Master of Landscape Architecture Curriculum & Courses

Learn how to synthesize art with ecology to create public and private outdoor places that matter.

Our place-based MLA curriculum takes advantage of the Sonoran Desert to inspire artistry and form-giving with sustainable design. In this diverse laboratory, connections are made between desert ecology and our rich cultural heritage.

At CAPLA, our 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 MLA 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.


The Studio Sequence

A series of design studios form the backbone of our dynamic curriculum, giving students the opportunity to engage in design thinking and explore innovative solutions to real built environment challenges.

These studio courses combine theoretical exercises with community interaction to create engaging leaning environments that maximize professional skill-building with applied research. Students and faculty work together to advance the profession by addressing site and landscape planning issues to explore the ways designed landscapes can educate and inspire communities toward social equity, human and environmental health and cultural identity.


Independent Research

Every MLA student completes an independent master’s report or thesis during their final year in the program. This in-depth research and design project allows you to explore specific areas of interest while applying the skills you’ve gained throughout your time in the program.

Often students build on past professional experiences when selecting their projects. This opportunity encourages students to integrate their diverse educational backgrounds and unique skillsets into their landscape architectural education as they challenge the limits of design and transformative landscape architecture technologies.


Curriculum

76 units of coursework are required to earn the Master of Landscape Architecture degree.

Review Master of Landscape Architecture curriculum by semester and year or view or download the MLA program overview and curriculum:

FALL 1

Course # Course Title Units
LAR 510 Design Studio I 6
LAR 520 Plant Materials 4
LAR 540 Contemporary Landscape Architecture 3
LAR 554 Site Engineering 4
  TOTAL 17

SPRING 1

Course # Course Title Units
LAR 511 Design Studio II 6
LAR 523 Landscape Ecology 3
LAR 555 Landscape Construction 4
LAR 541 History and Theory of Landscape Architecture 2
LAR 530 Introduction to Digital Media (or alternate elective)* (2)
  TOTAL 15-17

FALL 2

Course # Course Title Units
LAR 610 Design Studio III 6
LAR 526 Planting Design 4
LAR 570 Introduction to GIS for Planning and Landscape Architecture 4
  TOTAL 14

SPRING 2

Course # Course Title Units
LAR 611 Design Studio IV 6
LAR 623 Landscape Planning Studio 3
LAR 596B Landscape Architecture Seminar II 1
LAR 560 Professional Practice 2
  TOTAL 12

FALL 3

Course # Course Title Units
LAR 612 Design Studio V 6
LAR 596C Landscape Architecture Seminar III 2
  TOTAL 8

SPRING 3

Course # Course Title Units
LAR 596D Landscape Architecture Seminar IV 2
LAR 909/910 Master's Report/Thesis** 6-9
  TOTAL 8-11

* One elective is required. Electives must be approved by the academic advisor.

** Master’s Report (LAR 909) or Thesis (LAR 910) units can also be taken during the last 3 semesters, if you wish to keep minimal units for your last semester. If this is the case, we suggest you take 2 units in Spring 2, 3 units in Fall 3, and 1 unit in Spring 3. If you have an assistantship in the final semester, you can add an additional 3 units to remain full-time. Most students complete a master’s report, so LAR 909 is the appropriate course number. These units are separate from the seminar class.

Suggested Elective Options

FALL

  • LAR 550 Green Infrastructure (3 units)
  • LAR 571F Introduction to Heritage Conservation (3 units)
  • PLG 501A Planning Theory and Practice (3 units)
  • PLG 597S Sustainable Urban Development and Design (3 units)
  • RED 507 Survey of Responsible Real Estate Development (3 units)
  • SBE 580 Research Methods (3 units)

SPRING

  • LAR 530 Introduction to Digital Media (2 units)
  • LAR 597J Documentation and Interpretation of the Historic Built Environment (3 units)
  • RED 521 Placemaking and Urban Form (3 units)
  • PLG 508 Climate Action Planning (3 units)
  • PLG 560 Land Use Planning Law
  • PLG 576 The Land Development Process (3 units)
  • PLG 595A Geodesign Studio (3 units)

 


Accelerated Master’s Program

Students in CAPLA's Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments have an opportunity to advance into the Master of Landscape Architecture by participating in the Accelerated Master's Program (AMP). Other students may be eligible for advanced standing. For more information and to evaluate whether you are eligible for the AMP or advanced standing, please contact Emilio Romero, graduate services coordinator.

Accelerated Master’s Program: Bachelor of Landscape Architecture Example

BLA SPRING 4 Additional Coursework

Course # Course Title Units
LAR 596B Landscape Architecture Seminar II 1
  TOTAL 13

MLA FALL 1

Course # Course Title Units
LAR 596C Landscape Architecture Seminar III 1
SBE 580 Research Methods 3
  Elective 3
  TOTAL 8

MLA FALL 2

Course # Course Title Units
LAR 596D Landscape Architecture Seminar IV 1
LAR 909/910 Master's Report/Thesis 9
  TOTAL 11

Courses

The master's courses listed here align with the degree curriculum above, and are subject to change. For more information, contact an academic advisor or view all master's courses offered by the School of Landscape Architecture and Planning.

This is a studio course that introduces the fundamental principles of design and how they relate to the practice of landscape architecture. Course work will include projects meant to develop students’ graphic and design communication skills while increasing their understanding of design, landscape planning and the design process.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 6

This course focuses on design processes, graphic and verbal communications, and design synthesis. Studio projects are based on site ecology, inventory/analysis, socio-cultural factors, and artistic principles of design.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 6

Laboratories focus on identification and description of native and select exotic landscape plants frequently used in landscape design and revegetation in the Southwest. Lectures emphasize terminology, plant care and maintenance and influence of site conditions and requirements on plant selection.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 4

The emphasis of this course is the understanding and subsequent use of principles of landscape ecology. This will be accomplished through the study of how spatial heterogeneity in landscapes influences various ecological processes in natural and created landscapes.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

Principles of planting design, planting design process, and functional and aesthetic uses of plants in designs are discussed. Studio projects focus on development of planting plans for sites with various scopes and conditions.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 4

his two-credit studio exposes students to basic and advanced elements of media design communication in landscape architecture and planning. Through tutorials and exercises, using several industry-standard computer applications, we will work to increase our knowledge and skill in computer graphic conventions and techniques.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 2

This course examines 20th and 21st century prominent design figures that have shaped the profession of landscape architecture. Through case reviews of built works including significant gardens, urban designs, recreational areas, corporate landscapes, restored natural sites, heritage sites, waterfront projects, resorts, etc., we will explore the evolution of design ideology and theory in applied landscape architectural practice.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

This course examines landscape architecture from an historic and contemporary perspective as reflected in theory and practice. Through case reviews of built works including significant estates, gardens, urban designs, park systems, corporate landscapes, restored natural sites, heritage sites, waterfront projects, resorts, etc., we will explore the evolution of design ideology and application of theory in the practice of landscape architecture.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 2

This course will introduce the concepts and techniques used in the growing field of human use management in outdoor recreation settings. The focus is on the sociological dimensions of the recreation experience and an understanding of the principles, practices, and dilemmas of outdoor recreation management in natural areas.

Fully Online

Typically Offered: Fall 

Units: 3

The goal of this course is the advancement of students’ knowledge and capabilities regarding Green Infrastructure concepts and the issues and techniques involved in implementation of Green Infrastructure. The course provides an overview as well as more in-depth coverage of the science, practical context, and creation of Green Infrastructure. The built environment of arid regions is emphasized, with Tucson Case Studies providing practical focus to content and learning objectives. The term Green Infrastructure, as used in this course, aligns with the following EPA description: “Green infrastructure uses vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage water and create healthier urban environments... at the scale of a neighborhood or site, green infrastructure refers to stormwater management systems that mimic nature by soaking up and storing water.”   The course features lectures, interactive discussions and presentations, and guest presentations and tours led by experts in their fields. Students take a series of quizzes, a mid-term and a final exam, along with a number of homework assignments / exercises. A special research report is required of Graduate Students.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

Engineering aspects of landscape design site planning. Development of technical competency in grading, storm water management, and earthwork utilizing aesthetics and design principles as well as an understanding of ecological sensitivity and landscape performance.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 4

Laboratories focus on identification and description of native and select exotic landscape plants frequently used in landscape design and revegetation in the Southwest. Lectures emphasize terminology, plant care and maintenance and influence of site conditions and requirements on plant selection.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 4

This course will address issues associated with professional practice for design and development students, including: professionalism, registration, relationships and roles for various disciplines, professional roles, services and fees, construction contract documents, bid documents and procedures, and business organization and operation.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 2

The two emphases of this course are on 1) landscape planning theory and 2) the use of computer-aided spatial analysis techniques within a GIS to solve landscape resource-based problems and develop alternative planning and design solutions. Students will learn techniques in planning and regional landscape resources: visual simulation, computer map overlay, resource modeling, application of research into automated decision-support systems, solving problems through the use of automated spatial modeling and analysis.

Typically Offered: Fall 

Units: 4

An overview of the interdisciplinary paradigms, principles, programs, and players in the field of heritage conservation ranging from local to international contexts.

Fully Online

Typically Offered: Fall 

Units: 3

The emphasis of this course is t he study and application of the approaches and processes used for completing a master’s report or thesis for the MLA. This is accomplished through:1) an introduction of the research process typically used in landscape architecture for development of a master’s report or thesis, 2) application of the process through class assignments and 2) present at ions of the third-year students’ re search work in their final semester of study. Content for third-year student presentations builds on results completed in the previous semester seminar, 596C. Second-year students will be exposed to a diverse assemblage of work related to the master’s report or thesis in landscape architecture,providing them with a foundation for evaluating their research focus for their final year. This course provides third-year students with sufficient organization and discussion to encourage formulation of results for completion of their re search at the end of the semester.

Typically Offered: Spring 

Units: 1

Understanding of and applying the process involved in completion of a thesis or master’s report in landscape architecture.

Typically Offered: Fall 

Units: 2

This course introduces students to design problems of increasing depth and complexity, and continues developing their skills in graphic and verbal communications. Studio projects emphasize site planning for large sites and/or complex programmatic requirements and begin to integrate practical considerations such as development standards. Students are expected to address site context, ecology, sociocultural factors, and artistic principles of design in all project work.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 6

This is a studio-based course where students will produce professional-quality urban design work. 

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 6

This is a required studio course in the Master of Landscape Architecture curriculum. Green infrastructure is a resilient, cost-effective approach to planning, design, and managing ecologically integrated human settlements. This studio course will introduce the planning, design, and policy aspects of green infrastructure implementation in sustainable development. The course will focus on water-sensitive design approaches for stormwater management through lectures, homework assignments, discussions, field trips, and a final studio project.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 6

Individual study or special project or formal report thereof submitted in lieu of thesis for certain master's degrees, or research for the master's thesis (whether library research, laboratory or field observation or research, artistic creation, or thesis writing).

Typically Offered: Fall/Spring 

Units: 6-9


Accreditation

The University of Arizona Master of Landscape Architecture is fully accredited through the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB).

Public Information on Program Performance for the MLA program is available.

Ready to make your impact through sustainable design?

Learn more about the Master of Landscape Architecture by contacting Emilio Romero, graduate services coordinator, or review the admissions process and begin your application now:

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