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Degree Overview: Master’s Degree Program in Urban Ecology

Majors Overview April 29, 2015

Get information about master’s degree programs in urban ecology and their education requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Master’s Degree Programs in Urban Ecology

The study of the existence of natural life forms from forests and rivers in industrial areas and cities forms the subject matter of urban ecology. Urban ecology can often be studied by graduate students within a landscape architecture degree program, as for instance, a two-year Master of Science (M.S.) in Landscape Architecture and Urban Ecology.

Aspiring community planners and architects seeking to gain a strong understanding of the ecosystem would benefit by enrolling in this type of master’s degree program. The majority of students enrolled in such a graduate program and that seek to apply those concepts towards practical community planning already possess a strong background in either ecology or landscape architecture. Certification must be obtained by aspiring landscape architects through the passage of an exam.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to a master’s degree program related to urban ecology to possess a baccalaureate degree in architecture, ecology, biology, or landscape architecture, among others. Admission criteria also require the submission of relatively strong GRE scores and grade point averages.


Students enrolled in a landscape architecture and urban ecology master’s degree program learn about the ecological processes and structure behind modified and urban landscapes. Students learn about ways of incorporating ecological elements into sustainable settlements that promote healthy human habitation and preserve the environment.

The study of plant communities, animal communities, hydrology, soil structure, and climatology, among other things, will help students in exploring the ways in which landscapes are affected by various ecological issues.

The focus of the majority of courses in a master’s degree program in landscape architecture and urban ecology is primarily on the practical and theoretical elements behind the effect of ecology on city planning. Core coursework may include topic areas such as the following:

•Planting design and practice
•Community development and planning
•Research methodology
•Construction studio
•Design studio
•Landscape architecture history
•Natural processes in design and planning
•Site construction
•Community design behavioral factors

Job and Wage Outlook

In May 2012, about 20,100 individuals were employed as landscape architects in the United States (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Many students of urban ecology may pursue careers as conservationists, community planners, or landscape architects. Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, average job growth rates of 14% have been predicted for landscape architects (BLS). In May 2012, landscape architects brought in an average annual wage of $64,180.

Continuing Education Choices

Certification is compulsory in most states for landscape architects, who can obtain licensure by passing a Landscape Architecture Registration Exam offered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards. Possessing one to four years of work experience and a baccalaureate degree will make individuals eligible to write the exam.

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