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Information on Architectural Landscaping Degree Program

Higher Education Articles March 26, 2013

Private and public outdoor spaces, such as private gardens, school campuses, and parks are designed by professionals known as landscape architects. Architects use the natural environment to develop a useful and enjoyable outside area. Students are required to complete a landscape architectural degree program at either an undergraduate or graduate degree level in order to become a licensed landscape architect. Individuals who are interested in academics and research can pursue a non-professional degree program in landscape architecture.

Landscape Architecture Bachelor Degree Program

A Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA) and a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) are two professional bachelor’s degree programs available to students interested in a career, in landscape architecture. These programs, both of which take four to five years to complete, equip students with the skills needed to obtain licensure to practice in the field. In order for students to obtain a license, a majority of states require them to complete degree programs that are accredited by the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Educational Requirements

Most degree programs in landscape architecture require students to hold a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate, but other programs may be more demanding. There are several programs that require students to submit portfolios of work to be evaluated during the admission process. Other colleges and universities require students to complete basic education prerequisites and coursework and enter a pre-professional program before being admitted to a professional program in landscape architecture.

Program Course Topics

The curriculum draws from social sciences, construction, horticulture, architecture, and design. Students will learn how to assess both the needs of those who use the space in order to create outdoor design plans and the natural environment. Course topics may include:

•Site construction and planning
•Design theory
•Trees, shrubs, plants, and other planting materials
•Urban spaces
•History of landscape design
•Environmental and ecology issues

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, landscape architects employment outlook is expected to increase quicker than average during the period from 2008 to 2018. Job prospects looks good since the demand for landscape architecture services continues to increase. As of 2008, the average annual salary for landscape architects was $58,960.

Continuing Education and Licensing

Landscape architects are required to obtain licensure in most states. Aspiring landscape architects must pass the National Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE), meet the state-specified experience requirements, and hold a degree from an accredited college or university in order to become licensed. To maintain licensure, a majority of states require landscape architects to participate in continuing education programs.

Landscape Architecture Professional Master Degree Programs

Currently, there are two types of professional Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) programs being offered. The first professional Master of Landscape Architecture programs are created for individuals with a bachelor degree in an area outside of landscape architecture; the second professional degree programs are for those who have a bachelor degree in landscape architecture, according to the American Society of Landscape Architects. The first program will last for three years while the second program usually takes two years to complete.

Educational Requirements

An undergraduate degree is required for admission to a Master of Landscape Architecture program. An undergraduate degree that focuses on landscape architecture may be required for some programs. Programs that are competitive will require students to submit a portfolio for consideration.

Program Course Topics

Students will participate in studio experiences, lectures, and classroom discussion. The majority of graduate degree programs require a design and research project or thesis. Course topics may include:

•Design technology
•Site planning
•Urban design
•Landscape design theories

Career Options

Landscape architects can seek employment in various private and public sectors, according to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA – Public organizations include state and local municipal agencies and Federal agencies, such as Bureau of Land Management or the National Parks Service. Private organizations may include privately owned gardens and estates, residential development firms, and architectural firms.

Landscape Architecture Non-Professional Master Degree Programs

Students who are interested in non-licensed positions or research careers in the area of landscape architecture can choose to pursue Master of Science or Master of Arts degrees in landscaping architecture. These programs are not designed to prepare students for licensure; however, they concentrate on a specialty area of interest and research. Several programs are designed for students who have completed professional degrees in landscape architecture and now want to concentrate on specialty areas. Other programs are created for individuals from other disciplines who seek general knowledge of landscape architecture principles to assist them with their own fields.

Educational Requirements

A majority of programs admit students with undergraduate degrees in any academic areas. Several programs require students to complete coursework in areas such as architectural history, drafting, psychology, geology, and biology.

Program Course Topics

Programs are usually flexible, allowing students in graduate degree program to pursue research in areas of interest. The curriculum usually focuses on a thesis project and research. Course topics may include:

•Design technology
•Landscape design
•Plant materials
•Cultural interpretations of landscape
•Regional landscapes
•Issues in landscape architecture
•Research methodology

Career Options

Students will be prepared for careers that are heavily focused on research through the Master of Arts or Master of Science degree programs. Research positions may be found at public or private agencies concerned with environmental issues or urban planning. Students who have completed a non-professional degree may pursue careers in related areas that do not require practitioners to be licensed, such as historic restoration, land conservation, resource management, and regional planning.

Landscape Architecture Ph.D. Programs

Students seeking academic and research oriented careers can enroll in Ph.D. programs. The majority of programs are multi-disciplinary, combining landscape architecture with urban planning, basic architecture or other related areas. Students must possess a bachelor degree and prove their intention and ability to pursue the degree in order for them to gain entry into the Ph.D. program.

Program Course Topics

Typically, programs are tailored to the goals of doctoral students. Students choose research projects and courses and select areas of interest that will help them explore these areas. A majority of programs require dissertations. Program course topics may include:

•Environmental issues
•Technology in landscape architecture
•Theories of landscape architecture
•History of landscape architecture
•Cultural and social factors of landscape architecture
•Research methodology

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The majority of students who pursue a doctoral degree in Landscape Architecture have the intent to pursue a research or academic career at a college or university. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a strong job growth for college and university professors during the period from 2008 to 2018, mainly due to school enrollment increase. In 2008, the average annual salary for professors in the area of landscape architecture and architecture were $71,710.

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