What Graduate Degree would you recommend as the best complement to an Undergrad in Landscape Architecture? Pros and Cons?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION What Graduate Degree would you recommend as the best complement to an Undergrad in Landscape Architecture? Pros and Cons?

  • This topic has 1 reply, 17 voices, and was last updated 9 years ago by nca.
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  • #168564
    Laura Kloosterman
    Participant

    What Graduate Degree would you see as the best complements to an Undergrad in Landscape Architecture? Pros and Cons? Are graduate degrees in LAA worth much in addition to undergrads in LAA? Then moving on to other fields what degrees work as natural complements and are they worth pursuing/ do they provide competitive advantage?

    #168593
    nca
    Participant

    A Masters of Landscape Architecture, duh..from Harvard GSD of course.

    Sorry, I felt compelled. If I could afford grad school I might consider something like environmental engineering. Others I’m sure will suggest an MBA.

    #168592
    Daniel Miller
    Participant

    I’d say it depends on your individual interests and what you want to get out of it. If your undergrad tailored more towards the practical side of the profession then maybe you pursue a graduate degree from a school that is more theory based. If you’re interested in natural systems then there’s always horticulture, urban forestry, hydrology, etc…. that all can complement specific fields of LA. Personally my interests are in the public realm and working at various scales to improve the built environment through thinking about how we design cities, so i chose urban design.

    it’s all a personal choice, but there’s probably 50 degrees that immediately correlate to LA, and another 100 or so that can be somewhat related.

    #168591
    nca
    Participant

    Daniel,

    Would you say that having the degree in Urban Design has given you a leg up on professionals at your level with only an LA degree? Or might you say that urban design/planning is a branch of design that can be self taught?

    The reason I ask is that I am very interested in urban design and planning for the same reasons you mentioned, but there is a VERY slim chance I’ll be able o attend grad school. Thoughts?

    #168590
    Daniel Miller
    Participant

    Nick,

    Hard to tell as of yet if it will give me a leg up on professionals without a MUD degree. I’m about a month out from completing my thesis and really getting into the job search. (I’ve sent out a number of resumes/portfolios so far, but as I’m sure you’ve heard — the market’s pretty slim.)

    As for the notion that Urban Design might be something that could be self taught…I’d be a little skeptical. I’m sure you’re smart enough to pick up a number of the ideas/principles that form the ideologies of urban design, but a year spent in academia really really helps the process. The time spent in school and the exposure to the types of projects and knowledge of faculty helps out more than I could ever imagine doing on my own. Being a LA, there was a steep learning curve in urban design because a lot of it has to do with architecture and how it balances with the landscape, networks, systems, transit, codes, planning, etc…. that I imagine would be difficult to really grasp on your own.

    If academia doesn’t work out my recommendation would be to find an urban design firm (or even an LA firm that does real urban design projects — not just projects in “urban” settings and calling it urban design ) and getting some real world experience that way. While not being a professional degree, it’s still a really complex understanding.

    If you’d like I can get you a list of books you can check out that are really good that may help you if you’d like to read up and see how well you can teach yourself. Best of luck.

    #168589
    Laura Kloosterman
    Participant

    My main considerations currently are Civil or Enviro Engineering. I already have the undergrad degree with a more than decent GPA and GRE score. I’m interested in urban design, but have no desire at all to get into the politics and paperwork of urban or regional planning. I’m just looking at the profession right now seeing the public perception of what LAA’s can do and considering if the Engineering background would change some of that perception. aka stormwater design stats, enviromental impacts etc. and possibly going into a masters thesis that explored those topics.

    #168588
    nca
    Participant

    I would love to have more background in civil design.

    We do alot of ‘community planning’ (ie subdivisions) and larger scale site and landscape planning/design and in all those types of projects I would like to have a stronger background in civil. That said, I don’t think I’d want to dig into all the minutiae of civil engineering — stromwater calcs, grading, etc.

    I am particularly interested in urban design and planning, more specifically ‘urbanism’ and wish I had a better understanding of real estate and financing. I have met quite a few urban designers/planners with secondary degrees in Real Estate, as well as MBA’s. I haven’t many many with civil degrees or even enviro planning.

    Thinking about it–I’d say your personality is going to dictate one or the other along with your chosen career path. I am interested in the nuts and bolts of design, while others Imight be interested in the ‘facilitation’ of a project. Two different peronality types in my opinion, and it’s rare from what (little) I’ve seen to find a person that does both well.

    #168587
    Daniel Miller
    Participant

    If you’re interested in urban design don’t confuse urban design with “the politics and paperwork of urban and regional planning.” Urban design and urban planning are different things. While all environmental design fields overlap and build upon another, these are two different fields of study/practice.

    #168586
    Laura Kloosterman
    Participant

    Thanks, Dan. I didn’t mean to confuse them. I meant to differentiate them. ( As in: “I like urban design, but not planning.’) However I suppose my understanding of UD is correlated to Nick’s comment that it was a subset of LAA and URP and could be learned at at office that did such work. Though I’ll agree that in an ideal grad setting with good professors one would be able to be exposed to a greater range of work at a more rapid pace.

    #168585
    Elizabeth Renton
    Participant

    i think that environmental engineering would be a great complement to your undergrad LA degree. I too have often thought about pursuing this…i’ve wondered if having that ‘engineer’ title behind my name would give me more respect outside of our discipline!! Too often i voice ideas at project meetings but they get quickly dismissed by a condescending engineer or architect. I’d love to have the scientific training and background to defend many of the biologically-based designs we present. Also i think there will be an increased demand for env. engineering services as society becomes more focused on sustainability issues.

    #168584
    Rick Kingsbury
    Participant

    In my opinion, you dont really need an MLA if you have a BLA, unless you plan to teach. I would suggest architecture.

    #168583
    Thomas J. Johnson
    Participant

    Why architecture? It seems that architects are just as over-worked, under-payed and /or out of work as landscape architects right now…

    I’ve thought about getting my MLA but I don’t know that it’s worth it. After spending $80,000 to get an MLA, will the pay increase upon graduation be significant enough to recoup the investment?

    I.E. If you currently make $45,000/yr, stop working, go back to school and spend $80,000 getting an MLA, the economic opportunity lost is $90,000 (two years not working) plus $80,000 for school makes the total investment $170,000!

    If upon graduation, you are making $55,000 (A $10,000 increase) it will take you 17 years to break even on the investment, not including interest on the loan or pay raises. Both architecture and landscape architecture seem to have a cap of around $60,000. Unless you make principal where you might make $150,000+/- but it will take 10+ years to get there.

    Does it make good financial sense to go to grad school?

    #168582
    Rick Kingsbury
    Participant

    I was not thinking about what might be the most employable post graduate degree, rather one that compliments landscape architecture. I have also found that having some background in architecture, in my case by work experience has been very helpful in my career and in my business. Do not expect any pay increase from an MLA unless you work for the government.

    #168581
    Thomas J. Johnson
    Participant

    Why get an MLA then, if there is no pay increase?

    I can buy and read a lot of books for $80,000 and not expect a pay increase either… What’s the point? Why do people get MLAs then? They love the debt? It’s a way to avoid the real world for two more years?

    All of my college professors graduated from The GSD, so I don’t think my education could get much better. I look at MLA websites and think, “we already did all of that…” I’ve also worked enough to know that most of what you do in school, isn’t what you would actually do in the “real world”. Why pay someone so much to exist in a fantasy world that won’t result in a pay increase?

    #168580
    Laura Kloosterman
    Participant

    Yeah, That’s not a foreign thought.

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