The intent of the MLA degree is to provide the foundational, historical, theoretical, technical, and skills-based grounding of the field of landscape architecture.

The core of the degree program is the design studio that introduces students to fundamental design methodologies and they are asked to pursue and develop their design process and learn about research methodologies. Supplemental courses in all other aspects of the field provide the information that will be synthesized in the studio to reinforce the design process and end result. The studio is project-based and exposes students to a wide array of landscape scales, types, contexts, and topical issues. The studio format entails lectures, demonstrations, field trips, readings, guest presentations, precedent study, one-on-one instruction, and group discourse. Rather than espousing a singular design philosophy or style, the department offers multiple perspectives on design, imparted through the studio course sequence. The required sequential nature of the studios offered throughout the student’s academic career at Cornell allows for each studio to build on the previous one with an ever-increasing degree of complexity and attention to detail. The MLA degree allows the option of a design thesis, a capstone studio, or a written research thesis in the final semester of study.

Our graduate program complies with the requirements of three governing bodies:

  • The New York State Education Department (NYSED)
  • The Council of Landscape Architecture Registration Boards (CLARB)
  • The Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board

The degree programs are designed to accommodate a variety of academic backgrounds, both with and without design training in landscape architecture and architecture. Therefore, each student’s curriculum plan is tailored to the individual’s specific background and academic goals. We offer two possible paths toward the completion of the MLA degree.

Student-Formulated Concentrations

The formal concentration in Landscape Architecture allows degree candidates in the department the opportunity to define an area of personal interest within this broad profession or to examine the landscape dimensions of an associated field. The concentration is an opportunity for students to formally establish their interests as part of the degree.

  • The concentration is defined by the student in consultation with their faculty advisor.
  • The requirements of the concentration are at least 10 credits for the MLA beyond those required by the department for the degree. Students include the LA 6030 The Concentration class as part of the 10 credit requirement.
a black box

Art of Adaptation

“I named this concentration the “Art of Adaptation” because I have taken art and science classes that emphasize not only the importance of plants ecologically and culturally, but confront the coming climate crisis directly. This is important for landscape architects who will be on the front lines of adapting land use (especially coastal land use) to the changing climate and the various implications for human and non-human life. I have used this interested in the creative and artful adaptation of the land and human infrastructure in my studio classes.”

Nell Crumbley MLA ’20

Construction & Real Estate

"This concentration has helped me gain a better general understanding of how landscape architecture projects are not only designed but are also constructed, and how to communicate and work more effectively with individuals that come from these fields."

Dean Yeh MLA '20

Digital Drawing + Mapping

"During my early design education, visual representation, in general, was not a natural talent of mine, nor was construction logic. For this reason, I decided to tailor aspects of my graduate studies in landscape architecture toward further enlightenment and training in this realm- partly because I knew it was imperative to my future career as a designer, but more so because I recognized the particular agency of digitally-driven visual devices in catapulting design ethos, whether 2D or 3D in construct."

Marco Rangel MLA '20

Heritage Landscape

“As far back as I can recall, I was always fascinated by the way a landscape can tell people's stories. My dream is to preserve endemic species and indigenous human cultures, improve food security, strengthen impoverished communities, and create an inspiring space for spiritual growth. I have always felt that creating and conserving public parks as a landscape architect would be the right way to achieve my goals.”

Yaniv Korman MLA ’21

Human-Animal Interaction

“Following my lifelong passion for animals, I concentrated my studies as a landscape architecture student on human-animal interaction: the relationship and experience of humans and animals within a space. One could easily argue that we are starting to take animals for granted given the increasing rates of endangered species and extinctions, and this can only be detrimental to us as well as the world we inhabit. Because of this, I believe that design should be used thoughtfully to improve the relationship between humans and animals, and provide for the needs of the species of focus.”

Susan Rhodes BSLA ’17

Technological Entrepreneurship

"From taking a few specific classes within the minor track, I have been able to enhance my holistic knowledge of business innovation, all while subconsciously thinking about how I can apply this knowledge to my career as a designer. Specifically, something that has always stuck out to me is my intrigue of technology, and the amazing advancements we continue to make with technology on a daily basis. Technology has always been a powerful driver in the entrepreneurship and innovation classes I have taken, and a very important tool I often think about as an element that needs to be tied into the landscape, both physically in our designs and included more in the workflows of the practice."

Seth Kunoff BSLA '21

Universal Design

“While human occupancy can be used to measure a landscape’s performance in some ways, solely relying on human inhabitance to evaluate success fails to recognize the importance of a multitude of other contributing factors. This inspired me to concentrate on Universal Design, not as it typically relates to the built environment, but how it must be re-defined in order to evaluate landscape architecture as well. If we are going to use the term “universal” to describe the performance of a project, then we should be evaluating the space’s ability to truly create meaningful and measurable impacts for all systems—not just those that are human-related.”

Molly Davis BSLA ’20

Master of Landscape Architecture (3-Year Track)

The three-year MLA track is intended for students who do not hold a first professional degree in landscape architecture, architecture or pre-professional degrees.

Master of Landscape Architecture (2-Year Track)

The two-year MLA track is a post-professional sequence intended for students who hold a United States or Canadian-accredited first professional degree in landscape architecture or architecture, including BLA, BSLA, or BArch degrees.

Dual Master's Degree in Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning

The four-year dual master's degree track is intended for students interested in pursuing both the MLA degree with the Master of Regional Planning (MRP).

MLA Projects

MLA Admission Details

Prospective students may apply to the MLA program through the Cornell Graduate School. Applications must include:

  • Transcripts from all educational institutions attended.
  • Two (2) letters of recommendation.
  • Portfolio.
  • GRE scores (optional)
  • Prospective foreign students without an undergraduate degree from a U.S. institution or an undergraduate degree conducted in English are required to pass the Test for English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a reading score of 22, writing score of 22, listening score of 20, and speaking score of 25. IELTS required is 7.0

Applicants to the MLA program are required to submit a portfolio. The portfolio is used to assess your aptitude for visual thinking and design. Applicants may include a wide variety of media, including freehand drawings, painting, photography, graphic design and renderings, garden design, and other creative endeavors.

  • Portfolios are digitally submitted along with the MLA application. There is no page limit; however, your file size should be less than twenty (20) megabytes total to be able to upload onto the Cornell Graduate School Application site. A hard copy is not required for graduate applications. Any questions can be directed to Maria Goula, Director of Graduate Studies.

Financial Aid for graduate students is provided on a variety of need-based and merit-based grants and scholarships. Visit the Grants & Scholarships page for more information.

Resources:

headshot of woman with bookshelf in background
Maria Goula

Director of Graduate Studies, Associate Professor

Landscape Architecture

Maria Goula
Kristie Milliman

Undergraduate and Graduate Field Assistant

Landscape Architecture

Kristie Milliman