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Landscape Architecture: Graduate Program


Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) Program 

The MLA Program exemplifies the spirit of the land-grant mission that has characterized The University of Arizona since its founding. This professional degree program reflects the practical land stewardship values that led to the establishment of the profession in 1899. The Program provides education, research, and outreach in the systematic organization of public and private outdoor places for human and environmental health, social well-being, preservation of cultural heritage, and visual beauty. The MLA Program is accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB)

Master of Landscape Architecture Program Mission

The MLA Program aspires to be an eminent design program with an emphasis on sustainable strategies. The Program strives to develop a culture of scholarship and teaching innovation aimed at advancing the practice of landscape architecture for the 21st century. The faculty looks to continuously evolve approaches toward outcomes that improve design processes and solutions. Within this context, the central theme of the program is sustainable design characterized by a careful understanding of landscape ecology, landscape planning, cultural landscapes, history and theory, fine art, and technical and digital media proficiency.  The program defines itself by the quality of its graduates who are: a) prepared for professional practice, and b) scholars of the discipline. The program purpose, core essential values, and associated objectives are centered on this mission statement. The following list emphasizes program core values.

  • Studio culture focuses on excellence in teaching, research, and community engagement.
  • Sustainable design practice demonstrates well-established connections between ecology and landscape architecture.  
  • Interdisciplinary partnerships illustrate collaborations essential for how we practice.
  • Outreach and service learning opportunities advance teaching, scholarship, research, and professional practice in the community setting. 
  • Place-based learning, with applications to other regions, focuses teaching, research, and service on real-world situations.
  • Preservation of cultural heritage and identity serves the Public interest, the State of Arizona and the greater Southwest.
  • Promotion of the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

For a full overview of our program, please see the attached 2007-2013 LAAB Self Evaluation Report.


Expected Learning Outcomes: 

The learning outcomes of the MLA Program have been developed within the guidelines established by the LAAB under the overarching requirement that the program must prepare students to pursue careers in landscape architecture. As such, student work must demonstrate competency required for entry level positions in the field of landscape architecture.  Learning realms identified by the LAAB include student critical and creative thinking and ability to understand, apply and communicate the subject matter of the professional curriculum as evidenced through project definition, problem identification, information collection, analysis, synthesis, conceptualization, and implementation. Programs must satisfy the following curricular content areas as identified by the LAAB as these relate to the profession of landscape architecture:

  • History, theory and criticism.
  • Natural and cultural systems including principles of sustainability.
  • Public policy and regulation.
  • Design, planning, and management at various scales and applications including but not limited to pedestrian and vehicular circulation, grading drainage and storm water management.
  • Site design and implementation: materials, methods, technologies, application.
  • Construction documentation and administration.
  • Written, verbal and visual communication.
  • Professional practice.
  • Professional values, and ethics.
  • Plants and ecosystems.
  • Computer applications and other advanced technology.

The faculty identified the following learning outcomes in February 2014:

Design and Planning Skills and Solutions; the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of theories and processes applicable to the profession of landscape architecture.
  • Apply complex concepts of landscape architectural practice at all scales.
  • Demonstrate decision making strategies for the creation of defensible yet exceptional design and planning solutions.    

Design Implementation; the student will be able to:

  • Design technically accurate and innovative construction methods applicable to the profession of landscape architecture.

Design Communication; the student will be able to:

  • Express complex landscape architectural design schemes articulately and evocatively through drawing, verbal presentations, and design writing.


Assessment Activities: 

The assessment rubrics for measuring these outcomes (attached below) are used to measure student work in the capstone studio - LAR 612 Design Studio V.  The results are used to determine curricular modifications.

The faculty also routinely conducts curricular evaluation through the review of the student work according to the course learning objectives and within the context of professional accreditation guidelines. Studio courses focus on the application of background research, knowledge of site constraints and opportunities, functional requirements, program development, concept development, design invention, creative thinking, design communication, and design implementation.  Design studio reviews and formal critiques with both faculty and outside professionals have been used as a method for reviewing and evaluating student work. In order to improve these assessment activities the program identified assessment rubrics (presented below) that will be used to measure student learning outcomes on an annual basis.

Beginning in Spring 2017, a learning outcomes and program assessment survey will be conducted with the 2017 graduating class. 

Assessment Findings: 


Faculty began using the assessment rubrics in 2014 in the final design capstone studio (LAR 612 Design Studio V).  The table below displays the findings for each standard.  The scores are based on a three-point scale: 3 = Exceeds requirements; 2 = Meets requirements; 1 = Unsatisfactory.

Learning Outcomes

LAR 612

Fall 2014 (n=10)

LAR 612

Fall 2015 (n=6)

Student Design and Planning Skills and Solutions    
          Design Programming 2.3 2.5
          Design Research 2.4 2.4
          Design Synthesis and Evaluation 2.5 2.4
Student Design Implementation SKills    
          Construction Standards and Guidelines 2.3 2.4
          Construction Concepts and Techniques 2.3 2.5
          Construction Processes and Performance 2.2 2.5
Student Design Communication Skills    
          Content 2.1 2.6
          Organization 2.5 2.3
          Presentation Delivery and Mechanics 2.5 2.2



Change in Response to Findings: 

Landscape Architecture faculty members reviewed the assessment findings in February 2016. Changes are as follows:

Greater emphasis on programming strategies within the studio sequence. Faculty discussion has emphasized how to improve the process and have clarified the program development that will be used in the studio sequence. These changes will be assessed within the Student Design and Planning Skills and Solutions and Student Design Communication Skills sections of Learning Outcomes.

Greater emphasis on communication skills for graduates. In general, students are adequate to excellent in verbal presentation skills, but improvement on graphic and written skills is needed. Faculty will continue to demonstrate examples that illustrate appropriate techniques for research outcomes. These changes will be addressed within the Student Design Communication Skills section of Learning Outcomes.

Updated date: Wed, 11/23/2016 - 10:03