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Master of Landscape Architecture

Program Overview

Why Consider a Penn State M.L.A.?

Nationally, the M.L.A. degree focuses on providing preparation to enter the professional practice of landscape architecture. Of all of the M.L.A. programs in the United States, how does the Penn State M.L.A. stand out?

The Penn State M.L.A. 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 you 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.

Our M.L.A. degree is accredited by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB). Graduates are eligible to sit for the professional license exam (Landscape Architecture Registration Exam [LARE]). 

The curriculum was updated in 2018 to provide enhanced flexibility, efficiency, and support. Please see the M.L.A. Guidebook below for a sample academic plan and more information.

If you're considering applying, we would be more than happy to discuss our M.L.A. with you by email or phone. Please contact Stuart Echols, our graduate grogram professor-in-charge at or 814-865-1421. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing our M.L.A. enhancements! 

Who should consider pursuing a Penn State M.L.A.?

The M.L.A. degree is for students seeking professional training in landscape architecture. Our competitive, rewarding, and highly-ranked program (currently #7 nationwide according to DesignIntelligence, 2019-20) provides an outstanding degree for students from a diverse array of starting points, including but not limited to:

  • Change-of-career students, new to design, who seek an accredited, professional education that prepares them to enter the practice of landscape architecture; 
  • Students who already hold a non-accredited design degree and seek an accredited, professional education that prepares them to enter the field of landscape architecture;
  • Students who already hold an accredited bachelor's degree in landscape architecture and seek advanced breadth/depth of expertise.

Students who do not already hold a degree from a design discipline will be required to take the Summer Intensive Program, hosted annually in the month of June. Scholarships for that program may be available for qualified M.L.A. students.

Research Centers and Initiatives

Along with the resources available at a major research university (RU/VH-rated), the department has direct access to a specialized Architecture and Landscape Architecture Library. Our facilities provide a permanent studio desk for each student, and 24-hour access to our own state-of-the-art computer studios. Opportunities provided by the research engines within the Stuckeman School enhance the experiences of all students.

Stuckeman Center for Design Computing: A collaborative research and teaching studio-lab focused on developing and testing innovative computational design techniques.

The Hamer Center for Community Design: Building on nearly 20 years of experience, the Hamer Center explores three key topical areas: design/build, community-based research, and public interest design.

E+D (Ecology + Design): A collaborative of designers and ecologists who undertake research activated design intervention that improves the ecological health of the designed world.

A broad array of additional collaborative opportunities exists University-wide.


With a close-knit department of approximately twenty full-time faculty members, students really get to know their instructors over the course of their studies. Our faculty establish a supportive environment where students are active participants in learning and developing new skills and abilities. View the landscape architecture faculty.

Assistantships and Fellowship Opportunities

Teaching Assistantships: Teaching assistantships are awarded as available on a competitive, semester-by-semester basis. Criteria that are considered in making appointments include academic performance, prior TA proficiency (where applicable), and the match between the specific skills held by the graduate student and the task at hand. 

Research Assistantships: Quarter-time RAs are frequently available from our research centers or individual faculty on a competitive basis, as are grants-in-aid and graduate fellowships. Graduate students are apprised of these opportunities as they arise.

Fellowships: Fellowship opportunities exist both within Penn State and through external funding agencies. Our department had been particularly successful in garnering University Graduate Fellowships, providing stipend plus tuition for the first year for incoming students with outstanding credentials.

Please note: English Language proficiency information for TAs


Larch Graduate Programs Connections

M.L.A./M.S. in L.A./Ph.D. Program Contact
Stuart Echols
Phone: 814.865.9511

Geodesign Program Contact
Kelleann Foster
Phone: 814.865.9511

Visit Us

The best way to learn about a graduate program is to visit: meet with students and faculty, see student work, get a feel for the place. If you’d like to visit the Department of Landscape Architecture, feel free to contact Nina Bumgarner to schedule a day with us.

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Financial Aid: Graduate Programs

The department offers a limited number of teaching assistantships, which enables it to provide tuition and a stipend to about 60 percent of the students in residence. From time to time, the department is able to provide limited financial aid to others in the form of part-time employment. These assistantships are extremely competitive. Recipients are chosen primarily on the strength of their applications, as well as on their ability to satisfy the teaching and/or research needs of the department. The University offers other sources of aid, which are described on the Graduate School website.

Financial Aid Resources