Certificate in Landscape Design - Benefits? Drawbacks?

Hello everyone :)

I recently applied to several MLA programs in Canada, and after receiving two rejection letters, I'm getting worried that I may face the same outcome with the remaining schools, so I'm trying to plan my next steps. I'd like to reapply next year, so I was thinking it might be beneficial to take a certificate program in Landscape Design since I don't currently have a background in the LA field...  Do you think getting a certificate would be helpful or would I just be wasting my time? My hope is that it would help me improve my portfolio by giving me the ability to include LA-relevant projects and designs, but I'm wondering if any of you have any advice for creating a winning portfolio or if you might know of any online courses/webinars/videos etc. that might be helpful in a general learning sense. Thank you for your help! 

- Jasmine 

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In my opinion, I don't think you necessarily need to demonstrate landscape relevant projects. Landscape is a generalist discipline, we must account for a broad spectrum of information. So having a different background is what makes you a unique candidate.  You just need to enhance this unique perspective and demonstrate how it could inform your thinking in the landscape design process.  While well executed graphics are important, I think more importantly is that you demonstrate your design thought process.

Maybe take some masters level courses. Read as much as you can about the LA field.  Best of luck!

Yeah, I thought that I would be an interesting candidate because my academic background is in a related field on the other side of the spectrum (environmental politics and geography), but I guess I didn't showcase that well enough. 

How would you suggest demonstrating design processes? I'm pretty new when it comes to professional design concepts, so I'm not sure how I would go about that. Do you use visual aids in the form of showing each step, or do you explain in writing? Which do you think is more effective? Thank you for your reply! :) 

- Jasmine 

Any thoughts on going for a BLA? ... or one of the programs that has the 5 year BLA/MLA. You might want to contact one of the universities that has been offering the fast track MLA with the BLA to see if you can get it done in three years since you already have a Bachelor's in another field.

My opinion is that if you want to design, the BLA will be more important to you than the MLA because of the rigors of studio. If you want to teach or work in the public sector it may be different. .... just my opinion.

Right, I hadn't considered that because I didn't want to do another 4-5 years of school; I'm 27 so I'd ideally like to get started career-wise as soon as possible. I'll definitely look more into BLA programs though, and see whether I would get transfer credits or not. Thanks for your input! :) 

Classes you might look for to boost your portfolio: drawing (horticultural based one if you can find it), photography.

Work experience that could be helpful outside of LA: construction, nursery work.

If a LD certificate program is available, it may not hurt, though it would depend on the relative strength of the program and who's teaching (if they're LAs, then you might pick up a nice recommendation letter).

One thing you might do is call up one of the programs and ask how you might improve your application and work on that.

Yeah, the certificate program I want to take is actually offered by the Horticulture department at my university! All great suggestions, and I'm definitely going to talk to each school and ask how I can improve. Thank you so much for your reply! 

- Jasmine 


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