Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Degree Programs 

Landscape Architecture

Department Overview

348 Gould

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.

Undergraduate Program

348 Gould, Box 355734
(206) 543-9240, (206) 685-4486

The Department of Landscape Architecture offers the following programs of study:

  • The Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) degree
  • A minor in urban ecological design
  • Certificates in Urban Design and Historic Preservation (see College of Built Environments)

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.

  1. 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, to select “undergraduate program” link from the “admissions” bar for application materials and detailed information on admission, prerequisites, and required coursework.
  2. Minimum 69 credits
    1. Departmental Pre-professional Requirements (12-16 credits): L ARCH 300* (usually offered autumn and summer quarters) and two of the following: L ARCH 322 (spring quarter); L ARCH 341 (autumn quarter); L ARCH 352 (autumn quarter); L ARCH 353 (winter quarter); L ARCH 361 (winter quarter); L ARCH 363 (spring quarter). For transfer students, these seven courses may be taken through UW’s Professional and Continuing Education as non-matriculated students prior to admission to the UW.
    2. General Education Coursework: minimum 69 credits to include 5 credits of English composition; 4-5 credits of Quanitative and Symbolic Reasoning; and 60 credits selected from the following Areas of Knowledge: Visual, Literary, & Performing Arts (20 credits); Individuals & Societies (20 credits); Natural World (20 credits), of which one course (usually ESS 101, or equivalent) is shown as the prerequisite for ESS 315/ENVIR 313 or ESS 301

    *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 finish all departmental general education requirements prior to starting major requirements.

  3. Application Deadline: 5 p.m. the first day of spring quarter for the following autumn quarter. Admission is for autumn quarter only. Applications must include BLA application materials. Students should apply during their second college year to make satisfactory progress toward the degree.

Program Requirements

Minimum 182-196 credits

General Education Requirements (69-83 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.

  1. Written and Oral Communication (5 credits): one 5-credit English composition course from the University list. 10 additional writing credits are required, but can be met by major core courses.
  2. Visual, Literary, & Performing Arts (VLPA) (20 credits): L ARCH 300; 14 additional VLPA credits; drawing class recommended
  3. Individuals & Societies (I&S) (20 credits)
  4. Natural World (NW) (20 credits): one course (usually ESS 101, or equivalent) shown as the prerequisite for either ESS 315/ENVIR 313 or ESS 301; additional NW credits to total 20 credits
  5. Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning (QSR) (4-5 credits)
  6. Diversity (DIV) (3 credits): Some courses may count for both DIV and I&S.

Major Requirements

Minimum 113 credits

  1. Studio Classes: L ARCH 401, L ARCH 402, L ARCH 403, L ARCH 404, L ARCH 405, L ARCH 474, L ARCH 475
  2. Planting Design: L ARCH 424
  3. History: L ARCH 352 and L ARCH 353
  4. Theory: L ARCH 341, L ARCH 361, L ARCH 363
  5. Graphics: L ARCH 411, L ARCH 440, L ARCH 441
  6. Professional Practice: L ARCH 473
  7. Construction: L ARCH 431, L ARCH 432, L ARCH 433
  8. Hydrology and Soils: L ARCH 434
  9. Plant Identification: either BIOL 331/ESRM 331, BIOL 317, or equivalent course approved by department
  10. Managing Plants: either ESRM 473, ESRM 474, ESRM 479, or ESRM 480
  11. Geology: Either ESS 301 or ESS 315/ENVIR 313
  12. Directed Electives to bring major total to 113 credits, chosen from approved lists maintained by the department: two 1-to-5-credit courses in ecology and forestry, totaling at least 6 credits; one 3-to-5-credit course in environmental legislation/law; one 3-to-5-credit course in urban design and planning


Urban Ecological Design

Minor Requirements: Minimum 25 credits

  1. L ARCH courses open to non-majors (20 credits)
  2. Courses 200-level and above from within the College of Built Environments or from ESRM or GEOG courses (5 credits)
  3. Miminimum 2.0 grade in all courses counted toward the minor

Student Outcomes and Opportunities

  • Learning Objectives and Expected Outcomes: The BLA program provides a professional, accredited degree which enables graduates to practice successfully in design firms, nonprofit organizations, and public agencies. Building from a liberal arts foundation, the program focuses on developing design knowledge, skills, and abilities through a sequence of nine environmental- and community-based design studios.

    The program are to provides students a broad academic and professional exposure to landscape architecture and design so their creative potential and professional growth are realized, and so they may become leaders in the field. Includes learning to conceptualize and design through practice on studio projects; fostering creativity; developing graphic, written, and verbal communication skills; facilitating cognitive abilities; and developing applicable computer skills in the design process. Studios use individual, team-oriented, and interdisciplinary projects to develop strong interactive and evaluative skills. Studio education applies knowledge gained in lecture courses which include historic and contemporary concepts in landscape architecture, design theory, site planning, construction, and communications, as well as elective courses in allied disciplines. The studio sequence addresses projects from detailed to neighborhood scales, varied contexts, and with diverse cultures. Overall, the program focuses on the application of ecological design strategies to urban and urbanizing areas, which characterizes the department's focus on urban ecological design.

  • Instructional and Research Facilities: The program affords some opportunities for independent study and work in professional settings, beyond minimum requirements for the major. Departmental courses are complemented by elective courses from other areas, including urban horticulture, soils, geology, urban design and planning, botany, and ecology.

    Studio classes led by departmental faculty or members of the professional community. May be taught jointly with faculty from other disciplines. Such classes address specific areas of inquiry including basic design principles and processes, planting design, materials and craftsmanship, landscape planning for parks or natural areas, neighborhood and civic-space design, urban landscape design, ecological restoration, and culturally-based design. A capstone studio requires students to integrate their knowledge of design theory, practice, and construction in a design-build project for a local community. The department regularly offers study abroad programs as well as opportunities to work with local communities and public agencies.

  • Honors Options Available: Students may apply for admission to the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture Honors option. See departmental program coordinator.
  • Research, Internships, and Service Learning: Lecture courses address the functioning of natural systems, site planning issues, computer applications, and cultural and sociological forces that influence the profession's work. Advanced studio courses, including the capstone studio, typically provide service learning experiences in a community context. In addition to required coursework, the program encourages students to pursue personal interests through directed and independent study within and beyond the department. Students are encouraged to gain real-world experience through a practicum with professional firms, organizations, or agencies.
  • Department Scholarships: Limited availability.
  • Student Organizations/Associations: Student chapter, Washington Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects

Graduate Program

Graduate Program Coordinator
348 Gould Hall, Box 355734
(206) 543-9420

Master of Landscape Architecture

The MLA program offers training in design and inquiry. Design studios form the core, supported by independent investigation in seminars and a thesis project. Students develop a specialty within the discipline. The curriculum emphasizes the following:

Urban Ecological Design. Explores connections between culture and nature and testing ideas on how social and spatial conflicts between development and conservation might be addressed. Faculty focus on ecological infrastructure. Students study cultural resources of human communities as they develop relationships to their environments, and participate in the 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. Students develop leadership abilities in 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 encourages applicants from diverse academic and professional backgrounds. Students may add elective courses in other disciplines to their core curriculum and may participate in College-wide certificate programs in Urban Design, and Preservation Planning and Design. See program descriptions in the College of Built Environments section.

Admission Requirements

  1. Application deadline: January 15, for admission the following autumn quarter.
  2. Baccalaureate degree from an accredited U.S. college or university, or the equivalent from a foreign institution
  3. 3.00 or higher GPA in the most recent 90 graded quarter hours (60 graded semester hours)
  4. GRE score taken within the past three years. International students with degrees from non-English speaking universities must submit TOEFL scores.
  5. Admission is competitive. Contact the department for additional information.

Degree Requirements

Minimum 72 credits
  1. Seminar and field courses to develop a specialty (12 credits), depending on individual interests. Students with a previous degree in landscape architecture begin coursework with required graduate curriculum studios, while students from other educational backgrounds begin with basic core design studios.
  2. Thesis or capstone project: For the thesis, a written and graphic product, or a purely written product. Four thesis models are available: professional project, design critique, research, and design. For the capstone project, work either on a Group Project Option or a two-quarter Studio Option.