Welcome Landscape Architecture Students

Admitted Landscape Architecture students, welcome and congratulations! This section contains information to help you prepare for the MLA program. Our Open House will be virtual due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We plan to hold some virtual events instead and encourage you to explore our website to learn more about our program, curriculum, and community.

The MLA at a Glance

Our educational philosophy and mission is to cultivate future leaders, to develop critical thinkers and to produce the world’s best designers. We consistently hear from senior industry representatives that graduating Weitzman School students have the best design folios and the most comprehensive skill sets. And, responding to the national survey conducted by DesignIntelligence, over 90% of Penn’s landscape students consistently evaluate their education as “excellent.”  

As a student in the Department of Landscape Archtecture, you join the extraordinary legacy set by the field’s most important figures: Ian McHarg, Laurie Olin, Anne Whiston-Spirn, John Dixon HuntAnu Mathur, and James Corner. This legacy motivates Penn faculty and students to be critical and experimental like no other school. Richard Weller, the chair of Landscape Architecture, is a devoted teacher with a background in both professional practice and academia and is dedicated to maintaining the world’s leading landscape architecture program. Read more about the 100-year story of landscape architecture at Penn in Transects
Our curriculum is organized so that subjects in the three streams of media, theory, and workshop all support the centerpiece of the design studio in a coherent way. Everything is designed to relate to the design studio, which in turn makes the quality of design produced in the studio stronger. We also have new subjects in urban ecology, the history and theory of ideas of nature, contemporary urbanism, cutting edge computation, detailed design, leadership, and publishing, as well as the fast-emerging area of resilience in relation to climate change. Our annual publication Process summarize the curriculum and the results of our studios. 
Weitzman School is the only landscape architecture program in the world to publish two professional journals, LA+ and Scenario, produced by faculty and students, and the program serves as the host and originator for some of the most important events in the global landscape architecture calendar. The department is served by The McHarg Center – a research hub for climate change related design. The McHarg Center is doing exciting work in relation to biodiversity, environmental modelling and the Green New Deal. This research involves many of our students.

Important Dates


Due to Covid-19 resitrictions, we are operating on limited in-person activities. When we use the term hyrbrid, this likely means optional field trips of meetings. If you have any questions regarding hybrid meeting requirements, please reach out to the department.

Mon, April 5 VIRTUAL Weitzman School Open House
Thurs, July 29 Landscape Architecture International Student Check-in
Fri, July 30

Landscape Architecture Domestic Student Check-in; Welcome for all entering 3-year MLA I and 2-year MLA II students

Mon, August 2 First day of Summer Institute for all MLA students (Hybrid)
Fri, August 27 Weitzman School New Student Orientation
Mon, August 30 Landscape Architecture Orientation; Weitzman School Convocation & Happy Hour
Tues, August 31 First day of fall classes (Hybrid and In-person)


Summer Institute

Due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the University's measures to protect the Penn and Philadelphia community, this year's Summer Institute will be held largely online with some hybrid components. We ask that any student who is unable to travel to the Philadelphia area prior to August 1st reach out to the department as soon as possible. 

The MLA I and MLA II Summer Institutes each comprise a series of week-long, non-credit courses aimed at preparing incoming MLA students with the necessary skills to "hit the ground running" in their respective programs. All incoming MLA students are required to participate in Summer Institute prior to the start of the fall semester. Check-in for Summer Institute begins Thursday, July 29 for international students and Friday, July 30 for domestic  students. The courses meet online every weekday from approximately 9am to 5pm starting on Monday, August 2. Class meetings will be at the discretion of each instructor and may have optional in-person components.

Summer Institute Course Descriptions

Summer Institute for entering 3-year MLA I students:
M-F, Aug 2 - Aug 6 LARP 790-901: Natural Systems for 3yr Students
M-F, Aug 9-13 LARP 789-901: Intro to Design Language
M-F, Aug 16-20 LARP 791-901: Landscape Operations
M-Th, Aug 23-26 LARP 792-901: Introduction to Digital Media
Summer Institute for entering 2-year MLA II students:
M-F, Aug 9-13 LARP 794-901: Natural Systems for 2yr Students
M-Th, Aug 16-20 LARP 795-901: Weitzman School Computing Intro
M-Th, Aug 23-26 LARP 795-901: Weitzman School Computing Intro


Summer Institute Registration

Registration for Summer Institute courses is by permit only. Permits will be issued to all incoming students by early summer and further enrollment instruction will be provided at that time. Please contact the department at landarch@design.upenn.edu with any questions.

Summer Institute Billing

The course fee for each one-week virtual Summer Institute session is $500. Fees for Summer Institute sessions will be applied to student’s accounts on the first day of the course.  Students will receive an email confirmation from the Office of Student Services when the charge(s) have been applied to their account.  The charges will be visible to students under “new activity” in the Penn.Pay system.  The fee will be due during the next scheduled billing cycle.  Student Financial Services billing schedule is available online at: https://www.sfs.upenn.edu/billing/billing-schedule.htm.  Questions regarding billing for summer institute coursework should be directed to the Weitzman School Office of Student Services at: registrar@design.upenn.edu.

Fall Registration

Fall registration is open April 30 through June 21, 2021, at which time registration will close temporarily to accommodate incoming freshman. Registration will reopen on July 27 and will remain open through the final course add/drop deadline on October 11, 2021. Students are able to logon to Penn in Touch and select courses during these open registration periods. Fall registration information for incoming students is available below. Please contact the department at landarch@design.upenn.edu with any questions.

Fall & Summer Registration for 3 year MLA I Students
Fall & Summer Registration for 2 year MLA II Students

International Students

International students on F-1 or J-1 visas are required to check in with International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS). The check-in process includes an online tutorial, online arrival form, and an in-person document check upon your arrival into the US. Please plan to arrive in Philadelphia at least one business day before the start of Summer Institute to complete the in-person check-in. You are encouraged to make an appointment in advance.

Please visit the ISSS webpage for detailed information on Mandatory New Student Check-In Requirements.

Safe Driver Training

Penn Landscape students participate in a number of exciting field trips each year and to insure the safety of all students during their travels, Penn requires that students who drive a university vehicle or rental vehicle during any school-related trip must complete Penn's online driver's safety training. Log in to Knowledge Link with your PennKey and password, search for "Driver Safety Training for Van Drivers" in the "Find Learning" field and complete the nine-module course (it will take approximately 1.5 hours to complete). Please notify Alanna Wittet (awittet@design.upenn.edu) once you have completed the training so that we may confirm your results have been received by the Office of Risk Management. Please also submit a scanned copy of your driver's license and your cell phone number for our records.

Computer Guidelines

Incoming MLA students are required to buy or bring a computer for your time as a student at Weitzman School. Please see the Computer Purchasing Guidelines provided by Weitzman School IT. Specific guidelines for 2021 will be posted in early summer.

Get to Know Us Better

Please visit the Get to Know Us page on the Admissions website to view the profiles of current students and recent alumni. For a current student/recent alumni contact list, please contact Alanna Wittet (awittet@design.upenn.edu).

Learn more about the faculty in the Department of Landscape Architecture on our People page.

Read about our publications and view student work in our annual Landscapes in Process catalog.

Check out our recent lecture series here: Weitzman School of Design (vimeo.com)