Grounded in our departmental mission of “environmental and social good,” we find it useful to clarify our degree offerings through reference to two different foci: the profession of landscape architecture and the discipline of landscape architecture, as follows:
Education focused on the profession of landscape architecture addresses the KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities) required to effectively practice the profession of Landscape Architecture.
Education focused on the discipline of landscape architecture philosophically addresses topics in landscape architecture by asking questions, questioning assumptions, and expanding thinking about the field of landscape architecture
With these broad definitions, we characterize our degrees in the following way:
- The B.L.A. addresses the profession of landscape architecture;
- The M.L.A. primarily addresses the profession of landscape architecture, but also engages in some meaningful exploration, through research and independent projects, of the Discipline of Landscape Architecture (note that this is a requirement of LAAB accreditation for the M.L.A.);
- The undergraduate Minor and graduate M.S. in L.A. programs address the discipline of landscape architecture, with the goal of creating new ways of thinking about topics, or even creating new knowledge.
- The M.P.S. in Geodesign addresses professional skills to practice this groundbreaking new approach to sustainable landscape planning and design.
- The Ph.D. in Architecture may be attained with a research focus in landscape architecture if the intended dissertation strategy would advance and/or be founded in the discipline of landscape architecture.
The Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (B.L.A.) is a five-year curriculum leading to a professionally accredited B.L.A. degree. It is designed to prepare graduates for either advanced study or professional careers. Click here to see some examples of our B.L.A. students' work.
The minor in Landscape Architectural Studies, as a non-professional opportunity, provides students with a broad understanding of the history, practice, and theories of how landscape architecture shapes the world, as well as the opportunity for more specialized study in selected topics within landscape architecture knowledge domains.
The Penn State Master of Landscape Achitecture (M.L.A.) degree provides real professional skills that prepare our graduates for real professional practice from the first day. Many practitioners opine that M.L.A.s are often good critical and creative thinkers, but not equipped with strong professional skills. In the Penn State M.L.A., you benefit from one of the strongest professional programs in the country and will be ready to hit the ground running upon graduation.
The Penn State M.L.A. effectively combines a professional education with experience in research. This dual curriculum provides a strong foundation whatever your aspirations: traditional professional practice, conducting research in a professional office, or teaching at the University level.
For those who already hold a B.L.A., the M.L.A. offers a curricular opportunity to turbocharge your professional skills by earning a certificate in Geodesign. For more information on this game-changing design strategy, see our Geodesign website: https://geodesign.psu.edu/.
Post-Professional Master of Science in Landscape Architecture
The Master of Science (M.S.) in Landscape Architecture is a two-year program that provides enhanced professional/scientific expertise to individuals who hold a professionally-accredited degree in Landscape Architecture or in Architecture. It’s a great opportunity for those who seek to gain research skills, whether for professional practice or as preparation for success in academic positions.
This research-focused degree lets students work with outstanding faculty across Penn State on a targeted research agenda that may range from Landscape Performance Assessment to Built Environment and Active Living to Integrative Conservation—the student and the advisor craft a tailored curricular path together to suit the student's goals.
Why consider Penn State’s online M.P.S. or Certificate in Geodesign?
For those who want to stand out in the profession or in academe, Geodesign provides a way to approach large-scale design and planning that is increasingly attractive in landscape architecture. Professional practitioners are now seeking out not only our graduates with Penn State’s excellent professional degrees (B.L.A. and M.L.A.); they’re increasingly interested in hiring our graduates who hold both those professional skills and skills in geodesign!
Geodesign is a cutting-edge design process that combines science and design. Through geodesign, we harness all the environmental/social/economic data available, add a smart strategy for stakeholder feedback and buy-in, and apply software that lets you instantly assess a design’s success in meeting your sustainability criteria. The sum is geodesign—a turbo-charged strategy for success in design and planning.
Penn State’s Geodesign program is offered wholly online, so students can study from anywhere. For more information see https://geodesign.psu.edu/
Geodesign Degree Options:
Master of Professional Studies in Geodesign (35 credits)
Graduate Certificate in Geodesign (14 credits)
Our Ph.D. focuses on the opportunities afforded by interdisciplinary collaboration through the Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. The curriculum is highly individualized: students first must complete the requirements of the M.S. in L.A. (or equivalent); then they undertake one year of required resident coursework, after which they complete dissertation research as required. This curriculum benefits from potential alliance with award-winning faculty University-wide. Opportunities include our Hamer Center for Community Design, the Stuckeman Center for Design Computing, and E+D: Ecology plus Design, which merges ecology and design in ways that improve the ecological function of the designed world. Students may also pursue a dual degree with Human Dimensions of National Resources and the Environment (HDNRE).
Note: For all graduate degrees, teaching and research assistantships are available competitively.
High School Summer Camp
The Penn State Department of Architecture and the Stuckeman School host an annual Architecture/Landscape Architecture Summer Camp each year. The program provides campers the opportunity to utilize the University Park campus facilities of the Stuckeman School and be mentored by faculty, alumni, and experienced undergraduate students.