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.

Fall Deadline February 1
Spring Deadline October 1
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

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. 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).

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Program Resources

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 Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 36 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
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.
Assessments and Examinations Contact the program for information on required assessments and examinations.
Language Requirements Contact the program for information on any language requirements.

Required COURSES

Graduate Core (All Students Take)

LAND ARC 710 Theories of Landscape Change2
LAND ARC 720 Critical Inquiry into Landscape Design Expression2
LAND ARC 940 Graduate Seminar (Two Semesters)1-2
A course in research methods, as approved by the student’s advisor and thesis committee
An additional two courses within a focus area that are selected by the student and his/her advisory committee.

Community and Urban Landscape Studies Track1

Students choose courses in consultation with their advisor.

Restoration Ecology and Ecological Design Track1

Track Core Requirements
Plant Community Restoration and Management Workshop
Restoration Ecology
Seminar in Natural Plant Community Restoration and Management
Tools 2
Statistics course 3
Applications of Geographic Information Systems in Natural Resources
Field Methods course 4
Supplemental Options (At least one course in two of the following areas)6
Human-Environmental Interactions
Methods of Sociological Inquiry
Global Warming: Science and Impacts
Landforms and Landscapes of North America
People, Wildlife and Landscapes
Decision Methods for Natural Resource Managers
Special Topics
Assessment of Environmental Impact
Physical Environments
Field Study of Soil
Soil Biology
Soil Management
Advanced GIS
Plant Systematics
Vascular Flora of Wisconsin
Field Collections and Identification
The Vegetation of Wisconsin
Plant Physiology
Introduction to Entomology
Plant-Insect Interactions
Principles of Wildlife Ecology
Principles of Wildlife Management
Extinction of Species
Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing
Forest Ecology
Wildlife Management Techniques
Principles of Landscape Ecology
Advanced Landscape Ecology
Special Topics
Modeling Animal Landscapes
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Fluid Mechanics

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

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.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

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

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.


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.


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.


15 credits

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.



Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Be able to engage critically with the scholarship and theory of landscape architecture. (M.S.)
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.)
  6. Be able to describe and apply principles of ethical and professional conduct. (M.S.)