BSLA – Professional Degree


The BSLA is a nationally accredited four-year professional landscape design program.  Completion of the program is one of the first steps in becoming a licensed landscape architect.  The program also serves as preparation for graduate programs in advanced landscape architecture design or planning, or in programs specializing in research. Programs at UW-Madison include:

• The Department of Landscape Architecture: MSLA and MALA
• The Department of Urban and Regional Planning:  MS and PhD
• The Nelson Institute: Environmental Conservation MS, Environment and Resources MS and PhD, and Water Resources Management MS

The curriculum features a sequence of studio courses during which students receive personal feedback as they work through design problems individually or in teams.  Courses introduce students to principles of planning and design theory and to several problem-solving approaches; and help students develop the technical proficiencies such as design communication, design synthesis, and environmental and cultural sensibilities required of professional practice. As students progress through the curriculum, they are required to take on more and more responsibility to set-up the parameters of a problem and gather information relevant to finding solutions. By the senior year, with the Senior Thesis, the instructors step out of the way and take on the role of coaches and mentors

Especially in the third and fourth year studios, many projects involve actual case studies. Fourth-year students have the opportunity, during our year-long capstone course, to solve a real-world design problem.  Each student develops a unique project from start to finish for an actual client, for example, a Wisconsin community or non-profit agency.  This experience both helps students synthesize and apply the ideas and skills they have learned in a real world setting, and provides assistance to the people of Wisconsin.  You can find examples of recent capstone projects in our yearly Contour publication.

The faculty strongly encourages students to pursue internships with landscape architecture firms and to participate in study abroad opportunities, several of which are tied to faculty programs and interests.  In January 2014, for example, students had the opportunity to spend winter break in Costa Rica.

Once students are admitted to the second year of the program (provide ink to “Admission Process”) and for each subsequent semester, they are assigned desks within the Agriculture Hall studios to serve as their workspaces.  Access is 24/7. By working in the studio, students not only get to know their own classmates well, but also have access to undergraduate students in other years of the program, as well as graduate students and faculty.  The studios include state of the art computer facilities through which students interact with each other, faculty and the global network.  The result is that students and faculty form an active leaning community.

 Mission Statement

The BSLA Program mission is to provide students with a solid base of knowledge and skills reflective of the landscape architecture discipline.  We emphasize place-making based on an understanding of ecological principles, societal needs and cultural foundations.  In particular, we provide students opportunity to explore their interests in design and planning for healthy living environments, healthy ecosystems, community development and cultural resource preservation.