Who We Are
The UIUC Department of Landscape Architecture is a group of faculty and students dedicated to important global design challenges in the 21st century. We are committed to raising awareness on issues encompassing environment, social, economic and aesthetic concerns, and to responding to those issues through research-based, creative site design.
As global environmental conditions have grown increasingly complex, our research and teaching have focused on restoring impaired environments such as regional water systems, improving social and just access to a healthy environment, renewing cultural and historic landscapes, creating productive landscapes, and responding to growing cities and sprawling regions. To fulfill these ambitions, the MLA Program combines teaching in research methods, technical knowledge and graphic representation skills grounded within core landscape architecture design processes. Our work is founded in an appreciation and rigor to understand the history of landscapes, so that we can uniquely respond to the contemporary needs of today.
Our studios work across a range of scales from the block to the region. Building from a foundation in site design we work to a more complex understanding of regional design projects. Concurrent with participating in design studios, students take a sequence of landscape-technology, graphic representation, history/theory and seminar courses, to accumulate a breadth of knowledge and disciplinary frameworks for designing landscapes.
Beginning in Fall 2016, students will spend their final fall semester at our Chicago Studio. Sites in Chicago will become urban landscape laboratories, places where we will explore the catalytic potential of intensive landscape interventions. Students will take courses and collaborate with local practitioners to address a variety of key landscape topics such as urban ecology, neighborhood fabric, big data and urban design, sustainability and environmental justice.
The MLA Program also offers the opportunity to complete an MLA thesis, an independent design research project, guided by a faculty advisor and committee.
Who You Are
Our MLA students come from a range of undergraduate backgrounds in the arts, humanities and sciences, enriching our program with diverse knowledge and skills that can be further engaged through landscape architecture. Some students are experienced design practitioners or second-career aspirants from entirely different disciplines.
Those with an accredited undergraduate degree in landscape architecture enter a 2-year program. Students with non-design undergraduate degrees take coursework within a 3-year program. All MLA students (except those with BLA degrees and one year of practice) are required to complete a 3-month professional summer internship during their enrollment.
Students may also elect to pursue joint MLA/Master of Urban Planning or MLA/Master of Business Administration programs.
Following graduation, most of our students pursue professional practice in landscape architecture design firms. Some students pursue PhD studies, and others locate themselves within socially and ecologically active non-profit organizations.
The Department faculty members are distinguished for wide-ranging scholarly, professional, and creative expertise involving community and urban design; sustainable design; architectural and landscape history; cultural heritage; social psychology and behavior; and public health, among other areas. Two-thirds of the core faculty have doctoral degrees. Additional affiliated faculty members from university units such as architecture, planning, and anthropology enrich the department.
Please contact us with any questions pertaining to your interests. We welcome an opportunity to speak with you. Similarly, if you would like to visit our program and studios, please contact our main office to schedule a visit.
A key part of the application is the portfolio requirement. We understand that many students do not have a graphic or design background. We are still interested in viewing examples of visual work from candidates. These may consist of carefully- composed photographs, line drawings, or other visual diagrams or drawings you have created to communicate visually. Please contact us with questions about the portfolio.
A limited amount of financial aid is available through the University. Interest in financial aid can be indicated on the graduate application form. In addition, a number of scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships are available through the Department of Landscape Architecture.
Studio and Coursework
Graduate studies consist of an integrated program of studios, coursework, and thesis research/development if elected and approved. Courses provide knowledge, skills and methods in site technology, graphic representation, landscape history and theory, planting design, and professional practice, and studios provide opportunities to apply this knowledge through a rigorous set of contemporary design projects.
The University's online course catalog provides a complete list of landscape architecture courses along with brief descriptions of each.
All incoming MLA students meet with the Assistant Department Head prior to registration for the first semester. At that time, courses are selected. The Assistant Department Head also assists with issues such as registration, funding, and the certification of course work to meet degree requirements.
Below is a sample sequence of MLA courses. A non-design student would take all 3 years of curriculum. A 2-year student would typically begin in the second year of curriculum.
Please also refer to the MLA Handbook.
MLA Studio I
Design Workshop I
Design Communications I
Design Communications II
Theory + Practice
Woody Ornamentals I
History of World Landscapes
MLA Studio II
Design Workshop II
MLA Studio III - Chicago
Design Workshop III
Social/Cultural Design Issues