Urban Ecology Graduate Programs: An Overview

Urban ecology is the study of how natural life-forms in the wild are able to exist in cities and industrial areas. Graduate students can often study urban ecology in a Master of Science in Landscape Architecture and Urban Ecology degree program.

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Essential Information

A master's degree program in urban ecology is ideal for aspiring architects and community planners interested in better understanding the ecosystem. Most students bring a strong background in either landscape architecture or ecology and wish to apply these concepts to community planning.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a major in landscape architecture, biology, ecology or architecture, as well as strong GPA and GRE scores. The master's programs typically take 2 years to complete.

After completion of the program, aspiring landscape architects must have several years experience in the field and obtain certification by passing an examination.


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Master's Degree in Landscape Architecture and Urban Ecology

A master's degree program in landscape architecture and urban ecology focuses on structure and ecological processes behind urban and modified landscapes. Students learn to incorporate ecological elements into sustainable settlements that both protect the environment and promote healthy human habitation.

Students explore ways in which ecological issues affect landscapes through courses on climatology, soil structure, hydrology, animal communities, plant communities and more. Most courses in a master's degree program in landscape architecture and urban ecology focus on theoretical and practical elements behind ecology's effect on city planning. Some courses include:

  • Natural processes in planning and design
  • Design studio and planting design & practice
  • Construction studio and site construction
  • Research methodology
  • Community development and planning
  • Behavioral factors in community design

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Many individuals who study urban ecology wish to advance their careers as landscape architects, community planners or conservationists. Landscape architects held about 22,500 jobs in the United States as of May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Expected employment growth rate for landscape architects is 5% from 2014-2024; about as fast as average for all jobs. As of May 2015, landscape architects earned an average annual salary of $68,600 per year (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education Options

Most states require landscape architects to be certified. The Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards offers a Landscape Architecture Registration Exam for professionals seeking such certification. Individuals need at least a baccalaureate degree and one to four years of experience before they can sit for the exam.

Students pursuing a master's degree in urban ecology will combine their interest of ecology and architecture to help serve as community planners and landscape architects. Those interested in landscape architecture can choose to pursue further certification and can expect positive job growth in the field.

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