3-year First-professional MLA Program

The Master of Landscape Architecture Program (MLA) is an accredited three-year professional degree designed for individuals who have completed the bachelor’s degree in a field other than landscape architecture. The program offers a studio-based curriculum integrating design, ecology, fabrication, and representation. Emphasis is given to developing mastery of design through a series of design studios that investigate a range of landscape scales from sites to regions. The program seeks applicants whose academic and professional interests focus on the civic landscape.

The program is offered through the Washington + Alexandria Architecture Center (WAAC) in Old Town Alexandria, which operates as the metropolitan extension of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies (CAUS) in Blacksburg. Established in 1998, the program’s location within the National Capital Region enables interdisciplinary collaboration with architecture, natural resources, and urban planning programs and contact with myriad public and private cultural and artistic institutions (e.g. American Society of Landscape Architects, the National Building Museum, the American Institute of Architects, the Library of Congress, and the museums of the Smithsonian Institution). For further information contact Paul Kelsch, who is coordinating the NCR-MLA program, pkelsch@vt.edu.


Individuals are admitted to the Master of Landscape Architecture Program on a competitive basis. Applicants who have completed a four-year baccalaureate degree, or its equivalent, are eligible for admission. Applications are reviewed by a faculty committee and evaluated on the basis of previous academic performance, relevant experience, and evidence of potential to successfully pursue graduate-level work in landscape architecture. Preference is given to candidates with high academic standing and whose record reflects a balanced undergraduate education in the arts, sciences, and humanities. Although our students have varied educational backgrounds and experience, college-level courses in the natural sciences, ecology, and the visual arts (e.g., drawing, sculpture, printmaking, and/or basic design) are strongly recommended.

Admission with Advanced Standing

Applicants with previous education in design, a professional undergraduate degree in architecture, or who have substantial equivalent coursework in landscape architecture, environmental design or landscape design may be eligible for admission with advanced standing, subject to the review of the admissions committee. In such cases, a transcript review will be conducted to determine if applicants seeking advanced standing have satisfied the requirements equivalent to foundation coursework up to, but not exceeding, 30 credit hours. Any foundation requirements not satisfied upon enrollment shall be taken in addition to graduate-level directed elective credits.


A minimum of 80 credit hours, typically six terms of full-time study (or its equivalent), is required. For students with advanced standing, this requirement may be reduced to no fewer than four terms. Under special circumstances, students may enroll part-time thereby reducing their course load and extending their studies over a longer period of time.

Requirements for the Award of Degree

Admitted candidates will be recommended for the Master of Landscape Architecture professional degree upon satisfactory completion of a minimum of 80 credit hours including thesis. A typical course of study includes 30 credits hours of Foundation Studies and a minimum of 50 credit hours of MLA Studies. Foundation Studies prepare students to perform at the graduate level and include introductory course work in history, theory, design, technique, and natural systems. Foundation Studies takes nominally two terms to complete. MLA Studies is comprised of a minimum of 50 credit hours and includes a sequence of required studios, core coursework, and directed electives. Studios introduce the thematic interests of the faculty and highlight different approaches to design with respect to inquiry and process. Directed electives, which support the development of a particular area of mastery, may be taken from various areas of study including but not limited to landscape architecture, architecture, visual arts, natural resources, and urban affairs and planning. Graduate Studies culminates with a design thesis directed by a major professor.

Application Procedures and Admission Requirements

Typical Program of Study

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