Choosing Your Path

Originally published: 
December, 2018

Multiple Degree Programs: MS, MLA, PhD

  • The degree Master of Science (MS) is the largest program at SEAS. Our Master of Landscape Architecture degree — typically a three-year program — is both one of the nation’s oldest and among the very few programs in the world that employ ecological principles authentically in environmentally responsible design. The elite PhD program includes five years of full funding.
  • All master’s degree students complete an opus — a thesis or major project. Thesis is the more traditional option; project is the more popular. Master’s thesis work spans the entire program, while project work spans roughly 15 months. Projects are conducted by interdisciplinary student teams working with real-world clients on actual sustainability issues.

We asked several students what brought them to SEAS, and how they chose their path to earning their master’s degree. Read the text of their responses, or watch the video below.


Shannon Sylte, MLA ’19: So, of all of the masters of landscape architecture programs I was looking into, the SEAS program has a really great foundation in ecological design, which is a rarity in the landscape architecture world.

Dahlia Rockowitz, MS ’18: And I really wanted to get more of an academic grounding on issues of the environment and justice. And so what brought me to SEAS is the particular focus on environmental justice, both as a field of study and as something that is woven throughout the curriculum.

Jessica Robinson, MS ’18: I'm really interested in agroecology and in sustainable farming, so my passion for forest ecology kind of informed me and inspired me to think about how agricultural systems should work.

Dahlia Rockowitz, MS ’18: So, I'm a part of a team of five students who are working together on a master's project. And our client is an organization called EcoWorks, which is based in Detroit.

Cailin Buchanan, MSE/MS ’18: I think I want to work for a national lab. That's why I decided that a thesis was the best option for me, so that I could demonstrate that I have research experience and have the engineering capability as well as the sustainable systems thinking approach.

Jessica Robinson, MS ’18: I kind of took more of a non-traditional route in the lab, and I'm doing a master's project rather than a thesis. And so I'm not doing my research in Mexico like the rest of the group. But instead, I'm doing my research in this area, in Jackson and Washtenaw County, and doing more of a socio-ecological project.

Krutarth Jhaveri, MS/ESS ’18: Since I am a bit academic-oriented and I enjoy research, I have been considering a PhD. So that too, and then I'd probably do a joint PhD between the college of engineering and SEAS.

Dahlia Rockowitz, MS ’18: My particular interest is more in the social sciences, but I appreciate that the curriculum really encourages students to explore beyond their interests or expertise. So, it's been really fun trying to learn more about natural science, and doing some fieldwork, and really expanding my own knowledge and experience.

Tara Narayanan, MS/MS ’17: My perspective has changed completely. The way I see my country now is very different, and the way I seeenvironmental issues is very different. I definitely would say that I have a lot more maturity.