Landscape Architecture Major

Program Director: David Myers, Ph.D.
BLA Program Chair: Dennis Nola

Landscape Architects lead, educate, and participate in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our built and natural environments.The Landscape Architecture curriculum is a four-year professional program.

The Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) degree is accredited by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB) (www.asla.org/accreditationlaab.aspx#About_LAAB). The BLA degree meets the academic requirements for licensure in all fifty states. LAAB standards require that first-professional degree curricula must include the core knowledge skills and applications of landscape architecture: landscape architectural history, philosophy, theory, values, ethics, practice, planning, design, implementation, and management. The program is a site-based design discipline that also deals with regional and larger-scale environmental/social issues.  The curriculum, centered on a studio-based design curriculum, integrates ecological and social factors into the design and planning process.  Students take a series of lecture and studio design courses, beginning with an introduction to landscape design principles in the first year and culminating in an advanced research and studio design project in the graduating year. Courses include Site Analysis and Ecological Principles, Site Design Studio, Urban Design Studio, and Professional Practice, among others. Digital design studios allow the integration of computer-aided design, GIS, and other analytical and communication tools with fundamental design and drawing skills.

Landscape architects are licensed professionals who analyze, plan, design, manage, and preserve the built and natural environments. The work we do has a significant impact on the health of our communities and our quality of life. In landscape architecture, you will learn how to solve problems in the natural and built environments, lead design teams that include scientists, planners, engineers and architects, and communicate with real clients, contractors, and municipal agency personnel. You will learn the creative skills of problem solving and design, and the technical skills needed to write contracts and build the ideas you put on paper. You will master 3D visualization software and other advanced digital technologies used to gather data, design, and construct major civil projects. Core competencies include design processes and methods, natural and cultural systems analysis, communication (written/oral/visual), technical building materials and site engineering, computer applications, professional practice, and research methods for design.

Career tracks include:

  • Ecological Design - where you are trained to analyze degraded environmental conditions such as brownfields, strip mines and abandoned urban industrial sites, and restore them to high functioning terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. 
  • Urban Design - where you examine civic environments and human activity and weave them together into a fabric of streets and open spaces, waterfronts and central parks, historically significant districts and communities with emerging identities, and neighborhoods that are socially equitable and economically viable.
  • Community Design - where you address issues of climate change, cultural resource preservation, urban agriculture, redevelopment of vacant properties, crime prevention through environmental design, and a wide range of planning and design activities that embrace the views of community residents.
  • Creative Design - where you engage in all forms of creativity, including earthworks, soundscapes, lighting design, metal fabricating, woodworking, stonework, sculpture, mosaics, murals and more. Every object in the landscape has the potential for beauty when unlocked by a savvy designer.

Our nationally accredited program is built around a series of technical knowledge and skill-building courses that support a series of six sequential capstone courses (studios). You will practice and master your skill sets in the capstone studios around a set of real-world design projects mentored by expert instructors. You will work with real clients on real sites in Washington, DC, Baltimore, and throughout the mid-atlantic region. Each capstone studio builds upon your prior experiences yet focuses on different scales, issues and project types (ecological design, urban design, community design, etc.).

Courses offered by this department may be found under the following acronyms: PLSC and LARC.

Admission to the Major

Landscape Architecture is an open enrollment program.

Freshman Admission

The program's goal is to have the greater proportion of program majors admitted as freshmen. All entering freshmen will gain admission to the Landscape Architecture program directly from high school, as space permits. Early application is encouraged to ensure the best possible chance for admission.

Transfer Admission

Admission of transfer students is limited by space considerations. Students presenting an acceptable graphic portfolio, evaluated by the landscape architecture faculty, may be exempted from selected courses. Landscape architecture faculty will evaluate all other LARC-equivalent courses transferred from another institution.

The Studio Placement Benchmark Review

Admission into the studio sequence is contingent upon attaining a successful benchmark review of a portfolio to meet content and quality standards as outlined by the LARC program. Students must earn a minimum of 80 points out of 100. Benchmark portfolio reviews occur in the spring semester. The portfolio also requires a Letter of Application to the Landscape Architecture program. Each student must write a one-page letter, addressed to the Landscape Architecture program faculty. The letter must clearly and concisely state his/her reasons for wanting to be in the Landscape Architecture Program.

Other Policies Which Determine a Student's Retention in the Landscape Architecture Program

Appeals

Students who are unsuccessful in passing the Studio Placement Benchmark Review to the Landscape Architecture program and believe they have extenuating or special circumstances which should be considered, may appeal in writing to the BLA Chair. The student will be notified in writing of the appeal decision.

BLA Degree Requirements

The courses and credit hours that define the curriculum leading to the degree of Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (B.L.A.) are described in the next section. The curriculum includes required courses for the major as well as additional general education program requirements and electives. Following the successful Studio Placement Benchmark Review, students must have an overall average of a "C" (2.0) to be eligible for the B.L.A. degree. Students must also have grades of "C-" or better in all required courses with the LARC designation.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the design process used in landscape architectural practice.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to communicate through visual literacy using hand graphics and computer technology.
  3. Connect and build relationships with external groups in the appropriate fields of study.
Course Title Credits
Requirements for the Major
ENGL393Technical Writing3
ENST200Fundamentals of Soil Science4
Select one of the following:3
Introduction to Earth Observation Science
Geomorphology
LARC120Digital Fundamentals2
LARC140Graphic Fundamentals Studio4
LARC141Design Fundamentals Studio4
LARC160Introduction to Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design3
LARC221Digital Design Tools3
LARC240Graphic Communication and Design Studio4
LARC263History of Landscape Architecture3
LARC265Site Analysis and Ecological Principles3
LARC320Principles of Site Engineering3
LARC321Landscape Structures and Materials3
LARC340Site Planning and Design Studio5
LARC341Regional Design Studio5
LARC389Internship in Landscape Architecture3
LARC420Professional Practice3
LARC440Urban Design Studio5
LARC450Environmental Resources3
or LARC451 Sustainable Communities
LARC470Landscape Architecture Seminar3
LARC471Capstone Studio: Community Design5
MATH113College Algebra and Trigonometry3
or MATH115 Precalculus
PLSC110
PLSC111
Introduction to Horticulture
and Introduction to Horticulture Laboratory
4
PLSC253Woody Plants for Mid-Atlantic Landscapes I3
PLSC254Woody Plants for Mid-Atlantic Landscape II3
Total Credits87

The department has mandatory faculty advising for each of its major and minor programs. Students are required to meet with their faculty advisor at least twice a year. See Diana Cortez, Undergraduate Academic Advisor & Lecturer, in 2139 Plant Sciences Building (301-405-4359, dcortez@umd.edu) for additional information.

Click here for roadmaps for four-year plans in the College of Agricultural and Natural Resources.

Additional information on developing a four-year academic plan can be found on the following pages:

Undergraduate Research Experiences

Landscape Architecture faculty members frequently have research opportunities for undergraduate students. Students are encouraged to contact faculty members for any opportunities. Students may also discuss these opportunities with their faculty advisors.

Internships

Internships are available at nearby federal, state and county agencies as well as in private landscape architecture firms. University of Maryland Landscape Architecture participates in the MDASLA Job Shadow Program. A list of participating firms can be found on our Careers page.

Student Societies and Professional Organizations

The Student Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (SASLA) provides students with opportunities to get involved with on-campus activities. The club is chartered by ASLA.

More information can be found online on our Student ASLA page.

Scholarships and Financial Assistance

Several scholarships are awarded each year based on merit and need through the Department of Plant Sciences and Landscape Architecture. They include:   

Undergraduate Awards

  • The Homeland Garden Club of Baltimore Award
  • Olmsted Scholar Award
  • Landscape Architecture Award of Excellence
  • ASLA Honor and Merit Award Nominees
  • Spirit of the Studio Award
  • Matt Weaver Scholarship

Contact the Associate Dean's office at 301-405-5308 for additional information. The department also maintains a listing of scholarships. Contact the Executive Administrative Assistant in 2104A Plant Sciences, 301-405-4356 for more information.

The Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) administers all types of federal, state and institutional financial assistance programs and, in cooperation with other university offices, participates in the awarding of scholarships to deserving students. For information, visit: financialaid.umd.edu.