Landscape Architecture - Three-Year Program
The three-year Landscape Architecture Program at the University of Michigan is designed to train students from a wide variety of undergraduate backgrounds and previous careers how to authentically employ ecological principles in the design of sustainable landscapes.
Aesthetic theory, cultural engagement, ecological function, and environmental justice all figure prominently in the curriculum. Being part of the School for Environment and Sustainability, our program also provides many unique and enriching opportunities for interaction and collaboration with faculty and students specializing in conservation biology, aquatic and terrestrial ecology, industrial ecology, environmental engineering, environmental justice, environmental psychology, environmental policy, and environmental economics.
To help designers bring new knowledge, technologies, and policy frameworks into their work, our curriculum is based on the practice of thoughtful discourse. It teaches you to reexamine the comfort of old conventions, theories, and methods and to take on new questions that have yet to be answered.
Our students learn how to look carefully at the landscape and its context, and to analyze its ecological and cultural dynamics. They learn how to utilize design precedent, academic research, and collaboration in the development of place. Studio experience prepares you to imagine and construct landscapes that seem entirely new and, at the same time, protect irreplaceable aspects of landscape function and history. You will learn how to visualize your ideas graphically, so that they can be evaluated, re-worked, and ultimately made better through a deeply informed iterative design process.
We also examine how design can respect communities by having students work in the field to experience urban and rural landscapes that pose a range of challenges. Many of our students take advantage of opportunities to learn from faculty working around the world, and to travel abroad to draw upon landscape design around the globe.
View the three-year program Requirements + Courses.
Create Your Path
Our program offers several options to create your own path based on specific interests. Dual degree programs are available in urban planning and architecture, and certificate programs are offered in spatial analysis, industrial ecology and real estate. In lieu of a traditional thesis, you may participate in an interdisciplinary, team-based master’s project.
Professional Licensure Disclosure
Landscape Architecture is a field that requires you have a license to practice. Our accreditation satisfies educational requirements for your license application.
The University of Michigan’s Three-Year Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program is accredited by, and satisfies academic requirements delineated by, the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB), and remains in good standing with Full Accreditation. Most landscape architects have an accredited degree in landscape architecture. The LAAB accredits bachelor- and master-level programs at 68 institutions across the United States.
The LAAB is the sole accrediting agency for the field, and as such it conducts regular visits to each of the undergraduate and graduate programs in Landscape Architecture across the U.S. to ensure that each accredited program meets benchmarks that are established by LAAB, ASLA (the American Society of Landscape Architects, the primary professional organization in the field), and CLARB (the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards).
Currently, all 50 states and the District of Columbia regulate the practice of landscape architecture. There are two different types of mandated licensing known as "title acts" and "practice acts." In states with "title acts," no one without a license may call him or herself a landscape architect. Under the provisions of "practice acts," no one without a license may perform the work of a landscape architect. Each state sets its own requirements for registration, but all states require every candidate to pass the four-part Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE). While education and experience standards ensure each candidate has been prepared to enter the profession, the LARE provides a definitive measure of competence to ensure each landscape architect will protect the public health, safety, and welfare. Skills tested include: project development; site suitability; stormwater management; erosion control; hydrology; and irrigation. Candidates also must demonstrate competence in such areas as: site planning and design; vehicular and pedestrian circulation; roadway alignment design; manipulation of contours and spot elevations; calculations of slopes, grades, and volumes of material; design of surface and subsurface storm drainage, including hydraulic characteristics and storm drain connections; and layout for playground equipment, site lighting, and other site amenities. The Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards develops and administers the LARE, and also maintains current information on the various states' licensing requirements. In addition to the LARE, most states additionally require 2-4 years of experience under a licensed landscape architect, and successful completion of the Landscape Architecture Registration Examination.
Compliance with state regulatory requirements is mandatory and is the only avenue to legal practice in the profession of Landscape Architecture. We advise you to contact the appropriate agency overseeing licensure in the state where you are located and, if different, the state where you intend to seek licensure, in order to find out more about the specific licensure act in that area. The American Society of Landscape Architects provides an easy reference to look up license requirements for each state (ASLA state-by-state Licensure Boards).
With an accredited degree in landscape architecture you can take the licensing exam after practicing under a licensed landscape architect for 2 years! Without an accredited degree, you may not be eligible until you have a maximum of 8 years of experience.
The Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards
Build Your Career
Students of SEAS three-year MLA program, go on to practice ecological design as part of urban design, brownfield redevelopment, historic preservation, land conservancy planning, landscape planning, and site planning. They work in all areas of the profession, from public agencies to private firms to non-profit/NGOs.
Our alumni are principals with Smithgroup, Bonner Associates Landscape Design, NineWest, Oehme van Sweden & Associates, HT Harvey and Associates, and DeVries Design, among many others. They work on projects ranging from neighborhood parks and city plazas to urban waterfronts, sustainable community design and development, stream restoration projects, and watershed management plans, Many other students practice in the public sector with agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, state-level departments of natural resources, and city and county park and planning agencies. In these settings, graduates often work as park, forest, wildlife refuge, or community planners.
Alumni of the LA program at Michigan also practice all over the globe, from South America to Asia, from Europe to Africa. Graduates of this program join their fellow SEAS graduates as a part of the largest alumni network on the planet. Walk down a boulevard in Paris, or hike along the Pacific Crest Trail with a Block M on and it won’t be long before someone says ‘Go Blue!’ For new graduates, this sort of international network has proven to be an invaluable resource as they begin their professional career.
Basic statistics on salaries and employment of recent graduates can be found in the MLA Career Website.
For more information on the two-year MLA program, contact [email protected].
Landscape Architecture Scholarships and Fellowships
After several years in the professional world, I was hesitant to return to school. That feeling was quickly eliminated once I took advantage of all the school and university communities had to offer. My program not only provided me with a deep understanding of the science behind the issues of my interest, but provided me with actual real world experience in addressing these issues and developing solutions. I could not have asked for a better graduate school experience. Go Blue!