Graduate Landscape studies at the UW-Madison explore the rich ecological communities found in the Upper Midwest and similar geographic regions while emphasizing the diverse cultural heritage of the people who live and work in these areas. Scholarship in the Department of Landscape Architecture emphasizes glaciated landscapes of the Upper Great Lakes region, as well as prairie and savanna ecosystems, and the driftless area of southern Wisconsin, northern Iowa, and Illinois. Landscape studies at the UW are grounded in the environmental and design legacies of such luminaries as John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Jens Jensen, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
The mission of Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is to provide a learning environment in which faculty, staff, and students can advance the discipline and profession of landscape architecture through the creative discovery, critical examination, and transmission of knowledge. The approach is interdisciplinary, and emphasizes environmental sensitivity while simultaneously providing the highest possible quality of life for humans through landscape design, planning, policy, conservation, and management. The mission of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), of which the Department is a part, is to improve the quality of life by discovering, critically analyzing, and sharing knowledge in food and agriculture, the life sciences, natural resource and environmental stewardship, and rural community development; and to offer a strong, research-based education that is responsive to public needs and social, economic, and environmental concerns. CALS seeks to advance the technical competence, problem-solving skills, and intellectual growth of students and to broaden their appreciation of cultural diversity and environmental stewardship.
The graduate program, leading to the degrees of Master of Science or Master of Arts in Landscape Architecture, provides intensive research training and experience. (It must be emphasized that the MSLA/MALA degrees differ from the professional MLA degrees offered by the majority of other graduate landscape architecture programs in North America.) The program seeks to develop a scholarly foundation for the discipline of landscape architecture and related fields, and to contribute information to practitioners engaged in landscape decision-making and stewardship. Each Master's student completes a thesis, based on independent scholarship, as part of the requirements for graduation. In addition, each student is strongly urged to submit an article-length manuscript, based on the thesis, written in a form suitable for publication.
A Project-based Masters option is available within the graduate program in Landscape Architecture. A Project-based Masters is a form of design scholarship based on interpreting and integrating research and theory, while exploring possibilities through design. Project-based scholarship will advance understanding of landscape spaces, functions, and dynamics, as well as interactions between people and the built and natural environment through design exploration and research.
Presently the Project-based masters degree option can lead to an MALA, with the intent to build criteria for this option in an MSLA, depending on the project and student intent. NOTE: Like the research degrees, the project-based MALA option is not an accredited professional design degree.
This program prepares students for careers in research, consulting, teaching at the university level, and the application of empirical research and emerging technologies in professional settings. Students with a prior background in environmental design will also be able to cultivate an area of design specialization. All graduates are prepared to assume a leadership role in addressing critical landscape problems, both in the present and in the future.
Students with a bachelor's or an advanced degree from a wide variety of academic disciplines are encouraged to apply. Landscape architects will find unique opportunities to learn and develop new knowledge and skills. Through their course work, non-landscape architects, as well as those with professional design degrees in other fields (e.g., architecture), will gain an understanding of the problem-solving approaches used in landscape architecture, and develop a solid foundation in scholarly inquiry.