The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Landscape Architecture and Planning

click to go to a longer profile on Caleb DeanAlumnus Caleb Dean ’06, Owner of Owl, Fox & Dean

After graduating from UMass with a major in Environmental Design (now Sustainable Community Development), Caleb worked in community economic development in his hometown of Shelburne Falls, MA. During the course of his career, he co-designed and launched a co-working office space, worked to address natural resource challenges in communities, and launched Owl, Fox, & Dean, an organizational consulting and leadership training firm. Caleb also has an MBA in Sustainable Systems Design.

"UMass gave me the opportunity to study a wide range of topics, such as art history, that I was interested in while also focusing on my major. This deep understanding of design along with the diverse knowledge that I gained from my other classes has allowed me to access unique opportunities and help the people I work with in creative ways."

Read more about Caleb's background and career path.

About the Industry

Cities, regions and their residents face significant challenges in the coming decades, and significant opportunities. Addressing the challenges and building on the opportunities requires skilled design and planning professionals who value both theory and practice, who can push professional boundaries while respecting community desires. Landscape architects develop creative designs for residential and commercial spaces in the private sector, as well as serving the public sector in the areas of historic preservation, recreation and other public construction. Regional planners address and resolve the physical, economic, and social problems of towns, cities, and larger regions, and attempt to anticipate and adequately prepare for the impact of growth and development on the environment and vice versa, and to resolve conflicts between development and the environment. UMass Amherst undergraduates have the opportunity to choose Landscape Architecture or Sustainable Community Development as majors in these areas.

Sample Classes

Depending on your main area of interest, your academic pathway will shift. Below are a few examples, but we urge you to talk to your major/departmental advisor and explore available courses in SPIRE. Remember not to constrain yourself to classes within your major.  


RESECON 262 - Environmental Economics: Economic analysis of environmental problems focusing on air, water, and land pollution. Emphasis is on analyzing the individual incentives that lead to pollution, the valuation of environmental quality amenities, and the design and evaluation of regulations that seek to improve environmental quality. Includes the economic analysis of global climate change.


LANDARCH 494I - Landscape Planning and the Cultural Landscape: Landscape planning crosses scales from regional to site specific, taking a real world problem to creative sustainable solutions. An introduction to design research methods, inventory and assessment models and techniques for policy planning, regional scale design proposals, and site selection for particular development types. Implementation of a greenway solution.


SUSTCOMM 205 - Dynamics of Human Habitation: How the built environment is shaped by humans. The forces that go into developing human settlements, how these environments change, how different groups experience the environment, and how environmental designers work within this context.


LANDARCH 397B - Studio VI: Recreation and Open Space Design: Recreation and open space -- a systematic view of open space networks. Concepts of public, semi-public, and private spaces. Methods of site analysis and programming activities emphasized.


POLISCI 280 - Public Policy: Focus on how public policies are made in the U.S., including the role of citizens, interest groups, and government institutions. Emphasis on the processes by which policies are made in various institutions, including the Presidency, Congress, bureaucracy, and courts. Examples cover numerous public policies, such as campaign finance reform, foreign policy, and the environment.


Depending on your main area of interest, your academic pathway will shift. To explore this field, you can take courses that will provide you with knowledge and skills in:


  • studio design
  • written and graphic communication
  • plant pathology
Co-Curricular Activities

Being involved in on and off campus activities and organizations will give you experience and help you hone in on what you really love doing. Consider joining organizations that will provide you with a deeper understanding of the professional areas you’re considering. You’ll learn more about the field, meet people who share your interests, and have something to include on your resume to show your dedication. Go to the RSO webpage and start searching!


  • UMass student chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA)
  • MassPIRG environmental campaigns
  • The Planning Student Organization (PSO)
  • Habitat for Humanity
Internships and Experience

Explore the different aspects of this industry through internships, co-ops, job shadowing, and other experiential opportunities. This will help you hone in on your interests while building an impressive knowledge base and resume for when you enter the job market. Local garden centers, realty companies, parks departments and colleges/universities are good places to gain experience.


SBS students and alumni have completed internships in this field at places like:


  • Northampton Office of Planning & Sustainability
  • Department of Environmental Protection
  • Greater Providence Board of Realtors
  • Walt Disney World
  • Contemporary Landscape Design
  • Fuss & O’Neill
  • City of Manchester, NH


Find an internship or co-op that suits you by using these search and application tips and by searching the Career Connect database.

Sample Job titles
  • Senior Landscape Architect/Urban Designer
  • Director of Environmental Affairs
  • Senior Design Associate
  • Deputy Director of Rural Development
  • Land Use Planner
  • Zoo Designer
  • Green Infrastructure Analyst