The 10 Best Landscape Architecture Programs for 2014


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The field of landscape architecture is expected to experience significant job growth over the next several years. According the statistics reported by the United States Department of Labor, the employment rate for landscape architects is projected to increase by an astounding 20%. Populations around the globe are expanding. Growing populations are creating a need for development while the strain of development on the natural environment and resources is creating a need for trained individuals capable of balancing both facets without causing detriment to one for the other. Landscape architects are included among the professionals responsible for managing the two. The landscape architect works in collaboration with other professionals to create functional designs. However, while other professionals are concerned with the practicality of the project, it is the responsibility of the landscape architect to create a beautiful project design, like some of these top beautiful schools, while ensuring the continued sustainability of the natural resources and ecology of the area being developed.

Landscape architecture has become one of the premier occupations of today; ranking among the best professions to enter. Providing the opportunity to contribute to the protection of the environment and natural resources while performing an essential service, the field is both challenging and fulfilling. The profession requires individuals with skills in creativity, science, problem solving, collaboration and an aptitude for technology. Individuals entering the profession will require knowledge and training in a vast array of disciplines and subject areas. Practical experience is essential to developing an inherent understanding of the various aspects of the field. The landscape architecture profession is competitive with most employers and clients seeking individuals with industry experience, even for entry level positions. It is exceedingly important to obtain an education in landscape architecture from a college or university with a comprehensive degree program which incorporates experiential training with academic studies. Selecting an institution with accreditation through the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board will ensure the quality of the program.

10. University of Georgia

The College of Environment and Design at the University of Georgia was established in 2001. However, the university has offered degree programs in the field since the late 1920’s. The University strives to advance the existing knowledge in the field through research and education and disseminate new knowledge in order to improve the responsible development of both the built and natural environments. Concerned with the preservation and protection of the environment and natural resources, the University of Georgia endeavors to train ethical and responsible leaders prepared to meet the challenges of the landscape architecture profession. New degree programs and areas of study are incorporated into the college by the University of Georgia in an effort to remain abreast of the advancements and evolving needs of the field. The degree programs offered within the college are comprehensive and interdisciplinary; ensuring students are trained in both theory and practice. The program has received accreditation through the American Society of Landscape Architects.

The Bachelor of Landscape Architecture offered at the University of Georgia is a five year program. Students receive comprehensive training in a multitude of subject areas essential to the field including construction, engineering, environmental issues, community impact and plant species. The requisite courses include the core areas of mathematics, history and English and a number of elective requirements in language and culture. The major courses of study include reading the landscape, environmental issues, design communication, history of the built environment, landscape architecture design, plants, dwelling and the community and region, site and place. The degree program includes studio courses, the assignment of a senior project and a summer internship which must be completed. The curriculum is designed to meet the varied needs of the profession, providing training in design and graphic arts, computer and technical applications, the scientific and mathematical subjects and encompasses the regulatory aspects.

University of Georgia Landscape Architecture Program – Link

9. Purdue University

The Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Purdue University, since its modest origins in 1884, has earned national regard for their high quality degree programs and commitment to community outreach, research and the advancement of knowledge. Purdue University endeavors to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to become responsible professionals capable of developing innovative and aesthetically appealing solutions to the challenges of the landscape architect profession. Students who choose to pursue a degree in landscape architecture at Purdue University will have the opportunity to study abroad, participate in groundbreaking research and outreach projects and the highly regarded and unparalleled cooperative education program. Graduates of the programs at Purdue University have become internationally renowned educators and researchers in their fields employed by governments, corporations and organizations around the world.

Purdue University offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in landscape architecture. The five year undergraduate professional landscape architecture degree program equips students with the analytical, technical and creative design skills necessary to create environmentally harmonious landscapes which are both beautiful and functional. The curriculum is tailored to develop the students’ skills in planning and communications and knowledge in environmental sciences, regulations and drafting. Students enrolled in the program are required to complete four years of academic study and one year of cooperative work experience. Courses include survey of landscape architecture, graphic communications for students of landscape architecture and design, statistics, woody landscape plants planting design, site systems, computer technology in design, history and theory of landscape architecture and a range of design, communication and science electives.

Purdue University Landscape Architecture Program – Link

8. Kansas State University

The College of Architecture and Design at Kansas State University, established in 1963, boasts origins dating back to the late 1800’s. Kansas State University is committed to providing superior quality educational programs, advancing knowledge through research and improving the quality of life through academic endeavors. The college is credited as a visionary in the design fields and has become a model for departments and programs across the nation. A leader in multidisciplinary educational degree programs, the college provides its students with training in the various disciplines affecting the success of the design and planning of the natural and built environments. The success of the programs is attributed to the unique educational approach which provides students with in depth understanding of the reciprocal connections and correlation of the various disciplines to design. Students are prepared with the skills and knowledge necessary to become responsible leaders in any of the numerous specializations in the field of landscape architecture concerned with the preservation of the environment and human health.

The degree programs in landscape architecture offered at Kansas State University are comprehensive interdisciplinary programs. Students have the option of pursuing a five year professional Master’s degree in landscape architecture or a traditional master degree program for students already possessing an undergraduate degree. The programs are consistently reviewed and updated to ensure students receive the most current knowledge and training in the field. Students enrolled in the degree programs will develop essential skills in critical thinking, research, communication and design. The curriculum includes coursework in history and theory, design processes, modeling, resource assessments and management, construction fundamentals and ethics. Students will complete courses in planting design, land construction, woody plan material, design graph and visionary thinking, site design, expository writing, introduction to planning, community planning and design and environmental issues and ethics. The program includes a range of studio courses, field trips and requires students to complete an internship.

Kansas State Landscape Architecture Program – Link

7. University of Pennsylvania

The School of Design within the University of Pennsylvania, though established in 2001, traces its history in landscape architecture back to 1914. Since its inception, Penn Design has earned its ranking among the top programs in the nation due to the exceptional curriculum and research efforts and its award winning, expert faculty members. Penn Design is dedicated to promoting innovative design solutions utilizing creativity and practical application of theory. A strong emphasis on global perspective ensures Penn Design graduates are prepared to meet the challenges of an increasingly international employment platform. The cutting edge degree programs are consistently updated to include the most current knowledge and tools and derive additional support from the other disciplines within the school. The department offers its students the benefits of extensive academic resources from within the department and extending throughout the university and facilities equipped with the latest technological tools.

The comprehensive Master of Landscape Architecture professional degree program offered at Penn Design incorporate a fervent interdisciplinary approach. Two program tracks are provided; a three year program for students without an undergraduate degree in landscape architecture or architecture and a two year program designed for students who do. Dual degree programs are offered combining the landscape architecture program with city planning, fine arts or architecture and certificate programs are available in urban design, landscape studies, historic preservation or real estate and development. The curriculum encompasses extensive areas of relevance to design and planning; history, contemporary urbanism, ecology, new media; construction, project management, horticulture and technology. The program prepares students for projects of any scale; from small gardens to entire city sectors. Students learn the conceptual and technical skills essential to success. Coursework is taught in seminars, lectures, studios and workshops. Students are afforded the opportunity to attend lectures by internationally renowned experts in various aspects of the field.

University of Pennsylvania Landscape Architecture Program – Link

6. Louisiana State University

The School of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University is dedicated to the advancement and discovery of new knowledge and the application of existing knowledge for the betterment of the human condition. The University has consistently demonstrated its commitment to this goal through community outreach and service projects throughout the region. The superior education programs offered at Louisiana State University are continually revised and updated to incorporate new discoveries and ideologies in the discipline. The University’s close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico the Lower Mississippi Delta region offer the unique advantage of an abundantly productive ecological landscape location from which landscape architect students can learn and derive new knowledge. At Louisiana State University, students are trained to become leaders in a profession which is constantly evolving and to develop and explore viable and innovative alternatives and solutions to the complex issues confronted by professionals in the field of landscape architecture.

Students can pursue a Bachelor or Master of Landscape Architecture at the School of Landscape architecture within Louisiana State University. Both programs are accredited through the American Society of Landscape Architects. The program curriculum includes 39 credits in general education courses such as English, science, social science, humanities and art. The students must complete 90 credits in requisite landscape architecture courses in the areas of graphic representation, theory, methods, construction and history and 21 credits in elective courses. Students are permitted to develop an area of specialization through elective credits. Courses include physical geography, landscape representation, views of the American Landscape, Landscape design, plane trigonometry, landscape ecology and plant materials. Students are required to compile a portfolio which are evaluated and critiqued at certain academic junctures by expert faculty members. The three year master degree program is challenging and requires students to select from a studio option, written thesis or independent project with a faculty supervisor during the final semester.

LSU Landscape Architecture Program – Link

5. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The School of Architecture and Design at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University provides internationally renowned academic program, expert faculty instructors and exceptional facilities. The department endeavors to prepare graduates to meet the challenges of a dynamic and complex field; equipping them with the multitude of skills and knowledge essential to success in the profession. A range of degree and special study options are offered to the students including dual degree programs, residency programs, travel programs and special programs for directed study. Internship opportunities are offered within the country and in other countries for academic credits. Students are offered opportunities to participate in study abroad options on six continents or specialized domestic study programs. Student autonomy is strongly encouraged and the university strives to instill a habit of participation in life long learning options.

Both the bachelor and master degree programs in landscape architecture have ranked consistently among the top five programs in the nation. The 157 credit bachelor degree curriculum emphasizes the design aspect of the field focusing substantially on conceptual development, the foundational elements of design and visual experimentation in correlation with the scientific methodologies. Students are required to complete 36 credits in general core curriculum and 97 credits in landscape architecture core courses. The lecture courses are balanced with design studio requirements. The courses include evolution of the American landscape, environment and natural systems, seeing understanding representing landscape, social and cultural landscape, land analysis, physical geology and plant taxonomy or woody plant identification. Students enrolled in the master degree programs can either complete the three year first professional program for students who do not possess an undergraduate degree in the field or the two year advanced program for students who do.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Landscape Architecture Program – Link

4. Cornell University

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University is regarded as an international leader in education and research. The pioneering research performed at Cornell University has resulted in substantial contributions in the advancement of knowledge regarding plant and animal health. The Department of Landscape Architecture, established in 1904, endeavors to produce socially responsible and creative graduates. The flexible curriculum permits students to tailor the program to their individual interests. Students are encouraged to explore innovative and functional solutions for the challenging problems associated with the profession. Emphasis is placed on the importance of conservation. The courses are taught be world renowned experts and educators. Students are afforded the benefit of the extensive resources associated with the college and the cutting edge facilities which include state of the art technology and tools.

The Department of Landscape Architecture offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the field. Students enrolled in the undergraduate program complete coursework in both theory and practice. Required courses include integrating theory and practice, medium of the landscape, grounding in landscape architecture, photography and the American landscape, site construction, site engineering, urban design and computer applications in landscaper architecture. Undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate in research or teaching for academic credits, complete studio courses and attend field trips. General core curriculum includes courses in written and oral expression, social sciences, humanities, physical sciences or biological sciences. Concentration areas are developed by students and include fine arts, design studios, urban remediation, green architecture, landscape art, landscape history, landscape preservation and historic preservation.

Cornell University Landscape Architecture Program – Link

3. California State Polytechnic University

The Department of Landscape Architecture at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona acknowledges the enormity the pressures of the expanding populations around the globe are placing on the natural environment and its resources and the vital importance of responding appropriately to the circumstances to ensure the future health of human kind. The concepts of sustainability, regeneration, livability and ethical and responsible development are of utmost concern to the university. Cal Poly, as it is known, is renowned for their efforts in communicating these principals to their students as well as the general population. The university strives to train future leaders in the various fields who will be equipped with the skills and knowledge to meet the complex challenges facing the globe and discover creative and innovative solutions to the vital issues. Cal Poly is located in the ecologically and environmentally abundant surroundings of Southern California where students have the advantage of studying first-hand many of the terrains and elements examined in the classrooms; deserts, mountains, coastal regions and even metropolitan areas.

At Cal Poly, students can pursue a Bachelor of Science in landscape Architecture or a Master of Science in Landscape Architecture, both of which are accredited by the Landscape Architectural Board. The curriculum encompasses a range of approaches intended to promote student inquiry through factual case studies, lectures and studio courses. Coursework provides foundational training in design, preservation, land use, management, ecology, graphic communications, plants and planting design, construction methods and environmental history. The program prepares students for service on small private projects as well as large scale public projects. Design studies are not limited to the aesthetic value of the design, but also focus on critical and practical issues centered on the ecological, environmental and consequences of the plans. Students are equipped with the analytical tools necessary for field interpretation and developing spatial and temporal scales. Students are offered the option of participating in the Italy study abroad program for the fall semester of their undergraduate senior year. Two master program options are offered; two year plan for students with an undergraduate degree in the field of landscape architecture and the three year program for those without.

California State Polytechnic University Landscape Architecture Program – Link

2. Texas A&M University

The Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M University is one of the oldest programs of this nature in the nation, boasting beginnings in 1913. The Department earns its ranking among the top in the nation due to its high quality, dynamic curriculum, extensive resources, successful research efforts and dedicated, expert faculty members. The university endeavors to improve and sustain the built and natural environments through the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge, education and community outreach. Faculty members offer expertise in a wide range of vital areas to the landscape architecture profession and participate in the intensive research projects seeking solutions to sustainability of human and natural ecosystems, management of natural and man made hazards and viability of communities. Texas A&M University promotes life long learning and the value of collaboration and ethical responsibility.

Students have the option of pursuing the Bachelor or Master of Landscape Architecture, both accredited through the Council of Landscape Architecture, as well as several certificate programs. The interdisciplinary program provides training in all aspects of the landscape architecture and the related fields necessary to successfully create and implement beautiful and effective environmentally functional designs. The curriculum includes training in the areas of planning and analysis, sustainability, design, research and technical and computer applications. Students complete course work in science, art and technology and develop skills in critical thinking and problem solving. Required courses include digital communications, design processes, introduction to landscape architecture, and survey of world architecture as well as a range of general education courses in science, mathematics and written communications. The master curriculum includes the areas of erosion control, plant material, history, and various design, construction and planning components of the field.

Texas A&M Landscape Architecture Program – Link

1. The Ohio State University

The Knowlton School of Architecture at Ohio University offered its first courses in landscape architecture in 1915 and has since evolved into a top ranked nationally renowned program within the department. The department endeavors to remain ahead of the landscape architecture field in technology and knowledge through vigorous academic inquiry and research resulting in accurate forecasting of the future. Students are encouraged to develop innovative and creative design solutions to the environmental concerns and issues of the landscape architecture field steeped in practicality. The degree programs have a strong emphasis on experiential learning. Located in the Great Lakes basin and in close proximity to the Appalachian mountains and Great Plains, students are afforded the opportunity for first hand study of the very regions and environmental factors being discussed in the classrooms. Students are given the opportunity to complete seminar courses which include summer trips to international locations and design seminars and exploration of key areas of concern.

The Bachelor of Science and Master Degree programs at the Knowlton School of Architecture in Landscape Architecture are multidisciplinary and comprehensive and are accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation board. Students develop intensive analytical and creative abilities. The curriculum exposes students to a range of design and planning philosophies as well as traditional theory and technical and scientific methodologies. The programs are both directed and flexible; requiring students to complete a specific sequence of courses as well as selecting courses intended to develop an area of specialization. Courses include landscape architecture survey, outlines of landscape architecture, basic design, landscape studio, design on the land, design communication, site planning and landscape plants. Students are required to complete a number of general education core courses in science, mathematics, social sciences and English. The master degree curriculum provides in-depth study of various areas of the field as well as opportunities to participate in scholarly research.

The Ohio State University Landscape Architecture Program – Link

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