Frequently Asked Questions

The answers to the following frequently asked questions may be helpful to prospective students.

Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) and Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) Programs

What is the difference between the BLA and MLA degrees and Department programs?

The BLA and MLA are distinct programs though they both focus on learning design processes and practices as the core objective and share commonalities in their respective curricula. In particular, they share many of the same technical and materials courses. If joining the Department as an MLA I (3-year track), students in their first year are enrolled in three introductory studios with the BLA class also in their first year. Beyond this initial year (in the three-year program), the BLA and MLA programs diverge with required studios and other coursework specific to each program. While both programs provide the practical and material training necessary to begin a career in the field of Landscape Architecture, the MLA program further engages students in the theory, history, and scholarship of the discipline. The MLA curriculum culminates with a capstone thesis, focused group project, or studio option that serves to integrate a focus on design as research. In the final year, the BLA curriculum culminates with a two-term design-build project. 

The MLA program also offers concurrent degree programs with the Department of Urban Design and Planning and the Department of Architecture.

If I already have a Bachelor’s degree, do I need to apply for the MLA program?

If you do not have a previous Bachelor’s degree, you must apply to the BLA program. If you do have a previous Bachelor’s degree, you are eligible to apply to either the BLA or MLA program. While not common, we do accept students with a previous Bachelor’s degree into the professional BLA program.

Will a degree in landscape architecture from the University of Washington enable me to become a licensed landscape architect?

Our Department offers professional degrees, approved by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board for both the BLA and MLA programs. This means that upon graduation you can take the Landscape Architecture Registration Examination. You will also need to work directly under a licensed landscape architect for a period of three years before you can apply for the license. If graduating from the MLA program up to two years of this period may be counted as practical landscape architectural work experience; however, this is determined on a case-by-case basis.

What is the difference between the two-year and three-year track MLA program?

Applicants with a previous degree in Architecture or Landscape Architecture are eligible for the MLA II (two-year track) program. The Graduate Program Coordinator and the Department Chair determine the appropriate program for each applicant through a close evaluation of their transcripts and work experience.

Can I go to school part-time?

No, the BLA and MLA are full-time programs. Students are expected to complete the program in three academic years (2 for the MLA II track). Many of the technical and material courses are taught as a sequence and are offered only once a year. The department is looking for focused students, who will stay on track and complete the program on time. Some people choose to work part-time, but jobs need to be have flexible schedules from term to term. The majority of studio courses are offered three days a week for four hours each day. You will need to arrange your schedule around your courses.

What study abroad opportunities are available?

There are many study abroad opportunities available within the College of Built Environments (CBE) and the larger University of Washington via International Programs and Exchanges. However, selecting an International Studies program through CBE usually enables students to stay on track with their studio sequence. Though not offered every year, there are popular programs in China, Croatia, Denmark, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, and Peru among other locations. Many of the MLA students identify opportunities to integrate their travel studies with their capstone thesis research.


When do I apply to the Landscape Architecture Department?

Both the BLA and MLA programs have once a year application dates to begin in the Autumn term of the same calendar year. You must apply by January 15th for the MLA program and by the first day of Spring Quarter for the BLA program, to start the following Autumn Quarter.

Do I only apply to the Department of Landscape Architecture?

No. You must begin by applying to the University of Washington if you are not already enrolled. You would apply online to the Undergraduate School for the BLA program and to the Graduate School for the MLA program. International students should refer to the International Admissions page. If you would like counseling about the application process, advice on how your credits may transfer and/or suggestions about writing your Personal Statement to apply to the UW, contact the Undergraduate Advising Center. Prospective undergraduate students are encouraged to attend Transfer Thursdays – check the schedule for meetings.

Will you please send me a catalogue and application?

We no longer provide hardcopy catalogues or application materials. You may access all of our information and materials through the department website. You can find courses offered in the Landscape Architecture department under Programs on the website. The entire catalogue  for the University of Washington is also available.

What do I need to apply to the Landscape Architecture Department?

Both the BLA and MLA applications require:

  • Department Application (BLA-only; MLA applicants fill out the online Graduate School application)
  • Statement of Interest
  • Resume
  • Official Transcripts from any junior colleges, colleges or universities you have attended
  • Three Letters of Recommendation.
  • Portfolio

The MLA application also requires GRE scores and a copy of the University of Washington Graduate School Application. International students must also submit their TOEFL scores before applying to the department and the University of Washington Graduate School. Undergraduate International students should go to the University’s International Student site for further application instructions.

Who should write my Letters of Recommendation?

The Letters of Recommendation are an important part of the application. Choose people to write in support of your application that can speak to your skills and abilities in different capacities:

  • Professional recommendations may be from employers, etc.
  • Service recommendations may be from volunteer coordinators, directors of clubs or organizations, coaches, etc.
  • Academic recommendations may be from college faculty, high school teachers, etc.

What goes into a portfolio? What are the best portfolios like?

Portfolios are personal demonstrations of your creative skills and abilities to date. It can include examples from courses, work experience, and any of your interests and achievements. The portfolio should reveal your creative interests. The admissions committee examines each portfolio in assessing creative capacities. Here is your chance to show what is unique about you. People often include freehand drawings, graphics, photography, images of three-dimensional work, posters, invitations, poetry, and creative and expository writings. The list is really endless, but the material provided should focus on your creative capacity and willingness to explore and communicate through the media of your choosing. We require a physical portfolio for the BLA application and an online submittal for MLA.

What do I say in the Statement of Purpose?

This is an important part of the application that the committee uses to understand your personal and professional motives and goals. In 1-3 pages, explain your reasons for wishing to pursue a career as a landscape architect, and why you are interested in pursuing your education at the University of Washington. Provide a coherent and personable introduction to yourself, your motives, achievements and aspirations. Describe what benefit you think you would bring to the program and the profession while addressing how the curriculum, vision, and mission of this department will support your career goals and objectives.

How recently will I need to have taken the GRE or TOEFL and what kind of scores do I need? Do I need to send the scores to the Department?

Your Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores only stay in the database for five years. If you already have a graduate degree, the GRE is not required with your application. The GRE is only part of the MLA Admissions process. While your scores should be competitive, the admissions committee also takes into consideration your work experience, transcripts, statement of interest, letters of recommendation and portfolio.

The University of Washington no longer accepts IELTS scores. International students are required to submit TOEFL scores (except applicants from English speaking countries). The test scores must be less than two years old. Be sure and check the University of Washington’s website for required TOEFL test scores. Applicants need to provide the department with a photocopy of your GRE and TOEFL scores. The department requires these unofficial scores as official scores are commonly backlogged in the University system during the admissions period.

How do I sign up for ESL (English as a Second Language) courses?

International students may be required to fulfill the English language proficiency requirement by taking Academic English Program courses. Students will find these courses listed on the UW time schedule. Go to the current Quarter and then English Department. They will be listed as ENG 102, 103, and 104. The Academic English Program will give you information about the UW English language proficiency requirements for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as registration information. The course fee will appear on your University account.

What Official Transcripts do you need and how many?

The department requires one official transcript from each college or university you have attended. This includes community colleges, extension courses, and foreign studies. If foreign studies were included on your domestic university transcript, include that information in your application.

If admitted into the program, the Graduate School will need one copy of official transcripts from those schools that have granted you a Bachelor’s or higher degree. The transcripts sent to both the Department and to the Graduate School should be sent in a sealed envelope, bearing the Registrar’s seal. International students need to submit to the University of Washington’s Undergraduate or Graduate School, one official sealed copy of a transcript from each university or college they attended, at the time they apply to the University. Undergraduate students should go to the undergraduate admissions to obtain instructions on applying to the University.

Mail one copy of your official transcripts to the department:

University of Washington
Department of Landscape Architecture
348 Gould Hall, Box 355734
Attn:  Graduate Admissions
Seattle, Washington 98195-5734 USA

If accepted, have one copy of your official transcripts mailed to the Graduate School:

Standard postal mail:

University of Washington
Graduate Enrollment Management Services
Box 353770
Seattle, Washington 98195-3770

Express or courier service (FedEx, DHL, UPS, etc.)

University of Washington
Graduate Enrollment Management Services
G-1 Communications
4109 Stevens Way
Seattle, Washington  98195-3770
Telephone:  206-685-2630

Do you accept students into the programs at different times?

No. Both the BLA and MLA are competitive programs and there is a once-a-year application process and starting time. The admissions process takes about three months for each program. The required studios are offered sequentially, starting Autumn Quarter. There are classes students can be taking ahead of time, either as a matriculated or non-matriculated student.

Who decides if I’m accepted, and what is the acceptance rate?

A committee of faculty and advanced students are assembled each year to assess applications Acceptance rates vary each year and are always competitive. You should submit the best application you can, having chosen the program to which you want to be admitted.

What if I am not accepted and want to try again?

You are always welcome to try more than once, as you may have taken more classes, gained work experience, or simply provide a more polished application in a subsequent year. If not accepted with your initial application, you may continue to take courses that would count towards a BLA or MLA degree and try again later.

If not accepted, undergraduates may work toward our Urban Ecological Design Minor. Some students declare a major in a less competitive degree and continue to take a few classes in Landscape Architecture, improve their application, and then reapply.  It is easier to obtain a double Bachelor’s degree than to finish one Bachelor’s degree and try to re-enter the UW as a post-baccalaureate. Only a few post-baccalaureates are accepted into the University each year.

Can I obtain a Minor in Landscape Architecture?

The Department offers a Minor in Urban Ecological Design.

Do I need to know what I want to write my thesis about before applying to the MLA program?

No, but your general area of interest should be consistent with the department focus on Urban Ecological Design. Some students do enter the MLA program knowing their specific area of interest and retain this interest throughout the program. Some students change their area of interest once they start taking classes. Some students enter the program without a specific area of interest and develop one during the first two years of studio and coursework. MLA students should be open to considering thesis topics during their first two years in the program, gradually focusing in on their specific thesis topic. Consultation with department faculty, to find an area of shared interest, is an integral part of this process.

How can I find out more about the Certificate Programs?

There are many certificate programs offered through the University. Our students tend to seek certificates in the Urban Design certificate program, Preservation Planning & Design certificate program, and Restoration Ecology certificate program. Students should plan ahead to participate in these programs and finish their Landscape Architecture degree on time.

Prerequisite Courses and Extension Courses

Which prerequisite courses are required to apply to the programs?

The BLA program requires that you have taken:

  • LARC 300 – Introduction to Landscape Architecture (Autumn or Spring)

and any 2 of the following courses:

  • LARC 341 – Site Design and Planning (Autumn)
  • LARC 352 – History of Landscape Architecture (Autumn)
  • LARC 353 – History of Modern Landscape Architecture (Winter)
  • LARC 361 – Human Experience of Place (Winter)
  • LARC3 363 – Ecological Design and Planning (Spring)

If you would like to complete the BLA Program in seven quarters, you will need to have also taken:

  • ESRM 331 Landscape Plant Recognition (Spring) -OR-
  • BIOL 317 Plant Classification and Identification (Spring, Summer)

The MLA Program does not have any prerequisite courses before applying.  Taking courses is one way to stand out from the crowd and show that you have researched your decision to become a Landscape Architect.

What courses can I take before I am accepted into the program?

Courses offered to those not enrolled in our programs are listed below. These courses may help you decide if this is the profession you want to pursue or can help lighten your load later on, if you are accepted into the program.  These courses are open to matriculated and non-matriculated students. For aspiring graduate students, only courses that are 400-level or above will count towards the degree.

  • LARC 212 Designing the Future (Autumn)
  • LARC 300 Introduction to Landscape Architecture (Summer and Autumn)
  • LARC 322 Introduction to Planting Design (Spring)
  • LARC 341 Site Design and Planning (Autumn)
  • LARC 352 History of Landscape Architecture (Autumn)
  • LARC 353 / 553 History of Modern Landscape Architecture (Winter)
  • LARC 361 / 561 Experience of Place (Winter)
  • LARC 363 / 563 Ecological Design and Planning (Spring)
  • LARC 454 History of Urban Design (Spring)
  • LARC 498 / 598 Special Topic Courses (Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer)

Hand graphic skills are fundamental in design communication. Further, competency in many design related software programs is beneficial. While students are taught these skills and programs through the curriculum, familiarity with the Adobe Suite (PhotoShop, Illustrator, InDesign), AutoCAD, GIS, Sketchup, and Rhinoceros is beneficial. Many of these skills and programs can be learned online of through local community colleges.

How can I take classes at the UW before becoming matriculated (formally accepted into the University)? How does UW Professional and Continuing Education (PCE) work?

Non-matriculated students can take courses open to non-majors through UW Professional and Continuing Education (UW PCE) at any time of the year.  During Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters, matriculated students have first priority for enrollment. During Summer quarter, non-matriculated students have equal priority for enrollment. Any credit courses completed as a non-matriculated student are recorded on a transcript. If and when accepted to the University, there is a record of these courses and these credits will transfer.

UW PCE publishes a course catalog for courses offered through their program. Many of the certificate programs offered through Extension, however, are not considered credit courses. Examples include: Wetlands Science and Management, Screenwriting, Film and Video Production. Check with UW PCE to determine whether or not a course is offered for University credit.

Only 12 credits from non-matriculated courses may count towards a Master’s degree. Contact the UW PCE Office for more information about their program and how to register.

Other Landscape Architecture or Allied Programs in the Area

What other Landscape Architecture Programs are there in the Seattle or Pacific Northwest region?

There are no other professional Landscape Architecture programs in the Seattle metropolitan area. Other Pacific Northwest accredited landscape architecture programs are: BLA at Washington State University; BLA, MLA and Ph.D at University of Oregon; BLA at University of Idaho; and MLA at University of British Columbia. See the ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architecture) Accreditation website for other accredited landscape architecture programs in the United States and Canada.

There are two Horticulture programs offered in the Seattle area, at Edmonds Community College and South Seattle Community College. These are not professional Landscape Architecture programs. They are considered vocational programs and only a few of the credits from these programs transfer to the University. To determine how credits from these programs would transfer, contact the office of the Academic CounselorUndergraduate Advising Center.

Financing Your Education

How long am I considered an out-of-state student?

In order for University of Washington students to be considered residents for tuition purposes, they first must be able to prove that they are U.S. citizens, have U.S. permanent resident cards, or have a qualifying visa (A, E, G, H1, I, K or L). To be classified or reclassified as residents, for tuition and fee purposes, students must establish a bona fide domicile in the state of Washington primarily for purposes other than education for the period of one year immediately prior to classification as resident. Nonresident students who are enrolled for more than 6 credits a quarter will be presumed to be in the state for primarily educational purposes. Such period of enrollment shall not be counted toward the establishment of a bona fide domicile of one year in this state unless the students prove they reside in the state for purposes other than education.

See the Understanding Washington State Residency for more information.

How much is tuition?

Tuition costs vary from year to year. The most updated costs can be found here.

Are Scholarships or Student Assistant positions available?

A limited number of scholarships are offered for incoming and current students. These scholarships range from several hundred dollars to full tuition and are dependent upon merit and financial need. External scholarships are offered frequently. The department notifies students of these opportunities, but it is up to individuals to apply. The Grants & Funding Information Services Center (GFIS) can assist with identifying grant and scholarship opportunities internal and external to the University.

The department offers hourly student assistant, salaried graduate student assistant (GSAs), and research assistant positions. Hourly and GSA positions are determined by the faculty teaching the courses and are commonly only offered to those students that have already taken the course or have prior experience in particular technical skills. You are encouraged to also contact other departments concerning student assistant opportunities. Research assistant-ships are dependent upon faculty grants and projects. Undergraduate scholarships are listed at the Undergraduate Scholarship Office.

How do I apply for Financial Aid?

Contact the Financial Aid Office. You will need to file a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which is the basic financial application that students (and their families) must complete to be considered for Financial Aid: for more information on dates and deadlines.

Employment in the Profession

Are Internships available?

The department offers both an internship and practicum programs for students. These programs allow students to work for pay or university credit in a professional setting. The programs are structured to introduce students to the wide variety of activities involved in professional practice. There is a strong professional community in the Seattle region, offering students the opportunities for positions in design firms, non-profit organizations, and public agencies in landscape design, planning, construction, and policy-making.

Students can earn up to 6 credits for 20 hours of work a week for 10 weeks, and 3 credits for 10 hours a week for 10 weeks. Both the internship and practicum programs have outstanding success rates with participating professionals and students. Many students have been offered permanent employment with their host firm or agency upon graduation.


Does the Department offer job placement services after graduation?

The department does not offer job placement services upon graduation. The practicum and internship programs are the department’s only formal job placement programs. However, students are generally well connected and networked into the profession regionally through their coursework by the time they graduate. Alumni and employers often contact the department and individual faculty when they have positions available, and these opportunities are relayed to students. We are proud to note that most all of our graduating students are able to find jobs soon after graduation in landscape architecture firms or allied design and planning professions.


Visiting the Department

What is your policy for visiting the Department?

Prospective students are always welcome to visit the Department and sit in on classes. In fact, it is highly recommended. To make best use of your time, it is best to contact the department by to schedule appointments with the Chair and professors, and to find out when and where classes are offered. We also offer an MLA Open House in Autumn, and a several BLA Information meetings each year. Check out the department’s website for the dates of the next open house and info meetings.

Where can I stay, if I come for a visit to the Department?

The College Inn is across the street from Gould Hall, where the department is located. Other hotels and short term residences within walking distance are available though online searches.

Where do I look for housing, if I move to Seattle?

You can contact UW housing. Apartments are walking distance to campus. By September, housing around the University District can be difficult to find, so if you are interested in living in this neighborhood, make sure to plan ahead. However, housing opportunities can be found throughout the area.