Getting an MLA without professional experience

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums EDUCATION Getting an MLA without professional experience

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Author
  • #164953
    Andy Patton

    Im a fairly recent graduate with a BSLA, and I’m trying to decide if getting an MLA, (maybe a dual with a MUD) without having any professional experience is a deterrent to a potential firms employment.  I’ve been having a hard time trying to even intern at a firm, so as of now I have no professional design studio experience.  It would be a great help if anyone had some words of wisdom.


    I have some work samples at if that helps.

    Thomas J. Johnson

    I would think that having real world experience would help inform your masters. How do you know what you want to concentrate your masters in if you haven’t practiced? What can you bring to a masters program without having first explored the profession?

    School and work are much different… to the point that I question how significantly a masters would change your experience in an office. If you’re doing cad, you’re doing cad. Who cares if you’ve got a BSLA or an MLA? I tend to believe that you can either design or you can’t. You can study design and gain a better understanding of what others have done but it won’t neccisarilly make you a better designer. There is a big difference between knowing about precedents and being able to apply that knowledge. And if it’s been done before by someone else, why would you want to do it again?

    It does seem that many firms are requiring masters degrees for even entry level positions. I don’t know if there is any practical justification for this. My gut tells me it’s just a relationship between businesses and schools. Education is a business and by requiring masters degrees for entry level work they are ensuring that the education system makes more money. There is an emerging trend toward eliminating undergraduate programs and only having MLA programs. This would truly ensure that a masters is required if you want to practice LA. The students are more indebted, making them more dependent on the employer (indentured servitude). You’re not going anywhere if you’ve got $100,000 in loans hanging over your head… especially if you’re making $40,000 a year… heck, even if you’re making $80K. Try living in NY or LA on $80K while paying student loans… or starting a family. 

    So, yeah, I’m skeptical of the MLA, especially with little real world experience, unless you can figure out a way to make it pay for it self… The last thing you want to do is end up with a heap of debt and no job… or a low paying job…

    Matthew Anders, PLA

    I am a recent “lucky” MLA graduate with a job. I was able to intern while going to school and that experience certainly helped me land a job. I know it’s hard to find something now, but perhaps something will open up during your masters. Times are tough in the professional realm now which gives you time to go back to school. Hopefully by the end of your masters, jobs will be easier to come by. Since you have your BSLA, have you given any thought to something than than an MLA? Personally, looking back it would have been advantageous to get into construction, or horticulture…something to supplement and strengthen your LA education. Having a degree in LA + something LA relevant can give you a better edge when looking for work.

    Andy Patton

    Thanks for the help! Yeah that’s what I was kind of worried about.  The debt would a great deal to try and climb out of.  I was just thinking that maybe having an MLA on top of my resume, would possibly make me more marketable and potentially desirable as an employee. I was hoping the increased study of theory coupled with the work ethic to finish a masters program could show a great deal to a firm.  However, when it comes down to it, the money would be the final obstacle and decision maker.

    Andy Patton

    That’s a good point.  I had dabbled in the thought of studying some sort of ecologic work or plant systems, but didn’t really put much stock in it.  I’ll have to do some more research on programs and see if there’s a masters that could be more beneficial.

    Jordan Lockman

    Agreed I would really look at something that will broaden your horizons over redoing your undergrad in grad school.

    Theodore Tegen

    A bit out of left field, but get an MBA.  It’s like an asset portfolio, diversify.  If you can’t get LA work out of school, you will have a good shot at getting a job in business.  You can always keep looking for LA jobs…while gainfully employed, even if it’s not your dream job.

    In my opinion, having a working knowledge of finance, marketing, and economics would be a huge plus to employers today – who are looking to do more with less.

    My 0.02

    Jonathan Nelsen

    I would agree with what everyone else is saying…get a masters in something related like planning, urban design, architecture, ecology…depending on what kind of work you want to do in the future.  I got my bachelors in community and regional planning and am just finishing up a dual bla/mla degree.  Would have preferred just the BLA but Iowa State was not offering that option when I began.  Its not a bad program though, granted I could be a doctor now had I gone to med school, but when I’m done I can be a doctor of the land ;p.  I was lucky enough to have been working in various positions around the university as I finish school, several GIS positions, a couple research assistantships in LA, and currently working as a landscape architecture intern for the campus landscape designers.  If you do go the school route, try to find some of these opportunities on your campus, great way to stay involved both professionally and academically.

    mark foster

    Have you borrowed $ to get your BSLA, and are you going to borrow more $ to get an MLA?   

    Andy Patton

    I’m just about finished paying off for the BSLA, and yes I will need to borrow more for an MLA.

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Lost Password