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College of Architecture and Planning

The Landscape Architecture program offers fully-accredited first professional and post-professional graduate curricula leading to the degree Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA). 


The academic curriculum consists of:

  • Sequential and integrated design studios

  • Core lecture and seminar courses

  • Research and elective opportunities, including professional internships and thesis

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 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 environment.


The Department of Landscape Architecture faculty is committed to developing and implementing efficient and effective processes of assessment and evaluation to advance student learning, teaching effectiveness and program quality.  The program’s five broad objectives and student learning outcomes provide the faculty and students with a shared understanding of the goals directing the curriculum. Students are expected to be proficient or above in each of these areas by the time they graduate from the program.

  • Design: Students will be able to formulate questions and arguments about landscape and landscape’s role as a significant cultural medium; determine processes and practices that lead to conceptual, analytical and formative actions that transform existing situations into preferred alternatives based on ethical, communicative and content knowledge criteria.

  • Ethics: Students will be able to critically evaluate local and global ramifications of social issues, diverse cultures, economic systems, ecological systems and professional practice as guiding principles for design thinking and implementation.

  • Communication and Representation: Students will be able to speak, write, create and employ appropriate representational media to effectively convey ideas on subject matter contained in the professional curriculum to a variety of audiences.
  • Content Knowledge: Students will be able to develop a critical understanding and application of the histories, theories, ethics and practices of landscape architecture, and its role in reflecting and shaping culture and environments.
  • Research: Students will be able to understand and apply appropriate research methods for design and scholarship in landscape architecture.


The graduate thesis in landscape architecture provides an opportunity for students to conduct independent research and design investigations that demonstrate their capacity for rigorous original thinking.

The thesis is not required for graduation and not all students are approved to write a thesis. Choosing to pursue a thesis project constitutes a significant commitment to the endeavor; the topic must be chosen with care and thoughtfully and critically developed. Topics can explore material that has been previously unstudied, reinterpret existing material in a new light, or engage research and design practices in ways that strengthen and define a final design project. For all theses, the research and products must meet the highest standards of academic excellence and contribute significantly to the discipline and/or profession. The thesis can be a traditional written and research-based thesis or a design thesis.

Pursuing a thesis requires students to enroll in a three-course sequence for a maximum total of 12 semester hours. Students are required to formulate their research proposals two full semesters prior to their enrollment for the 6-semester-hour thesis, typically taken in lieu of the final studio. To proceed through the sequence, students must have completed and passed the research tools and methods class (LDAR 6940) and have secured departmental approval of the thesis proposal.

The completion of the thesis is dependent on acceptance of the student’s work by the faculty member acting as the thesis chair and by the committee. For work to be accepted it must meet the standards established by the University of Colorado Denver for graduate thesis projects. For more information on the thesis process and examples of theses click here (forthcoming).



  • CAP Master of Architecture (MLA – MArch)

  • CAP Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MLA - MURP)

  • Tongji University Master of Landscape Architecture

Go to the 2nd Floor Reception Desk to secure detailed descriptions and advising sheets for each option or contact the MLA Advisor Liz Marsh. In each instance the total credit requirement of the Dual Degree is considerably less than would be needed if each degree were independently pursued. 



Students completing the Master of Landscape Architecture degree can get advanced standing in the College's Master of Urban Design program. The Master of Urban Design (MUD) is an intensive, one-year, interdisciplinary post-professional degree program intended for talented persons already holding a professional degree in architecture, landscape architecture or urban and regional planning (e.g. BArch, BLA, MArch, MLA, MURP/MUP).

The Master of Urban Design (MUD) program provides up to 12 credits of advanced standing toward the degree for students completing their MLA in the College. 


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