Top Programs for Master’s in Landscape Architecture in the US

Master’s in Landscape Architecture in the US

A Master’s in Landscape Architecture in the US is a postgraduate program where students study the various elements of landscape architecture, including design, engineering and environmental science. Students often choose to specialise in areas such as urban design and environmental planning. This Master’s program provides the full range of knowledge to develop comprehensive landscape and planning solutions. US schools have a longstanding tradition of teaching landscape architecture as a separate academic discipline, beginning with the founding of the Department of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University in 1900.

What Is a Master’s in Landscape Architecture?

Many schools throughout the US offer a Master’s in Landscape Architecture program. Generally, these programs take about two years to complete. Some universities offer part time options or extended three-year programs for students without an undergraduate background in architecture or design.

Students entering into a Master’s in Landscape Architecture program will encounter a variety of other disciplines. They will explore other subjects that affect and give context to the design and planning of landscape architecture. Landscape architecture is concerned with visual aesthetics, but also with issues such as impact on the local environment, functionality and safety. With this in mind, many programs will integrate at least some of the following into the Master’s in Landscape Architecture curriculum:

  • Ecology
  • Art history
  • Urban planning and design
  • Sociology
  • Cultural studies
  • Engineering

Students will explore the various ways in which landscape architecture must serve multiple purposes. Successful design means not just producing something that looks nice. According to the outlook of most Landscape Architecture departments, designing a landscape means considering the potential short and long term impact of the design on local environments and communities.

A typical curriculum for Master’s students who already hold an undergraduate degree in Landscape Architecture or a related discipline will assume that students are conversant with the basic tenets of design. With this in mind, the usual coursework will include a few seminars of foundational theory courses, with the majority of the curriculum consisting of electives. Some schools encourage specialisation in areas such as city planning or environmental engineering, while others make it an option while allowing students to take courses in all areas. Some typical courses might include:

  • Theories of Urbanism
  • Representation in Landscape Architecture
  • History of Urban Intervention
  • Plant and Animal Life in Landscape Architecture
  • History of the Built Environment in the US
  • Sustainable Development
  • Designing With Water

Courses will also include studio practice and seminars in digital media, drafting and other visual arts.

Three-year Master’s programs also include a set of basic courses in design and architecture theory for students without a relevant background.

What Are the Benefits of Getting a Master’s in Landscape Architecture in the US?

Many US schools, including top universities such as Harvard and UC Berkeley, offer excellent Master’s in Landscape Architecture programs. US schools were among the first in the world to begin developing landscape architecture as an academic discipline. Many US Landscape and Architecture university departments offer students a variety of resources such as top faculty, high-level research and internship opportunities and access to advanced digital technology.

Studying landscape architecture at a US university usually means exposure to many additional disciplines. Students learn to place landscape design in the context of its natural and human environment. The holistic approach embraced by most US programs leads to a deeper understanding of materials, landscape elements as well as environmental and social impact of landscapes.

What Kind of Career Can You Expect With a Master’s in Landscape Architecture?

Graduates of a Master’s in Landscape Architecture program typically pursue careers as landscape architects. The Master’s degree can be helpful in opening up senior-level opportunities as well as increasing the chances of obtaining employment with a prestigious firm. Landscape architects may work for a government agency, a large landscape architecture firm or as independent contractors.

The work of a landscape architect can vary greatly and depend on your particular area of specialisation. Most often, landscape architect work in one or more of the following areas:

  • Residential development
  • Corporate sites
  • Urban planning
  • Historical restoration
  • Parks and playgrounds

Most states in the US require special licensing for landscape architects in addition to a professional degree. Graduates should consult local laws and requirements for practice.