Students from a wide variety of academic backgrounds, both with and without prior study in landscape architecture, are admitted to this graduate degree program.
Students without design backgrounds constitute the majority of the student body. Normally, they complete the degree requirements in six semesters, plus a prerequisite summer session studio taken before the first fall semester. Prior to enrollment, students are encouraged to become familiar with the discipline through reading and/or coursework in the history of landscape architecture, drawing and ecology.
This graduate-level professional degree program prepares graduates for professional work in private offices, teaching, and public service. At the core of the curriculum is the design studio. The studio sequence is structured to expose students to the range of scales and issues in landscape architecture, along with opportunities to participate in interdisciplinary and independent studios. Design intervention is grounded in the language of the discipline through an understanding of its relationship to building architecture and urban design, and through study of landscape history, theory, technologies, and ecology. The design of the landscape embodies a vision of public life and an attitude towards the natural world. It brings together the study of natural systems with the exploration of social, ethical, and cultural issues. It is also, fundamentally, about making and building, grounded in an understanding of materials and processes. Essential to the design process is the ability to read and interpret a site within its context and shape its future. Understanding sites and systems is developed through the “ecology and technology” sequence of courses in plants, landform, detailing, site engineering, and regenerative technologies, all of which stress the importance of giving form to conceptual ideas and values investigated in history and theory courses, and synthesized through projects in design studios. Elective seminars address special topics in landscape architecture, along with offerings to explore issues in the related disciplines.
Master of Landscape Architecture Curricula
There are three paths for earning a Master of Landscape Architecture: Path A (a three-year program for a student with a non-design undergraduate degree); Path A Advanced (usually for a student with a B.S. in Architecture); and Path B (usually for a student with a B.S. in Landscape Architecture).
The Master of Landscape Architecture Path A program allows students with undergraduate arts degrees in other fields to obtain a professional degree in landscape architecture. This requires three years plus an introductory summer session. Each semester’s work consists of a design studio with supporting history, theory, and ecology/technology (eco-tech) courses.
In addition to the required courses, six electives afford students opportunity to pursue specialization and/or individual interests. Two electives must be taken within the Department of Landscape Architecture and the remaining elective credits may be taken in any program of the University. Since students come from different backgrounds and experiences, electives can be distributed either to give students exposure to the different fields related to landscape architecture, or to develop an area of expertise, such as design theory, historic preservation, ecological design or sustainable urbanism. Students with accredited baccalaureate or masters degrees in architecture may receive up to one year in advanced standing in the Path A curriculum.
The Master of Landscape Architecture Path A Advanced program provides an intensive immersion in the core theory and practical knowledge of the profession of landscape architecture to allow students with a previous accredited architecture undergraduate degree to earn a professional degree in landscape architecture in two years. Again, each semester’s work consists of a design studio with supporting history, theory, and ecology/technology (eco-tech) courses.
The Master of Landscape Architecture Path B program allows students with a previous accredited landscape architecture undergraduate degree to earn a graduate degree in landscape architecture in two years. Again, each semester’s work consists of a design studio with supporting history, theory, and ecology/technology (eco-tech) courses. In addition to the required courses, seven electives afford students opportunity to pursue specialization and/or individual interests. Two electives must be taken within the Department of Landscape Architecture and the remaining elective credits may be taken in any program of the University. Students in the Path B curriculum are encouraged to pursue advanced independent design research through seminars and studios, in close consultation with a faculty adviser and mentor.
In all three degree programs, students may elect to undertake a thesis in their final year. If so, ALAR 8100 (Research) must be taken in the fall semester in order to develop a thesis, identify a faculty advisor(s), and prepare a theoretical basis for the spring term thesis. ALAR 8100 counts as one of the student’s elective courses.
All students may also undertake an independent study with a faculty member as one of their electives, but those wishing to take more than one independent study must petition the Chair to do so.