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Master of Landscape Architecture Degree

Our graduate program complies with the requirements of three governing bodies: the New York State Education Department (NYSED), the Council of Landscape Architecture Registration Boards (CLARB), and the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board. The degree programs are designed to accommodate a variety of academic backgrounds, both with and without design training in landscape architecture and architecture. Therefore, each student’s curriculum plan is tailored to the individual’s specific background and academic goals. We offer two possible paths toward the completion of the MLA degree.

The intent of the MLA degree is to provide the foundational, historical, theoretical, technical, and skills-based grounding of the field of landscape architecture. The core of the degree program is the design studio that introduces students to fundamental design methodologies and they are asked to pursue and develop their design process and learn about research methodologies. Supplemental courses in all other aspects of the field provide the information that will be synthesized in the studio to reinforce the design process and end result. The studio is project based and exposes students to a wide array of landscape scales, types, contexts, and topical issues. The studio format entails lectures, demonstrations, field trips, readings, guest presentations, precedent study, one-on-one instruction, and group discourse. Rather than espousing a singular design philosophy or style, the department offers multiple perspectives on design, imparted through the studio course sequence. The required sequential nature of the studios offered throughout the student’s academic career at Cornell allows for each studio to build on the previous one with an ever-increasing degree of complexity and attention to detail. Studio size is conducive to small group interaction among students and between students and faculty. A concentration focused on the student’s individual personal interests is also required.  Both MLA paths allow the option of a design thesis, a capstone studio, or a written research thesis in the final semester of study.

First Professional MLA – 6 Semesters and 90 Credits

The First Professional 6 Semester MLA degree is accredited by NYSED and LAAB and is a first professional landscape architectural license qualifying degree intended for those students who do not hold a first professional degree in landscape architecture or architecture or pre-professional degree including, but not necessarily limited to, Bachelor of Landscape Studies, Bachelor of Environmental Design, Bachelor of Design, or Bachelor of Architectural Studies. This course of study requires a minimum of 90 credit hours and six semesters.

Post Professional MLA – 4 Semesters and 60 Credits

The Post Professional 4 Semester MLA degree is intended for those students who hold a United States or Canadian accredited first professional degree in landscape architecture or architecture including BLA, BSLA, or BArch degrees. This course of study requires a minimum of 60 credit hours and four semesters.


Central to the graduate curriculum is the design studio, which focuses on conceptual and applied design. The studio format entails lecture, demonstration, one-on-one instruction and group discourse. Rather than espousing a single design philosophy, the department presents numerous perspectives on design, imparted through the studio course sequence. Small class sizes allow for discussion among faculty and students. The graduate curriculum culminates with a thesis or capstone studio. Thesis students, with the guidance of the Thesis Committee, may choose from a variety of options for their research, including a special project, design or an aspect of theory applied to a project. The capstone studio option features a comprehensive design project. 


Prospective applicants may submit an application via ApplyWeb by following the instructions on the Graduate Schools Website.

Transcripts from all educational institutions and two (2) letters of recommendation are required for graduate students. Admission is made in the fall semester only. GRE scores are not required but are strongly recommended. Submission of a portfolio demonstrating creative ability is required.  Foreign students without an undergraduate degree from a U.S. institution or an undergraduate degree conducted in English are required to pass the Test for English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a reading (22), writing (22), listening (20), and speaking (25).  IELTS required score is 7.0.

Study Abroad Options

The Department encourages study abroad.  Travel scholarships for design study and thesis research include the E. Gordon Davis Traveling Scholarship, the Dreer Award, the Robert James Eidlitz Traveling Fellowship, and the Clarence Stein Fellowship.  Semester-long study programs at collaborating institutions around the world are available through the Exchange Programs of the College. 

Dual M.L.A. and M.R.P. Degree

The Department also offers a Dual M.L.A. and M.R.P. Degree.  For more information please visit City and Regional Planning.