Landscape architecture combines art and science. It is the profession that designs, plans and manages our land. Landscape architecture has strong roots in the U.S., and early examples, such as Monticello, are still much admired. The actual term landscape architecture became common after 1863 when Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed New York’s Central Park. Today, landscape architects deal with the increasingly complex relationships between the built and natural environments. Landscape architects plan and design traditional places such as parks, residential developments, campuses, gardens, cemeteries, commercial centers, resorts, transportation facilities, corporate and institutional centers and waterfront developments. They also design and plan the restoration of natural places disturbed by humans such as wetlands, stream corridors, mined areas and forested land. Their appreciation for historic landscapes and cultural resources enables landscape architects to undertake preservation planning projects for national, regional and local historic sites and areas. Working with architects, city planners, civil engineers and other professionals, landscape architects play an important role in environmental protection by designing and implementing projects that respect both the needs of people and of our environment. Meeting human needs by making wise use of our environmental resources is work that is in demand today and will continue to be needed in the future.
Required Education for a Career in Landscape Architecture
A landscape architect needs:
- Sensitivity to landscape quality
- Understanding of the arts and a humanistic approach to design.
- Ability to analyze problems in terms of design and physical form.
- Technical competence to translate a design into a built work.
- Skills in all aspects of professional practice including management and professional ethics.
A formal education is essential to gain these skills and knowledge. Professional education in landscape architecture can be obtained at the undergraduate or graduate level. There are two undergraduate professional degrees: a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) and a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA). These usually require four or five years of study in design, construction techniques, art, history, natural and social sciences.
There are generally three types of graduate degree programs:
- The first-professional Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) is for persons who hold an undergraduate degree in a field other than landscape architecture, and intend to become landscape architecture practitioners. It can usually be earned in three years of full-time study.
- The second-professional Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) is for persons who hold an undergraduate professional degree in landscape architecture. It normally takes two years.
- The MA/MS in Landscape Architecture is for persons who want to conduct research in landscape architecture, but do not seek to be registered professional practitioners.
- Ph.D. is a more recent degree option offered to those who have completed the requirements of the MSLA (or equivalent). One year of resident coursework must be completed prior to embarking on thorough dissertation research as required.
Prospective students who hold degrees should investigate the specific aims and objectives of various graduate and undergraduate programs before deciding where to enroll. The Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) an autonomous committee of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is the agency that accredits first-professional degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the United States. Other degree programs, such as the second professional MLA, the MA/MS and the Ph.D., fall outside the scope of LAAB accreditation.
How to Select a School
Deciding what school to choose is often not an easy or clear-cut decision. There is no system for ranking landscape architecture programs. Besides, you want to find the best school for you. To choose a school, develop a list of questions that you can use to obtain information that will help you make a decision.
Questions for you:
- First, think about your goals and objectives.
- What has attracted you to landscape architecture?
- What type of firm do you want to work in after graduation?
- What type of projects do you want to work on?
Questions for schools:
- How would attending your program help me achieve my goals?
- Have any recent graduates had goals similar to mine? Can I contact them?
- What type of internship opportunities do your students have? How do they obtain internships?
- I’m particularly interested in XYZ, what opportunities would I have to learn about it at your school? Are any of the faculty really interested in this topic?
- Where do your students find jobs after graduation?
It is also recommended that you visit at least one landscape architecture program while classes are in session and if at all possible visit at least one or two landscape architecture offices.
Schools in PA-DE
Pennsylvania and Delaware are home to 6 schools that offer 7 accredited landscape architecture programs as well as MSLA and Ph.D. degrees offered at Penn State University and BSLA degree (candidacy status) offered at the University of Delaware.
The Pennsylvania State University
BLA Program BLA: LR Spring 2011/NR Spring 2017 MLA Program – Initial IR Spring 2013 NR/Spring 2019
Eliza Pennypacker, ASLA, Department Head
Department of Landscape Architecture
Pennsylvania State University
121 Stuckeman Family Building
University Park, PA 16802 -1912
tel: (814)-865-9511 fax: (814)-863-8137 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
How To Apply
Penn State BLA prepares graduates to lead the profession of landscape architecture. Our BLA is consistently ranked among the best in the nation. We produce proficient designers, critical thinkers, effective communicators, and individuals enriched by a global perspective. All of this is based on our mission: “inspired work grounded in environmental and social good.”
We recently refined our BLA, using the mantra “flexibility, opportunity, affordability.” The result is a 139-credit curriculum that easily can be completed in 4.5 years. Time to degree can be shortened to 4 years through participation in one of our optional summer abroad programs. Other unique Penn State opportunities include a Sustainability Leadership minor in Pittsburgh, PA and our Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate program.
Nationally, the MLA degree focuses on providing preparation to enter the professional practice of Landscape Architecture. With over 50 MLA programs in the United States, how does the Penn State MLA stand out?
The Penn State MLA provides real professional skills that prepare our graduates for real professional practice from the first day. Many practitioners opine that MLAs are often good critical and creative thinkers, but not equipped with strong professional skills. In the Penn State MLA, you benefit from one of the strongest professional programs in the country and will be ready to hit the ground running upon graduation.
The Penn State MLA effectively combines a professional education with experience in research. This dual curriculum provides a strong foundation whatever your aspirations: traditional professional practice, conducting research in a professional office, or teaching at the University level.
For those who already hold a BLA, the MLA offers a curricular opportunity to turbocharge your professional skills by earning a certificate in Geodesign. For more information on this game-changing design strategy, see our Geodesign website: https://geodesign.psu.edu/.
The Master of Science in Landscape Architecture is a 2-year program that provides enhanced professional/scientific expertise to individuals who hold a professionally-accredited degree in Landscape Architecture or in Architecture. It’s a great opportunity for those who seek to gain research skills, whether for professional practice or as preparation for success in academic positions.
This research-focused degree lets you work with outstanding faculty across Penn State on a targeted research agenda that may range from Landscape Performance Assessment to Built Environment and Active Living to Integrative Conservation—you nd your advisor craft a tailored curricular path to suit your goals.
Online MPS in Geodesign
Geodesign is a cutting-edge design process that combines science and design. Through Geodesign we harness all the environmental/social/economic data available, add a smart strategy for stakeholder feedback and buy-in, and apply software that lets you instantly assess a design’s success in meeting your sustainability criteria. The sum is Geodesign—a turbo-charged strategy for success in design and planning.
Penn State’s Geodesign Program is offered wholly online, so students can study from anywhere. For more information see https://geodesign.psu.edu.
PhD in Architecture with an emphasis in Landscape Architecture
Our PhD focuses on the opportunities afforded by interdisciplinary collaboration through the Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. The curriculum is highly individualized: students first must complete the requirements of the MSinLA (or equivalent); then they undertake one year of required resident coursework, after which they complete dissertation research as required. This curriculum benefits from potential alliance with award-winning faculty University-wide. Opportunities include our Hamer Center for Community Design, the Stuckeman Center for Design Computing, and the new E+D: Ecology plus Design, which merges ecology and design in ways that improve the ecological function of the designed world. Students may also pursue a dual degree with Human Dimensions of National Resources and the Environment (HDNRE).
Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University
BLA Program – Initial BLA: LR Fall 2008/NR Fall 2014
Kimberlee Douglas, MLA, PLA, LEED GA, Director
Landscape Architecture & Geodesign School of Architecture
Philadelphia University, Smith House
3460 School House Lane Philadelphia, PA 19144
tel: (215)-951-2546 fax: (215)-951-2110 e-mail: email@example.com
Visit The Website
Philadelphia University’s Landscape Architecture Program has a mission of sustainable urban design through service-learning. Our program is committed to providing leadership in confronting ecological issues of the natural environment and cultural and social issues that affect urban neighborhoods, particularly those in need of revitalization. What really makes our Landscape Architecture Program unique is that for most design studio projects we partner with community groups, schools, or governmental organizations to address “real” environmental and community issues. Our upper level landscape architecture design studios are taught by some of the top landscape architects in the world!—One of the key advantages of studying landscape architecture in Philadelphia. This has resulted in our graduates being extremely successful in landing internships and/or fulltime employment at some of the best firms in the country.
BLA: LR Spring 2010/NR Spring 2016
MLA Program IR Fall 2012/NR Fall 2018
Baldev Lamba, RLA, ASLA, Chair & Associate Professor
Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture
580 Meetinghouse Road
Ambler, PA 19002-3999
tel: 267-468-8178 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thee undergraduate Landscape Architecture program at Temple University was founded in 1988 and has maintained national accreditation by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB) since 1990. Students, faculty and alumni are regular recipients of local and national awards. The rigorous curriculum emphasizes ecological principles in land use, planning and design.
Students develop the analytical, artistic and scientific skills necessary for designing, preserving, and rehabilitating natural and built environments. Landscape Architecture students also develop strong skills in horticulture through courses in plant identification, botany and plant ecology. They are skilled in a range of computer software typically used in professional design and planning offices.
The program also includes a unique Design/Build studio. Diverse and talented faculty members provide professional experience, and use real world projects to teach students how to create places of beauty, public value, and ecological integrity in the local community. Landscape Architects from area firms also play an active role in educating Temple students as adjunct faculty.
Temple’s professional experiential approach to learning combines scientific knowledge, technical skills and hands-on application, resulting in a well-rounded education that is extremely valuable when students seek internships and full-time employment.
The Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture offer a nationally accredited Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) degree. This program provides the design and technical knowledge necessary to earn a professional degree in landscape architecture with an emphasis on ecological landscape restoration.
MLA students study design, urban community revitalization and public lands in studio. Technical courses include landscape engineering and native plant identification in addition to woodland and wetland ecology. The final year of the program culminates with an independent capstone project, where students synthesize landscape architecture and restoration, including both research and design.
MLA students graduate with a variety of skills including expertise in computer software such as the Adobe Suite, AutoCAD and Sketchup; horticultural knowledge with an emphasis on native plants; urban design and planning; and ecological restoration learned in the classroom and ‘hands-on’ in the field.
The MLA program is available both as a two-year post professional and a three-year professional degree, with part-time and full-time options. All courses are offered at the Ambler Campus, the location of a 187 acre arboretum, which is a living laboratory for teaching and research. The arboretum includes historic formal gardens, wetland and rain gardens, stream corridors, meadows and woodlands.
University of Pennsylvania
MLA Program MLA: LR Fall 2010/NR Fall 2016
Richard J. Weller, Professor and Chairman
Department of Landscape Architecture, School of Design
University of Pennsylvania 119 Meyerson Hall,
210 South 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6311
tel: (215)-898-6591 fax: (215)-573-3770 e-mail: email@example.com, Diane Pringle, Coordinator e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The University of Pennsylvania, Penn, is synonymous with the major intellectual and creative developments in landscape architecture that have occurred over the last 60 years. It was in this school that Ian McHarg developed his famous planning methodology and his student and later Chair of the Department Anne Whiston Spirn wrote ‘The Granite Garden’. In the 1990’s Penn then appointed the world’s pre-eminent landscape historian John Dixon Hunt from where he oversaw landscape architecture’s timely return to poetics and James Corner rose to global prominence as a designer and theorist. The school prides itself on advancing the discipline’s ideas and methods and puts a premium on the intersection of theory and practice through the agency of the design studio. The curriculum is designed to ensure that subjects in media, theory, history and technique all support and align with the investigations undertaken in the studio. Faculty include senior figures such as Anu Mathur and Laurie Olin and emerging voices such as Chris Marcinkoski and Karen McCloskey. The program is currently Chaired by Australian landscape architect Richard Weller who advocates that landscape architecture is an art of instrumentality reaching across all scales.
University of Delaware
BSLA Program BSLA: Candidacy Status Spring 2018
Dr. Jules Bruck, PLA, SITES AP – Professor and Director of Landscape Architecture
Department of Plant and Soil Sciences
University of Delaware
141 Townsend Hall
Newark, DE 19716
tel: (302) 831-2534 e-mail: email@example.com
Candidacy Status BSLA – Accreditation Visit Spring 2019
The mission of the University of Delaware’s four-year BSLA is to prepare students to become innovative leaders in the design and planning of cultural and natural landscapes with expertise in plants and ecosystems. Through courses, community-‐based service learning projects, a required internship, and global study abroad opportunities, students will develop diverse perspectives, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving skills required by future leaders in the profession of landscape architecture. The program allows flexibility in credits to attain a minor in many diverse subjects.
Faculty research focuses on sustainability, ecosystem services, urban forests, urban design, community engagement and historic landscapes. The beautiful suburban campus is located in the Brandywine Valley in close proximity to world-renowned public garden partners such as Longwood, Winterthur and Mt Cuba Center.
Delaware Valley University
Michael Fleischacker, Department Chair
700 East Butler Avenue
Doylestown, PA 18901
How to Apply | More Information
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