Overview

The graduate program in Landscape Architecture at UW-Madison provides intensive research training and experience. Our graduate program is unique compared to those offered by many departments of landscape architecture in that we do not offer a graduate program in design. Instead we offer a Master of Science with an emphasis on conducting original research in the form of a thesis or based on creating evidence-based design solutions to complex landscape problems. Within this program you will contribute to developing a scholarly foundation for the discipline of landscape architecture and related fields, and to contribute information to practitioners engaged in landscape decision-making and stewardship.

We provide an interdisciplinary education that uses the sciences, arts, and humanities to respond to current issues in the realms of food and agriculture, natural resource and cultural and environmental stewardship, human health and well-being, and community development. Most students specialize in one of two areas that reflect the research interests of the faculty. Currently, these include: “Restoration Ecology and Ecological Design,” and “Community and Urban Landscape Studies.”

Our curriculum requires a minimum of 36 course credits, 9 of which include a set of core courses (including two colloquia) that are taken by all students. The remaining credits are chosen together with your advisor and Faculty Committee to fit your personal interests and goals as well as to create the intellectual framework for your thesis or design solution. If your previous course work is a good match for the specialty you plan to study, and if you can take a full course load each semester, you will be able to finish our program in two academic years. If your previous experience was very different from the specialty you plan to pursue, if you cannot take a full course load, or if you plan to collect field data only in the summer, as it may happen with the restoration focus, it may take you longer to finish.

Landscape architects will find unique opportunities to learn and develop new knowledge and skills. However, you do not need to have a previous degree in landscape architecture to succeed in our graduate program. Non-landscape architects, as well as those with professional design degrees in other fields (e.g., architecture), will gain an understanding of the problem-solving approaches used in landscape architecture, In either case, you will develop a solid foundation in scholarly inquiry.

We encourage anyone with a bachelor’s or an advanced degree from any discipline to apply. The important thing is to have a desire to advance your knowledge and skills and to contribute to improving the quality of life.

Students receive a Master of Science (MSLA), by choosing to either develop a research thesis or an evidence-based solution for a complicated landscape problem.

(It must be emphasized that the MSLA degree differs from the professional MLA degrees offered by the majority of other graduate landscape architecture programs in North America.)