Master degree in Landscape Architecture

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums EDUCATION Master degree in Landscape Architecture

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    Hello everyone,
    I’m looking into take a MLA in the United States to enhance my knowledge of Landscape Architecture and City Planning to promote and help, in the future, sustainability and economic growth in undeveloped countries. I heard Berkeley program is quite good, but I would like to know your opinion about other options.
    What other Colleges do you guys recommend? I’m pretty open to any location in the States.

    Claudia Chalfa

    Berkeley is good. Harvard is the best program, from what I hear…UVA is also excellent. I am graduating with my MLA from Clemson this spring, and I have enjoyed my time here; Clemson’s program is very new, I am part of only the second graduating class. However, our undergraduate program is ranked 11th in the US. I think once the MLA program at Clemson has been around a little longer it will be excellent…we are still in the process of working out some of the kinks. However, Clemson is a really nice campus, a very supportive learning environment and a nice climate, at the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. Plus, I have been given the opportunity to study in Cairo Egypt, and there are many other international programs available, so there really isn’t much to complain about.

    Good luck with your search and let me know if you have any questions about Clemson.


    Thanks Claudia for your insight. Is there a rank for MLA programs in the US that I can check it out?

    Kevin Kroen

    Kansas State is also an option to consider.


    The thing is I’m applying for the Fulbright grant here in Portugal, and I have to choose 4 different colleges. I’m keen on choosing Berkeley because I know a couple of people that teach there. But I still need three other options for my application. The economic situation is not the best so I would prefer less expensive options, because for what I’ve seen the costs of taking an MLA at Berkeley are around $45000 year, which is very expensive!

    Kevin Kroen

    Kansas State is actually in Manhattan, KS ( 2 hours away from Kansas City). I do not think that you would feel out of place, the Grad program is a very diverse group. I did not have a very good art background, there is a course that you take, which helps you with developing your skills.

    The MLA is ranked eigth in the country, which makes the graduates very competitive in getting a job. honestly it does not matter what profession your in these days everyone is concerned with getting jobs.

    The other questions I am unable to answer, but the department head Dan Donelin, should be able to provide some insight into them.

    Sarah McCandliss

    Hi Ricardo,
    I attended Ohio State for my MLA program and felt it was generally very good. However, once I got into my thesis subject I learned that really noone on the faculty there was an expert in my area of interest and that I really should have been at U of Illinios Champaign-Urbana. (Sorry, OSU!!) So, what I suggest is for you to do a little research to find out where the leaders are in your area of interest. You can do this by contacting authors of journal articles that you find exciting, reading faculty bios, googling faculty names, etc. Once you’ve narrowed it down, I’d contact the professors who are doing what you want to do and ask them about their grad program and grad research they are sponsoring. Also ask them to hook you up with recent grads of their programs to see what kind of work they are doing. Back in the day, U of Wisconson at Madison had a good program that really studied what they called the 3 legs of the stool (as in milking stool – cheese, Wisconson, get it?) of landscape architecture: economic, social and design. But things have changed so I’d just start looking. As for cost, I was able to find a GRA Graduate Research Appointment on campus that paid my tuition, fees and a living stipend of $1000 per month for 20 hours of work per week – basically a half time job but what is referred to as a “full appointment.” It added a year to my studies but I ended up with very little college debt. So, when you’re asking your favorite professor about their program, ask what kind of grad appointments are typically available on their campus or in their programs. Good luck!

    Daniel Miller

    Berkeley, even with out of state costs shouldn’t be anywhere near $45,000. It’s a state school, so it’s relatively inexpensive.

    Unfortunately with your timing, most, if not all, MLA program deadlines for admissions has past. I applied to a few schools this winter and am currently awaiting the results. After a lot of research, I found the best schools for me and what I am looking for were Harvard, Berkeley, University of Virginia, Rhode Island School of Design, University of Oregon and the University of Colorado @ Denver.

    Not all of those are MLA programs though, some are MUDs.

    I also hear Ohio State and Texas are good. And, since I’m an ungrad alum I’ll promote the program, but the master’s program at Cal Poly Pomona is a very very good program for being so unknown and overlooked by the bigger, more “prestigious” programs.

    Jeff Alexander

    One resource you might find helpful is the Design Intelligence annual rankings. It has some information, but it is not an exhaustive resource. Another thing to keep in mind is the manner in which they gather information and compile the results. This is far from a scientific survey. Basically they go out and ask a bunch of employers which students from which schools are they most impressed with.

    Of course for landscape architecture, places like Harvard and UPenn are going to consistently rank high. In fact, Harvard is always the top ranked school in every discipline. However, Sarah’s point can’t be overemphasized. What’s most important isn’t getting into some school that someone you never met is arbitrarily assigning the label of “The Best”. What’s important is finding the “Best Fit”. The best course of action is to decide what it is that you want to study, then find schools that would best support you. After all, the schools are also looking for someone who fits into their program.

    It is true, most deadlines for admissions into fall of 2009 have passed. Typically, the deadlines are between mid December and early February. But that just means you have plenty of time to research and prepare a stellar application for next year!

    Claudia Chalfa

    Well, I’m 37, and there are a couple of people older than me in the program, so no I don’t think you would feel out of place. My art background included high school and some college at NC school of the Arts, and many years of doing art on my own after that. Because of my art background I was able to exempt part of the “Boot camp” summer program that starts the three year MLA program. I am very worried about finding work right now, but I have a feeling that if you spend three years in school getting your MLA, that when you graduate things will be better than they are at the moment. I do have a good bit of debt, but I qualified for an assistantship the whole time I was here, so I was able to earn a little bit of money while in school.

    When I entered the program, I was told that firms were begging for MLA graduates. Things have obviously changed now, but if this is what you love to do, then by all means do it. I don’t want to do anything else for my career, which stinks because it looks like I may have to, at least short term.

    Claudia Chalfa

    We actually have several professors at Clemson who came from Berkeley, by the way. From what I understand, Clemson is a reasonably priced education in comparison to many Universities.


    I know I can only apply for Fall 2010. That was my intention from the beginning. To have enough time to make the right choice… I’ve been searching for different programs in different colleges. I contacted the Ball State University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Virginia. A Master program of Landscape Architecture with a strong focus on environmental and land use planning is my objective. Does anyone know a better MLA program other than the ones I just mentioned?


    Thanks everyone for your suggestions! I think I narrow it down to:
    1) University of California at Berkeley;
    2) University of Michigan;
    3) University of Massachusetts;
    4) University of Washington;
    5) PennState.

    What do you think?

    Eric Papetti

    I graduated from Auburn, where we had a number of Portuguese exchange students coming from Lusiada in Lisbon. My last year of school, I did the reverse exchange, and went to your side of the pond. The program at Auburn is undergoing some changes, but I am very satisfied with the time I spent there – it is a very broad-based, ecological approach to urban design. It is also very cheap, tuition-wise, and they have a history of offering scholarships to Portuguese students. You should apply. Let me know if you want any more details.

    Chunling Wu

    Hello Claudia, do you get familiar with City and Reginal planning? Is it pretty closed to Urban design? Is it possible to find a landscaping work after planning courses?

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