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Graduate Degree Programs
M.L.A. in Landscape Architecture

A three-year program for applicants who have no design or planning background leads to the fully accredited professional degree of master of landscape architecture (M.L.A.). This program is for students who intend to complete coursework full time. Applicants with a related design or planning degree may enter the three-year program with advanced standing.

The M.L.A. program, for the student seeking a first professional degree in landscape architecture, is a more tightly structured curriculum because it leads to the prerequisite work experience that qualifies the graduate for the Landscape Architecture Registration Examination (L.A.R.E.). In addition, M.L.A. students must complete an integrative experience. Students must participate in the capstone studio and complete a 6-credit independent design project during the final semester of the program. M.L.A. students must disseminate the results of their integrative studies through capstone seminars.

The degree is accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB).

Why ESF?

The Department of Landscape Architecture at ESF is uniquely situated within a leading college of environmental science. While there are many fundamental questions of the natural sciences needing answers for knowledge toward sustainability, sustainability is also a cultural problem involving actions by society influenced by cultural, political, economic and other forces. We believe that a comprehensive, systemic approach is needed. As a graduate student in the department of Landscape Architecture at ESF you will be challenged to help solve a number of pressing problems including:

  • the transformation of communities in rural and urban areas in New York State and globally to become ecologically functional, socially strong, and culturally authentic, balancing health for the environment and residents’ quality of life and livelihood;
  • making commonplace among the public knowledge of the ecological and cultural values of landscape;
  • empowering urban and rural communities, especially those of historical or current disadvantage, to shape the policies and environments that govern their quality of life;
  • engaging in transdisciplinary collaboration – complex problems are demanding the attention of multiple disciplines and sectors that need to know how to work together to create solutions that are transformational and which would not have been conceptualized otherwise.

Students in the graduate program in landscape architecture at ESF have an excellent opportunity to draw upon the extensive college expertise in ecology, natural sciences, resources management, engineering, forestry, and many other environmental disciplines. Add to this the resources available through Syracuse University, such as architecture, geography, and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and the breadth of academic choices offered to a student at ESF becomes very significant.

The city of Syracuse has the largest concentration of professional landscape architectural offices in the Central New York region. This centralized location also provides easy access to major metropolitan centers such as Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Buffalo, and to unique rural and natural landscapes, such as Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes, the Catskills, and the Adirondacks. Basic geography, therefore, provides the student with a wide diversity of natural and cultural contexts in which to pursue academic and career goals.

Prerequisites and Admission Requirements

Students seeking admission to the M.L.A. program may apply to enter based on education and experience. Admission requires:

  • An undergraduate degree
  • Graduate Record Examination scores
  • A minimum 3.000 (4.000=A) cumulative grade point average is generally required for admission. However, other circumstances may be considered (e.g., work experience) for those below this standard.
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A completed course is recommended in each of the following six areas:
  • botany, biology, or ecology
  • geology, geomorphology, or earth science
  • anthropology, psychology, or sociology
  • computer applications
  • drawing, drafting
  • art or architecture history
  • A portfolio of creative work, which may include samples of photography, writing, drawing, digital designs or other related artistic expressions. Portfolios can be returned if accompanied by a self-addressed, pre-posted return envelope.

Students seeking admission to the M.L.A. program with advanced standing must additionally provide:

  • Transcripts from an accredited or recognized design or planning degree with a minimum 3.000 (4.000=A) cumulative grade point average. However, other circumstances may be considered (e.g., work experience) for those whose credentials are below this standard.
  • A portfolio of design work

Applicants may be assessed as deficient in one or more areas deemed important to their admission to graduate study in the program. Courses taken to make up deficiencies (e.g., English for international students) may not count toward the credit hours required for the graduate degree.

Visits to the college are highly recommended.