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.

     

Master Forest Science

Factsheet

  • Title/Degree MSc in Life Sciences – Forest Science
  • Specialisations Majors: International Management of Forest Industries; Forest Engineering; 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 Spring 2021 start: 30 September 2020
    Autumn 2021 start: 30 April 2021
  • ECTS credits 90 ECTS credits
  • Study language English and partly German (‘International Management of Forest Industries’ and ‘Regional Management in Mountain Areas’)
  • Location BFH-HAFL Zollikofen; major in ‘International Management of Forest Industries’ one semester in Weihenstephan, Freising bei München (Germany)
  • Department School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL
  • Next info event 14.10.2020, 6.30pm-7.30pm, online (video conference)
    09.12.2020, 6.30pm-7.30pm, online (video conference)

Contact

Downloads

  • Programme Handbook

MSc in Life Sciences – Internationale Wald- und Holzwirtschaft oder Regionalmanagement in Gebirgsräumen

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.

Programme structure

You will take modules such as Management of Natural Resources and Climate Change or Landscape Development and Planning, which are offered for all the majors in Forest Science. Within your major, you can choose from several major-specific modules with a view to developing your specialist knowledge, strengths and interests.

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

 Master’s thesis – the backbone of your studies     30 credits
 Specialisation modules  30 credits
 Cluster-specific modules (Environment Cluster)  9 – 15 credits
 Core-competence modules (Data and Business Management)  15 – 21 credits

 

Majors

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.

Core topics are:

  • forests and global change processes
  • 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

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.

In this major, you will deal with methods of developing and using new technologies in forest ecosystem management, technical production, forest ecology or natural hazard management. By applying the acquired methods, you will deepen your knowledge in one of the above-mentioned core topics of your choice. The approaches developed take into account the interactions between nature, technology, economy and social demands for the sustainable safeguarding of the various forest functions (timber production, protection, biodiversity and recreation).

You will acquire the following methods:

  • Monitoring in the forest sector
  • Modelling and simulation
  • Digital transformation and industry 4.0
  • Governance in the environmental and forest sector
  • Landscape development and planning

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.

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. As the timetable changes every quarter, this requires flexibility on the part of your employer or family.

Structure + Modules

Effective from 1 August 2020
Code   Module title   ECTS   Module type
Group 1   Core competence modules – compulsory optional        
B1  

Business Administration for Life Sciences

  3   optional
B2  

Management and Leadership for Life Sciences

  3   optional
B3  

Innovation and Project Management

  3   optional
B4  

Politics and Society

  3   optional
D1  

Handling and Visualising Data

  3   optional
D2  

Design and Analysis of Experiments

  3   optional
D3  

Modelling and Exploration of Multivariate Data

  3   optional
    Minimum required   15    
Group 2   Cluster-specific modules – compulsory optional        
E1  

Journal Club Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences

  3   optional
E2  

Life Cycle Assessment

  3   optional
E3  

Sustainable Natural Resource Management   

  3   optional
E4  

Ecological Infrastructure in Landscapes

  3   optional
E5  

Biodiversity

  3   optional
E6  

Water Management for Households, Industry and Agriculture

  3   optional
    Minimum required   9    
Group 3   Major-specific modules – compulsory        
AF-03  

Integrated Natural Resources  Management and Climate Change

  5   compulsory
AF-12  

Consumer Behavior, Markets and Trade

  5   compulsory
AF-11   Logistics, Supply Chain and Network Management   5   compulsory
AF-25  

Current Topics in Applied Agricultural Research

  5   compulsory
AF-41   International Forestry and Industries   5   compulsory
AF-01   Applied Research in Natrual and Social Sciences   5   compulsory
    Minimum required   30    
Group 4   Further specialization modules – compulsory optional        
AF-02   Knowledge Management and Transfer in Agriculture an Forestry   5   optional
AF-53   Management of Spatial Data   5   optional
AF-32   Policies and Institutions as Drivers for Development and Innovation   5   optional
AF-24   Advances in Agricultural and Forest Sciences   5   optional
AF-33   Rural and Regional Development in Practice   5   optional
All groups   Minimum required (has to be completed by taking additional modules from group 4)   60    
Thesis   Required from master’s thesis   30    
Total   Minimum required   90    
Effective from 1 August 2020
Code   Module title   ECTS   Module type
Group 1   Core competence modules – compulsory optional        
B1  

Business Administration for Life Sciences

  3   optional
B2  

Management and Leadership for Life Sciences

  3   optional
B3  

Innovation and Project Management

  3   compulsory
B4  

Politics and Society

  3   compulsory
D1  

Handling and Visualising Data

  3   compulsory
D2  

Design and Analysis of Experiments

  3   compulsory
D3  

Modelling and Exploration of Multivariate Data

  3   optional
    Minimum required   15    
Group 2   Cluster-specific modules – compulsory optional        
E1  

Journal Club Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences

  3   compulsory
E2  

Life Cycle Assessment

  3   optional
E3  

Sustainable Natural Resource Management   

  3   optional
E4  

Ecological Infrastructure in Landscapes

  3   optional
E5  

Biodiversity

  3   optional
E6  

Water Management for Households, Industry and Agriculture

  3   optional
    Minimum required   9    
Group 3   Major-specific modules – compulsory        
FS-03   Digital Transformation & Industry 4.0   5   compulsory
FS-04   Environmental and Nature Resource Governance   5   compulsory
FS-01   Forest Ecosystem Monitoring   5   compulsory
FS-02   Modelling & Simulation   5   compulsory
AF-56   Landscape Development and Planning   5   compulsory
    Minimum required   25    
Group 4   Further specialization modules – optional        
AF-03  

Integrated Natural Resources  Management and Climate Change

  5   optional
AF-12  

Consumer Behavior, Markets and Trade

  5   optional
AF-25   Current Topics in Applied Agricultural and Forest Sciences   5   optional
AF-24  

Advances in Agricultural and Forest Sciences

  5   optional
All groups   Minimum required (has to be completed by taking additional modules from groups 1, 2, 3, 4)   60    
Thesis   Required from master’s thesis   30    
Total   Minimum required   90    
Effective from 1 August 2020
Code   Module title   ECTS   Module type
Group 1   Core competence modules – compulsory optional        
B1  

Business Administration for Life Sciences

  3   optional
B2  

Management and Leadership for Life Sciences

  3   optional
B3  

Innovation and Project Management

  3   optional
B4  

Politics and Society

  3   optional
D1  

Handling and Visualising Data

  3   optional
D2  

Design and Analysis of Experiments

  3   optional
D3  

Modelling and Exploration of Multivariate Data

  3   optional
    Minimum required   15    
Group 2   Cluster-specific modules – compulsory optional        
E3  

Sustainable Natural Resource Management   

  3   optional
E4  

Ecological Infrastructure in Landscapes

  3   optional
E5  

Biodiversity

  3   optional
E6  

Water Management for Households, Industry and Agriculture

  3   optional
    Minimum required   9    
Group 3   Major-specific modules – compulsory        
AF-03  

Integrated Natural Resources  Management and Climate Change

  5   optional
AF-51   Land- und forstwirtschaftliche Produktion in Bergregionen   5   compulsory
AF-52   Naturgefahren und Risikomanagement   5   compulsory
AF-53   Management of Spatial Data   5   compulsory
AF-55   Regionalmanagement – Pärke – Para-Land- und Forstwirtschaft    5   compulsory
AF-25  

RMG Integrales Projekt

  5   compulsory
AF-56   Landscape development and planning   5   compulsory
    Mindestanzahl ECTS-Credits   30    
Group 4   Further specialization modules – compulsory optional        
F-13   Corporate Responsibility, Quality Management and Traceability   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
All groups   Minimum required (has to be completed by taking additional modules from group 4)   60    
Thesis   Required from master’s thesis   30    
Total   Minimum required   90    

Student mobility

You may also do an exchange semester at one of our partner universities during your master's degree programme. Please let us know in good time if you are planning a student exchange. We are happy to provide advice and support.

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

Selected MSc theses

Cooperations

The MSc in Forest Science is part of the Master of Science in Life Sciences programme, which is offered in cooperation by four Swiss universities of applied sciences:

The ‘International Management of Forest Industries’ major is offered together with Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences (HSWT) in Freising, near Munich. 

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:

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

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 a 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 msc-fs.hafl@bfh.ch before submitting your official application.

Exceptions

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 and motivation.

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).

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 ‘Forest Engineering’

Having both sound knowledge of new technologies and classical forestry training, you will bring skills to the forest industry which have until now hardly existed. With this degree, you will have the increasingly sought-after know-how to operate successfully at the interface between digitalisation and forestry. We see good job prospects in larger national and international forest enterprises, cantonal and federal forest administrations (Federal Office for the Environment FOEN), engineering offices and NGOs.

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.

Spring 2021 starte date

Application deadline: 30 September 2020
Start date: 15 February 2021

Autumn 2021 start date

Application deadline: 30 April 2021
Start date: 20 September 2021

Here, you will find helpful information about financing your studies at BFH. Details regarding individual living costs are not covered, however.

The cost of study includes tuition and examination fees, as well as costs for teaching materials and excursions.

Costs

At BFH, different fees apply for programmes and examinations.

Application (per application)*

CHF 100

Matriculation**

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.

There is also a fixed fee for material, which can vary from programme to programme, and additional costs for teaching materials, specialist literature, supplies, etc.

An invoice for the application fee is generated upon applying online and must be paid within 10 days. If payment is made by paying-in slip/paper invoice, a processing fee of CHF 10 is applied. There are no waivers or refunds for withdrawn or abandoned applications.

The application is processed after payment has been received.

Grants, loans and other funding options

Financial aid. 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 ausbildungsbeiträge.ch, stipendium.ch 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 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.

Kontakt

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.

Information

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.

Kontakt

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.