California Supplemental Exam

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    jennifer Bloch

    Hi There,

    I’m about to take the CSE. Thanks all for you advice as posted here. I’m wondering upon passing, how long does it take to receive the actual stamp and to be able to use the title and practice?

    Thanks – Jennifer


    The CSE results are provided at the check out process.  You will be given a form to mail in to LATC to complete the process along with a pro-rated cost sheet for the amount you need to also send in. 

    The LATC seems to have moved to a mid-month processing day for everybody who has passed the test in the prior 4 weeks.

    Yeah, so don’t bother rushing to complete by a certain date unless you have millions of dollars in contracts contingent upon getting that license.

    The stamp is an on-your-own issue.  The state will provide a cert (worthy of mounting on a plaque for hanging if you want to) and that’s it. 

    jennifer Bloch

    Thank you, Toby. Would you give me more on the “on-your-own issue” in regard to getting the stamp? I do fall into the need stamp asap category though millions isn’t exactly the amount of concern.  How is the stamp issued? JB


    from the date i passed the test to the date i was notified everything cleared and was being sent to me was close to 6 weeks. i’ve heard some people it’s 3-4 weeks, but there was a computer issue on their end when it was my turn.  they’ll tell you 4-6 weeks if you call to ask and weren’t really the most helpful until i called and said it had already been 6 weeks — then they checked into it.

    as for the stamp, i digitally created my own — editing one my office has in the library.  if you want a ‘hardcopy’ rubber stamp I’m guessing you’d almost have to do that yourself too?  I can’t see the state funding/providing the legwork to get that done.  maybe they have a vendor — or maybe i’m way off and somehow the state does…

    jennifer Bloch

    Thank you Daniel.


    from completing your CSE to LATC processing everything and sending you the license then getting a rubber stamp made (local stationers or go online – lotsa places) and delivered could be 4 to 10 weeks out.

    Make sure to send the CSE app registered return, and then monitor your bank acct for the check clearing, and then wait a few days for the mail to deliver everything.  You can call once you know the app was received to get an eta on the next processing date, but it wont alleviate the anxiety at all.

    As Daniel mentioned below, an electronic stamp in cad w/ a wet sig is an alternative.  Contact the municipality that is reviewing/approving the plans for what is acceptable.

    jennifer Bloch

    Thank you Toby.

    John A. Denson

    There are a few places where you can buy a California landscape architect stamp on-line. Acorn Sales and the Notary Super Store both sell the professional stamps for about $45.


    For more information on landscape architect stamps in the state of California, refer to this article…


    Good luck!

    jennifer Bloch

    Thanks John.

    It took 2 weeks from passing the CSE to receive my license and I used Acorn Sales and sent for my stamp immediately.


    Michael Murray


    Your post is excellent and I’m very much in agreement with your sentiments.

    My own story is a little different. I spent 25 years working in set design for a major theme park company, and in 2006 I decided to go the landscape arch school. I went through the UCLA Extension program, graduated in 2011, was fortunate enough to land a spot on a project (same company, but now working on the landscape dept), and have passed the 4 LARE exams and will take the CA Supplemental Exam tomorrow.

    My comment is that because I earned a landscape architecture “certificate” instead of a degree, I’m ineligible for reciprocity in most states because they require a degree. It’s really a lousy situation. I passed the same national exams as everybody else (and am hoping to pass the state exam tomorrow!!), plus I have both a BA and an MFA, though in theatre, not landscape. So if I’m able to pass the exams, why should I not be granted the same benefits and rights?

    My father never went to law school–it was too expensive. He landed a job as an apprentice in a law firm in Seattle for 7 or 8 years, then took and passed the Washington State bar exam on the first try. He was able to practice law and was eventually a prosecuting attorney and superior court judge, all without attending college. He passed the bar, so he was allowed to practice law. Why is this different?

    Just my 2 cents’ worth.


    Michael Murray

    Forgot to mention: the CA landscape arch technical committee–the group in charge of licensing in CA–accepts certificates from UCLA Extension and UC Berkeley Extension as meeting the education requirements for licensure in California.

    Tom Fitzgerald

    I’m taking the California CSE exam in he next couple of weeks and my weakest section is plants.  Does anyone know if the test gives you both common and botanical names, are you expected to memorize all botanical names?

    Thank You

    Michael Murray


    Latin only for plant names- most of them are fairly common, though I saw a couple I did not know.

    Best of luck!

    Fred Besancon

    I recently took and passed the CSE and have several resources for those studying for the exam.  Some of the resources I found helpful I used when I studied the CSE for architecture exam (I’m also a licensed architect).

    1. John Denson’s study guide, sample question e-book, and web site,;  John’s e-books and web site quizzes were very useful to structure my studying, especially his plant lists
    2. For CEQA and general planning / zoning understanding, read Bill Fulton’s Guide to California Planning;  his book is the textbook for understanding all things about California planning; I highly recommend the book.  While reading the whole thing is overkill for the exam, I enjoyed doing that it to better understand the background to the various regulations and court cases that structure much of our profession;  the CEQA part is very useful
    3. David Douchette’s web site and material for the CSE-Architecture,;  David has an extensive series of materials that includes books, tests, and audio companions.  What I highly recommend is the series of podcasts he produced (accessible via his website and iTunes).  While his audience is architecture-candidates, I found his 30 minute podcasts very useful in understanding some of the regulatory / contract items that may appear in the exam.  His latter podcasts began to deal with the process of studying for the exam and not the exam’s content (e.g. setting up goals, study schedule, motivation, studying habits, et cetera) which is just as useful for us taking the CSE-Landscape Architecture; I never purchased his books, but I imagine that their content will not be useful for the CSE-Landscape Architecture
    4. Pass x Flash:  flash cards for the CSE-architecture;  while much of the content is building-specific, there are many flash cards that test agency reviews / approval, process, et cetera
    5. What struck me about the CSE-Landscape Architecture exam was how California-centric it was as compared to CSE-Architecture which dealt with larger professional issues. This may seem obvious, but understand all the state regulations – CalGreen, lighting standards, wildfire, CEQA, wetlands, coastal agencies, plants, contracts, Practice Act, et cetera. Know when different regulations are triggered on a project:  for example, what triggers an irrigation audit, CEQA review, SWPPP, et cetera (the Pass x Flash CSE cards were helpful for this
    6. YouTube:  after going through the above topics, I found watching videos on topics like wildfire protection, backflow preventors, irrigation design, native plant selection, et cetera very useful to see the ideas I had been reading about
    7. Agency web sites:  very useful to browse the various state agencies and the “About Us” and “Project” pages;  I ended up surfing the agencies’ project pages for my local area to tie in their responsibilities to places I know about and understand their jurisdictions
    8. WUCOLS – great free online book and very useful in understanding the underlying concepts and calculations for irrigation design and plant hydrozones
    9. CSE Legal Resource Guide by Alexander van Gaalen:  free PDF, though donation strongly suggested.  Made for architecture-candidates, this PDF is a compilation of various web sites and FAQ’s for various state agencies, California laws, et cetera; 
    10. Plant ID:  I ended up making many flash cards for my iPhone and iMac with a program called Mental Case.  Whenever I had a free moment I would review various plant lists from John Denson’s study guide
    11. Your office:  don’t overlook using your time at the office to dovetail with exam preparation;  I can’t think how many times while studying for the exams I had to deal with the same material at work within a day or so (e.g. wildfire protection, fire access, wetlands, CalGreen, accessibility, et cetera). 
    12. CalGreen:  read the code – it isn’t long, but useful to understand what regulations apply to our work as landscape architects; available free online via the State of California web site

     Otherwise, good luck!


    What part of the CALGreen would likely be on the CSE?

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