The MPS in Landscape Architecture degree is suitable for undergraduate landscape architecture students graduating with a BSLA or BLA, who wish to continue their studies for one year to earn a graduate degree.

Since the MPS is design research-focused, it offers an experience unique to undergraduate programs in landscape architecture. Graduates of programs in allied disciplines of Architecture, Environmental Studies and Sustainability, Civil or Environmental Engineering, etc. who are interested in complementing their undergraduate or graduate education with landscape architecture and/or design are also encouraged to apply.


  • DESIGN RESEARCH. Herbert Simon distinguished science and design this way- science describes what is, design asks what ought to be. Students of the Cornell MPS in LA program will learn how to conduct design research, a question-driven process, and practice utilizing design research methods, including extensive fieldwork, drawing, digital and physical modeling, prototyping, scenario development, testing, and evaluation. Design research moves beyond problem-solving toward imagining and inventing new stories, frameworks, and futures. Design researchers experiment and iterate using tested, emerging, and invented methodologies and tools to address research questions.
  • COLLABORATIVE PRACTICE. Cornell launched a new approach to the MPS degree. Each cohort will undertake a collaborative research project working closely with a faculty lead. For academic years 2019-21, this research project extends from ongoing research being done by Professor Vanucchi and colleague Dr. Ameilia Greiner Safi  (Public Health and Communications) and involves transect fieldwork, hybrid drawing and modeling, and scenario development, testing, and evaluation. Specifically, we will consider how to reimagine the floodplain as a territory for decarbonization, high ecological and social value, and resilience. Design scenarios may involve land management strategies such as reforestation, buyouts of flood-prone properties, recreation, deepening connections to the river, and suggested changes to flood control infrastructures such as levees.

MPS Program Details

Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) Master of Professional Studies (MPS) program is an accredited, course-based, one-year Master’s degree program that emphasizes professional development and intellectual investigation in the areas of agriculture, life sciences, and global development. Though similar to a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in its academic rigor, the MPS degree differs from a traditional M.S. degree in its structure and focus. An M.S. is research-based, with students building a thesis over the course of two or three years. In contrast, the MPS degree is a one-year, course-based program where students study the intricacies and in-depth questions of their field of study. Instead of a thesis or research project, MPS students complete a capstone project during their final semester. To understand this difference in greater detail, please visit our FAQ page. MPS students are part of a community of diverse students and faculty who share common goals, connecting research and practice to solve complex problems.

The Master of Professional Studies program has two main components:

  • Coursework: Students work with a faculty advisor to map out their individualized course of study based on their areas of interest. The majority of courses (20 credits) will be within CALS; however, students have the opportunity to take courses across Cornell.
  • Capstone project: With the guidance of a faculty advisor, students work on solving a real-world problem.
  • Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 30 credit hours related to the candidate's professional interest, as agreed upon with the faculty advisor.
    • Twenty credit hours must be taken within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and at least 30 credits must be in graduate-level courses (5000-level and higher).
    • A maximum of 6 of the required 30 credit hours may be earned through the student's problem-solving project (see third bullet).
    • A maximum of 6 graduate-level credit hours earned outside the program, at Cornell University or elsewhere, may be counted toward these requirements at the discretion of the student's faculty advisor. These credits must be appropriate to the subject of study and completed not more than five years before admission.
  • Completion of a minimum of two semesters. One semester must be earned by carrying a minimum of 12 credit hours. In certain circumstances, the second semester credit may be earned by accumulating the remaining credit hours in the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions at Cornell University or through transfer of credit (see item c above).
  • Satisfactory completion of a problem-solving project under the supervision of the faculty advisor. This project may be an action program, the development of a plan to address a pertinent problem, the development of materials or methodology suited to the student's situation, or the development and execution of research appropriate to the profession. A formal project report must be submitted to and approved by the candidate's faculty advisor. 
  • A minimum semester grade point average of 2.5 (minimum of 18 credit hours with letter grades at Cornell).
  • Completion of the degree within four years of admission. Some fields of study may have special requirements, so students should check with the field's director of graduate studies for specific details.

Students work with top-ranked faculty who are leaders in their field on an experiential project that fosters professional skill development through the creation of solutions to real-world problems.


headshot of woman with bookshelf in background
Maria Goula

Director of Graduate Studies, Professor

Landscape Architecture

Maria Goula
Kristie Milliman
Kristie Milliman

Undergraduate and Graduate Field Assistant

Landscape Architecture

Kristie Milliman