As heirs to design, ecological, and urban traditions, landscape architects are uniquely suited to articulate a spatial vision for today's environment. The Master of Landscape Architecture degree program is distinguished by a commitment to design excellence, regional and international perspectives, and interdisciplinary studies. The program offers a three-year curriculum for students without prior design education; those with a degree in landscape architecture or architecture may receive advanced placement, thus reducing their course work by one or two semesters. In addition, students may pursue a variety of joint degrees, including in architecture and urban design. The MLA program is in the midst of the accreditation process.
The MLA program focuses on the subjects of design, ecology, and urbanism, using St. Louis as a laboratory for understanding and testing theories at the local and regional scales. The transformative process of design—linking cultural, historical, and technological investigations—forms the pedagogical basis for research. Ecology informs design practice to address a multiplicity of scales and systems within the environment. Finally, urbanism serves as a terrain for contemporary landscape practice. This three-pronged approach is geared to develop the students' critical abilities to conceptualize the broader environment and prepare them to become leaders within professional and academic spheres.
The MLA program draws on a unique set of institutional, regional, and international resources. Through the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design’s extensive international offerings in Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Helsinki, and Seoul, students have the opportunity to experience different landscapes and cultures of practice. Washington University’s outstanding programs in environmental studies, environmental engineering, and American cultural studies, as well as its ecological field station at Tyson Research Center, further expand curricular offerings.
The St. Louis region provides a rich territory for exploring contemporary issues in landscape architecture, from brownfield reclamation, to urban agriculture systems, to the city’s relation to the Mississippi River. Regional partners include the Missouri Botanical Garden and Shaw Nature Reserve; Forest Park and the city's regional parks system; the Danforth Plant Science Center; and Laumeier Sculpture Park.