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What is a Landscape Architecture Degree?
If the idea of planning and designing beautiful outdoor environments such as parks, playgrounds, and gardens interests you, getting a degree in landscape architecture may be something you’d like to consider.
A landscape architecture degree program teaches students both creative and technical skills, much like a degree program in general architecture does. However, instead of learning how to design and engineer structures and buildings, students learn how to design outdoor spaces and landscapes - from the creation of public parks to the design of residential estates and golf courses.
Students in a landscape architecture degree program learn:
- Landscape design
- Environmental design
- The use of hard (built) and soft (planted) materials
- Horticulture and botany
- Industrial design
- How to generate ideas with technical understanding
- How to use creative flair for the design and use of spaces
- How to use CAD software (computer-aided design)
- How to prepare master plans
- How to prepare detailed design drawings
- How to prepare technical specifications
- How to review proposals
- How to authorize and supervise contracts for construction work
- How to prepare design impact assessments
- How to conduct environmental assessments and audits
- How to integrate ecological sustainability
Associate Degree in Landscape Architecture - Two Year Duration
An Associate Degree in Landscape Architecture teaches students the basic principles of landscape design as well as basic construction methods. The curriculum typically includes coursework in: computer aided design (CAD), ecological sustainability, history of landscape architecture, landscape construction, ornamental horticulture, and site grading.
Individuals with an associate degree in landscape architecture can get entry-level jobs such as: lawn technician, park maintenance supervisor, and landscape management technician.
Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) - Four to Five Year Duration
Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA) - Four to Five Year Duration
There are two undergraduate degrees in landscape architecture to choose from—a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) and a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA).
Note: Anyone who’d like to use the title of ’landscape architect’ will have to graduate from a professional program in landscape architecture. Make sure the program you are looking at is accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB), as many employers required this. Just because a program is a BLA or BSLA does not include or exclude it from accreditation. Each program is judged individually by the board on curriculum, credit hours, and faculty qualifications.
The Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) is a specialized and professional program—it is accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board, and leads to licensure (however, it is important to verify this and not take it for granted). Several BLA programs are available in the United States—curriculum and requirements will vary by institution.
The Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA) is a non-professional program and is not accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (there may be exceptions to this). Students graduating with this degree and wanting to obtain a professional degree and licensure must continue their education and get a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) degree.
Examples of classes in these programs are: history of landscape architecture, geology, plant and soil science, surveying, landscape design and construction, landscape ecology, site design, computer-aided design (CAD), drafting, model building, professional practice, urban and regional planning, and general management. Students are also assigned real projects so as to get real-world experience.
Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) - Two Year Duration
The Master of Landscape Architecture degree program is designed for students who would like to increase their credentials and who would like to focus on a specialized area of landscape architecture. Examples of classes are: landscape history and theory, site analysis and planning, and management of environments.
Completion of this master’s program is also appropriate for students who have a non-professional undergraduate degree—such as the Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA) degree—and are seeking to obtain licensure and the title of ’landscape architect’.
Most states require landscape architects to be licensed in order to practice. Licensing is based on candidates passing the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE), which is sponsored by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards.
Degrees Similar to Landscape Architecture
A degree in horticulture includes coursework in: soil fertility, plant biology, floral art, propagation, and crop production. Graduates are able to work as greenhouse or park managers, landscape designers, greenskeepers, horticulture consultants, or florists.
Plant Science (or Botany)
Plant science, a branch of biology, is the science of plant life. Students study plant growth, reproduction, evolution, and adaptation and get hands-on experience in plant ecology, systematics, physiology, botany, genetics, agriculture, ethnobotany and biotechnology.
The career paths for plant science majors are plentiful. Graduates are able to work as landscape scientists, crop consultants, plant biologists, greenhouse managers, and plant breeders (just to name a few).
A degree in architecture appeals to people who have an interest in and an appreciation for both the sciences and the arts. This is because architecture is itself the art and science of designing and engineering structures and buildings. It is a field with a foundation in creativity, technology, and social and cultural trends.
Urban and Regional Planning
Urban planners design communities and determine where the buildings that architects design will go. They must also make these decisions while considering the placement of roads, highways, utilities, parks, and other urban projects.
This degree field is focused on the design of neighbourhoods, towns, and communities. Its area of study is the integration of streets, parks, public infrastructure, and privately owned residential and commercial spaces. Students learn to develop environmentally responsible plans and designs for use of land and natural resources. Typical courses include landscape architecture and urban planning.
Skills You’ll Learn
Graduates with a landscape architect degree will be able to provide creative and aesthetically-pleasing environments for their clients. Though there is no single skill or ability that guarantees success, there are many skills that students are taught throughout their education, such as:
- Analytical skills
- Communication and negotiation
- Curiosity, creativity, and imagination
- Critical thinking
- Environment and life sciences knowledge
- Passion for design
- Verbal and written skills
- Leadership skills
- Lateral and spatial thinking
- Drawing skills
- Computer-aided design skills
- Client management skills
- An eye and attention to detail
- Listening skills
- An understanding of conservation issues
What Can You Do with a Landscape Architecture Degree?
Landscape architect graduates are employed in private, public and academic organizations, such as:
- Architectural firms
- Civil engineering firms
- Land planning and development firms
- Federal, state, regional, and municipal agencies
- Forest service
- National park service
- Soil conservation service
- Bureau of land management
- Department of transportation
- Urban planning
- Academia (colleges and universities)
- Teaching in community colleges
- Teaching in continuing education programs
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