USC offers an international laboratory for the study of place in an extraordinary natural landscape, at the center of an unparalleled multicultural region, within the context of a great urban university. Thus, the study of landscape architecture at USC has a particular focus on urban place-making in relation to three principles.
First, the programs are intended for students who already have earned a first degree or the equivalent in landscape architecture or architecture, as well as students entering design studies after obtaining a degree in another field. The emphasis is on truly advanced study based on the knowledge and skills to engage complex issues and to undertake ambitious explorations. Graduates are prepared for leadership opportunities in professional practice as well as in higher education.
A second emphasis is on urban landscapes, and on the responsibility of design professions to create the qualities and meanings of our urban futures and to make critical contributions to the reclamation of degraded natural systems and places.
Third, place-making is a collaborative responsibility that requires leadership from professionals across the entire domain of planning and design. This requires seamless relationships between programs, students and faculty engaged in architecture, landscape architecture, heritage conservation, building science and planning studies.
Thesis or Directed Research Option
Beginning in 2015-16, the Directed Design Research (DDR) will be reformatted into an academic year-long research project. Students will simultaneously work in a thematic studio and as well, be able to develop an intensive individual design research agenda. Two to three professors will offer distinctively different themes in which they have developed research over several years. Students will be able to choose one of the umbrella subjects on offer and within this, frame unique scales, sites and perspectives. The course will include reading seminars, research methods and invited expert workshops to lead students through interpretative cartography, the formulation of precise design research questions, and the understanding of relevant case studies all in relation to the development of design visions and landscape architecture strategies across appropriate scales.
MLA Thesis & Design Research Studies
Accreditation is a non-governmental, voluntary system of self-regulation. Its core is the concept of self-evaluation. The Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) accreditation process evaluates each program on the basis of its stated objectives and compliance to externally mandated minimum standards. The program conducts a self-study to evaluate how well it is meeting its educational goals. LAAB then provides an independent assessment, which determines if a program meets accreditation requirements. Programs leading to first professional degrees at the bachelor’s or master’s levels in the United States are eligible to apply for accreditation from LAAB.
The USC Master of Landscape Architecture first professional curricula (3-year and 2-year curricula) are accredited by the American Society of Landscape Architects Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB). The LAAB Conditions of Accreditation (including the Student Performance Criteria) are posted on the ASLA website:
LAAB Accreditation Standards Procedures
USC MLA Accreditation 2011
PUBLIC INFORMATION POLICY
Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) accredited programs are required to provide reliable information to the public. Programs must report on accreditation status and its performance. This information is to help potential students make informed application decisions.
The three- and two-year programs in landscape architecture are accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board. For more information on LAAB, see:
RETENTION AND GRADUATION RATES
A highly desirable faculty: student ratio plays a central role in our high retention rates. Faculty members continually support and monitor student performance to ensure timely graduation.
MASTER OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE, 3 YEAR CURRICULUM:
38 of 43 students entering in the past four years earned their degree within 3 years
- 1 student continued for a fourth year to earn the degree.
- 43 students total have entered the program in the past 4 years; 4 of them subsequently left for personal reasons
MASTER OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE, 2 YEAR CURRICULUM:
37 of 40 students entering in the past four years earned their degree within 2 years
- 40 students total have entered the program in the past 4 years; all of them have graduated or are currently working toward a timely graduation (3 students continued for a third year to earn the degree)
USC requires students to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 to earn a graduate degree. The average grade point average (GPA) of Master of Landscape Architecture students is 3.51 (on a 4.0 grade point system).
Close to 75% of recent graduates find employment in landscape architecture within 6 months of graduating.