Students in landscape architecture undergraduate degree programs take basic courses in horticulture, ecology, landscape drafting and geography. Advanced programs may address landscape design theory and landscape construction.
Those interested in earning a degree in the subject can do so at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. Completion of a bachelor's or master's degree program can prepare students to pursue licensure in the field, which is required in every state. Internships or hands-on training is also required to obtain a license. Earning an associate's degree may lead to work as a landscape architecture assistant or further education at the bachelor's level.
Associate's Degree in Landscape Architecture
Since landscape architecture is a complex field that draws from several disciplines, associate's degree programs in the subject are relatively uncommon. The programs that are available usually place equal emphasis on the creative and scientific aspects of landscape architecture. Students learn the basic concepts behind designing spaces in settings like urban areas, fields and wetlands.
Students earning an associate's degree in landscape architecture complete courses in the natural sciences and art. Some classes give students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience growing plants or creating landscape blueprints. Students are usually required to take classes in the subjects below:
- Field biology
Bachelor's Degree in Landscape Architecture
Bachelor's degree programs in landscape architecture usually take an interdisciplinary approach, focusing on topics like land use planning, natural resource management and the use of geographic information systems. Bachelor's degree programs teach students to create practical and aesthetically pleasing designs for a variety of outdoor spaces. Many schools require students to complete internships with experienced landscape architects prior to graduation.
Bachelor's degree programs in landscape architecture include courses that focus on the historical and theoretical aspects of the discipline as well as the practical facets. Students study the research methods, design practices and the communications standards used in landscape architecture. Programs normally require students to learn about the topics mentioned below:
- Landscape design theory
- Landscape architecture drafting
- Landscape architecture practice
- Constructing landscapes
- Geographic information systems (GIS) in landscape architecture
Master's Degree in Architecture
Master's degree programs in landscape architecture are split into two categories: programs for students who have earned an undergraduate degree in the discipline and programs for students with a degree in another field. Accelerated first-professional master's degree programs provide students with a broad knowledge base in the theory and practices used in landscape architecture. Post-professional master's degrees in landscape architecture build on prior coursework and often allow students to choose a specialization within the field.
The required coursework in master's degree programs in landscape architecture integrates courses in environmental studies, art and design. Programs focus on teaching students the practical information that they will use in their landscape architecture careers. The courses listed below are typically required:
- Landscape architecture ecology
- Computer drafting for landscape architecture
- Landscape architecture theory
- History of landscape architecture
- Practical landscape construction
Popular Career Options
Earning a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture prepares graduates for private and public sector careers as landscape architects. Students who complete an associate's degree program in landscape architecture frequently work for private companies or governmental agencies. Independent landscape architects need more advanced education than an associate's degree program provides, but many career options are still available. Some common job titles for graduates of an associate's degree in this field include:
- Conservation specialist
- Landscape design assistant
- Game commission assistant
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it is anticipated that employment growth for landscape architects will be about 5% between the years 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The average annual salary for landscape architects was $63,810 as of May 2015.
The number of jobs available in landscape architecture is expected to grow from about 22,500 to 23,700 between 2014 and 2024 and the highest-paid 10% of landscape architects earned in excess of $104,710 as of May 2015, per BLS reports.
Continuing Education Information
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that all 50 states require landscape architects to meet licensure requirements. While the exact standards vary by state, most ask that landscape architects pass the 2-part Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE) and have one to four years of supervised work experience in the field.
Graduates of master's degree programs in landscape architecture are subject to the same licensure requirements as graduates with a bachelor's degree in the discipline. Many professionals earn dual degrees in landscape architecture and urban planning, learning how to design open spaces in city contexts.
Getting a degree is required to be a landscape professional and the process is like many other fields, with the exception of needing a license. As professionals, landscape architects can expect to work with varying environments and make a tangible impact on them.