Grad school instead of working??

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums EDUCATION Grad school instead of working??

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    Crystal Maring

    since the economy is so bad, is it smart to go straight to grad school now instead of looking for a job once I graduate in may? I really wanted to work for a few years first to find my interests before I went back to get my masters but I feel like it may be impossible to get a job.

    Kevin J. Gaughan

    This is something that I was just discussing with some of the seniors at the University of Maryland last week.

    If I was in their position right now, I think I would definitely continue on to get my masters. I do not think, however, that it would be the smartest decision to get an MLA if you already have a BLA. So, I would consider doing something in a related field that will make you even more marketable when you get out. Some ideas would be Architecture, Fine Arts, Historic Preservation, Urban Sociology, Planning, Horticulture, etc…

    I don’t think you need to be in any rush to find your interest, it is most likely not going to come to you in your first job anyway. I have been working for almost 3 years now, and I still do not know what I want to do, because all I have done so far is residential landscape architecture. I’m sure I will got through a few more jobs before I figure out what it is I really want to do, but I have a feeling I will go back to school even before that happens.


    What about someone with just a bachelor’s of arts degree in, say, architectural studies and anthropology? Would it be difficult to get a job in landscape architecture without a BLA and make more sense to continue on right away to get an MLA?

    Kevin J. Gaughan

    I think it would be tough to get a job in landscape architecture without a BLA not matter what the economy looks like. I would definitely continue on and get the MLA out of the way if you are pretty sure you want to get into the field.


    I’ve been contemplating the idea of continuing on for my masters right away as I have about three years of professional office experience as well as previous residential experience. Like Kevin stated though, I think I would tend toward a degree in something complimentary to my BSLA like architecture or planning.

    Then again, if I can find a good job with a healthy salary I doubt I’ll entertain the notion of further schooling much further.

    Chris Worrell

    Looking at my school personally (University of Georgia) there is absolutely no reason to get your MLA if you already have your BLA. It is essentially a sped up version of the BLA, where you take most of the same design studios just with masters students, and you work on very similar projects. If other schools are similar you really wont learn anything “new” just spend a few more years re-doing projects so yes the experience and practice is nice but there are better options in my opinion. If you are going to do something I would take the idea of Kevin and find a related field, personally after I finish my BLA (im in my 3rd of 5 years) I am looking closely into the Master program for Planning that they are introducing next fall here at UGA.

    Rico Flor

    One thing I regretted having spent so much time in school was the fact that I was left behind by my contemporaries (mind you, I’m never straight A). On the other hand, I acquired a lot of so called conceptuals and theoreticals such that —with the current opportunity to practice—there’s so much enthusiasm to practice the profession diligently. There are pro’s and cons, as usual.

    The Master’s program, Kevin, is not necessarily redundant to BLA; in fact, a lot of strong BLA programs will suffice, but a graduate program will funnel you through some sort of specialized thought…whatever you choose to master or specialize…even a graduate LA degree. That can give you an additional, colorful layer. Not necessarily a better, more advantageous layer, but nonetheless a more colorful one.

    A wonderful collateral to studying is maturity in thinking and attitude.

    Bottom line, studying with the economic downturn can be wise, but don’t do it too much. By the nature of our profession, we have to be “out there”!

    Good luck.


    As a recent graduate looking for an entry level job (and not finding much), the idea of returning to school is a little scary – I don’t want to put myself further into debt and spend several more years in a classroom only to wind up in the same jobless situation I’m facing now. I’m curious about opinions regarding the validity of a second bachelors in what seems to be a field with more job opportunities (like Civil Engineering, as nrschmid suggested) versus a masters in a field that seems to be facing the same types of economic woes as landscape architecture, like architecture or planning. Thoughts?

    Kevin J. Gaughan

    Personally, I would find it hard to justify going back to school for a certain major just so I would be more marketable when I came out. If you are interested in Architecture you should study architecture, if you are interested in the civil engineering side of LA then go that route. If you really love what you do, and do it well…the jobs will come.

    Josh Burwell

    I have worked in the industy for 15 years,8 of those I owned by own design/build company, the economy is so bad I have decided to go back to school now for my undergrad in Landscape Architecture.



    In your case, it probably makes perfect sense. You’ll probably also be able to return to your business with an expanded view and range of capability.

    As nrschmid said, some of us are probably just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m wondering now how firms will reconcile those few who get hired in the next 12months at what I would imagine will be lower starting salaries with those who graduate in 3-4 years as things rebound. Will I be making the same salary in three years as the new grad?

    Slightly off topic I suppose.

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