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School of Architecture

Master of Landscape Architecture


Master of Landscape Architecture

The Master of Landscape Architecture program focuses on the internal strengths of the department--urban and community design (plus related research issues), landscape restoration (historical and ecological), and health and design. Clemson M.L.A. graduates have historically had a variety of employment opportunities nationwide.  The employment of landscape architects is concentrated in urban and suburban areas throughout the country, although many work in rural and wilderness areas (particularly landscape architects employed by the federal government engaged in the design and management of parks, recreation, and natural resource areas). Because the M.L.A. is the terminal degree in the discipline, Clemson graduates will qualify for appointment as faculty in landscape architecture programs throughout North America and, thereby, influence future generations of practitioners.

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Student Work

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  • Degree Tracks

    Clemson offers two Master of Landscape Architecture tracks: the accredited First Professional Degree (three+ years) geared towards students without an undergraduate degree in design and the Second Professional Degree (two years) for students with an accredited undergraduate landscape architecture degree. The First Professional MLA is also the terminal degree that qualifies graduates to teach landscape architecture in a university setting.

     First Professional M.L.A.
    The 3-year first professional degree is designed to provide students with a professional education and also an opportunity for research and/or in-depth project work. Because students hold bachelor's degrees from an array of backgrounds it is necessary for them to gain landscape architectural skills. Those proficiency courses are also required for professional accreditation.

    Students begin with a rigorous summer experience that provides an in-depth orientation into the profession and discipline. In the first years of the program, students focus on co-requisite proficiency requirements, while beginning with a few important graduate-level courses. More graduate-level work, project-oriented research connected to a team project, and/or a thesis project are emphasized during the final year. Summer off-campus experiences are optional. Students take 45 credits of co-requisite proficiency coursework, 43 credits of graduate-level courses for a total of 88 credits.

    To qualify for admission to the three-year First Professional degree students must hold a bachelor's degree in any discipline from an accredited college or university. Students will come from a range of disciplines such as planning, history, English, biology, geology, geography, environmental science, various social or natural sciences, art, or other disciplines. Prior Education in a design field is not required for the First Professional Degree. 

     Second Professional M.L.A.
    The second professional degree in landscape architecture is a two-year program limited to students who hold an accredited five-year professional B.L.A. degree. Second professional degree students will take a total of 42 credit hours to earn the degree. Similar to the first professional degree, second professional degree students can choose to engage in sophisticated team studio projects or complete an individual thesis project in the final semester.

    Students in the two-year Second Professional degree must hold a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree. Students with other accredited design degrees such as a Bachelor of Architecture (B.ARCH.) and a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (B.S.L.A., generally a four-year degree) will move into the First Professional program but will be allowed to complete the work in less than three years depending on individual backgrounds and experiences. Admission into the program will be based upon GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, academic background and related transcript, statement of purpose, a creative portfolio, and work experience, if any. International students are expected to have exceptional TOEFL scores complementing the GRE.
  • Plan of Study


    Members of the landscape architecture profession serve as stewards of the land, and the profession covers a broad range of issues that deal with the design, planning, conservation, and management of outdoor open spaces in the built and natural environments. Practicing landscape architects work on a wide range of projects, including but not limited to, community and city-scale design; habitat and environmental restoration; public parks and recreational open space systems; brownfields and the reclamation of industrial sites; greenways, pedestrian path systems, and bicycle path systems; streetscapes, waterfront design, infrastructure, and stormwater management systems; conservation of wilderness areas and trails; theme parks and resort design; cultural landscapes and heritage preservation; memorials and cemeteries; campus and institutional design; and residential gardens. Landscape architects are creative professionals who blend art and science and hold an environmental imperative and social conscience. They are excellent facilitators and collaborators, able to bring various disciplines and experts together to work on complex projects in outdoor natural or built environments.

    South Carolina, like most state registration boards, requires professional landscape architects to have a degree from an accredited professional degree program as a prerequisite for licensure. The Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB), which is the sole agency authorized to accredit U.S. professional degree programs in landscape architecture, recognizes two types of first-professional degrees: the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA), and the Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA).

    Clemson offers two Master of Landscape Architecture tracks: the accredited First Professional Degree (three+ years) geared towards students without an undergraduate degree in design and the Second Professional Degree (two years) for students with an accredited undergraduate landscape architecture degree. The First Professional MLA is also the terminal degree that qualifies graduates to teach landscape architecture in a university setting.

    Research and study in important topics of national and international consequence further ensure the marketability of Clemson's MLA graduates. Students come from a variety of disciplines, such as planning, history, English, biology, geology, geography, environmental science, various social or natural sciences, art, or other disciplines.

  • Financial Information

    Assistantship versus Financial Aid

    Landscape Architecture offers a limited number of assistantships to MLA students based on the strength of their applications and their standing in the applicant pool; however, these students must still apply for placement to determine their best assistantship role among available positions. A limited number of external Public Service Assistantships (PSA) may also be available.  The number of assistantships available is limited by the budget in a given year. The Landscape Architecture program does not offer financial aid. For financial aid, see the University's Financial Aid webpage

    Graduate Assistantships

    Graduate Assistantships employ full-time graduate students to serve the Landscape Architecture program as graduate teaching assistants (GTA), graduate research assistants (GRA) or graduate administrative assistants (GAA) in return for a stipend and tuition reduction. See the Graduate School's Graduate Assistantships, General for general information, and Graduate Assistants, Types for the classification of assistantships. 

    Application Process and Timing. Landscape Architecture accepts assistantship applications year-round. However, the official deadline for graduate student admission is February 15. Review of applications starts immediately and decisions are made in March and April. Applicants who wish to apply for funding must complete the MLA Graduate Funding Application Form (click to download).

    Qualifications. Full-time graduate students (i.e., minimum enrollment of 9 credit hours) in good academic standing (i.e., GPA 3.0 and above) are eligible for consideration. For the Department of Landscape Architecture assistantships, the primary considerations for appointment are 1) academic performance and 2) experience, or other qualifications for the employment role.    

    Employment Period. Assistantships are for one year and follow the academic calendar. In some rare cases employment could be for one semester only.  Graduate Assistants work on the same schedule as faculty (i.e., including term breaks, but not official holidays). See the Graduate Assistantships, Holiday Leave policy.   

    Payroll Paperwork. Students offered an assistantship must complete employment paperwork on campus and no later than August 15. If awarded an assistantship, the Student Services Program Coordinator will contact you regarding the specific paperwork that is required.

    Responsibilities. Graduate assistants (GAs) serve faculty and Landscape Architecture program as teaching, research, and administrative assistants. GAs in Landscape Architecture are required to work an average of 10 hours per week, for a total of 150 hours per semester. See the Enrollment Limits policy and chart and the Maximum Work Hours policy. Assistants must keep a current time log and must be prepared to give a copy of this to their primary supervisor, student services coordinator, or department head upon request. 

    International Students. International students must have a high level of English language ability to qualify for most assistantships; teaching, administrative, and research assistants all need a high level of English language proficiency. International students employed in labs must also have the requisite skills. See the International Student Employment, Graduate Assistantship policy.  

    Remuneration. Graduate assistants receive a stipend per semester and pay a reduced tuition rate. (Graduate School Tuition & Fees webpage). The pay period is the 15th and the last workday of the month.  

    Renewal. Assistantships are for one year only and do not automatically renew. Even if your financial aid account shows an assistantship as continuing, this is due to a lag in the accounting process—assistantships do not automatically renew. A highly qualified graduate student who has performed well as an assistant will be considered for another assistantship during the next application process. 

    Termination. Assistants may be terminated for not carrying out assistantship responsibilities, including not working the required 10 hours per week, and will be required to pay the balance of remitted tuition. See the Graduate Assistants, Termination for Cause policy. Assistants are required to maintain good academic standing; students on academic probation (i.e., with a GPA below 3.0) will not be eligible for an assistantship, and GAs placed on academic probation after the Fall semester will lose their assistantship for the spring semester. See the Termination for Academic Deficiency policy.

    Graduate School Policies. For all Graduate School policies related to assistantships, see the Graduate School's Financial Policies webpage.

  • Student Organizations

    Clemson University student chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (CUASLA)

    The Clemson University Student Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (CUASLA) is an organization geared towards bringing together students studying the discipline of Landscape Architecture. The purpose of our organization is to facilitate meeting new people, both Clemson students as well as professionals, offer educational opportunities to our members through workshops, volunteering opportunities, and extracurricular trips, and to provide fun activities for its members.

  • Resources and Contact Information

    Landscape Architecture
    3-112 Lee Hall, Box 340512
    Clemson University
    Clemson, SC 29634-0512
    Phone: 864-656-3926

    Matt Powers
    Director of Landscape Architecture and Undergraduate Programs and Associate Professor
    Office: Lee 3-116
    Phone: 864-656-4408

    Paul Russell
    Director of Landscape Architecture Graduate Programs and Associate Professor
    Office: Lee 3-122
    Phone: 864-656-0429

    Michelle Marchesse
    Administrative Coordinator I , Landscape Architecture
    Office: Lee 3-112
    Phone: 864-656-3926

    Who signs forms? 

    • Study abroad form, course to be taken elsewhere form or course substitution form, change of major form: Matt Powers
    • Grade change form: Please see the professor teaching the class to initiate the grade change process. In addition to your professor, the form must also be signed by Matt Powers. Michelle Marchesse helps to coordinate this process. 

    Who schedules classes (including drop/add)?

    Who are the advisors for undergraduate majors?

    Who are the advisors for graduate programs?

    • All new MLA students are advised by the Director of Landscape Architecture Graduate Programs, Paul Russell. After the first year, each MLA student will select an advisor. 

    Who is the SC ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) Club Advisor? 

  • Accreditation and Handbook

    Master of Landscape Architecture Handbook


    Programs that are accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) are required to provide reliable information to the public. Programs must report on accreditation status and its performance. This information is to help potential students make informed application decisions.

    Clemson University offers two landscape architecture degrees. The Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) and the Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA).

    The BLA received its initial accreditation in 1994. The BLA and MLA program was most recently awarded re-accreditation for six years in April 2019.

    Click here for access to Clemson University's Public information. 
    Click here for access to our BLA and MLA Self-Evaluation Report.

  • World Design Studio

    The World Design Studio is a collaboration between the Landscape Architecture Program, School of Architecture at Clemson University in the United States, the Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering at Ain Shams University in Egypt, and the Department of Landscape Architecture at Huazhong Agricultural University in China. The studio engages students worldwide to address globally important architectural and environmental issues that enrich design education through cross-cultural, interdisciplinary collaboration. The studio is open for enrollment on a semester-by-semester basis to students currently enrolled in architecture and landscape architecture programs worldwide.

    The World Design Studio has achieved the highest level of recognition, reviews, and awards in national and international forums during the past decade. It has received recognition from prestigious organizations and dignitaries such as the Aga Khan Program at MIT, The National Geographic Society, the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Governor of the City of Luxor, and the Prime Minister of Egypt. The studio addresses urban design issues related to sustainable development, preservation, conservation, ecological restoration, rising sea levels, resiliency, mobility, and tourism in global settings.

    World Design Studio Mission: As part of the School of Architecture, the WDS mission fosters transformational design and preservation leadership, shaping the environment of the 21st century for a better future.

    The WDS is dedicated to: 

    • Educating future architects, landscape architects, and urban designers through rigorous and expansive design education, integrating local and global understanding.
    • Generating knowledge that addresses the significant challenges of the time through innovative, interdisciplinary research, practice, and scholarship.
    • Advocating the improvement and preservation of built, natural, and social environments through design activism, public service, and public education.

    For information about Application, Placement, Housing, Visas, and Tuition, please contact: Hala Nassar at




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Female student smiling

“From day one I knew I would fit right in with my classmates. We are all passionate about design and approach it from a diversity of backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Our studios are small and tight-knit, so it's easy to form friendships with classmates and instructors. My professors are like mentors to me and have never hesitated to help when I ask for guidance. ”

Molly Foote
Master of Landscape Architecture '24
School of Architecture


Hala Nassar, Ph.D., Fellow CELA

Director of Landscape Architecture Graduate Programs and Associate Professor

Office: Lee 3-104 | Email:

About Hala Nassar
Hala Nassar
School of Architecture
School of Architecture | Lee Hall 3-130, Clemson, South Carolina 29634