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Master of Professional Studies in Landscape Architecture

Hanzi Yang

The Masters of Professional Studies (MPS) degree requires one year (two semesters) of study and a minimum of 30 credits. Unlike the professional MLA, the MPS focuses on design research, both in terms of performing research through design, and exploring and expanding design research as a set of methods and approaches unique from scientific research. The MPS degree is suitable for undergraduate landscape architecture students graduating with a BSLA or BLA, who wish to continue their studies for one year to earn a graduate degree. Since the MPS is design research focused, it offers an experience unique to undergraduate programs in landscape architecture. Graduates of programs in allied disciplines of Architecture, Environmental Studies and Sustainability, Civil or Environmental Engineering, etc. who are interested in complementing their undergraduate or graduate education with landscape architecture and/or design are also encouraged to apply.


DESIGN RESEARCH: Herbert Simon distinguished science and design this way- science describes what is, design asks what ought to be. Students of the Cornell MPS in LA program will learn how to conduct design research, a question-driven process and practice utilizing design research methods, including extensive fieldwork, drawing, digital and physical modeling, prototyping, scenario development, testing and evaluation. Design research moves beyond problem solving toward imagining and inventing new stories, frameworks and futures. Design researchers experiment and iterate using tested, emerging, and invented methodologies and tools to address research questions.


MPS in LA COLLABORATIVE PROJECT: In academic year 2019-2020, Cornell launched a new approach to the MPS degree. Each cohort will undertake a collaborative research project working closely with a faculty lead. For academic years 2019-21, this research project extends from ongoing research being done by Professor Vanucchi and colleague Dr. Ameilia Greiner Safi  (Public Health and Communications), and involves transect fieldwork, hybrid drawing and modeling, and scenario development, testing, and evaluation. Specifically, we will consider how to reimagine the floodplain as a territory for decarbonization, high ecological and social value, and resilience. Design scenarios may involve land management strategies such as reforestation, buyouts of flood-prone properties, recreation, deepening connections to the river, and suggested changes to flood control infrastructures such as levees.


MPS students must take a minimum of 30 credits, including required, recommended, and free elective courses. The MPS curriculum is built around LA5090 The MPS Project, a studio like course where students will undertake a collaborative design research project. You can read more about the MPS degree program and requirements here