Landscape Design Training Programs and Requirements

Landscape designers, also known as landscape architects, plan outdoor spaces, including parks, golf courses, urban plazas and residential areas. Degree programs for study in landscape design include bachelor's and master's degrees.

Essential Information

Landscape design training programs train students in surveying, site design, urban horticulture, botany and ecology. These programs are available at the bachelor's and master's degree level, and often include studio elements that allow candidates to complete real-world projects to gain hands-on experience. Students gain a foundation in design principles, computer-assisted design technology, natural resource utilization and urban environments. Coursework also explores how human interaction affects the outdoor landscape and vice versa.

Bachelor's Degree in Landscape Design

Bachelor's degree programs in landscape design require a high school diploma and provide instruction in basic design principles, such as planning and implementation, environmental stewardship and professional practice. Studio topics may include planting design, housing design, natural processes and the urban environment. Many undergraduate programs require students to complete a capstone project that demonstrates mastery of the design process from start to finish. Core curriculum introduces students to historic and contemporary concepts in landscape design and other topics including:

  • Modeling
  • Construction
  • Design theory

Master's Degree in Landscape Design

Master's degree programs in landscape design are available for those with or without an undergraduate degree in landscape design or architecture. Individuals with a bachelor's degree in another field can expect to take three years to complete a master's program in landscape architecture, while those with an undergraduate degree in the field can complete the program in two years. Graduate-level programs in landscape design focus on developing skills in both the practice and research of design. Design studios, research seminars and field courses are also a large component of graduate programs. Many master's degree programs require students to complete and present a thesis project prior to graduation. Advanced courses in the program might include:

  • Ecology
  • Design law
  • Site planning
  • Project management

Licenses and Certifications

Nearly every state requires landscape architects to be licensed. Candidates must pass the Landscape Architect Registration Exam (L.A.R.E.) administered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards. Exam eligibility requires candidates to have a degree in landscape architecture from an accredited institution and have one to four years of on-the-job experience under the supervision of a licensed landscape designer. Other certification requirements vary by state and can often include an additional state-administered exam that focuses on environmental regulations and land characteristics specific to the region.

The Associate of Professional Landscape Designers Certification

The association offers a voluntary certification to members in good standing who have at least four years of experience in the industry. Certification provides professional recognition to landscape designers that have demonstrated excellence in the field. It is based on the evaluation of the candidate's submitted work. Certification must be renewed every three years by completing 30 hours of continuing education credits.

Workshops and Seminars

The Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) sponsors a number of workshops and seminars throughout the year through local chapters located all across the country. Lectures and 1-day courses are also available through a variety of nursery, landscape and design associations, such as the American Nursery and Landscape Association.

Students can pursue a bachelor's or master's degree programs in landscape design that provide hands-on experience and real world applications. Many of these students go on to become licensed landscape architects or certified landscape designers.

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