MA in LA from Academy of Art Experience

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums EDUCATION MA in LA from Academy of Art Experience

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    Christine Gonzales

    Hello all,

    Has anybody went through or know of anybody that went through the Landscape Architecture Program at the Academy of Art in San Francisco? I’m planning on getting my Masters of Art Degree from there, but I’m worried that going to that school might hinder my possibilities in the future.

    I already have a B.S. in Environmental Science and just wanted to gain the technical skills that are taught in a LA program. I am really interested in making urban areas greener and community-focused, but I have found it hard for me to gain experience in this field without LA experience. That is why I wanted to go back to school. My hope is to learn the skills to get my foot in the door, but would getting a Master’s in Art in Landscpae Architecture be more hindering than helpful?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Best Wishes,


    Hello Christine;

    I am familiar with that University & the degree programs. Academy Of Art in San Francisco is Ranked #88 out of Universities located in the State of California. Also, it’s over-priced for the value. In addition, if your read carefully what their website states about their MA degree, it’s not really suited for students who are planning to practice Landscape Architecture.

    I would recommend doing a lot more “research” to find a well recognized “Masters of Landscape Architecture” Degree Program. These Masters Degrees are 2 or 3 years. The 3 year Masters Degree is more comprehensive and is, I believe, better if your undergraduate program is NOT a degree in Landscape Architecture (either 4 or 5 yr, LA under graduate program…as those programs teach many very critical classes you need…including many computer software programs.


    Leslie B Wagle

    Isn’t there a way to find out if a school is an ACCREDITED one – by CLARB or another body? I don’t even understand the purpose of a degree for people who are just “interested in” LA. That is almost cruel if students don’t come out with the necessary technical skills, when the same time could be spent in a solid program that could lead to employment and the relevant state exam. If you are just “interested,” then there are lighter courses or even horticultural “design” ones at jr. colleges just to get a taste of something similar.

    Christine Gonzales

    I really appreciate the feedback Bob and Leslie. I have been looking through the accredited programs, but unfortunately, I am not able to pick-up and move for school. I should have mentioned that I was drawn to the Academy of Art for its online program and the flexibility that it would provide. Once I finish the program, my goal was to work as a landscape designer then see where that would take me. If you know of any other programs or tips on what to look for that would better fit my plan, I would gladly listen to any tips or advice you may have! Thank you again for your input.

    Best wishes,

    Leslie B Wagle

    I don’t really know that state so can’t guide you. But just beware of something. There sometimes ARE people who get a job with a registered L.A. as a helper person who knows plants well, can do drafting, estimating, watercolor sketches, nearly anything….including LA students who just didn’t finish their degree. And if you gathered some courses anywhere at all, it could put you on a slow license track. But look into whether the state you want to stay in allows such training and experience only under conditions of a deep discount. Many license acts give credit for unusual training and/or experience gained in other ways such as working with a civil engineer or architect, contractor, or even survey crew. But it can rate something like 1/3 or 1/2 the value of the ideal experience. I think the lack of an accredited degree could affect you the same way: extra years of experience required, meaning you could be delayed a long time and depending on the details, end up compromised in how you would fare on parts of the exam as well.

    Another route might just be to get a degree that would allow working for a design/build firm that could offer some satisfaction. In my area, the state community or technical college system has a “Turfgrass Management” 2 year degree which sounds unrelated. But it turns out that they teach how to do small scale design with some industry type software since the opportunities to manage big grounds and golf courses may not materialize or be seasonal. Those other courses allow the grads to do design/installation for small companies and is essentially training to be a landscape contractor. Other schools may have a more “landscape design” sounding technical degree.

    If you don’t like what that leads to after some employment experience, you might get some transfer credits from it, be a little ahead if you find your way into an LA school, and step into the LA field with some work credits (even if discounted). But that could be just another detour and not any better deal than what you are thinking. I’d just be very careful about money spent where the faculty may be more artist/illustrators/environmentalists etc. and that could leave you lacking technical courses on plant knowledge, construction etc.

    Leslie B Wagle

    Just wanted to add….if you do anything on line, be sure it’s got interactive classes with other students. I just don’t think you can learn the interaction that offices expect without an initiation in collaboration, ie. if your studies themselves are as an isolated person with a “tutor.” I realize the whole field is going to have more vitual offices but LA’s serving clients that way are usually basing it on some earlier mixed experience. The education passage lays a foundation of deeper insight into “how to work” that just can’t be quantified; otherwise all we would need are books and software manuals.

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