About the MLA Program
Initiated in 1954, Georgia’s MLA program is one of the oldest graduate landscape architectural programs in the country, with the largest and most complete landscape architectural faculty anywhere. Among Georgia’s MLA alumni are winners of national design competitions, Presidents and Fellows of the American Society of Landscape Architects, heads of prestigious university departments, senior editors of national journals, leaders of the National Park Service and other public institutions, most of the designers of the 1996 Olympic venues, and leading practitioners all over the world. Each year about 16 new students are selectively admitted to the program.
Georgia provides landscape architecture education that is broad and adaptable to the interests of individual students. The MLA program facilitates student-defined research to develop the unique professional roles of its students, producing graduates who can use the expertise in scholarship, design, and communication to discover, advocate, and implement superior landscape solutions.
Georgia employs the largest full-time landscape architecture faculty in the country, ensuring that all specializations within the field are represented. Small graduate classes within the large, diverse school are supportive of intellectual and social debates. The Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture (MLA) at the University of Georgia’s College of Environment and Design provides the foundational knowledge, practical skills and design expertise needed to engage in both public service and private practice of landscape architecture. It provides, through community engagement in service learning projects, development of the knowledge, skills and values required to attend to the health, safety and welfare needs of the people, communities and environment of the state of Georgia. In addition, it affords students the opportunity to focus and define their unique position within the profession through scholarly discovery, preparing them for a possible future in academia. The CED’s MLA program graduates students that are prepared to lead the profession as outstanding practitioners, educators and scholars in the planning, design, and management of the natural and built environment.
Programs of study range from one to three years, depending on a student’s educational and professional background. Students in the three-year track build on a variety of undergraduate backgrounds with their first professional design degree. Students with undergraduate degrees in design fields of architecture, landscape architecture and environmental planning, seeking further professional development, usually enter the two- or one-year tracks. The length of study required is determined upon acceptance into the program.
Job demand for landscape architectural graduates has been steadily increasing since the recession. The profession offers the satisfaction of designing and shaping the built environment alongside architects, planners, and urban designers. Many of the country’s leading private and public sector landscape architects and essentially all of the country’s landscape architectural educators hold MLA degrees.
All MLA students are required to complete a written thesis in their last year of the program. Recent thesis topics have included a broad range of design, planning and management initiatives including public art, stormwater management, public health, open space planning, and historic gardens. In addition, students have worked on designs for scenic byways, rural conservation easements and urban redevelopment projects. Thesis topics range in scale from rural vegetable stands to regional vegetation analysis. Students may elect to pursue a design application as a part of their thesis research.
All students are encouraged to study abroad and/or obtain professional experience during their summers at UGA. In recent years research studies have placed students internationally in Scotland, Italy, Germany, and Costa Rica. Students have interned with professional offices in Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Colorado, California, Michigan, New Jersey, Virginia, and Beijing.
A series of endowed lectures brings distinguished practitioners of landscape architecture, architecture, and historic preservation for major lectures or extended meeting with students. Each year the College of Environment + Design holds a lecture series featuring practitioners and faculty who share their current work. Recent guests have included David Rubin, founding principal of Land Collective, James Hitchmough, Professor of Horticultural Ecology at the University of Sheffield, Andrea Wulf, author of “The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire, and the Birth of an Obsession,” and Ed Triplett, Duke University Library and the Wired Lab Digital Humanities Post-Doctorate Fellow. Students of the College of Environment + Design are also encouraged to take advantages of activities in neighboring colleges such as the Red Clay Conference, an annual environmental law conference held each spring in the law school facilities adjacent to the College of Environmental Design. The College hosted the first American conference on landscape ecology, two annual conferences of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture and the annual conference for the Southeast Society of Architectural Historians.
The MLA program is accredited by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board. Accreditation reviews by LAAB occur every 5-6 years. Accreditation was renewed in July 2015. The next accreditation visit is scheduled for 2020.