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Landscape Architecture Degree Program
The Master of Landscape Architecture program at The University of Arizona prepares students for the practice of landscape architecture and engages them in applied scholarship with an emphasis on sustainable strategies.
The Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program fosters a culture of creative thinking and collaborative learning through innovative teaching, design studios, interdisciplinary coursework and community-based projects. The program prepares students for professional practice through integration of scientific knowledge and artistic intervention to achieve design outcomes that demonstrate sustainable technologies, sociocultural integration, and aesthetic experiences which create meaningful, livable, and healthy outdoor environments.
Within this context, the central theme of sustainable design is characterized by the study of landscape ecology, landscape planning, cultural landscapes, design history and theory, and technical, graphic and digital media training. Students are prepared for entry-level practice through involvement in a variety of project types and scales including community and campus master plans, urban park systems, plazas and green streets, brownfield remediation, habitat creation, neighborhood design, and more. The program utilizes Tucson and the unique Sonoran Desert environment as a learning laboratory for applied research and community-based projects involving a variety of stakeholders. The MLA program is designed for individuals without prior training in landscape architecture, but students with prior degrees in landscape architecture or architecture can enter the program with advanced standing. Students graduate fully prepared for professional practice and as scholars of the discipline.
The MLA program is located within the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture (CAPLA), a national leader in sustainable design, planning, and real estate development. As a professional college, CAPLA’s Core Mission and strength is training architects, landscape architects, and urban planners to work effectively within a challenging array of social, economic, and environmental conditions. As a campus leader in community engagement, CAPLA advances the University’s historic land-grant mission through design and planning assistance to diverse communities throughout the state of Arizona, the United States, and beyond.
Landscape architecture students come from diverse backgrounds with degrees in architecture, business, environmental sciences, geography, health sciences, humanities, landscape architecture, planning, political science, public health, regional development, fine arts, and many other disciplines. Student interaction and interdisciplinary learning are important values in studio culture. Each MLA student has a desk in a spacious studio which is shared with graduate planning and architecture students. Class size is small, averaging 12 MLA graduates per year.
Upon graduation, our students are well prepared to find internships and employment with governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, or private sector firms, while some continue on to pursue doctoral degrees.
Award-winning facilities support student cooperative learning through flexible workspaces that are spacious, bright, and airy. Multiple computer labs offer state-of-the-art technology including GIS and geodesign labs that facilitate best practices in planning and design decision-making. The award-winning building includes student work spaces and studios that have spectacular multi-story views of the Santa Catalina Mountains. CAPLA’s Underwood Family Sonoran Landscape Laboratory is a high performance demonstration garden flanking the building’s south side that employs arid land sustainable design principles including water harvesting, storage, and re-use.
Kirk Dimond discusses a design project with an MLA student in CAPLA’s Sundt gallery.
Faculty in the MLA program are diverse in their backgrounds, experience, and professional and scholarly interests. They provide a wide range of expertise in landscape architecture and allied fields (architecture, planning, natural science), creating an integrative environment in which students are exposed to a broad array of landscape architectural practice. Faculty hold degrees in fine arts, environmental planning, horticulture, landscape architecture, plant sciences, and natural resources.
Faculty engage in research and scholarship across disciplines including water and natural resource management; city planning and urban design; health and educational environments; arid lands and urban ecology; artistic and cultural landscapes; GIS and geodesign; green infrastructure; and the emerging field of landscape performance.
Professional Organizations and Partnerships
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has a mission “to advance landscape architecture through advocacy, communication, education, and fellowship.” The University of Arizona Student Chapter ASLA is the official student body organization recognized by the national and local chapters of ASLA. Elected officers of the Student Chapter ASLA are chosen annually to represent the MLA student body. Acting as a liaison between students, ASLA and practicing professionals, the student chapter works to promote the field of landscape architecture, make recommendations about the program and studio to the Director, host visiting speakers and scholars and organizes various scholarly and social activities. All students are encouraged to participate.
ALSA 3rd Floor Studio: This student-run organization offers professional development opportunities to graduate landscape architecture students while providing pro bono design and consultation to the Tucson community. Members have worked on several projects which include playground designs, schoolyard and community gardens, and an ADA accessible backyard.
Interdisciplinary Partnerships: The MLA Program has built interdisciplinary relationships with academic departments, centers, and institutes across the campus as well as with community groups, public agencies, and private corporations around the important topics of urban revitalization, landscape performance, water and habitat conservation, green infrastructure, cultural heritage and interpretation, visual quality, outdoor learning, transit, and health and well-being. Faculty and students engage with other UA units including the Institute of the Environment, College of Science, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, College of Education, Eller College of Management, College of Public Health, and the Water Resources Research Center. Research and outreach partnerships have included the National Park Service, the Navajo Nations, and local government agencies including Pima County, City of Tucson, and the Arizona towns of Bisbee, Greer, Marana, Nogales, Phoenix, Pinetop, Show Low, and Springerville. Faculty and students have partnered with organizations including Biosphere 2, Rain Bird, and the Raytheon Corporation. International relationships have been developed in Puerto Lobos and San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico; Amman, Jordan; Panama City, Panama; Birzeit, Palestine; Muscat, Oman; and Jilin, China
A Vibrant Community
Tucson is a welcoming and diverse community surrounded by five majestic mountain ranges. The Tucson basin boasts a rich cultural heritage and a UNESCO World City of Gastronomy designation, and hosts many nationally renowned events such as the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, All Souls Procession/Day of the Dead, and the Tour de Tucson bike race. The SunLink Streetcar connects the University of Arizona campus to Fourth Avenue, Tucson’s downtown, and the Westside Mercado District. Southern Arizona, with 350 days of sunshine each year, is known for its abundant outdoor opportunities including hiking, biking, birding, and rock climbing.
Diversity and Inclusion
The University of Arizona and the School of Landscape Architecture and Planning is committed to creating and maintaining an environment free of discrimination. In support of this commitment, the University prohibits discrimination, including harassment and retaliation, based on a protected classification, including race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetic information. We are dedicated to inclusive excellence; the recognition and acceptance of the talents, worldviews, perceptions, cultures, and skills that diverse communities bring to the educational enterprise that can be harnessed to prepare students for leading, living, and working in a diverse world.
Please refer to the Office of Diversity & Inclusion for more information and resources.
Landscape Architecture Information
- Curriculum and Degree Information
- Admissions, Costs & Financial Aid
- Public Information on Program Performance
- School of Landscape Architecture and Planning Bylaws