Many programs are available to those looking for a landscape degree. These degrees can take anywhere from 1-7 years to complete depending on the program.
Certificate and associate's degree programs in landscaping usually offer concentrations in landscape management or turfgrass design. Basic training in plant science, irrigation and landscape construction is provided and students learn to use specialized tools for landscape maintenance. Field experiences may be included in these programs as well.
Students can also pursue either a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Landscape Architecture or a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, the latter being a professional program that leads to licensure as a landscape architect. Prerequisites include a high school diploma and some programs request design portfolios. ACT/SAT scores are also reviewed at this level. These programs usually include design studios and an internship.
For students who hold a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field, a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program can lead to professional licensure. Those who are already licensed may consider the MLA program for training in a landscape architecture specialization, like sustainable design or urban development. Doctoral programs in landscape architecture are research-intensive and intended for prospective scholars and teachers at the university level. In addition to a bachelor's degree other prerequisites for graduate work include a portfolio of landscape work, research plan, and GRE/GMAT scores. Internships, capstone projects, and a dissertation can be required as well.
Certificate in Landscaping
Landscape certificate programs are generally offered by community colleges and can be completed in one or two years. Students learn to operate and maintain manual tools, power tools and other equipment. Programs also offer further instruction in plant science, soil nutrition, pesticides and horticulture. Focused coursework provides technical skills in the care and maintenance of plants as well as landscape design. The following topics are typically covered:
- Plant propagation
- Soil testing
- Landscape management
- Irrigation design
- Landscape business management
- Landscape construction
Associate's Degree in Landscaping
These programs provide students with a comprehensive overview of plant sciences, irrigation, landscape design and business management. Students learn to analyze and maintain plant and soil nutrition, produce landscape design drafts and construct landscape structures, such as decks, fences, pools and drainage systems. Students in a landscaping associate's degree program complete general education courses in English, math and social sciences as well as courses that provide landscape maintenance, management and technical knowledge. These programs generally cover business management, pesticides, and the following topics:
- Horticulture and botany
- Plant pathology
- Landscape drainage and irrigation
- Landscape design and drafting
- Landscape construction
- Nursery and greenhouse plant production
Bachelor's Degree in Landscape Architecture
These programs prepare students to plan and produce landscape designs for outdoor spaces, such as parks, gardens, memorials, recreational areas and community spaces. Each program offers instruction in drafting and design technology, urban design, architecture and plant science. Students generally become prepared for the Landscape Architect Registration Examination, which candidates must pass to earn professional licensure. Students in a landscape architecture bachelor's degree program complete a variety of courses that focus on general education, landscaping plant materials and architectural design techniques. Other common courses include:
- Landscape architecture history
- Landscape architecture design
- Urban design
- Geology and soils
- Landscape design studio
- Landscape computer aided drafting and design
Master of Landscape Architecture
Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) programs are generally offered in two different tracks. Some programs may combine the tracks and include a preliminary year of study to the second professional degree program. Both programs require students to complete a master's thesis or project that demonstrates research and innovation in a specialization. Common concentrations include cultural and historical landscapes, design, sustainable design, conservation or urban development. Through these programs, students gain a solid foundation in landscape architecture theory and history as well as advanced critical analysis and design skills. Landscape theory and the following topics are covered in both programs:
- Research methods
- Design methods and theory
- Urban planning and development
- Urban farming
- Design studio
- Computer aided drafting and presentation
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Doctoral Degree in Landscape Architecture
Doctoral degree programs in landscape architecture offer students the opportunity to pursue research in an area of their own choice. Students engage in research that addresses the intersections between design, environments, culture, preservation, ecology, history and urban development. While there are few doctoral programs in landscape architecture, programs in regional planning or urban planning often include similar coursework. The curriculum of a landscape architecture doctoral degree program varies greatly depending on students' research interests. Regardless, all students are expected to complete courses in the following:
- Research Methods
- Design Skills
Popular Career Options
Most certificate programs in landscaping prepare graduates for entry-level positions at landscaping companies, nurseries, botanical gardens or theme parks. Those that offer greater business instruction may prepare students for supervisory or management positions in these settings.
- Pesticide sprayer
- Ground maintenance worker
- Soil technologist
- Landscape crew supervisor
- Landscape contractor
- Irrigation designer
Graduates from a Master of Landscape Architecture program are qualified for landscape architecture positions with architecture, engineering and design firms, state and local government, amusement and theme parks or by contract.
- Landscape architect
- Landscape designer
- Landscape design consultant
- Sustainable design consultant
- Urban planning designer
- Landscape preservation analyst
The majority of graduates from doctoral landscape architecture programs remain in academia, conducting scholarly research and teaching at the university level.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Graduates of an associate's degree program are qualified for a range of positions, including landscape crew supervisors, lawncare technicians, pesticide handlers and nursery managers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities in landscaping architecture are expected to increase by 5% or more between 2014 and 2024. This growth can be attributed to a rising interest in professional design and maintenance of grounds and gardens by businesses, municipalities and homeowners. Landscape architects earned a median salary of $63,810 annually as of May of 2015.
The average annual salary of landscaping positions varies greatly depending on the employer and the level of responsibility. In 2015, the BLS reported that a landscaping or grounds maintenance worker earned a median salary of $25,030, while landscape managers and supervisors earned $43,980.
While graduates from certificate programs are qualified for entry-level employment, credits earned in these programs can usually be applied towards associate degrees available through the same school. Associate's degree programs prepare students to for mid-level supervising positions with various landscaping employers.
An associate's degree in landscaping is the highest degree level that includes equal instruction in construction, plant science and landscape design. For those candidates primarily interested in landscape design, bachelor degrees in landscaping architecture are available. These programs often include some horticulture and botany courses, with a greater focus on drafting design.
Graduates from a bachelor's degree program in landscape architecture are qualified for entry-level positions in landscape architecture, however, many graduates regularly go on to earn a Master of Landscape Architecture, which provides further experience with more complex design projects.
While a master's degree in landscape architecture is a terminal professional degree, there are several doctoral programs available in landscape architecture. These programs offer great flexibility for research, allowing students to analyze the ecological, environmental, social and cultural aspects of landscape architecture.
Students interested in landscape programs have several options depending on their career path. While some students may stay within the landscape field to begin, other people with an unrelated bachelor's degree can continue the program towards a master's degree.