The Department of Landscape Architecture seeks to be the very best at helping students learn to design a more sustainable and just world. Our focus is on urban space and design that builds deep linkages between forms and processes. We take a question-driven approach to exploring the design of landscape as a social art, and therefore an expression of what it means to be human in our time. We engage critical issues in our teaching, research and practice that we believe should influence all landscapes, including attention to social justice and cultural meaning, the need to renew polluted landscapes and support health and biodiversity, and a demand for urban adaptations to global climate and economic changes. We are committed to preparing our graduates for leadership roles in professional and academic practice.
Our graduate program admits students coming from a wide variety of academic backgrounds, both with and without prior studies in landscape architecture. 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.
Our curriculum is a structured series of semesters that build incrementally from a core base of knowledge and skills laid out in the first year. While the first year is fully prescribed in its course requirements, later semesters leave more elective options allowing students to pursue their own individual interests that may lead to a final independent design research studio.
The core of each semester is the design studio (6 credit hours) that meets three afternoons per week. The studio sequence exposes students to the range of scales and topical issues in landscape architecture. In emphasizing the ability to read and interpret a site within its context and shape its future based on those findings, the initial studios are based locally and emphasize on-site experience and documentation of place. Later studios offer students opportunities to participate in interdisciplinary and independent studios in cities [and locations around the country and internationally.
Our eco-tech curriculum or the “ecology and technology” sequence includes courses in plants, landform, site detailing, site engineering, and regenerative technologies. Focused on making and building at the scale of the body and site, the content of these courses are grounded in an understanding of materials and processes. This content, along with the conceptual ideas and values investigated in history and theory courses, is integrated with and synthesized through projects carried out in studio. Students are encouraged to take a range of elective seminars in the department, school-wide, and university that explore special topics in landscape architecture and 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).
Master of Landscape Architecture/ Path A Degree 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 called Summer Design Institute (or SDI). 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. Three of these 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.
Master of Landscape Architecture/ Path A-Advanced Degree 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. This path of studies allows 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. Students are required to take one of their two electives (or three, if no thesis) in the LAR department. The other elective may be taken in any department in the university. One elective may be an independent study advised by a member of the landscape architecture faculty.
Master of Landscape Architecture/ Path B Degree 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, eight electives afford students opportunity to pursue specialization and/or individual interests. Three electives (or four, if no thesis) must be taken within the Department of Landscape Architecture and the remaining elective credits may be taken in any program of the University. One elective may be an independent study advised by a member of the LAR program. 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.
Note: 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.