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Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Master's Degree Requirements

Program | Faculty | Master's | Doctoral | Courses

Landscape Architecture Program (M.L.A. Degree)

The M.L.A. program is structured to educate students to plan and design sustainable places that embody beauty, protect the environment, and enhance people’s lives. Landscpae architects work across environmental scales from the intimate garden to community and urban design to landscape and greenway planning and must be educated in the visual arts and the physical and natural sciences. The curriculum is designed to provide students with the essential knowledge and skills necessary to become leaders in the landscape architecture profession.

The program is centered on the design studio through which students are exposed to a wide range of scales and project types that integrate information from other classes and provide opportunities for interdisciplinary study. Many studio projects are community based, working with real clients in the private and public sectors.

The Master’s in Landscape Architecture is a three-year first professional degree program accredited by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board. Three groups of people are potential candidates.
1. No design background—For those who have discovered an interest in landscape architecture after earning a college degree in another field, the department offers a three-year program that includes a year of preparatory courses and then two years to earn the 48 graduate credits required for the degree.
2. Design backgound in related field—For those who have an architecture or related design degree, the department offers acceptance into the second year of the program although there may be a need to take a few of the first-year core requirements.
3. Bachelor’s in landscape architecture—These students enter the second year of the program and have the flexibility to expand their knowledge in a special area of individual concentration.

Core Requirements
The core requirements provide students with the knowledge they will apply in design studios and include:
1. landscape architectural history and theory
2. visual communication using both hand and digital techniques
3. plants
4. natural and cultural systems
5. site engineering (grading and stormwater management) and construction materials and methods
6. professional practice.

Design studios incorporate this knowledge into specific projects and introduce students to designtheories, methodologies and processes, and landscape planning principles and approaches. The emphasis is on creative thinking and problem solving in the project’s physical and cultual context.

Students are encouraged to take several courses, within an area of concentration related to landscape architecture, both inside and outside the department. The following four areas of concentration are based on faculty research and professional expertise:
1. Ecological Landscape Planning and Design. This concentration engages ecological pattern and its associated processes across a range of spatial scales. It addresses current environmental and ecological issues such as green infrastructure, greenway planning, water resource planning, biodiversity, and brownfields.
2. Design and Management of Cultural Landscapes. This concentration engages the history and theory of the built environment and its role in contemporary design. It addresses current issues in landscape preservation and design such as varying treatments of cultural landscapes, and ecological and cultural revelatory design philosophies.
3. Urban Planning, Policy and Design. This concentration engages the economic, social, and cultural aspects of the urban experience. It addresses the roles of policy makers, planners, designers, and citizens in shaping the urban fabric in small to medium-sized cities.
4. Applications of Information Technology to Planning and Design. This concentration engages the ways in which the planning and design professions are being transformed by information technology. It addresses the integration of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Computer Aided Design (CAD), and multimedia into the design process.

Regional Planning Program (M.R.P. Degree)

The M.R.P. degree program provides the theoretical and applied knowledge necessary to enter a career in urban and regional planning. A focus of the program is preparing professionals to recognize and promote sustainable development as the balance of ecology, economy, and equity achieved through a participatory planning process. The curriculum integrates studies of the physical, environmental, social, cultural, economic, and political facets of planning at all scales and densities: urban, suburban, and rural. A studio requirement in which students undertake projects for clients is a central part of the program. Assistantships represent another opportunity for professional development.

There are no prerequisites for the program. Students come from a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds, including the arts, natural sciences, social sciences, design, and the humanities. The program is designed to balance core requirements and faculty research specialties with individual student interests.

The Curriculum
The M.R.P. is a two-year program. Students take a series of core courses, guided electives within their area of concentration, and additional electives of their choice. These are described below.

Core Requirements
Core requirements prepare students for more advanced planning classes. They provide basic knowledge in the following areas:
1. Planning concepts, theories, philosophies and histories.
2. Techniques associated with planning; quantitative, qualitative, GIS, CAD, and other visualization methods.
3. The built environment: recognition of opportunities and challenges, and understanding the environmental consequences of land and resource use activities.
4. The political, legal, institutional, and administrative setting of planning.
5. The economic and fiscal implications of planning.
6. The social, cultural, and psychological implications of planning.
7. “Plan-making” through studio reports, theses, and terminal projects.
8. Sustainable development and participatory planning.

In addition to the core courses, all students take three courses within an area of concentration. This enables each student to have one or more areas of specialization within the larger interdisciplinary planning program and ensures that everyone has sufficient background to undertake advanced research on a final project or thesis. In special cases, students may pursue an independently designed concentration of their own with the approval of the program director. The five areas of concentration are:
1. Urban and Regional Land Use Planning. The focus of this concentration is understanding the forces affecting the built environment, the interrelationships between land use and social conditions, and ways to support and regulate development to best achieve community goals. Important skills for this concentration include comprehensive planing, urban and regional design, community participation methods, and applications of planning theory.
2. Housing, Social and Community Planning. This concentration, focusing on social, political, and cultural analyses of the built environment, explores different social and cultural responses to the built environment, analyzing policy, planning, and design criteria for building more responsible urban forms, and intervening in discriminatory practices. Topics of study include domestic and international analyses of housing policy, urban development, land use, urban form, urban design, spatial relations, and social change.
3. Landscape and Environmental Planning. This concentration focuses on environmental policy and planning as it relates to preserving and protecting environmental quality and habitat in the face of new development. Important skills for this concentration include landscape assessment, plan formulation, and evaluation of landscape units ranging from the local to watershed scale, using Geographic Information Systems as a planning tool.
4. Economic Development Planning. This concentration focuses on understanding the economic and social pressures facing communities, and strategies for building local and regional economies. It explores such issues as how towns, cities, and regions will survive in a globalizing economy, and how towns and cities build communities in periods of boom and decline. Topics of study include industrial planning, regional analysis, social planning and social impact assessment, public and private finance, land-use planning, and spatial analysis.
5. Environmental Management. This concentration is related to but distinct from the other concentrations described above, especially the Landscape and Environmental Planning concentration. It focuses on the environment as broadly conceived in terms of the relationships between land and resource use, ecological systems and services, and infrastructure and built form. This concentration also has a greater emphasis on comparative international development and sustainable management practices.