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Graduate Degree Programs
Graduate Areas of Study in Landscape Architecture

The landscape architecture graduate degree programs provide a well-balanced curriculum in landscape architectural design and planning, coupled with opportunities to pursue individualized advanced study in a broad range of topics.

The diversity of faculty interests and expertise offer both M.L.A. and M.S. students opportunities for in-depth exploration in three areas of study: community design and planning, cultural landscape conservation, and landscape and urban ecology.

Community Design and Planning

The purpose of this area is to address design, planning and research with regard to human settlements including discrete traditional communities such as cities, towns, hamlets, and their hinterlands; regional and rural communities connected to agriculture, watersheds and forests; and specialized communities such as institutional and corporate campuses, co-housing and new towns.

The studios, seminars and lecture courses provide introductory and advanced exploration into the theories, principles and practices of design, planning, preservation, and revitalization, as well as the search for new paradigms. The courses are supported by a wide range of electives in departments at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Syracuse University. There are also a significant number of opportunities for public service and research in the communities of New York state and beyond.

This area of study is especially appropriate in an era that calls for the redefinition of the American city, the retrofitting of the post-WWII suburb, the conservation and rejuvenation of rural and regional landscapes, and the exploration of traditional and new design paradigms that create sustainable symbiosis of community, ecology and place. The courses explore how to design and plan the socially interactive, environmentally sound, aesthetically pleasing settlement patterns that engender a strong sense of place and of citizenship.

There are abundant opportunities for careers in urban design, rural preservation and development, city and regional planning and corporate facilities planning. This focus is for graduate students interested in design, planning and research at the community scale via public, private, academic or non-traditional practice.

Cultural Landscape Studies and Conservation

This area addresses a range of issues germane to the developmental and interpretive history of the cultural landscape. At its most fundamental level, the study area prepares students to address preservation planning and management for a range of cultural landscape types including historic sites and settlements, designed landscapes and vernacular landscapes.

There is also a growing set of interdisciplinary methods relevant to cultural landscape studies such as critical history, landscape representation, media, visual perception and reception of landscapes, interpretation, narrative and participatory design. Graduate students may explore and/or integrate these methods with design and preservation practices.

Required courses and directed electives provide the student with introductory and advanced investigations into the history, theory, and practices of cultural landscape design and stewardship, in the context of broader cultural and environmental concerns. Core courses are supported by a wide range of elective offerings both in the College of Environmental Science and Forestry and at Syracuse University.

The study of cultural landscapes is of vital concern in this era of globalization and rapid urban and suburban transformations. Not only are cultural landscapes important places in which we stage our lives, but they are also part of a larger system of cultural and social heritage which affects our identities as individuals, communities and nations. Areas of expertise associated with the study of cultural landscapes include preserving relationships between natural and cultural resources; developing policies and techniques for preservation, rehabilitation, restoration and reconstruction of cultural landscapes; mediating alternative ideas of stewardship and balancing them within a collective sense of place; using cultural landscapes as the basis for contemporary design and development; and understanding the variety and history of human experience through patterns, forms and stories in the landscape.

There are a growing number of domestic and international career opportunities that address cultural landscapes in public, private and academic practices. Graduates might work in fields such as preservation planning, sustainable tourism, land use planning, urban design, interpretive design, or cultural history and theory.

Landscape and Urban Ecology

The purpose of this area of study is to address a range of theoretical and practical applications in landscape and urban ecosystems as they relate to the practice of landscape architecture and community design.

In this contemporary interdisciplinary approach, students will learn about the structure, heterogeneity and ecological processes of a broad range of natural, modified and urban landscapes. People are recognized as an integral part of the landscape and are included as a major focus of research and practice.

Students have an opportunity to develop a theoretical and analytical framework for describing different landscapes and their ecological components from different levels: the individual organism perspective, a population and community point of view, and ultimately at the ecosystem level.

Landscape ecology includes an integration of landscape issues: disturbance, fragmentation, landscape manipulation, fundamental ecological processes, composition and structure, and environmental influences. Urban ecology includes integration of climatology, geomorphology and soils, hydrology, plant and animal communities, and ecological engineering and restoration. Both landscape and urban ecology are affected by human landscape perceptions, attitudes toward the environment or landscape types, patterns of settlement, and socio-economic issues and behavior. All these elements are used to develop an understanding of the ecological essence of landscapes in order to design ecologically sustainable settlements that promote human quality of life.

There are growing numbers of domestic and international opportunities that address landscape and urban ecology issues in academic, public, private and nontraditional practice. Graduates might be involved in research and consultancy in urban forestry, ecological design, and urban planning. This study area is supported by a wide range of electives in other departments at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Syracuse University as well as an urban forestry research program of the U.S. Forest Service based at ESF.