Jul 13, 2024  
2024-2025 University Catalog 
2024-2025 University Catalog

Landscape Architecture, M.L.A.: 48-72 units

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Offered by: College of Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture Department

The Department of Landscape Architecture welcomes graduate students from any academic background who seek to improve the health and sustainability of environmental and social systems through designing our physical environment. Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) students learn design fundamentals and advanced methods for establishing strong, well-defined, and mutually life-sustaining systems that enhance relationships between people and the land. The program prepares students to be socially proactive, environmentally responsible, theoretically sophisticated, technically strong, professionals who utilize both science and critical curiously in making decisions to protect and improve both environmental and social aspects of our society.

Our learn-by-doing curriculum uses learning formats including but not limited to lectures, seminar session, design studios (labs), frequent guest reviews, discussions, and field trips. Our central location in southern California provides access to project sites and case studies across our local Mediterranean and Southwestern biomes from the seashore, coastal plains, mountains, inland valleys, and desert terrains, as well as metropolitan Los Angeles, San Diego, and beyond. Field trips are core to our program, with frequent site visits around southern California and beyond each semester.

The objectives of the MLA program encompass both a general professional educational background and advanced specialized study in human 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. Some of the evolving practices featured in the curriculum include:

  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Expanding the understanding of the role our landscapes have on our physical and mental health
  • Participatory design and social practices
  • Social justice
  • Advanced design methods and tools

The MLA program is especially committed to serving disadvantaged communities which otherwise lack resources to secure consulting service and technical support from environmental design professionals.

Students may also participate in courses and activities offered by many other departments and institutes on campus such as the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, an interdisciplinary laboratory for sustainable living.


Claire Latané, Chair
Weimin Li, Graduate Coordinator

Admission to the Program

The Master of Landscape Architecture program welcomes students from non-design academic disciplines to apply for the 72-unit three-year long MLA General Standing (first professional degree) program. General Standing courses may be satisfied by alternate means including waivers of selected courses based on previous academic and professional experience, or qualified units transferred from other academic programs upon the MLA Graduate Coordinator’s approval. Waivers and transferred units are not guaranteed, and will be approved case-by-case. 

Applicants holding an accredited Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture or a closely aligned environmental design discipline, may be considered for the Advanced Standing (Post-Professional) 48-unit two-year MLA graduate program. Admission to the Advanced standing program is not guaranteed. Admissions decision will be based on an applicant’s overall qualifications, experience, and available space. Contact the MLA Graduate Coordinator MLA@cpp.edu before applying for Advanced Standing is strongly encouraged.

All applicants are required to undergo transcript evaluation and portfolio review during the admission process. Unofficial transcripts can be used for this review process, but an official transcript must be submitted to the University’s Admission Office before officially registered in the program. Applicants interested in Advanced Standing track should demonstrate their additional academic preparation and/or professional experience in their portfolio and transcript, in addition to meeting all the General Standing admission requirements.

For admission to the Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program, an applicant must have received a baccalaureate degree and have attained an overall undergraduate grade point average of at least 2.5; the MLA program recommends a GPA of 3.0 or better. International students must meet or exceed the CSU minimum English Proficiency test scores. GRE scores are not required.

Application to the MLA program requires: A) the standard Cal State application submitted online via Cal State Apply (www2.calstate.edu/apply), and B) the following MLA Supplementary materials submitted directly to the Department of Landscape Architecture:

  1. Unofficial transcript
  2. International students need to submit English proficiency scores
  3. Portfolio demonstrating creative potential (20-pages maximum)
  4. Statement of Intent addressing relevant experience, fit to the program, and scholarly potential (600-words)
  5. Writing sample (400-words)
  6. Two letters of recommendation

Cal State Apply application and fees must be completed by February 1st, and all MLA Supplemental Application materials must be received by March 1st. Applicants are encouraged to contact the Department of Landscape Architecture and the University Admissions Office to confirm the critical dates in the admission process. See the department website (www.cpp.edu/la) for detailed instructions for applying to the MLA program.

Program Requirements

In order to earn the Master of Landscape Architecture degree, the student must: complete all curricular requirements including the culminating experience coursework within seven years of beginning the MLA program. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be maintained in all course work to satisfy degree requirements as well as in all graded course work attempted while in graduate standing at this university.

The General Standing (First Professional) plan requires 72 semester units of graduate work to be completed in the graduate degree program. Unless students receive waiver of courses or have transferred units approved, all General Standing students must finish 72 semester units to graduate.The Advanced Standing (Post-Professional) plan requires a minimum of 48 semester units of graduate work completed in the MLA program.

Elective courses should be approved by the graduate coordinator if they are outside the department or outside of the pre-approved MLA list of suggested electives.

MLA students may elect to participate in study abroad programs in consultation with the graduate coordinator for Landscape Architecture.


* Topics for LA 4782 , LA 4990 , and LA 5990  will be announced by the department for each semester.

Advanced Standing Students can take LA 5261 , LA 5582 , LA 5611 , and/or LA 5621  electives with permission of the Graduate Coordinator.


Co-requisites to the Master’s Project Culminating Experience courses are: LA 6071L , LA 6081L , and LA 6773  (taken in both fall and spring). The candidate must be enrolled in the university during the semester of graduation.


A minimum of 70% of all MLA (Major Required, Major Elective, and General Standing) coursework must be graduate level (5000-level or above); MLA students are recommended to not exceed 9-units of upper division Baccalaureate level electives to meet this requirement. To fulfill the 9-units of MLA electives, students may take any of the courses on the preapproved elective list in addition to the major electives listed here. LA 4782 , LA 4990 , and LA 5990  each have a 6-unit cap for credit limit to be counted towards the MLA degree. Refer to department website for extended and updated list of recommended elective courses. Consult with graduate coordinator about graduate level electives offered by other programs.

Study Abroad

Students participating in the Fall study abroad programs will take 15-units (Summer study abroad programs have 9- to 12-units) of the following courses as required by the particular international program. Please consult with the graduate coordinator and international program lead-instructor if considering participating in a study abroad program.

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