The graduate program in landscape architecture at UW–Madison provides intensive research training and experience in interdisciplinary approaches to the study of landscape and real-world applications. The department offers a master of science with an emphasis on conducting original research in the form of a thesis and a master of arts based on creating evidence-based design solutions to complex landscape problems. Within both programs students will contribute to developing a scholarly foundation for the discipline of landscape architecture and related fields, and contribute information to practitioners engaged in landscape decision-making and stewardship. The department does not offer a professional master's degree (MLA).

The graduate program provides an interdisciplinary education that uses the sciences, arts and humanities to respond to current issues in the realms of food and agriculture, natural resource and cultural and environmental stewardship, human health and well-being, and community development. Most students specialize in one of two areas that reflect the research interests of the faculty: restoration ecology and ecological design, and community and urban landscape studies.

The department has well-equipped computer facilities, including CAD, GIS, and graphics software packages.

Financial support for graduate students is available through research and teaching assistantships, and competitive Graduate School and departmental fellowships. Most teaching assistantships are awarded to students who already have professional landscape architectural design training and experience.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Master’s Degrees

M.A., M.S.

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

36 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

16 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

At least half of the required credits must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements from: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements from: UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the graduate degree.

Prior Coursework Requirements from: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 15 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

Contact the program for information on any additional required courses.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement


Other Grade Requirements

The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.

Probation Policy

The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

Advisor / Committee

Every graduate student is required to have an advisor. To ensure they are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects that students meet with their advisor on a regular basis.

An advisor generally serves as the thesis advisor. In many cases, an advisor is assigned to incoming students. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor. An advisor is a faculty member, or sometimes a committee, from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies.

A committee often accomplishes advising for the students in the early stages of their studies.

Assessment and Examinations

Contact the program for information on required assessments and examinations.

Time Constraints

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Language Requirements

Contact the program for information on any language requirements.

A bachelor's degree is required of all prospective candidates. The department’s Graduate Program Committee screens applicants on the basis of university transcripts for all previous work, three letters of recommendation, samples of creative work or writing, and a letter of intent describing how the student's graduate educational needs can be fulfilled by this program. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are also required. Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Scores are also acceptable from the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Knowledge and Skills

  • Be able to engage critically with the scholarship and theory of landscape architecture. (M.S.)
  • Be able to demonstrate advanced critical thinking and the ability to explore ideas in depth and synthesize information with a high degree of competence. (M.S.)
  • Be able to demonstrate an advanced understanding of landscape spaces, functions, and dynamics, as well as interactions between people and the built and natural environment. (M.S.)
  • Be able to demonstrate a deep understanding of and the ability to critically evaluate the principles, theories, technical skills and recent research findings specific to at least one of the program's focus areas: Restoration Ecology and Ecological Design and Community and Urban Studies. (M.S.)
  • Be able to design and conduct original research, and communicate the results to scholars as well as to practitioners engaged in landscape decision-making and stewardship. (M.S.)

Professional Conduct

  • Be able to describe and apply principles of ethical and professional conduct. (M.S.)

Faculty: Professors Harrington (chair), Howell, Silbernagel; Associate Professors Dennis, Gilmore; Assistant Professors Bart, Thorleifsdottir