Architects plan residential and commercial buildings, but landscape architects set down the larger concept for structures and neighborhoods, designing entire subdivisions, malls, airports, industrial parks and recreational areas. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, landscape architects need to obtain education and pass a licensing test to work in the field.
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates landscape architects need a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions, some colleges offer associate degrees to prepare students for further education. For instance, Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada, allows students to major in landscape architecture and take courses that teach the basics of landscape design through computers. This associate degree choice also provides background support for students who may switch to art, urban planning or other architecture majors.
The bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture provides more in-depth instruction and experience in design. Students at schools such as Boston Architectural College in Massachusetts and Michigan State University in East Lansing build on a foundation of math, science and humanities, later taking courses focusing on the history and theory of landscape planning, site engineering, city foundations, nature's impact, technology and software in landscape design and sustainable design structure. Some programs culminate in portfolios or large projects for hands-on experience.
The master’s level degree provides students with more specific instruction and practice with landscape design, often allowing students to establish highly individualized degree programs. At Michigan State University and other schools like North Carolina State University in Raleigh, for instance, students may focus on site conservation or restoration, tourism, site safety, wellness or healthcare and landscape, golf course structure, playground design, education of design and its impact, construction technology or design and ecological impact.
Some schools offer online degrees in landscape architecture, including accredited programs like the one from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California, which allows students to work toward an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree in the field. As with programs from traditional schools, students examine the history, techniques and concepts in landscape architecture. The BFA and MFA levels at the Academy of Art University require the development of professional portfolios to demonstrate understanding and application of the concepts.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Landscape Architects
- Truckee Meadows Community College: Landscape Architecture Degree Program Information
- Boston Architectural College: Bachelor of Landscape Architecture
- Michigan State University: School of Planning, Design & Construction--Degrees
- North Carolina State University: Landscape Architecture
- Academy of Art University: Landscape Architecture
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