Bachelor of Landscape Architecture

Bachelor of Landscape Architecture

Undergraduate Program

BLA students take a series of lecture and studio design courses, beginning with an introduction to landscape design principles in the first year and culminating in an advanced research and studio design project in the graduating year. LAAB standards require that first-professional degree curricula must include the core knowledge skills and applications of landscape architecture: landscape architectural history, philosophy, theory, values, ethics, practice, planning, design, implementation, and management.

Career Directions in Landscape Architecture

STEM Designation: This program has been recognized by the National Center for Education Statistics as a STEM program under the category of 30.3301 - Sustainability Studies.

Alondra Liriano, LARC student, reflects on AGNR.


What is the benefit of attending an accredited program?

In short-- you will be designing faster! Since Landscape Architecture is a field that requires you have a license to practice you need to fulfill the necessary requirements before applying for your license. 

With an accredited degree in landscape architecture you can take the licensing exam after practicing under a licensed landscape architect for:

  • 2 years

Without an accredited degree in landscape architecture you can still take the licensing exam after practicing under a licensed landscape architect for:

  • 4 years with an accredited 4 year college degree in another design field 
  • 6 years with a 4 year college degree in another field
  • 8 years with a high school diploma

LAAB Standards

To meet LAAB standards, the Landscape Architecture Program curricula includes coverage of:

  • History, theory and criticism

  • Natural and cultural systems including principles of sustainability

  • Public Policy and regulation

  • Design, planning and management at various scales and applications including but not limited to pedestrian and vehicular circulation, grading drainage, and storm water management

  • Site design and implementation: materials, methods, technologies, and application

  • Construction documentation and administration

  • Written, verbal and visual communication

  • Professional practice

  • Professional values and ethics

  • Plants and ecosystems

  • Computer applications and other advanced technology

Learn about Licensure Details of Requirements LAAB Standards

BLA Courses

Learning Outcomes & Examples 

Year 1

LARC 120 - Digital



Course description: An introduction to fundamental computer tools and techniques commonly used

in design communication and landscape architecture practice. Non-drafting computer tools will be used to

orient basic digital image capture, manipulation, and presentation formatting.

Learning outcomes:

Upon completion of this course, each student will be able to:

  1.  Illustrate perspectives quickly and effectively to communicate design ideas

  2. Work with computer graphic techniques and explore digital media in new ways

  3. Apply perspective and advanced computer techniques on an individual project

  4. Design a professional quality portfolio

LARC 160 - Introduction

to Landscape Architecture

Course description: History, theory, philosophy and current practice of the profession of landscape architecture. Explores the interactive relationship between humans and their environment by examining people's perceptions of and changing attitude towards the landscape, as well as, an examination of how these are related to ecological and cultural influences.

Learning outcomes:

Students enrolled in this course will:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental concepts and ideas in the field of landscape architecture.

  2. Demonstrate an understanding of how landscape architects and designers utilize the principles and methods of Art + Science to structure and shape outdoor space.

  3. Demonstrate critical thinking skills in evaluating causal arguments through the study of historic precedents that inform landscape design and landscape space.

  4. Describe how the visual language of landscape architecture has a profound impact on the human perception of the environment, the recognition of pleasures and dangers, and the identification with places that have a significant impact on their everyday lives as well as places of periodic ceremony and ritual.

  5. Observe, record and analyze designed landscapes and identify the design organization and the key elements of landscapes by keeping a personal Design Journal and preparing a Design Response.

  6. Explain how culture and other key elements of historical context have had an impact on designed and natural settings, especially in the Washington, DC, area and within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed; 

  7. Demonstrate an understanding of the relationships between natural processes and human interventions in the landscape, the range of scales from regional planning to garden design, and how landscape architects transform the landscape to accommodate places for humans to live, work and play.

Year 2

LARC 141 - 
Design Fundamentals Studio

Course description: Fundamentals of basic design focusing on creative problem solving associated with landscape architecture.

Learning outcomes:

The primary content of LARC 141 is sustained experimentation with landscape forms.

Students will:

  1. Gain knowledge of landscape architecture design practices and processes, design terms and techniques through discussion and studio work 
  2. Develop understanding of form and its varieties by creating models, doing sketches and drawings and completing design projects
  3. Be introduced to standard techniques of measurement in design
  4. Learn how to refine ideas from stage to stage of the design process by engaging in increasingly complex projects
  5. Learn how to present their work in design reviews by presenting projects to peers and outside reviewers 
  6. Improve reading, writing and critical thinking skills by articulating their design ideas, researching case studies and relevant historical material, and preparing documents that summarize their findings

LARC 221 - Digital Design Tools

Course description: The development and application of computing skills as used by the landscape architecture profession. This Computer-Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) course develops computer drafting using a variety of software programs. It also introduces students to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping technologies.

LARC 240 - Graphic Communication and Design Studio

Course description: Exploration of graphic presentation techniques and original concept development for landscape architecture planning and design.

Learning outcomes:

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Conduct site inventory and site analysis.
  2. Identify the natural and cultural systems, forces, and dynamic processes that affect landscape design.
  3. Manipulate landform and use planting materials to create space that meets functional, environmental, and aesthetic requirements.
  4. Describe landscape design processes and methods.
  5. Integrate buildings with other landscape features and overall settings.
  6. Design school master plan, streetscape, courtyards and vehicular and pedestrian circulation systems and parking facilities.
  7. Effectively communicate their design ideas graphically and verbally

LARC 263 - History of Landscape Architecture

Course description: A survey of landscape architecture history from the ancient Western civilizations to the twentieth century with consideration of parallel developments in the Eastern World, European Africa and the Americas.

Learning Outcomes:
Courses in the foundational humanities disciplines study history and the genres of human
creativity. It includes courses in literatures in any language, art, art history, classics, history, music, and music history as well as courses in the foundational disciplines of linguistics and philosophy.

  1. Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of fundamental terminology and concepts drawn from the global tradition of landscape design from antiquity to the twenty-first century. Class discussions, exams, and assignments require that students are conversant in the fundamental terminology, concepts and principles used in the history of gardens and designed landscapes. Quizzes will demand recognition of important landscapes.
  2. Students will learn how to analyze, contextualize, compare and interpret gardens and designed landscapes. Regularly scheduled short essays require that students develop and demonstrate these skills. Furthermore, the midterm and final exams include a critical analysis of particular garden/designed landscapes. 
  3. Students will demonstrate critical thinking in the evaluation of image and text sources and in the development of arguments. All research assignments and exams contribute to this outcome. 
  4. Students will demonstrate how language use is related to ways of thinking about the relationship between culture and human and non-human nature. Class discussions, peer review of papers and written assignments contribute to this outcome.
  5. Students will conduct research on topics related to a designated landscape and/or garden. The research papers and exams contribute to this outcome.
  6. Students will demonstrate the ability to formulate a thesis/argument related to a specific topic in landscape architectural history and to support their thesis/argument with evidence. 

LARC 265 - Site Analysis and Ecological Principles

Course description: Principles and methods of site analysis with an emphasis on the application of ecological principles in landscape architecture, architecture and planning.

Year 3

LARC 320 -Principles of Site Engineering

Course description: The study and application of landscape construction principles as applied to grading, drainage, site layout, storm water management, and vehicular and pedestrian circulation.

Learning outcomes:

The emphasis of the course is to thoroughly develop skills and understanding for the process of landform design and the presentation of the results on grading plans. Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the basic principles of grading and earthwork as they apply to hard and soft surfaces;
  2. Demonstrate graphic fluency in two- dimensional representation of landform manipulation and three-dimensional landform visualization;
  3. Demonstrate competency in developing grading solutions for positive surface runoff for single and multiple structure sitting; and
  4. Demonstrate competency in determining cut/fill calculations, runoff computations, and storm water management practices.

LARC 321 - Landscape Structures and Materials

Course description: An examination of the use, properties, and detailing of materials used in landscape construction. The use and design of structures in the landscape.

Learning outcomes:

  1. Deepen their understanding of landscape design by identifying and generating systems of construction.
  2. Develop facility with the varied materials and construction methods that make up our built environment
  3. Understand the characteristics of landscape construction materials including cost, durability, longevity, and maintenance.
  4. Cultivate lines of inquiry and resourcefulness to use in students' continued education about new and evolving materials and methods.
  5. Examine issues of sustainability in material specification.

LARC 340 - Site Planning and Design Studio 

Course description: An examination of the influence of landscape character and site features (natural and cultural) on landscape architecture, architecture and planning through application in the studio setting.

Learning outcomes:

  1. Understand, and be able to incorporate, design theory related to medium scale site planning, low impact development, sustainable design concepts, and sound environmental principles.
  2. Synthesize design solutions and adjust to landform considerations.
  3. Establish links between site data, analysis, and design concepts.
  4. Understand and utilize critical thinking skills in problem solving.
  5. Explore design concepts to their conclusions.
  6. Establish a hierarchy of factors to critique a design.
  7. Refine the design problem solving process. 

LARC 341 - Regional Design Studio

Course description: An examination of the landscape architect's role within the interdisciplinary regional design field incorporating GIS technologies, spatial modeling, and the regional design process.

Learning outcomes:

  1. Investigate and record the environmental context of expanding urban areas, including the characteristics of soils, slopes, natural drainage systems, native plants communities, and wildlife habitat systems,
  2. Investigate and record the cultural context of expanding urban areas, including transportation systems, zoning regulations, and land uses,
  3. Learn about the information data resources available for analyzing natural and cultural processes that influence landscape planning and design,
  4. Apply design technologies that support landscape planning and design including geographic information systems.
  5. Learn techniques and approaches to organizing and present environmental themes and parameters that guide planning and design decision-making,
  6. Collaborate in teams to develop and communicate ideas and concepts.

Year 4

LARC 389 - Internship

Learning outcomes: 

  1. To become informed about internship learning experiences.
  2. To learn about career opportunities.
  3. To become familiar with the university career counseling service.

LARC 420 - Professional Practice

Course description: An introduction to and comparative study of the professional concerns of design firms. Focus on planning, legal, ethical, marketing and management considerations of interdisciplinary practices. 

Learning outcomes:

  1. Develop a resume and cover letter and develop a strategy to engage the professional job market.
  2. Develop a portfolio.
  3. Deepen your understanding of the diversity of professional practice.
  4. Understand the operations of an office including marketing, contracts, administration, project management, and client relationships.

LARC 440 - Urban Design Studio 

Course description: The landscape architect's role within the interdisciplinary urban design process, focusing on urban site design issues. Pedestrian friendly site design and the future of sustainable development will be studied.

Learning Outcomes:

This design studio course will direct students of landscape architecture to define relationships between people, nature and infrastructure in the urban environment. Students will work to understand and appreciate the place of the city within the context of regional, historical and cultural influences. Students will demonstrate an ability to design for the scale of the metropolis as well as for the human participant and the context and influence of nature. Faculty and professional advisors will enhance analytical skills and the ability to synthesize the diverse program elements, concepts and functional requirements for design in the multi-layered conditions of the city, as represented in the studio projects. Topographic and architectural patterns, transportation functions, pedestrian involvement, and the creation of a sense of place will be the major concerns in the design of viable civic spaces. The idea of designing for the future in light of present physical, political, social and economic conditions is another pedagogical exploration of the course.

The major challenge of this studio is to examine the urban intervention process in the following ways:

  1. Develop design principles and parameters creating a new basis for thinking about public space, landscape infrastructure, buildings and land use over the next era of the evolving city;
  2. Test and apply those design principles within a Baltimore neighborhood by creating urban landscape design concepts and detailed design proposals; 
  3. Give focus to the process of giving form to the urban environment and making connections within the landscape without losing sight of the social, political, and economic impact of planning and site design.

Students successfully completing this class will have the ability to:

  1. Undertake basic on- and off-site research of the urban landscape;
  2. Analyze the site conditions and present findings graphically, verbally, and in written form;
  3. Translate research into creative and sustainable urban designs; and
  4. Present design proposals using various forms of artful, articulate, and distinctive visual representation.

The projects in this studio aim at reconnecting fragments of urban landscapes to their surrounding context. Reading and interpretation of the existing situations will put the emphasis on the progressive nature of transforming the urban landscape. We will take into consideration the process of layering, which constitutes the site and its history but does not imply nostalgia or an inevitable continuity. 

LARC 452 - Green Infrastructure and

Community Greening 

Course description: A critical look and exploration of green infrastructure (GI) elements in the built environment in contributing to ecosystems services and the sustainability of the built environment. The course explores the science, issues, challenges, and the policy, planning and design solutions offered by green infrastructure.

Learning outcomes:

After completing this course student will demonstrate through project deliverable and presentation

  1. A better understanding and knowledge of green infrastructure and community greening
  2. What are the primary process and patterns of vegetation in MD?
  3. What are the issues?
  4. What are national and state approaches to solving the issues?
  5. What are county and state approaches to solving the issues?
  6. What are site approaches to solving the issues?
  7. An understanding and working knowledge of green infrastructure and community greening in relationship to sustainability.
  8. An advancement in their written, programming, spatial organization, & graphic presentation and oral communication skills related to green infrastructure

LARC 461 - People and the Environment

Course description: Focus is placed on human and environmental interactions. Students will look at both natural and built environments and how they influence human health and well-being. Many environmental settings will be examined. These include hospitals, public housing neighborhoods, school settings, retirement communities, transportation corridors and green spaces. We will also explore how racial and socio-economic factors affect living and working environmental conditions. Ultimately, students will be using this knowledge to create environments that support individuals, families and various community groups' health and well-being.

Learning outcomes:

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe how people interact with their environments.
  2. Link the relationship between landscape design and human functioning and well-being.
  3. Describe how people process information.
  4. Describe why people get mentally fatigued and the characteristics of restorative landscapes.
  5. Predict people’s preferred environments.
  6. Be ready to create restorative and healthy environments for people.
  7. Identify healthy places. 

LARC 470 - Landscape Architecture Seminar 

Course description: A combination of self-directed study, seminar, and lecture formats. An introduction to aspects of research methods, critical analysis, and proposal writing with a focus on urban and community design.

Learning outcomes: 

All students will:

  1. Acquire advanced practice in critical thinking through reading, writing and discussion
  2. Improve reading of complicated and analytical texts
  3. Enhance fundamental writing skills through submission of multiple drafts of a research paper
  4. Cogently present complex ideas through a public presentation
  5. Synthesize multiple kinds of philosophical, theoretical, and practical ideas relevant to landscape architecture
  6. Become aware of theories of the past and the future that will continue to change landscape architecture
  7. Increase awareness of the demand, rigor and vitality of theory to design practice
  8. Establish necessary skills in criticism of built and planned works

LARC 471 - Capstone Studio: Community Design 

Course description: A capstone experience that emphasizes the integration of critical thinking skills and methodologies introduced throughout the landscape architecture curriculum. Students apply design and analysis methodologies, evaluate alternative solutions, involve community residents and engage in final design development, using the master plan and site design process, report writing, and oral and graphic presentations. Final presentations are open to the university and the community.

Learning objectives:

This community design studio course is designed such that, at the end of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Develop new adaptive design responses and design communication skills in the context of sea level change and related flooding issues at different scales;
  2. To move beyond having community meetings to applying civic engagement and participatory design methods in order to incorporate community members’ concerns, issues, and ideas into site analysis and design responses; 
  3. To identify and compare different approaches of engaging communities in the design process; 
  4. To gain exposure to collaborative design approaches with town staff, key stakeholders, and residents in a real world context by assisting with civic engagement for different design projects.

Learning outcomes:

Upon completion of this course, each student will know how to:

  1. Apply expertise from other disciplinary perspectives (civil engineers, spatial analysts, bioengineering, wetland scientists, ecologists, planning, etc.) to the design challenge; 
  2. Determine the projected landscape performance (environmental/ ecological, economic, and social) of the design; 
  3. To identify and compare different approaches of engaging communities in the design process; 
  4. To incorporate community members’ concerns, issues, and ideas into site analysis and design responses; 
  5. Apply, interpret, and graphically represent different mapping scenarios of sea level rise, storm surge, and other factors to anticipate potential impacts at the landscape and site scales; 
  6. Develop a cost estimate, operations and maintenance plan, and a phasing plan; and
  7. Continue to develop familiarity with GIS and other digital design tools.