If you want to combine the art of designing outdoor spaces with the technical skills of architecture and construction, a masters in landscape architecture may be the program for you.
Landscape architects are crucial in designing, planning, maintaining, and preserving outdoor areas, from public spaces to private resorts and historical sites.
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Many careers in this field are growing, and there is a continued need for professionals with technical skills to design outdoor spaces and integrate nature into urban areas.
Online Masters in Landscape Architecture Programs
Landscape architects have the skills and knowledge to work on a wide variety of outdoor spaces, including businesses, residential areas, campuses, and recreational facilities, among others.
Earning a master’s degree in landscape architecture can help you develop the skills to design and create functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces within the natural environment. An accredited Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) degree could also help you qualify for licensure.
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If you already have a professional bachelors degree in landscape architecture, then an on-campus or online landscape architecture degree can offer advanced training to help you further your expertise and professional qualifications.
Topics that are usually covered in landscape architecture graduate programs include:
- Theory of landscape architecture
- Design and aesthetics
- Urban planning and design
- Soil science
- Design software
- Site planning
- Composition and theory
- Graphic communication and design
In addition to knowledge in the above areas, it’s beneficial for landscape architects to have good communication, planning, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
Landscape architects frequently work collaboratively with others, so it’s necessary for them to listen and express themselves well to clients and project co-workers. Graduates may use the skills and knowledge gained in this program to find employment in numerous industries, from private design firms to the local, state, and federal government.
In landscape architecture, you can have the opportunity to see projects from their initial inception and design through to completion. Many graduates also work to restore natural spaces, like wetlands, and preserve historic sites to maintain their historical integrity within the landscape.
Common Landscape Architecture Graduate Program Tracks
As you look into masters degrees in landscape architecture, you may find three common landscape architecture program tracks to choose from.
The tracks and their curriculum will vary based on your prior education, work experience, and future career goals.
- First Professional Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA I). This track is for students who hold a bachelor’s degree in another field or do not have a background in design.
- Second Professional Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA II). This track is for students who have earned a professional bachelors in architecture or landscape architecture. This track is typically shorter than MLA I since it is building on prior knowledge.
- MA / MS in Landscape Architecture. This track is for students who are interested in researching the field of landscape architecture but do not plan on becoming licensed practitioners.
Depending on the program and track, some schools offer a choice between a research thesis or a culminating professional project that demonstrates your skills. Your past education and future goals will help determine which program track is right for you.
Landscape Architecture Careers & Salaries
Graduates who complete landscape architecture master’s programs may find numerous careers to pursue after completing their programs.
Careers can be found in both the public and private sectors and with government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels. Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries of some careers that graduates with masters degrees in landscape architecture may consider.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Architectural and Engineering Managers||$187,240|
|Landscape Architects — Government||$99,240|
|Project Management Specialists||$94,500|
|Urban and Regional Planners||$78,500|
|Landscape Architects — Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services||$75,260|
|Architectural and Civil Drafters||$60,340|
|Landscape Architects — Waste Management and Remediation Services||$58,610|
|Landscape Architects — Construction||$49,440|
Graduates interested in urban planning and development can design public spaces, including parks, gardens, residential and commercial centers, and various transportation facilities. Landscape architects can also focus on maintaining and preserving natural spaces and wildlife habitats, including forests and wetlands.
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Many government agencies also employ landscape architects in departments like the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and the US Forest Service.
Landscape Architecture Master’s Curriculum & Courses
While courses will vary by program, listed below are some common courses you may take in landscape architecture graduate programs:
- Composition and Theory: Students in this course will begin the design process by creating proposals for real and imagined sites.
- Site Planning for Housing: This course focuses on sustainable site planning, including sustainable energy, productive landscapes, and stormwater management.
- Plants in the Landscape: This course introduces the role of plants in landscape architecture, creating outdoor spaces, and understanding ecological processes.
- Integrating Theory and Practice: Students will study urban design strategies, landscape representation, and sustainable design in the context of a real site.
- Urban Design and Planning: This course introduces you to the urban design and techniques considered within the infrastructure of urban environments and city planning.
- Research Issues for Landscape Architecture: Students in this course study various research issues and methods to prepare for their master’s thesis or project.
- Site Engineering: Students in this course work through essential skills, including site grading, stormwater management, and earthwork estimation.
- Landscape Pattern and Process: Students will explore landscape ecology as it relates to and is applied to landscape planning and design decisions.
- Graphic Communication: This course introduces you to fundamental landscape design techniques, including drafting and orthographic drawing.
- Construction and Site Engineering: This course introduces the fundamentals of site engineering, including grading, drainage systems, and road alignment.
In addition to the above courses, many programs let you choose electives that align with your interests, from urban planning to ecological landscapes.
While admissions requirements vary, here are some common ones for masters programs in landscape architecture:
- Official transcripts. You’ll submit official transcripts from your bachelor’s degree and any other schools you have attended.
- Letters of recommendation. Many programs require several recommendations from academic or professional sources.
- Statement of purpose. Your letter of intent can outline your interest in their program and career goals.
- Portfolio. A design portfolio shows your work or evidence of your creativity.
A certificate in landscaping online may be useful. In addition, some programs may request a resume that includes your work experience and any relevant publications, awards, community service, or volunteer experience.
When looking into schools that offer landscape architecture master’s programs, one factor to consider is the school’s accreditation status.
Schools that are regionally accredited have met agreed-upon educational standards, with regional accreditation being the most widely accepted accreditation. A school’s accreditation status can potentially affect additional degrees you pursue, with some schools only accepting masters degrees from regionally accredited institutions.
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To learn more about regional accrediting organizations and schools, you can visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website.
In addition to a school receiving regional accreditation, landscape architect programs can also receive programmatic accreditation by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB).
Programs that complete this accreditation process complete a self-evaluation and an independent evaluation by LAAB to confirm they meet educational objectives and standards. LAAB provides accreditation for first professional degree programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels.
To learn more about LAAB Accreditation, you can visit the website for the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Landscape Architecture Licensure and Certifications
While licensing requirements vary by state, many states require landscape architects to obtain their licenses before gaining employment.
Individuals who want to gain licensure must earn their degree from an accredited landscape architecture school and intern with a licensed landscape architect. A bachelors in landscape architecture is usually the minimum educational requirement, though some states are willing to substitute educational requirements for extensive work experience.
Once these steps are completed, potential landscape architects are required to pass the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE). States may have state-specific tests in addition to the LARE, and some states also require continuing education to maintain licensure.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
As you look into landscape architecture graduate programs, you can also consider various financial aid options that you may qualify for.
If you are already employed in landscape architecture or a related field, your employer may offer education incentives through tuition reimbursement or reduced tuition. You can also look into scholarships that may be available through numerous public and private institutions and educational foundations. Colleges and universities often have scholarship opportunities for qualifying students as well.
You might also be eligible for student loans or grants from the government. You can visit the Federal Student Aid website to learn more about these potential opportunities.
What Is a Landscape Architecture Masters Degree?
A landscape architecture masters degree is a graduate program that helps you develop the skills and knowledge to design and plan outdoor spaces and structures that work with the natural environment.
Students of landscape architecture master’s programs develop unique skills that allow them to design functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces that are harmonious with nature. Landscape architecture graduate programs cover topics from urban planning and development to ecology and the environment. Through landscape architecture and design, graduates can use their skills to benefit citizens and communities.
What Skills Do You Learn in a Masters in Landscape Architecture?
Landscape architecture master’s programs provide students with a unique and specialized skill set for the profession.
In addition to studying landscape architecture theory, you can also develop technical design skills using programs like AutoCAD and Adobe Photoshop. Landscape architects also need various soft skills—including communication, collaboration, and listening skills—that help them work as part of a team.
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Landscape architects are also problem-solvers, so it’s necessary to have critical thinking, planning, and creativity skills to develop solutions to a wide variety of problems. Graduate students in a landscape architecture program can also learn numerous construction skills to aid in sustainable site planning, including site grading and stormwater management.
What Can You Do with a Master in Landscape Architecture?
Graduates with masters degrees in landscape architecture can find employment in numerous industries, from private firms to various government agencies.
Landscape architects can work with city planners to design public spaces, such as parks and cemeteries, creating functional spaces for people while respecting the environment. Graduates interested in preservation can also work in the environmental protection of spaces and on preservation projects for historic sites.
A professional Master of Landscape Architecture can help you qualify for licensure as a landscape architect. If you already have a professional bachelors, a masters may help you qualify for senior positions or increased earning potential.
Are Landscape Architects in Demand?
Career opportunities for landscape architects will vary based on several factors, including geographic location. Areas that are experiencing growth and continuing to build may have more demand for landscape architects.
Overall, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for landscape architects is projected to stay roughly the same over the next ten years. About 1,500 job openings are expected each year, though, over this period.
Other related careers that use these skills, like urban and regional planners and construction managers, are expected to experience steady job growth.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters in Landscape Architecture Online?
The time it takes to complete your degree will vary based on several factors. For instance, there are often various program tracks available for landscape architecture graduate programs.
- First Professional / MLA 1: This track can generally be completed in 3 years.
- Second Professional / MLA 2: This track can generally be completed in 2 years.
- MA or MS degree: This track can generally be completed in 1 to 2 years.
While timelines will vary, these are general guidelines for what you can expect with full-time study. Enrolling part-time or completing a thesis requirement may add to your overall time to completion.
What’s the Difference Between a Landscape Architect vs. Landscape Designer?
While landscape architects and designers use some of the same skills, they are two distinct professions requiring different levels of education and training.
|Landscape Architect||Landscape Designer|
There can be some overlap in areas of employment, but overall, landscape architects have a greater selection of sectors they can choose to work in.
Is a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture Worth It?
Yes, a master’s degree in landscape architecture is worth it for many students. As environmental concerns grow, there is a continued need for professionals with the skills to design and create sustainable projects that work with the natural landscape.
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There is also a growing need for individuals who can help with land conservation, water management, and historic site preservation. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 1,500 job openings for landscape architects are projected each year over the next ten years.
Universities Offering Online Masters in Landscape Architecture Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
The Academy of Art University offers an MFA in Landscape Architecture program online. Potential courses include Drawing As Process, Ecological Foundations of Design, Landscape Architecture Design Studio, Digital Imaging, Historical Precedents of Landscape Architecture, and more. The full program may be completed in 6 semesters.
Academy of Art University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
West Virginia University offers an online program for a Master of Landscape Architecture. Coursework includes Introduction to Design Studio, Sustainable Trails: Design Detailing and Drainage, Practicum Experience, Research Methods and Design, Land and Environment Planning and Design Studio, and Meanings of Place. A thesis is also completed as part of the program.
West Virginia University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Masters in Landscape Architecture Online
Much like with earning a masters in architecture online or in person, earning an online masters degree in landscape architecture can help you develop a unique combination of technical and design skills that you can use in a number of careers.
Some professionals choose to work in urban development or ecological preservation, and others use their advanced degree to pursue senior or management roles in the field. Employment opportunities are available in numerous sectors, from government branches to private companies and public institutions.
If you’re ready to start or advance your career in this creative field, you can begin exploring accredited schools today to find the landscape architecture graduate program that’s right for you.