Apr 11, 2021  
2018-2019 University Catalog 
2018-2019 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Landscape Architecture, M.L.A.: 60 units

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Offered by: College of Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture Department

The Department of Landscape Architecture welcomes graduate students from a variety of academic disciplines who are concerned with the shaping of our physical environment. Students learn current and advanced methods for establishing strong, well-defined, and mutually life-sustaining and enhancing relationships between people and the land. The curriculum emphasizes case study projects at scales varying from the garden to the region. Our learn-by-doing education uses learning formats including but not limited to lectures, seminar session, studios, frequent jury reviews, discussion, and field trips. The program prepares students to be socially proactive, environmentally responsible, theoretically sophisticated, technically strong and thus become both scientifically rational and curiously critical in making decisions to protect and improve both environmental and social aspects of our society.

Students with degrees in non-design disciplines take a series of preparatory courses designed specifically to meet their needs. These introductory courses, which begin in Fall semester, will normally require one year (i.e. two semesters) of study before the students proceed into the degree program. Completion of the degree program requires four semesters in residence for students with bachelor's degrees in landscape architecture or architecture. Students seeking a first professional design degree will have six semesters (2 Preparatory, 2 Conditional, and 2 Unconditional) in residence for completion of degree requirements.

The Department of Landscape Architecture considers its location in southern California to be a unique advantage for the study of landscape and environment. The presence of sea coast, mountain and desert terrain as well as one of the major metropolitan centers in North America offers a unique opportunity for professional study. Project sites may range throughout the greater Southern California region. Field trips are core to the program and a variety of areas and locations throughout the state are a regular aspect of the graduate program. Applicants to the program should anticipate frequent field trips as an essential part of their studies. Students may also participate in courses and activities offered by the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, an interdisciplinary laboratory for sustainable living, located on campus.

As of fall 2007, all undergraduate and graduate students entering the College of Environmental majors are required to purchase a computer (preferably laptop) that meets minimum specifications (please contact the department for details). Financial aid assistance for this computer purchase is available to students qualifying for Federal Student Aid (requested via the FAFSA application). Please contact the University's Office of Financial Aid (909-869-3700) for additional information.


Andrew O. Wilcox, Chair
Weimin Li, Graduate Coordinator

The objectives of the graduate program encompass both a general professional educational background and advanced specialized study in Ecosystematic Landscape Design and Planning. This focus is featured with extensive research into the bio-physical and socio-cultural inventory of landscape systems and the interplay among them; in-depth analysis on the patterns, trends, and relations of highly relevant natural and social processes and other factors; considerate programming based on client, stakeholder, and community input collected via social surveys, public meetings, focus groups, and activities; rational systematic planning to create strong sustainability and connectivity; and creative site design solutions to construct vibrant, safe, and culturally friendly places.

In addition, the program embraces new directions reflecting the ever-changing issues and needs of the landscape and human society that calls for new theories, principles and methods. These new directions in the curriculum include but are not limited to:

  • Climate change adaption design, which address knowledge on landscape mitigation strategies that if employed at mass scale, can help reduce GHG emissions (ASLA, 2016), adjust global and micro-climate, protect natural resources and wildlife habitats, promote local agriculture, and foster community resiliency against climate change;
  • Participatory design and social practice, which seeks to create places that reflect and serve diverse cultural, ethnic and economic communities by involving users in the entire process of creating and improving their own landscape.
  • Geodesign, which embraces and utilizes big data and the latest geospatial technologies to empower human capability in scientific rationalization to address complex and systematic landscape design challenges that are otherwise difficult to address; and
  • Urban sustainable landscape design that brings in creative landscape strategies to sequester carbon, clean the air and water, increase energy efficiency, restore habitats, and create value through significant economic, social and, environmental benefits (ASLA, 2016).

Upon completion of the degree requirements the graduate should achieve the following learning outcomes:

  • SLO1 Critical Thinking - Demonstrate critical thinking skills and creatively apply them to resolve ecological, social and spatial problems, while advancing current disciplinary concerns within the context of environmental design.
  • SLO2 Design Foundation - Demonstrate a strong understanding of design theory, history and methods of communication based on the principles of sustainability, regeneration, and ecosystematic design.
  • SLO3 Ecological Processes - Identify and interpret ecological patterns and processes at multiple scales and relate them to the develop design, planning and vegetative strategies to address ecological problems, including, preservation, restoration, regenerative design and sustainable use of resources.
  • SLO4 Cultural Processes - Identify and interpret cultural and historical patterns and processes at multiple scales as needed for designing for a diverse society.
  • SLO5 Disciplinary Knowledge - Creatively apply theories, techniques, skills and tools necessary for landscape architecture, with explicit regards to ecological sustainability, resiliency, and the protection of public health, safety and welfare.
  • SLO6 Digital Skills - Apply hands-on computer skills and information technologies in planning and design process and products. 
  • SLO7 Professional Responsibility - Show a sense of responsibility, integrity and ethical concern as related to ecological, social, and cultural issues related to the professional practice of landscape architecture.
  • SLO8 Professional Development - Demonstrate teamwork and leadership skills in a variety of professional roles and contexts, including individual and team projects, as well as interdisciplinary collaboration and participatory settings.
  • SLO9 Communication - Effectively express and deliver design ideas, information and solutions visually, verbally, and in writing to a variety of audiences.
  • SLO10 Multi-cultural Perspectives - Pursue challenging educational and service opportunities to the public within the diverse and evolving multicultural regional context of southern California.
  • SLO11 Research - Pursue scholarly or practical research with appropriately developed research questions, qualitative or quantitative methods, and documentation in the context of environmental design.

Admission to the Program

Admission to the Master of Landscape Architecture program requires an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 (B) or better. An applicant with an average between 2.5 and 3.0 will be considered for admission if other qualifications can be demonstrated.

Admission as an unconditional graduate student requires a professional design degree (such as landscape architecture) with requisite experience in design, construction, and plants. Applicants with degrees in other disciplines are admitted as conditional graduate students. The conditions of admission are described in the section on "Curricular Requirements."

Applications are accepted from students with degrees in all disciplines. Applicants who have developed skills and knowledge in areas directly applicable in landscape architecture, such as ecology, geography, or fine arts, may be given priority in selection.

In addition to the standard university application forms and official transcripts, which must be submitted to the university Admissions Office, the Department of Landscape Architecture requires supplementary materials as noted.  See the department website for submission guidelines.

  1. Statement of intent addressing relevant experience, fit to the program, and scholarly potential.
  2. Two letters of recommendation
  3. Evidence of creative potential ("portfolio")
  4. Graduate Record Exam scores

February 1 is the usual deadline for application with support materials also due February 1st, however applicants should contact the Department of Landscape Architecture and the University Admissions Office for the critical dates in the admission process.

Program Requirements

Admission to the program does not admit a student to candidacy for a degree. Advancement to Candidacy is granted a student upon the recommendation of the graduate faculty and implies a readiness to attempt the project or thesis. Students who are not candidates are not eligible to register for LA 6941 Thesis/Project Research  or LA 6071L Integrative Design and Planning Laboratory .

In order to advance to candidacy for the Master of Landscape Architecture the student must: (1) satisfy all admissions conditions, if any; (2) satisfy the Graduation Writing Test; and (3) with the graduate advisor, develop and file a program of study and have it approved by the Graduate Studies Analyst, and by the graduate coordinator for Landscape Architecture. The curriculum specified in the program may be altered only by written petition, which shall be submitted in accordance with university regulations.

Curricular Requirements

  1. A minimum of 60 semester units of graduate work must be completed in the graduate degree program. Prerequisite courses in the first preparation year are in addition to this minimum. Upper division courses in elective and minor emphasis areas must be approved by the student's advisor if they are not on the program's approved list of electives. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be maintained in all courses taken to satisfy degree requirements as well as in all graded course work attempted while in graduate standing at this university.
  2. No more than 9 semester units of acceptable graduate credit may be transferred from another graduate institution. No more than 9 semester units taken through Extended University may be used on a contract. No more than 9 semester units of acceptable graduate credit may be petitioned by an undergraduate student. A total limit of 9 (semester) transfer, Extended University, or units petitioned for graduate credit may be included on a master's contract. The stipulated time limit of 7 years applies to all of the above.
  3. All graduate students in landscape architecture need to finish 36 semester units of required MLA core courses as listed in the following: LA 4782 , LA 4771 , LA 4781 , LA 5772 , LA 6071L , LA 6081L , LA 6111L , LA 6121L , LA 6441 , LA 6451 , LA 6771  and LA 6772 . Students with a degree in landscape architecture have the option of including one preapproved landscape history courses (LA 5261 , LA 5271 , LA 4251  or LA 4872 ) as directed elective to satisfy degree requirements if it is their preference.
  4. In addition to the above, the following courses are required for first professional design degree students: LA 3581 , LA 3611 , LA 3621 , LA 5111L , LA 5121L , LA 5261 , LA 5271 , LA 5581 , and LA 5771 . Additional courses may be required for students without adequate preparation for graduate study in landscape architecture.
  5. First professional degree students may also choose to participate in a study abroad program and take LA 4811L , LA 4251 , LA 4872 , LA 4873 , LA 4990 , LA 5990 , LA 4251  and/or additional courses offered while they are overseas.
  6. Each student must also select either the project or thesis track to fulfill their terminal requirement as follows:

    a. Project Track: LA 6941  and LA 6951  (3 units each).
    b. Thesis Track: LA 6941  and LA 6961  (3 units each).

  7. Additional elective content is required to satisfy the minimum unit requirements for the Master of Landscape Architecture degree. Courses may be selected from offerings in the College of Environmental Design as well as other colleges.
  8. The candidate must be enrolled in the university during the quarter of graduation.

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