and Analysis of Experiments

  3   optional

Modelling and Exploration of Multivariate Data

  3   optional
D4   Data and Ethics   3   optional
    Minimum required
One of the modules D1, D2 or D3 must be successfully passed
All areas   Minimum required (has to be completed by taking optional modules)   60    
Thesis   Required from master’s thesis   30    
Total   Minimum required   90    

Student mobility

Outgoing Mobility

You can spend an exchange semester at one of our partner universities during your Master's programme. Inform us at an early stage if you are planning a study exchange. We are happy to advise and support you.

If you choose the major, ‘International Management of Forest Industries’ you will spend one semester at Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences in Freising, near Munich, Germany.

Incoming Mobility

Would you like to spend an exchange semester or year at BFH-HAFL in Switzerland? If your home university is on our list of partner universities, please contact your International Office. If not, they should contact us.

  • Application deadline
    For the autumn semester: 15 April
    For the spring semester: 15 October
  • Language
    The Master’s programme is taught in English.
  • Accommodation
    There is a hostel for students on the BFH-HAFL campus. However, the demand for rooms is much higher than the availability.

Selected MSc theses

Eligibility + Entry

To be eligible to apply for the MSc in Forest Science programme, you must have a bachelor’s degree in a related field and be proficient in English.

You will be accepted to the programme if you hold a bachelor’s degree from a Swiss university of applied sciences in one of the following fields of study and graduated with a grade of at least 5 or an ECTS grade of A or B:

  • Forest Science
  • Forestry
  • Wood Technology
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Landscape Architecture 
  • Agriculture
  • Geography
  • Environmental and Resource Management

Do you have a degree in a different discipline? Was your final grade lower than a 5? Did you earn your degree in a different country? If so, you must pass an aptitude assessment.

Do you have a bachelor’s degree from an academic university? If so, you must provide evidence of at least half a year of work experience in an area we have approved.

Language skills

The ‘International Management of Forest Industries’ major is conducted in English and German. We recommend at least level B2 of the European Language Portfolio in both languages. The ‘Regional Management in Mountain Areas’ major is partially conducted in German (we also recommend level B2). The ‘Forest Engineering’ major is conducted in English.

You may write your master’s thesis in English, German or French (or in Italian or Spanish, by request).

Applying from abroad

We review each international application individually. Please send questions to before submitting your official application.


If you do not meet all of our requirements, you may work with the programme administrators to create an individual action plan for filling these gaps.

At the heart of the aptitude test is a structured interview, graded according to the following criteria: conceptual skills, analytical thought, ability to make connections, specialised knowledge, motivation, and language skills (minimum B2 English).

Qualification + Career prospects

Upon completing this programme, you will have acquired the skills that employers demand for management positions in forest industries: practical specialists who can work scientifically and manage complex, multidisciplinary projects competently.

Title + Degree

Upon graduating, you will obtain the title ‘Master of Science in Life Sciences with Specialisation in Forest Science’ from Bern University of Applied Sciences. If you take the major in ‘International Management of Forest Industries’, you will also obtain a master’s degree from the Department of Forestry of Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences (HSWT).

Testimonial Tobias Staeuble Enlarge image

Career prospects

An MSc in Forest Science prepares you excellently for challenging leadership roles domestically and abroad, in companies, associations, NGOs, administrative seats or in applied research, whether in the public or private sector.

Major in ‘International Management of Forest Industries’

After your studies, you will command over the skills needed to assume management positions in large forestry operations or internationally active companies in the forest industries. You will also be qualified to take on exciting positions in an international environmental, development or industry organisation or to undertake scientific research and development.

Major in ‘Regional Management in Mountain Areas’

Upon completing your studies, you will be well qualified for leadership positions in regional development, managing nature reserves and conservation areas or in related fields of agriculture and forestry.

Practicalities + Application

Planning ahead will help you organise and coordinate your studies so that they fit with work or family obligations.

Programme start autumn

  • Deadline for registration: 30 April
  • Start of programme: calendar week 38 (AF-03 calendar week 36)

Programme start spring

  • Deadline for registration: 30 September
  • Start of programme: calendar week 7

A place on the programme is guaranteed if the registration is submitted by the applicable date and all conditions are met. Registrations after this date will be considered up to 30 June (autumn start) or 30 November (spring start) if places are available. 

Deadline for people who need a visa: 30 April or 30 September.

For applications after the application deadline: Contact us at


At BFH, different fees apply for programmes and examinations.

Application (per application)*

CHF 100


CHF 100

Tuition fees (per semester)

CHF 750

Tuition fees for international students*** (per semester)

CHF 950

Examination fee (per semester)

CHF 80

Fee for social, cultural and sport offerings (per semester)

CHF 24

Membership fee for the Bern University of Applied Sciences Student Association (VSBFH) (per semester)

CHF 15

* plus CHF 10 processing fee if paying by paying-in slip/paper invoice.
** If the application leads to matriculation, the matriculation fee is covered by the application fee.
*** International students are defined as persons of foreign citizenship who at the time of obtaining their university entrance qualification were domiciled under civil law neither in Switzerland nor the Principality of Liechtenstein. This rule applies as of the 2018/19 autumn semester.

Grants, loans and other funding options

Financial aid is available through grants and loans. Grants are one-off or ongoing payments that don’t usually have to be paid back provided you complete your course. Loans are one-off or ongoing payments that must be paid back after you finish your course.

Cantonal grants

Grants and loans for Swiss students and overseas students are generally paid out by the canton where the students’ parents are tax residents.

Students who have been tax residents in the Canton of Bern for at least two years are able to apply for cantonal grants and loans. Applications should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office at the Department of Education.

Further information (incl. financial aid calculator):

The websites, and European Funding Guide cover all the key information about grants in Switzerland and overseas.

Foundations and funds

There are also numerous private foundations and funds that offer financial support to students. The electronic foundation directory administered by the Federal Department of Home Affairs offers a comprehensive summary of these organisations and can be searched by keywords (e.g. student, research, financial aid, etc.). Other sources of funding include the foundation directories for individual cantons and private foundations.

The following foundations offer funding specifically to BFH students and students from other universities:

Pursue your degree part-time while fulfilling your work and family obligations. We do recommend you allot at least 50 percent of your schedule for the programme.
Unsure whether this option is right for you? Please get in touch.


Please upload the following documents when registering online:

  • statement of personal motivation
  • curriculum vitae
  • identity card or passport
  • academic degree certificate(s)
  • transcript(s) of records
  • references/certifications of practical experience
  • upper secondary education (university entrance) certificate
  • confirmation of exmatriculation (if previously enrolled at another university)

Important: We require a certified translation of all documents issued in a language other than German, French, English, Italian or Spanish.


Still have questions about the degree programme? Attend one of our information events or arrange a personal consultation.

Student advisory service

The programme coordinator is happy to advise you in a personal consultation and answer any questions you have.

Information events

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Location + Facilities

The BFH-HAFL campus is located in Zollikofen, near Bern. Nestled among fields and forests, the location offers both the modern facilities you need for your studies and countless recreational options.

The campus of BFH-HAFL in Zollikofen provides modern lecture halls, labs and trial fields.

But our campus is more than just a place for studying: the pool, barbecue area, sauna and many other recreational offerings make it a fun place to spend your free time. There is also a student residence on site with some 140 furnished rooms and a cafeteria.