Landscape Architecture

Graduate

  • MLA I + MLA II / 2- and 3-year programs

    Fully accredited by the American Society of Landscape Architects, RISD’s MLA program is unique in that it gives students access to a wide range of fine art and design courses on campus, along with classes at Brown University, study abroad options and a six-week Wintersession that allows for focused study on campus or off. In addition, the program revolves around environmental and global issues, with recent involvement in projects in Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Ghana and beyond.

  • Inspiring Community

    With approximately 45 graduate students and 20-some faculty members, Landscape Architecture offers a very hands-on experience with a low student-teacher ratio and a lot of intellectual exchange in the studio. Professors not only get to know students well by working with them on an individual basis, they offer ready insight into their own professional practices. All see teaching as a laboratory where material investigations and conceptual explorations intertwine with individual studio research and practice. This makes for a supportive community that encourages individual growth and allows emerging designers to clarify their interests and focus.

  • Learning Environment

    Sharing a building with RISD’s Architecture program, students readily engage in interdisciplinary exploration. As MLA candidates, they’re given opportunities to design and build within the complexities of the urban environment, and to participate in studios that bring together designers, regulators, biologists, ecologists and urban planners to develop models for environmentally sound development. Beyond campus, the department has been involved in a master plan for a sustainable community in Costa Rica; for a new university for women in Bangladesh; water issues and urban redevelopment in Italy; urban ecological issues in India; and sustainable development issues in both Ghana and Mexico City.

  • Teaching Opportunities

    RISD offers a variety of opportunities for graduate students to develop teaching skills via teaching assistantships and participation in reviews as critics or jurors. During Wintersession master’s candidates are invited to propose seminars of their own design open to students from across campus. In the past, these seminars have focused on such disparate topics as color theory and landscape design, landscape photography, environmental art and 3D imaging.

  • Curriculum

    The department offers two paths to the Master of Landscape Architecture: MLA I, a three-year program for students with undergraduate degrees in fields other than landscape architecture, and MLA II, a two-year program for students entering with accredited pre-professional degrees (BLA). At the heart of the curriculum – from the initial design foundation/field ecology course to the core studio sequence – is the design studio, a forum for investigating aesthetic, ecological, cultural and technological issues. In sharing core courses, students in Landscape Architecture and related departments such as Architecture and Industrial Design develop a common language that serves as a foundation for cross-disciplinary discourse and encourages individual exploration and expression.

    MLA-I First Year

    • Summer
    • Design Foundations/Field Ecology
    • Fall
    • Design Principles
    • Technology & Materials I (Materials and Grading)
    • Representation I
    • History of Landscape Architecture
    • Wintersession
    • Grad Studio: Constructed Ground
    • Research Methods For Design
    • Spring
    • Ecology, Site, & Design Studio
    • Ecological Planning & Design
    • Representation II
    • Issues in Landscape History
     

    MLA-I Second Year

    • Fall
    • Constructed Landscape Studio
    • Plant Materials
    • Technology & Materials II (Site Engineering)
    • Theory I
    • Wintersession
    • Open elective
    • Spring
    • Plants & Design
    • Urban System Studio
    • Issues in Planning & Cultural Geography
    • Elective
     

    MLA-I Third Year

    • Fall
    • Advanced Design Studio elective
    • Technology & Materials III (Advanced Construction)
    • Theory II
    • Elective
    • Wintersession
    • Open elective
    • Spring
    • Principles of Professional Practice
    • Graduate Thesis
    • Elective
     

    MLA-II First Year

    • Summer
    • Design Foundations/Field Ecology
    • Fall
    • Design Principles Studio
    • Theory I
    • Open elective
    • Wintersession
    • Constructing Ground and Research Methods for Design
    • Spring
    • Urban Systems Studio or Site/Ecology and Design Studio
    • Issues in Planning & Cultural Geography Seminar
    • Open electives
     

    MLA-II Second Year

    • Fall
    • Advanced Design Studio Elective
    • Theory II
    • Open elective
    • Wintersession
    • Open elective
    • Spring
    • Principles of Professional Practice
    • Graduate Thesis
    • Open elective
     

  • Thesis Project

    In the final year, students complete the course of study by developing a thesis and a methodology for testing their conceptual premise through a committed design project. This final requirement differs from most programs, and allows students to spend the time they need to develop a visual and written language that articulates their interests and future direction. All MLA candidates also participate in the RISD Graduate Thesis Exhibition, a large-scale public show held in the Rhode Island Convention Center.

  • Application Requirements

    1. application form + fee
    2. academic transcripts
    3. 3 letters of recommendation
    4. portfolio

      Submit 10 individually produced and carefully chosen images of work that reflects your interest in landscape architecture. Applicants to the MLA-1 program who have no prior design training may include photographs, sketches or written work that conveys an ability to observe, identify and explore spatial conditions within the landscape. All other applicants should include a selection of work that best represents a strong interest in this field of study. Please label all work as academic, professional or personal. If team projects are presented, your individual contribution must be clearly identified. The portfolio should include a minimal amount of text.

    5. video essay 

      Prepare a short video (maximum length: 2 minutes) of yourself telling us;

      The most important reason you are motivated to study landscape architecture

      At least one goal you hope to achieve in your graduate education

      Why you think RISD is the best place to achieve your goals.

      Please be authentic and heartfelt in your response. This essay will function as the beginning of a conversation that will continue if you enter the program at RISD and it does not have to be the same information provided in your written essay. Cell phone videos are accepted.

    6. statement of purpose
    7. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) results encouraged, but not mandatory
    8. TOEFL scores (for non-native English speakers)

    The faculty selection committee in Landscape Architecture looks for evidence of the ability and preparedness to undertake graduate-level work. Portfolios should be professionally presented and show the breadth and depth of your design and creative thinking capabilities.