The Landscape and Urban Studies Major integrates the biological, physical, and social sciences; humanities; arts; and technology to provide students with broad knowledge and skills to recognize and evaluate current and future issues in urban and regional land use. These include, but are not limited to, sustainable and equitable land use, social and spatial inequalities, and planning and design solutions through conservation, management, and restoration of integrated natural and cultural systems. The major provides students the flexibility of a liberal arts education and opportunities to specialize in several directions: Culture, Health and Community; Restoration and Ecological Design; and Urban Studies. The major also provides students opportunities to explore the design and planning professions. Students who graduate from the major are prepared for starting positions in public or private agencies that oversee conservation, land management, cultural landscape conservation, and planning or for continuing on to graduate school, in particular, professionally accredited programs in Landscape Architecture, Planning, or Environmental Studies. The major is recommended for those wishing to provide input on how the natural world and human dwelling can mutually and beneficially occur with a focus on cultural and natural resource protection, green infrastructure, social equity, and policy. 

Students who intend to declare their major in Landscape and Urban Studies are encouraged to schedule an appointment with the Undergraduate Advisor in the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture.

Students who attend a summer SOAR (Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration) session with the College of Letters and Science have the option to declare this major at SOAR.  Students may otherwise declare after they have begun their undergraduate studies.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of science degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.


Mathematics Two (2) 3+ credits of intermediate/advanced level MATH, COMP SCI, STAT
Limit one each: COMP SCI, STAT
Foreign Language Complete the third unit of a foreign language
Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include 6 credits in biological science; and must include 6 credits in physical science
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 86th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison


Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.  Please note that the following special degree programs are not considered majors so are not available to non-L&S-degree-seeking candidates:  

  • Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics (Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics)
  • Journalism (Bachelor of Arts–Journalism; Bachelor of Science–Journalism)
  • Music (Bachelor of Music)
  • Social Work (Bachelor of Social Work)

Requirements for the Major

Students interested in the major are required to complete a set of introductory courses, breadth in the major under three categories: Biological and Physical Environment, Social and Cultural Studies and Technology and 15 credits of electives (see an Advisor and the Advising tab for recommended focused elective sets).

Landscape and Urban Studies majors must complete at least 47 credits in the major, including the following:

introductory courses

LAND ARC 250 Survey of Landscape Architecture Design3
LAND ARC 260 History of Landscape Architecture3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  127 Physical Systems of the Environment4-5
or LAND ARC 211 Landscape Inventory and Evaluation Methods
URB R PL/​LAND ARC  463 Evolution of American Planning3
Total Credits13-14

Biological and Physical Environment

Complete two courses from:6-9
Survey of Botany
General Botany
Introductory Ecology
General Ecology
Environmental Biogeography
Environmental Conservation
Soil: Ecosystem and Resource
General Soil Science
Total Credits6-9

Social and Cultural Studies

Complete two courses from:6-7
History of American Vernacular Architecture and Landscapes
Person and Environment Interactions
Principles of Microeconomics
Principles of Economics-Accelerated Treatment
Urban and Regional Economics
Introduction to Human Geography
Global Environmental Issues
The Making of the American Landscape
American Environmental History
Introduction to American Politics and Government
Introduction to Community and Environmental Sociology
Total Credits6-7


Complete two courses from:6-8
An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Landscape Inventory and Evaluation Methods
Advanced Visual Communication in Landscape Architecture
Applications of Geographic Information Systems in Planning
Applications of Geographic Information Systems in Natural Resources
Total Credits6-8


Complete one course from:3
Cultural Resource Preservation and Landscape History
Restoration Ecology
Site Planning
Urban Design: Theory and Practice
Total Credits3

Electives 1

15 credits, chosen from:15
Grassland Ecology
Archaeology of Wisconsin
Indians of the Western Great Lakes
Indians of Wisconsin
American Indian Folklore
Native American Environmental Issues and the Media
Poverty and Place
History of American Vernacular Architecture and Landscapes
Dimensions of Material Culture
Plant Systematics
Vascular Flora of Wisconsin
The Vegetation of Wisconsin
Person and Environment Interactions
Extinction of Species
Conservation Biology
People, Land and Food: Comparative Study of Agriculture Systems
Space and Place: A Geography of Experience
Introduction to the City
People, Wildlife and Landscapes
Revolutions and Social Change
US Environmental Policy and Regulation
American Environmental History
Historical Geography of European Urbanization
Local Culture and Identity in the Upper Midwest
Introduction to Landscape Architecture Design
Environment and Behavior Studio - Designing Health Promoting Environments
Wetlands Ecology
Restoration Ecology
Cultural Resource Preservation and Landscape History
The Real Estate Process
Urban and Regional Economics
Soil Biology
Government and Natural Resources
Site Planning
Urban Design: Theory and Practice
Community Development
Gentrification and Urban Restructuring
Transportation and the Built Environment
Total Credits15

Residence & Quality of Work

  • 2.000 GPA in all LAND ARC and URB R PL courses and courses that count toward the major
  • 2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level credits, taken in Residence
  • 15 combined credits in LAND ARC and URB PL , taken on the UW–Madison campus

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Demonstrate competence and critical judgment in creatively applying the intellectual and technical skills necessary for site and landscape-scale natural and cultural resource conservation, planning, and management; these skills include cultural, historical and landscape literacy, data collection and analysis, spatial and temporal analysis, multidisciplinary problem-solving approaches and communication skills.
  2. Demonstrate critical thinking and the ability to explore ideas and synthesize information, both independently and in collaboration with interdisciplinary team members.
  3. Understand, apply and evaluate the principles, theories and research findings underlying at least one of the following advising pathways, Ecological Restoration and Design; Culture, Health, and Community; and Urban Studies.
  4. Integrate social, cultural, ecological and technological dimensions in solving design and planning problems concerning the conservation or management of sustainable natural and cultural landscapes.
  5. Be able to perform as a member of a public, private or non-profits office or agency in the fields represented within the department.

Sample Four-Year Plan

This Sample Four-Year Plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it—along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools—to make their own four-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests. As students become involved in athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, volunteer experiences, and/or work, they might adjust the order of their courses to accommodate these experiences. Students will likely revise their own four-year plan several times during college.

First Year
LAND ARC 2503LAND ARC 211 or GEOG 1275
Communications A3Biological or Physical Environment (major requirement)4
Quantitative Reasoning A3Ethnic Studies (complete within your first 60 credits)3
Foreign Language (if required)4Quantitative Reasoning B3
Physical Science Breadth3 
 16 15
Second Year
Communications B3Biological and Physical Environment (major requirement)3
Social and Cultural Studies (major requirement)3Social and Cultural Studies (major requirement)3
Literature Breadth3Literature Breadth3
INTER-LS 2101Electives4
 13 16
Third Year
Technology (major requirement)3Technology (major requirement)3
Biological and Physical Environment (major requirement)3Biological and Physical Environment (major requirement)3
Major elective3Major elective3
L&S electives6L&S electives6
 15 15
Fourth Year
L&S elective9Capstone (major requirement)3
Major elective6Electives12
 15 15
Total Credits 120

Students enrolled in the major Landscape and Urban Studies have 3 opportunities for advising:

  1. Our undergraduate coordinator can assist with general questions about registration, student assistance and progress in meeting major requirements.
  2. All students entering the program may choose a faculty advisor (see People/Instructors) to assist with guidance specific to the curriculum (e.g. coursework, internships, research) and career opportunities.
  3. The College of Letters and Science offers advice on career paths, networking, and job search preparation (see below).

L&S career resources

SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students leverage the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and liberal arts degree; explore and try out different career paths; participate in internships; prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications; and network with professionals in the field (alumni and employers). In short, SuccessWorks helps students in the College of Letters & Science discover themselves, find opportunities, and develop the skills they need for success after graduation.

SuccessWorks can also assist students in career advising, résumé and cover letter writing, networking opportunities, and interview skills, as well as course offerings for undergraduates to begin their career exploration early in their undergraduate career. 

Students should set up their profiles in Handshake to take care of everything they need to explore career events, manage their campus interviews, and apply to jobs and internships from 200,000+ employers around the country.


Professors:  Sam Dennis Jr., Ken Genskow, Janet Gilmore, Evelyn Howell, James LaGro, Dave Marcouiller, Alfonso Morales, Brian Ohm, Janet Silbernagel

Associate Professors:  David Bart, Carey McAndrews, Kurt Paulsen

Assistant Professors: Edna Ledesma, Revel Sims, Kristin Thorleifsdottir

Faculty Associates:  Shawn Kelly, Eric Schuchardt

Senior Lecturers:  Doug Hadley, James Steiner

Lecturer: Jacob Blue

Associate Scientist: Jeff Sledge

Earth Partnership Program

Director: Cheryl Bauer Armstrong

Outreach Specialists: Claire Bjork, Jessie Conaway, Mary Michaud, Maria Moreno

Academic Advising

Undergraduate Coordinator: Deborah Griffin

Graduate Coordinator: Beth Horstmeier

Administrative Staff

Department Administrator: Kelsey Hughes

Financial Specialist: Patrick J. Cunniffe

IT Support: W. Math Heinzel

Chair: Ken Genskow

The Wisconsin Experience combines learning in and out of the classroom, helping students develop intellectual and personal growth. The Landscape and Urban Studies major mixes traditional learning with community-based learning in and out of the classroom. Students are encouraged to take opportunities that supplement classroom learning by engaging in research, study abroad, internships, student clubs, and community interactions. The major engages students in exploring people-place, culture-nature phenomena and how they might, in their professional and personal lives, apply continuous learning to the planning of environments that benefit people, cultures, and the environment at the local, state, national, and global levels.

Wisconsin Scholarship Hub (WiSH)

This scholarship provides amounts ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 each to help students participate in a first-time internship opportunity that is unpaid or provides a limited stipend.


The Hilldale Undergraduate/Faculty Research Fellowships support undergraduate research done in collaboration with UW–Madison faculty or research/instructional academic staff. Approximately 97–100 Hilldale awards are available each year. The student researcher receives $3,000, and faculty/staff research advisor receives $1,000 to help offset research costs (e.g., supplies, faculty or student travel related to the project).


The Holstrom Environmental Scholarships support undergraduate research done in collaboration with UW–Madison faculty or research/instructional academic staff. Research proposals must have an environmental focus, and applicants must have at least a junior standing at time of application.


The annual Undergraduate Symposium showcases undergraduate creativity, achievement, research, service-learning, and community-based research from all areas of study at UW–Madison including the humanities, fine arts, biological sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences.


The Undergraduate Research Scholars program (URS) is dedicated to enhancing the academic experience of UW–Madison students by providing first- and second-year undergraduates with opportunities to earn credit for participating in the research and creative work with UW–Madison faculty and staff. The program has been designed to include partnerships between students and mentors, seminars on research-relevant issues, and practice in research/artistic presentations. The many benefits of the program are found in the fluid interaction between these activities.


Wisconsin Idea Fellowships are awarded annually to undergraduate student projects working toward solving a challenge identified along with a local or global community partner. Fellowships are awarded to semester-long or year-long projects designed by an undergraduate student (or group of students) in collaboration with a community organization and a UW–Madison faculty or academic staff member.