Master of Landscape Architecture


The professional Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) degree, for students new to the discipline, uses intensive studio-based courses to address the design challenges facing urban landscapes today. Complementary lecture and seminar courses in history, theory, technology, and environmental studies provide comprehensive professional training and serve as a forum to examine landscape architecture’s synthetic role in design and planning at scales ranging from the garden to the region. After a four-term core curriculum, students develop independent research directions that culminate in the final term’s thesis studio. The program’s goal is to develop progressive models for landscape architecture practice: we encourage work that explores and extends the discipline’s ties to the humanities, environmental and social sciences, and engineering.

Individuals who possess a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture, environmental design, or have completed the first year of a professional master’s degree in landscape architecture, may qualify for admission into the MLA program with advanced standing, reducing the duration of their studies to two years. The curriculum completed prior to application, as well as the portfolio and writing samples submitted, should demonstrate knowledge of regional flora (specifically, the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Region), history and theory of landscape architecture, site grading and earthwork, and visual representation tools and techniques including 3D modelling and digital fabrication (e.g. laser cutting, CNC milling, 3D printing). Students admitted to advanced standing will have completed the equivalent of the intensive foundational first year of the MLA program however, admission is determined on a case-by-case basis after a thorough and holistic review of all submitted documentation.

More information on admissions is available on our Graduate Admissions webpage.


Students study full-time, taking all required courses in each given session. Students must take a total of 15.5 full-course equivalents (FCE): 13.5 are in core courses and 2.0 are in electives. Within the elective requirements, 1.0 FCE must be in courses offered by the Faculty. The remaining 1.0 FCE will be taken in other academic divisions of the University. A B- grade in two design studio courses or a B- grade in any three courses will normally result in a recommendation to the School of Graduate Studies to terminate the student's candidacy for the degree program. The MLA is completed in 3 years; however, it should be noted that the time limit to complete the degree requirements is 6 years. Writing support is integrated into the program in order to develop specialized skills in writing which are essential to effective learning and communication in the design fields.

Design (9.0 credits)
The required design studio curriculum is organized as a series of units exploring three major themes: design process considers landscape design skills, including concept and design development, site analysis, communication and techniques to create ‘built landscapes’ of a scale and character appropriate to their uses; site and landscape planning integrates bio-regional context, historic land use and contemporary programs at a variety of scales in order to seek a creative synthesis of environment, human use and landscape manipulation; urban landscape design involves the systematic evaluation—employing principles of natural science ecology and landscape design—of a variety of urban sites in order to creatively develop new approaches to landscape design interventions in the structure of the ‘city’. Each studio is accompanied by related courses in the sequence and incorporates these topics in the following order:

[1]  Two foundation studios in the first year of the program, accompanied by two courses in visual communication (LAN 1021F and LAN 1022S) and an advanced course in computer modelling.
[2]  A site and landscape planning studio oriented to open space environments.
[3]  An urban landscape design studio exploring urban landscape issues and interventions in a variety of metropolitan contexts.
[4]  An option studio, where students may select from a range of design projects in landscape architecture, architecture and urban design.
[5]  The independent design thesis will be undertaken in the final term but is contingent on having completed the thesis research and preparation course and having a thesis proposal accepted by the Program Director. In addition there is one required seminar course on critical design issues in the urban landscape. Students in the design thesis studio work independently under the supervision of an assigned faculty advisor.

History and Theory (1.0 credit)
A sequence of two required courses and opportunities for four electives, two to be taken within the Faculty.

Environment and Technology (3.0 credits)
The required environmental and technical courses cover the knowledge necessary for a professional degree. These courses cover an introduction to ecology, plant identification and approaches to site engineering and construction in urban areas. Professional Practice (0.5 credit). There is a mandatory course in landscape practice.

Electives (2.0 credits)
The elective component of the program provides an essential academic and cultural complement to the core professional curriculum. A minimum of 1.0 credit must be taken from other divisions of the University. The remaining 1.0 elective credit is taken from within the Faculty. Selection of electives must be approved by the Program Director. Students will be encouraged to use their electives to develop a focused concentration that will inform their design thesis, link with other disciplines and lead to professional expertise, post-graduate studies and/or joint degrees.


Term 1

LAN1011Y: Design Studio 1
LAN1021H: Visual Communications 1
LAN1031H: History Theory Criticism 1
LAN1041H: Field Studies 1
LAN1047H: Site Engineering

Term 2

LAN1012Y: Design Studio 2
LAN1022H: Visual Communications 2
LAN1032H: History Theory Criticism 2
LAN1037H: Plants and Design
LAN1043H: Field Studies 2

Term 3

LAN2013Y: Design Studio 3
LAN2037H: Contemporary Landscape Theory
LAN2042H: Landscape, Materials, Assemblies, Technology
LAN2045H: Landscape Ecology

Term 4

LAN2014Y: Design Studio 4
LAN2023H: Intermediate Visual Communication
LAN2047H: Landscape Hydrology

Term 5

LAN3016Y/URD2013Y/ARC3015Y: Design Studio OptionsLAN3051H: Landscape Research Methods
LAN3025H: Advanced Visual Communication
LAN3051H: Landscape Research Methods
LAN3045H: Advanced Site Technologies

Term 6

LAN3017Y: Design Studio Thesis
LAN3052H: Professional Practice

For graduate programs, the first two digits in the four-digit course number indicate the general course level. The third digit identifies a course topic stream as follows:

1  Design
2  Visual Communication 
3  History and Theory
4  Technology
5  Proseminar

The last digit indicates the position of the course in a year-long or multi-year course sequence. Courses offered over two terms are designated ‘H’. Full courses are designated ‘Y’. Course weights are 0.5 credits/12 units, unless otherwise noted.


The Master of Landscape Architecture program was reviewed in 2018 and granted a five-year term of accreditation. Following graduation from an accredited school, applicants for professional registration in Ontario are required to successfully complete a two-year professional development program under the direction of the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects and pass the Landscape Architect Registration Exam (LARE). The LARE is an internationally recognized examination governing professional practice in Canada and the United States. Registration in Ontario is governed by the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects Act, 1984. See more about accreditation here.

Header image credit: Resilient Aquaculture Armor: Reimagining the Aqua-scape of Littoral Zone, 2021, designed by Jiazhi (Jake) Yin.