MS LA Degree Requirements

Students receive a Master of Science (MSLA) degree; they can either choose to develop an evidence-based solution for a complicated landscape problem or a research thesis.

MSLA Learning Goals

  • Engage critically with the scholarship and theory of landscape architecture
  • Demonstrate advanced critical thinking and the ability to explore ideas in depth and synthesize information with a high degree of competence.
  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of landscape spaces, functions, and dynamics, as well as interactions between people and the built and natural environment.
  • Demonstrate a deep understanding of and the ability to critically evaluate the principles, theories, technical skills and recent research findings specific to at least one of the program’s specialty areas: “Restoration Ecology and Ecological Design” and “Community and Urban Studies.”
  • Design and conduct original research, and communicate the results to scholars as well as to practitioners engaged in landscape decision-making and stewardship.
  • Describe and apply principles of ethical and professional conduct

(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.)

An acceptable bachelor’s degree is required of all prospective candidates. Applications are screened by the department’s graduate program committee on the basis of university transcripts for all previous work, three letters of recommendation, samples of creative work or writing, and a letter of intent describing how the student’s graduate educational needs can be fulfilled by this program. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores, though not required, are strongly recommended. Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB), or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Application deadline for Spring admission: November 1.
Application deadline for Fall admission: February 1.

Courses and Credits:

A minimum of 36 credits, including the thesis, is required. Of these, at least 30 must be for course work. A maximum of 6 thesis research credits may be applied toward the total credit requirement for the degree. Supplemental work beyond the minimum, or courses without credit, may be required to make up deficiencies or to provide a depth of knowledge in the student’s area of specialization.

All Landscape Architecture graduate students are required to take the following set of core, required courses:

  • Land Arch 710 (Theories of Landscape Change) and Land Arch 720 (Critical Inquiry into Landscape Design Expression)
  • Two semesters of Land Arch 940 (Graduate Seminar)
  • A course in research methods (most likely Land Arch 740), as approved by the student’s advisor and thesis committee
  • Plus, an additional two courses within a focus area that are selected by the student and his/her advisory committee.

In addition to the required courses, students are strongly encouraged to select course offerings related to their program interests. These courses are offered both by the Department and other academic units on campus. Depending upon the student’s particular interests, she or he may choose to take courses from more than one area. 

This degree also requires a thesis proposal and thesis. Click here for the Landscape Architecture Certification Memorandum to be handed in with your thesis proposal defense. To obtain the Warrant Request Form you have to notify the Graduate Coordinator, Lauren Szafranski. If you have further questions about completing your Master's degree, visit the Graduate School website.