Landscape architecture is a professional design discipline that addresses both the built and natural environments. It focuses on the design, analysis, and planning of outdoor spaces across a wide range of scales, with the intent of creating places that are both meaningful and functional. Landscape architects design everything from infrastructure elements, such as roadways, drainage systems, and parks, to prominent cultural monuments and gardens for public and private housing units. The education of a landscape architect includes aesthetic design skills, the development of social and environmental ethics, technical design skills, knowledge of a wide range of natural processes, an awareness of design history, and skills for working with other people. At the University of Washington, the focus is on urban ecological design education, which allows students to make a difference in the future of cities and urban regions all over the world.
The Department of Landscape Architecture offers the following programs of study:
Bachelor of Landscape Architecture
Department Admission Requirements
Core courses within the department form a seven-quarter curriculum designed to start autumn quarter of the junior year. Students take a sequence of seven studios, other sequential skills-based courses, theory courses, and directed electives. Admission is competitive. Completion of the requirements listed below does not guarantee admission. Admission is based on academic record, a portfolio of creative work, three letters of recommendation, and other application materials. Refer to the department’s website, http://larchwp.be.washington.edu/ to select “undergraduate program” link from the “admissions” bar for application materials and detailed information on admission, prerequisites, and required coursework.
*L ARCH 300 can be counted toward general education requirements. Other L ARCH courses which are not required within the BLA program, or as admission requirements, may be counted for general education requirements. Students planning to complete the degree in seven quarters should complete all departmental general education requirements prior to starting the degree.
Minimum 182-183 credits, to include:
General Education Requirements (69-70 credits): L ARCH 300 and other L ARCH courses which are not requirements, either within the BLA program or as prerequisites, may count toward I&S/NW/VLPA requirements.
Major Requirements (minimum 113 credits)
Minor Requirements: Minimum 25 credits, consisting of 20 credits of L ARCH courses open to non-majors; 5 credits of courses 200 level and above from within the College of Built Environments or from ESRM or GEOG courses; 2.0 minimum grade in all courses counted toward the minor
Student Outcomes and Opportunities
Graduate Program Coordinator
Master of Landscape Architecture
The MLA program, accredited by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board, offers training in design and inquiry. Design studios form the core, supported by rigorous independent investigation in seminars and a thesis project. Students develop a specialty within the discipline, under professional guidance of the faculty. The curriculum emphasizes the following:
Urban Ecological Design. The Pacific Northwest environment offers an excellent opportunity for courses and thesis projects to explore connections between culture and nature and test ideas on how social and spatial conflicts between development and conservation might be addressed. Faculty are particularly interested in the changing roles of familiar urban and suburban landscapes, as these areas are increasingly expected to function as part of an ecological infrastructure. At the same time, diverse human cultural communities have developed with differing perceptions of and values for these changing landscapes. The department offers students the opportunity to study the rich cultural resources of these human communities as they develop new relationships to their environments, and to participate in this overlap between natural and cultural processes. The department currently offers study abroad programs in Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Europe, and East Asia as well as opportunities to work with local communities and public agencies.
Design Leadership. The faculty trains students to be leaders in design practice and education to help both children and adults understand the consequences of human transactions with the natural environment. Courses are offered and research is conducted on designing outdoor educational environments. Graduate students are encouraged to develop independent leadership skills which provide them with self-confidence and adaptability in a rapidly changing professional world. The primary areas in which students are encouraged to develop leadership abilities are definition and practice of design as a basis for interdisciplinary work; environmental education and application of ecological concepts to urban design; use of communication technology to develop creative solutions to cultural and environmental conflicts; and international design-build projects in which students confront the global nature of contemporary development issues.
The program considers applicants with and without previous design education, and encourages applications from persons with diverse academic and professional backgrounds. The faculty admits those with a range of ages, backgrounds, and interests. Students benefit from the location of the department within a broad research university by adding elective courses in other disciplines to their core curriculum. In addition, graduate students may elect to participate in College-wide certificate programs in Urban Design, and Preservation Planning and Design. See program descriptions in the College of Built Environments section.
Minimum 72 credits
Requirements are arranged to fit each student's background. Seminar and field courses help students achieve their educational goals and develop a credible specialty area (12 credits), depending on their individual interests. Students with a previous degree in landscape architecture begin coursework with the required graduate curriculum studios, while students from other educational backgrounds begin with the basic core design studios.
A thesis or capstone project is required, that allows the student to develop greater intellectual maturity and satisfaction by pursuing a topic she or he has selected out of personal interest. The thesis or capstone project also allows students to demonstrate a professional level of mastery of a specialized subject area. Students complete either a written and graphic product or a purely written product for the thesis. Four models are available: the professional project thesis, the design critique thesis, the research thesis, and the design thesis. Students choosing a capstone project can either work on a Group Project Option or a two-quarter Studio Option. Students make choices about the type and methods of thesis or capstone project in conjunction with their thesis committee members and/or faculty adviser.