The Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) at CU Denver is a STEM-designated and fully accredited degree program for students who have a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field and for those who already hold a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture or a Bachelor of Architecture degree. Our program balances theory and practice, emphasizing design to support human well-being and environmental balance.
The MLA program thoughtfully integrates theory and practice and revolves around a sequence of design studios supported by core content classes and seminar courses on a variety of relevant topics. Our curriculum is designed to provide students with the fundamental knowledge, skills, and critical and creative thinking necessary to succeed as landscape architects while also offering opportunities to focus on particular areas of interest. The curriculum promotes an ethic of responsibility, grounded in natural systems and processes, and an understanding of cultural and community values.
The mission of the MLA program is to create health, well-being, and environmental resilience through holistic design in the public realm. Our program operates fluidly in both local and global contexts and at a variety of scales, taking advantage of the wide range of highly dynamic landscapes, opportunities, and issues in the immediate vicinity, ranging from urban cores to the wilderness areas in the Rocky Mountains, from suburban sprawl to ranching and farming communities, as well as providing exciting opportunities for experiences across the U.S. and globally.
Students gain skills by working on relevant urban and rural projects, often directly engaging with diverse communities and places. Studios and courses engage current issues, define future trends, and explore the role of landscape architecture in a rapidly changing world. Throughout the program, our students learn and apply design and planning skills that use established and emergent technologies and design approaches to enhance community, foster equity, remediate environmental balance, conserve and regenerate resources, and create places that hold value for current and future generations.
Denver’s vibrant professional design and planning community supports our students through guest lectures and participation in design reviews, internships and mentor programs, and opportunities to visit offices and meet practitioners and leaders in our field.
Civic Engagement & Hands-On Learning
Students have extensive opportunities for civic engagement, including paid internships at the college’s University Technical Assistance Program (UTAP), providing diverse opportunities to work directly with and in communities across the state; and the unique and ground-breaking Learning Landscapes program whose mission is to build public places that support the well-being of children through increased exercise, access to open space and community gathering places, experiences and work in gardens, and more. At 97 schoolyards and counting, Learning Landscapes has provided children in Denver and Jefferson Counties with great places to learn through play.
The Integral Studio provides an opportunity for graduate students across the college to work together as interdisciplinary teams together with public agencies on real projects in our city. Facilitated by faculty across disciplines, the studio emulates a real-world office environment and allows students to gain insight into the role of other parties involved in the planning and design process. The studio aims to integrate design and reject a siloed design process, advocating for more holistic and integrated design solutions rather than a process driven by one discipline. Previous projects include work done with the Denver Housing Authority, the City and County of Denver Community Planning and Development, and the Auraria Campus.
The practice of landscape architecture is now global, and this department is a leader in providing international study opportunities. Opportunities abound to develop international partnerships with our diverse body of international and domestic students, and travel study courses offered annually.
The certificate in Geospatial Information Science for Landscape Architecture offers an opportunity to develop knowledge, skills, and critical context through cross-disciplinary study in the rapidly developing and progressively relevant platform of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
Our students engage in research with faculty and on their own through optional independent studies and theses. They have presented at local, national, and international conferences and symposia such as the National Park Service Western Region CESU Conference, Environmental Design Research Association, Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, and International Green Roof Conference.
R O O T is the student-run landscape architecture journal. We have published seven volumes since its inception, and it received an honorable mention in the national competition for the Douglas Haskell Award for Student Journals in 2011. Student organizations include Student Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA); the Urban Horticulture Club; and Sigma Lambda Alpha, the landscape architecture national honor society.
Our program is led and taught by three licensed landscape architects and one licensed architect.
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The completion of your Master of Landscape Architecture degree is your first step toward licensure. In order to legally practice landscape architecture, you will need to obtain your landscape architecture license. After earning your degree and practicing under a licensed landscape architect for two years, you will be eligible to complete the Landscape Architecture Registration Exam.
Location: Fort Morgan, CO
This project studied the redevelopment potential of a soon to be abandoned historic school building in Fort Morgan. The building has housed students since the early 1920s and was seen as important to the character and vitality of the city. With the construction of a new school building the School Board wanted to know what options were available for the old building and what those options might cost. Additionally they wanted to know what configuration the future building ownership might entail.The project started with a two-day charrette bringing the student to the facility to study the architecture of the building and to interview the variety of local citizen groups that might have an interest in using the building as it is redeveloped. The building housed several very useful amenities. Mainly a 750 seat auditorium and stage, a full ball court with seating and locker rooms, and a working commercial kitchen. Added to this was a full site that was used for play fields. Many of the existing building features were not seen as useful.
Local input recognized the ability to expand the arts and theater programs within the community, continue to offer recreational use of the gym and to potentially offer office space for non-profit organizations within the community. Local minority groups expressed interest in a one-stop location for community services. Senior groups expressed interest in potential housing and services within the building. Additional housing was an often expressed need.
Designs explored senior housing units with roof-top gardens and full kitchen-dining offerings, the theater auditorium produced designs that expanded the artist center to include practice rooms, administration, and possibly visiting artist suites. Artist galleries were also included in these options. One option offered expanded professional offices that could be leased to non-profits or other city offices.
Designs were finalized and illustrated and presented at a final local workshop within the school cafeteria. With over 120 local citizens attending the students were able to present their design ideas and gain further information to share with the School Board. Local feedback was positive, supportive and encouraging for the Board to seek other financing/ ownership options.
Designs and illustrations provided helped the School Board gain local community support for protecting the building and provided a solid sales tool for the Board to approach a variety of local and state-wide financial partners.
Project Team: Jonathan Wright, Meenon Kastoori, Nikhila Ramineedi, Carrie Cardona, Heather Murphy, Mike Tupa (Project Coordinator)
Local Participants: Morgan R3 School Board SubCommittee, Morgan County Economic Development Coordinator, Morgan Community College CEO.
DOLA Regional Manager: Greg Etl
The academic curriculum consists of:
The Department of Landscape Architecture views inquiry, both individual and collective, as the means to invent, energize, inform, and evaluate design ideas, processes, and results. The curriculum emphasizes and values design and the design process coupled with knowledge and capability in the theories, technologies, sciences, arts, materials, and methods associated with the practice of Landscape Architecture. Core themes, theories, precedents, technologies, and skills of the profession are developed in the lecture and seminar courses. You will develop design capabilities in studio courses.
Curriculum integration is achieved through deliberate internal coordination within the program and through collaboration with other programs within the college as well as with other CU Denver schools and colleges. The MLA curriculum provides opportunities to facilitate the offering and testing of new courses in response to timely interests of faculty and students.
Professional practitioners representing consulting firms and governmental agencies of regional, national, and international distinction share in and contribute to the life of the department. They teach courses, participate in reviews, host internships and office visits, give presentations, exhibit their works, and mentor and interact at personal levels with students and faculty.
The MLA program's strengths lie in its broad view of Landscape Architecture, its support for the interests of the faculty, the discourse among faculty and students, and its associations with allied programs, the professional community, and the community-at-large. Successful graduates pursue diverse practices and occupations in public and private arenas and make positive differences in the quality of our social and environmental public realm.
All CAP Graduate Programs have WICHE-WRGP (Western Regional Graduate Program) status, which grants in-state resident tuition to students from 15 western states including California, Washington, Oregon and Arizona.