Is graduate school worth it?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums EDUCATION Is graduate school worth it?

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    Sherry Alexander

    I agree with the person who wrote that you should consider a graduate degree in another, perhaps related field. I have a BSc in Business, and MLA in Landscape Architecture. I’m very happy that I got both degrees.


    If you have to quit your job, or work only part time to return to school, I wouldn’t do it. It’s extremely expensive to give up employment where you’re getting experience. Wouldn’t consider financial aid either unless you can get a grant. The only way a student loan can be modified or forgiven is to pay it off, or if you die. Student loans have a way of hanging on a long time, and can compromise your future considerably.

    Jordan Lockman

    This question has been asked and discussed multiple times and it sounds like the only way that a person with a BLA should go to grad school is for teaching or to try a different field(related or otherwise). If you already have a job it really does not make sense to quit working for more school, if you were unemployed it would make a little more sense.

    Cara McConnell

    Short answer: NO! However, it depends on your bachelor’s degree. If it was landscape architecture, then why in the world are you doing MLA? Maybe you’ve smoked one too many weed back in college. Graduate school is okay as long as its another discipline. My upcoming M in Accounting will open up possibilities in various fields, including construction and architecture. But no way jose. I’m staying away as far as I can from the anemic A & E industry. Bye-bye!

    Matt Sprouse

    The only real reason to get an MLA after a BLA is to teach.  Even then, most universities are requiring PhD’s for tenure track positions.  MLA used to be our terminal degree.  I have a BSLA and and MLA.  If you decide to get an MLA, make sure you go to a different school for a new perspective.  If it is teaching you want to do, look for teaching assistantships that put you in the classroom.  


    I did get my MLA for the prospects of teaching.  That hasn’t panned out and now I am an over-educated, private practicing, landscape architect.  Looking into a related field for a graduate program is sound advice.  MBA is a great idea.

    Barbara Peterson

    I agree with you & Roland: if there is a particular area of interest that you a ‘dying to research / explore’ then by all means go with the MLA. But if it is only to continue in school to gain ‘more knowledge’ then I do not believe that it is necessarily important in the “real world”: experience will be of more benefit.  No one asked me about my MLA project or work back when I was looking: they were more interested in the types of projects that I had worked on and my experience (drafting vs project manager, etc).

    If you’re just looking to gain more ‘general knowledge’ that could help you land a job or be marketable perhaps look into a certification such as LEED specialist or certified arborist or certified playground safety inspector or master naturalist or master gardener or something like that. They are way less expensive and may be more useful in the ‘real’ world.


    Heather Smith

    I toy with the idea of an MBA…but the idea of the loans. 😛

    James Willeford

    If you’re looking to go back for an MLA just to get a better job, I would agree with others that it would not be worth it.  The amount you would spend does not add up to what you will make. Also, going to a different program might bring you a new perspective on the field, but it also might make you go through a lot of what you learned already. There can be a lot of good in developing your weaknesses, yet if you have no interest in certain aspects of landscape architecture, you might end up spending 2 years being frustrated. What you really need to ask is what do you want to do in the long run? What are your strengths and how can you apply those?  Do you see yourself as an academic or entrepreneur or something else? There are many fields you’re capable of applying the hard and soft skills you learned during school. Those can range from law to digital human interaction design. I would start with finding out your strengths. Then figure out how you can apply those to what you want to do. The next step could be graduate school or searching for a specific job.

    Sami Bronowski

    was just reading some of these responses and saw that you stressed the 5 year BLA. that is what i will be graduating with come may, however, we ARE doing a thesis. i understand it may not be quite as in depth as a master’s thesis, but i am not currently considering grad school. the push i’ve heard is experience over academia. does the thesis still work to my advantage?

    Matt Sprouse

    5th year BLA’s often do a large exit project which is called a thesis in some schools.  I would be careful to compare it to a graduate school thesis that is rigorously reviewed by a committee and then becomes a published document by the university.  Most major universities catalog their theses in their library.  BLA project typically are not. 


    That said, a 5th year exit project does give you an opportunity to show what you have learned.  Also, it is usually the best work to show a future employer in a portfolio.  I think most employers (myself included) expect BLA graduates to have completed an exit project.  

    Michael Coyle

    I want to thank everyone who shared their views on graduate school and beyond.  It is amazing to see how some answers are very similar while other people had a completely different experience.  At this point after weighing some of the responses I think I am going to hold off on graduate school.  And if I do end up going back I would look at alternative fields other than landscape architecture.

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