Landscape Architecture Curriculum

 The Masters of Landscape Architecture program offers three degree tracks: three-year, 90-credit MLA; two-year, 60-credit MLA for those with a design-related undergraduate degree; and 1.5-year, 36-credit MSLA for those with a Bachelors of Landscape Architecture (BLA) from an accredited landscape architecture program.

Click here to download the Master of Landscape Architecture Recommended Curriculum Sequence

LAAR 523 Plant Material 3
LAAR 510 Landscape Architecture Studio 6
LAAR 511 History I: History of Landscape Architecture 3
ENST 512 Graphics Workshop 3
ENST 739 Design & Human Behavior 3
LAAR 520 Landscape Architecture Studio II: Site Planning 6
LAAR 522 Grading & Drainage 3
LAAR 513 Environmental Resources 3
ENST 770 CAD (Computer Aided Design I) 3
LAAR 530 Landscape Architecture Studio III: Nature in the City 6
LAAR 532 Technology II: Materials & Methods 3
LAAR 533 Environmental Resources II 3
LAAR 525 GIS for Landscape Architects 3
LAAR 540 Landscape Architecture Studio IV: Urban Communities 6
LAAR 551 History II: Contemporary Urban Landscape Design 3
LAAR 552 History II: Contemporary Urban Landscape Design 3
Elective 3
LAAR 550 History II: Contemporary Urban Landscape Design 6
LAAR 541 Technology III: Advanced Site Construction 3
LAAR 751 Research Methods 3
Elective 3
LAAR 560* Landscape Architecture Studio V: Master's Project/Thesis                         6
LAAR 561 Landscape Architecture Practice 3
Elective 3

*Students considering the Written Thesis Course Option must register for LAAR 789 and LAAR 799 in lieu of LAAR 560

*Students considering the Written Thesis Course Option must register for LAAR 789 and LAAR 799 in lieu of LAAR 560



LAAR 510  Landscape Architecture Studio I: Basic Design
Ten Hours: 6 Credits
An introduction to the vocabulary and principles of basic design related to landscape architecture.  Students  are assigned specific exercises that apply these principles in various combinations to simple problems in  landscape design.  Study focuses on the interrelated complexities involved with experiencing form, space,  and site.  Prerequisites: Admission to program or permission of the Department Chair.

LAAR 511  History I: of Landscape Architecture
Three Hours: 3 Credits

A survey of historic traditions in landscape design that have a continuing influence in contemporary  landscape architecture. Important works commonly used as references in the profession are studied for  their spatial organization, landscape character and contextual relationships.  Emphasis is placed on social,  cultural, artistic, political and technological forces that influence the design of built landscapes in different  time periods and geographic locations. Prerequisites: None.

LAAR 513  Landscape Resources
Three Hours: 3 Credits

An introduction to natural systems analysis for land use suitability and basic principles governing  ecosystems. The role of natural factors as guiding determinants of urban land development is studied.  Ecologically based planning methodology and techniques for resources preservation, reclamation,  management and development are examined. The aim is to instill the sense of stewardship toward the  landscape as a basis for urban landscape planning and design. This course is cross-listed with CREP  542. Prerequisites: Graduate standing or permission of the Department Chair.

LAAR 520  Landscape Architecture Studio II: Site Planning and Design
Ten Hours: 6 Credits
An introduction to site analysis and site design. Emphasis is placed on analysis, representation and  design of site specific landscapes within the urban context and social environment. Prerequisites: LAAR  510 and LAAR 513, or permission of the Department Chair.

LAAR 522  Technology I: Grading & Drainage
Four Hours: 3 Credits

The study of shaping of the earth's surface in an ecological, technical and aesthetic manner with an  emphasis on the technical ability to transform design ideas into physical reality.  Specific topics include  contours and slope analysis, the grading process, earthwork, and storm runoff analysis. Prerequisites:  LAAR 510 and LAAR 513, or permission of the Department Chair.

LAAR 523  Plant materials
Three Hours: 3 Credits

An introduction to plant materials in terms of their botanical identification, design characteristics and  ecological requirements. Trees, shrubs, vines, and ground covers commonly used in urban planting  design are emphasized. Prerequisites: None.

LAAR 525  GIS for Landscape Architects
Four Hours: 3 Credits

An introduction to Geographic Information Systems and its specific application to the landscape  architecture profession. Topics include: spatial modeling, visual analysis, resource management, site  design, master planning, and public advocacy. Prerequisites: None.

LAAR 530  Landscape Architecture Studio Ill: Nature in the City
Ten Hours: 6 Credits

This course addresses how nature can be integrated into the urban fabric through the design of  greenways, urban forests, city and neighborhood parks, street tree plantings, green plazas, and community  gardens. Emphasis is placed on such environmental values as contact with nature, sustainable  landscapes, climatic comfort, and environmental health. These concerns are studied in relation to land  use patterns, site context, and the socio-cultural values of city users.  Prerequisites: LAAR 520, or  permission of the Department Chair.

LAAR 532  Technology II: Materials & Methods of Construction
Four Hours: 3 Credits

This course covers the basic materials and methods of landscape architecture site construction with an  emphasis on sustainable materials and construction methodologies. Specific topics include construction  details for paving, curbs, edgings, steps and ramps; construction details for freestanding walls and fences  and retaining walls; deck, pergola, bridge construction; structural loads, and ponds, pools and fountain  construction details. Prerequisites: ENST 770 and LAAR 522, or permission of the Department Chair.

LAAR 533  Plants in the City
Three Hours: 3 Credits

An urban study of plants from morphologic and physiologic adaptations in the environment to soil structure,  nutrient chemistry and contaminant loading. Students study ecological needs and planting practices as  well as the design benefits of plants in the urban environment. The class looks at typical urban street  conditions, urban wetlands, brown-fields and city parks as areas of unique plant requirements.  Prerequisites: LAAR 523, or permission of the Department Chair.

LAAR 540  Landscape Architecture Studio IV: Urban Communities
Ten Hours: 6 Credits

This studio is focused on community design with the physical environment viewed as a catalyst for  community enhancement and revitalization. Typical issues of concern include community identity, social  cohesiveness, the role of open space in urban neighborhoods, and community safety and livability. The  urban context and the pedestrian realm are used as the point of departure for designing public spaces and  community places. Studies are aimed at accommodating the everyday life of local residents and users  while recognizing the indigenous context of the built environment and the socio-behavioral characteristics  of the inhabitants and their cultural heritage as formative influences during the design process. Prerequisites: LAAR 530, or permission of the Department Chair.

LAAR 541  Technology Ill: Advanced Site Construction
Four Hours: 3 Credits
This is the capstone course of the technology series. Specific topics include: road alignment, and site  demolition and layout. The major emphasis of the course, however, is the preparation of a complete set of  technical construction documents with specifications and cost estimates. Prerequisites: LAAR 522 and  LAAR 532, or permission of the Department Chair.

LAAR 550  Landscape Architecture Studio V: Urban Design
Ten Hours: 6 Credits
This studio addresses issues related to the planning and design of the urban landscape. Studies focus on  advancing skills in land development, programming, master planning, and site design of urban projects.  Emphasis is placed on enhancing urban aesthetics, the quality of the pedestrian realm and the design of  public spaces within site-specific contexts. The socioeconomic and cultural aspects of design and  planning are also addressed. Prerequisites: LAAR 540, or permission of the Department Chair.

LAAR 551  20th Century History and Theory of Landscape Design
Three Hours: 3 Credits

This course is an historical investigation of the development of landscape architecture and urban design in  the twentieth century. Emphasis is placed on the rise of modernism in architecture and landscape  architecture, the ecological critique of modernism, emerging theories of landscape design, and twentieth  century urban design and theory. Prerequisites: None  

LAAR 552  Planting Design
Three Hours: 3 Credits
In this course, students study the use of plants as a major site design factor. The course presents the  uses of botanic elements to develop spatial definition and character and its relationship to architectural  form and order. Plants are also studied for their uniqueness as a design element, color composition, form  and order. Course compositions look at rhythm, order, form texture, color and balance as an expression of  a landscape medium. Prerequisites: LAAR 520, LAAR 523, or permission of the Department Chair.

LAAR 560  Studio VI: Master's Degree Project
Six Hours: 6 Credits
Students investigate a topic of their own choosing through a site specific design project.  Emphasis is on  the framing of the problem, building on relevant literature and precedents and articulating a position and  explanation of how the project addresses the critical issues of the site and problem. Prerequisites: LAAR  751, completion of the entire design studio sequence, (LAAR 510-550).

LAAR 561  Landscape Architectural Practice
Three Hours: 3 Credits
Students examine the role of the landscape architect in a variety of work environments such as private  practice, government practice, education and related industries. Study includes the legal, ethical, and  contractual responsibilities of landscape architectural practice and basic procedures, management and  information systems used in professional offices. Prerequisites: Must be in the final year of the MLA  program, or permission of the Department Chair.

LAAR 562  Urban Stream Restoration
Three Hours: 3 Credits
This course introduces students to stream restoration techniques. Topics covered include: river mechanics, stream classification systems, stream morphology, and hydraulic geometry relationships.  Students learn how to use stream measurement techniques, develop and construct stream protection and  restoration strategies, and conduct post-construction monitoring. Prerequisites: LAAR 522, or permission  of the Department Chair.

LAAR 572  Urban Hydrology
Three Hours: 3 Credits

This is an advanced course for students wanting to become proficient in hydrologic applications,  particularly those used in urbanized areas. Topics covered include Maryland's storm water Management  Regulations, storm water runoff calculations, storm drain design, and state-of-the-art best management  practices. Prerequisites: LAAR.522, or permission of the Department Chair.

LAAR 751  Research Methods
Three Hours: 3 Credits

This course provides an overview of research methods commonly used in landscape architecture focused  on the development of each student's individual scholarship either a thesis or a master's degree terminal  project. Emphasis is placed on the articulation of a research "problem" and the development of that  problem into an appropriate project, approach, and time frame for investigating it. Prerequisites: Must be in  final year of the MLA program, or permission of the Department Chair.

LAAR 788-789  Supervised Research
Three Hours: 3 Credits
These courses are designed to enable students to participate in research areas of their competence  under the supervision of faculty. Students are required to submit research findings verbally and to submit a  written report to the graduate faculty. Prerequisites: The submission of a well organized, focused,  operational research proposal and permission of the Department Chair.

LAAR 797  Thesis Guidance
Two Hours: 2 Credits

Thesis guidance (for the LAAR.799 option only) provides students, who have not completed their thesis in  the assigned semester, a mechanism for continuing their work under faculty supervision. Prerequisites: Permission of the Thesis Advisor or Department Chair.

There are two final options for students pursuing the MLA degree: the "Master's Degree Project" or the  "Thesis Seminar." (Students, after consultation with the Department Chair, will decide which  of the two  options they will complete)

LAAR 799  Thesis Seminar
Three Hours: 3 Credits

Students are expected to demonstrate leading professional knowledge through rigorous thesis research.  A research-based thesis is for students having an interest in a topic relevant to landscape architecture  history/ culture, theory, design, construction, or practice; the presentation format is a written text with  supporting graphics as appropriate. The thesis option must meet all of the requirements for completing a  thesis as outlined in the School of Graduate Studies Dissertation/ Theses Handbook. This option is  required for students pursuing the MSLA degree. Prerequisites: Completion of the entire studio sequence,  or permission of the Department Chair.

ENST 512  Graphics Workshop
Three Hours: 3 Credits

Graphics Workshop is an interdisciplinary course taken jointly by students in the Architecture and Landscape Architecture programs. The purpose of this course is to develop students' skills and techniques in visual communications, thus allowing them to select and apply the most appropriate means of graphically presenting problems and/or solutions. Students are also exposed to techniques and skills that aid in perceiving forms in three dimensions-a necessary  ingredient for design creativity. Prerequisites: None  

ENST 714 Built Environment Internship I
Hours Vary: 3 Credits

This course is designed to accommodate students involved in various work-study relationships in different agencies and community organizations. Working under the supervision of an office professional, the course will document and evaluate the diverse experiences of the students within the framework of the practice or agency.  The instructor will  determine the number of contact hours for an Internship based on the scope of work to be performed by the student and the number of course hours the student is taking in a given semester.  Prerequisites: Permission of the Department Chair.

ENST 715 Built Environment Internship II
Hours Vary: 3 Credits

ENST 738  Seminars in Built Environment Studies
Three Hours: 3 Credits

This course is designed to examine, in greater depth, particular subject areas of the built environment, i.e., Theories of Architecture, Behavior and the Built Environment, Ecology and Design, Design Theory and Criticism, Culture and Design, Open Space Planning and Design, Photography of the Built Environment. Prerequisites: Permission of the Instructor and the respective Department Chair.

ENST 739  Design & Human Behavior 
Three Hours: 3 Credits

This course is an introduction to a range of urban space development theories, space organizing concepts, public, private and semi-public/private characteristics of space layout related to human use and comfort. Cultural, social, and psychological factors will be considered through selected readings and urban site visits. Various theories and methods of documenting human movement in space, location and analysis of site furnishings, relationships of architecture to landscapes, and the environmental assessment of climate and other factors that impact human comfort in urban spaces.  This course takes an interdisciplinary approach (architecture, landscape architecture, planning, psychology, engineering) to the study of human engagement with the physical environment of the city. Prerequisites: None.