Landscape Architecture

The Master of Landscape Architecture curriculum has four distinct interconnected sequences that are required of all students (except those who may be allowed to waive certain requirements because of previous experience or training). These are the Design Studio, Workshop, Theory, and Media sequences. The curriculum is designed so that these four sequences relate to one another horizontally and vertically throughout the entire degree.

At Penn, design is the primary focus of our teaching and research. By "design", we mean three things: material practice (the physical making of things, places, environments; the experiential aspects of things made, including drawings and models); inquiring practice (the asking of questions, exploring of ideas, and speculating upon alternative sets of possibility); and process-based practice (the recognition that landscapes are formed and evolved by processes in time, and that creativity too is dependent upon the processes one works through to develop a project).

These studies of design occur in the studio, where hypothetical scenarios surrounding the development of real sites and programs are used to make projects. Such projects vary from the design of pathways through complex terrain, to gardens and parks, plazas and waterfronts, brownfield and derelict land reclamations, housing and mixed-use urban developments, and regional plans.

By way of sequencing exercises and studios, we work with five general steps: first is the development of visual and manual acuities - learning how to see and record, primarily through training in observation, drawing, and making things. Second is learning how to imagine and work with a variety of scalar and spatial configurations as well as temporal effects. Third is the development of approaches and techniques to respond to and enhance the specific qualities of particular sites. Fourth is the development of imaginative and speculative skills so as to envision plausible alternative futures that are critically informed by past and current ideas. And fifth learning how to intervene in and reorganize ecological and cultural systems in newly creative ways across a range of scales.

Programs of Study

The Department offers two primary courses of study leading to a professionally accredited Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA). The first professional degree program is three years in length and is designed for students with an undergraduate degree in a field other than landscape architecture or architecture. The second professional degree is two years in length and is designed for those who already hold an accredited bachelor’s degree in either landscape architecture or architecture. Students may be admitted with advanced standing into either of these programs depending upon their respective backgrounds. Dual degree programs with architecture (MLA/MARCH), city planning (MLA/MCP), historic preservation (MLA/MSHP), fine arts (MLA/MFA) or spatial analytics (MLA/MUSA) are also available. The Master of Landscape Architecture degree may also be combined with PennDesign certificate programs, such as the Urban Design Certificate or the Urban Resilience Certificate. The Department also offers a Certificate in Landscape Studies, designed for students who may wish to augment or focus their prior work through research into landscape topics.

MLA First Professional Degree (Total Course Units: 28)

YEAR 1 
 
FallStudio I2
Workshop I: Ecology and Built Landscapes1
Theory I: The Culture of Nature1
Media I: Drawing and Visualization1
 
SpringStudio II2
Workshop II: Landform and Planting Design1
Theory II: History of Ideas and Forms in Landscape Architecture1
Media II: Digital Visualization1
YEAR 2 
 
FallStudio III2
Workshop III: Site Engineering and Water Management1
Urban Ecology1
Media III: Flows: Linear/Non-Linear1
 
SpringStudio IV2
Contemporary Urbanism1
Media IV: Futures: Trends and Trajectories1
Elective1
YEAR 3 
 
FallStudio V2
Workshop IV: Advanced Landscape Construction1
Elective1
 
SpringStudio VI2
Elective1
Elective1
 Total Course Units:28

 

MLA Second Professional Degree (Total Course Units: 19)

YEAR 1 
 
FallStudio III2
Workshop II: Planting Design Sessions*Audit
Workshop III: Site Engineering and Water Management1
Urban Ecology1
Media III: Flows: Linear/Non-Linear1
 
SpringStudio IV2
Contemporary Urbanism1
Theory II: History of Ideas and Forms in Landscape Architecture1
Media IV: Futures: Trends and Trajectories1
YEAR 2 
 
FallStudio V2
Workshop IV: Advanced Landscape Construction1
Theory I: The Culture of Nature1
Elective1
 
SpringStudio VI2
Elective1
Elective1
 Total Course Units:19

*All students entering with a Bachelor of Architecture degree are required to audit Workshop II Planting Design Sessions.

Students with commensurate experience and background may be waived from the above requirements and substitute Landscape Architecture electives.