Master of Landscape Architecture (Thesis/Research)
Shape, design and protect the outdoor spaces we enjoy.
The Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) is offered by the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development (SEDRD) to prepare students for creative thinking and collaborative learning leading to professional careers. It is an intensive, internationally-recognized design program that offers diverse opportunities for study, research, creative design, and professional practice.
Landscape architects play an important role in shaping our environment, working collaboratively with other designers, scientists and the public. As a landscape architect you will be involved in analyzing, designing, constructing, conserving, and managing landscapes from small-scale sites to entire communities.
Immersive design learning
Explore the profession through peer-to-peer sharing, field study, in-depth discussions, seminars, lectures, and landscape design studios with real clients.
The MLA program is accredited by the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, recognized by the American Society of Landscape Architects, and meets international requirements to facilitate membership in professional associations.
Learn from the best
Study with internationally-recognized faculty, and practicing professionals who have diverse experiences and perspectives. They hold degrees in landscape architecture, and related fields, and have practiced in a variety of settings.
Make a significant contribution to landscape architecture by publishing with faculty members in top international journals, as well as professional/industry periodicals.
Access dedicated and comfortable studios and classrooms, as well as computing output facilities.
Secure your career
Graduate with a degree that's in demand by employers all over the world due to its focus on both theory and practice, and students' experience in practical and community projects.
This program is delivered in-person in a full-time format at the University of Guelph campus.
- Landscape Architecture Studio (I, II, III, IV)
- Community Design
- Landscape History
- Professional Practice Seminar
- Environmental Design
- Research Methods
This is just a sample of the course options. View all MLA courses here.
Program Curriculum and Requirements
The MLA degree program is structured for students to acquire and master a professional level of design competency. The curriculum has three integrated streams: design theory and practice, landscape analysis and planning, and research inquiry and application. The MLA program leads to a professional degree that meets the educational requirements for entry into professional associations across Canada, North America and abroad.
In the first two years of the MLA program, learning is centered around design studios that apply theoretical knowledge to practical projects ranging in scale from individual sites to entire communities and regions. Field studies and labs, peer-to-peer sharing, construction studios, lectures, online courses, and seminars advance students’ knowledge and capacity and develop professional skills. Students can elect to participate in international exchange programs with partner schools to further develop their areas of interest and expand their professional networks.
The final year of the MLA program is focused on the individual interests of each student and on completion of a master’s thesis. For most of our MLA students, their thesis is the first step toward a specialized area of professional practice or to doctoral studies.
This program is designed for individuals with an honours degree other than the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture. The prescribed studies consist of at least thirteen graduate courses (6.25 credits) and a thesis requiring six semesters of full-time study over three calendar years. Students normally register for Fall and Winter semesters each year, and take a scheduled break during the Spring/Summer semester to gain practical experience.
Applicants who have several years of substantial professional experience subsequent to their first professional degree will be required to undertake a program of at least five graduate courses (2.25 credits) and a thesis.
Please refer to the Landscape Architecture Graduate Calendar for program overview, requirements and courses.
Career opportunities for University of Guelph’s MLA graduates are enhanced by the program's national and international reputation based on thirty years of experience preparing students for careers in landscape architecture and related fields. Graduates enjoy a broad range of career opportunities in:
- Private-sector landscape architecture practices
- Design-build firms
- National, provincial, regional and municipal agencies where they provide expertise within parks and recreation, community development, transportation, engineering and planning departments
- Specialization, such as landscape restoration, resort design, community design , heritage conservation or computer visualization
- Academic careers
This program is predominantly a self-funded professional program. As such, students need to be prepared to cover the full costs of the program.
Here are a few funding supports that are available to MLA students:
- Entrance Scholarships: Each year the MLA program strives to provide entrance scholarships to students with strong academic performance. The value and quantity of this financial support changes from year to year.
- Graduate Teaching Assistantships: The School of Environmental Design and Rural Development hires a number of MLA graduate students (GTA's) to provide support to our undergraduate courses. These positions are advertised by application in advance of each fall and winter semester.
- University Scholarships: The University of Guelph offers resources to financially support graduate students. Please refer to the University of Guelph scholarships and awards and information available from Student Financial Services.
- Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) Program: Applicants who qualify for the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) program require a complete OGS application and a complete graduate application to be submitted by the deadline date set each year (typically by January 31st).
More details on funding your graduate studies are available on the Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies website.
Meet Your Profs
The MLA program at the University of Guelph offers passionate and engaged students the chance to study a fascinating discipline rich with potential and boundless ambition to confront the complex challenges facing society through better design.
Landscape architecture is quite broad, I would say it's a fusion between science, art, design and also bringing in a lot of technical skills.
Why Choose MLA @ Guelph?
The first in Canada
University of Guelph is home to Canada’s first-established professional degree program in landscape architecture and world-wide reputation as a centre for landscape architecture education.
Enjoy the benefits of the only MLA in a small city set among rural landscapes and close to metropolitan areas. The City of Guelph is rated as one of the most sustainable cities in Ontario with a vibrant community, lively downtown, abundant shopping and dynamic cultural activities.
Join a community
Learn alongside a large body of landscape architecture students - a group of creative, concerned and intensely involved individuals who organize many social and educational events throughout the year.
Hear from Master of Landscape Architecture Students
I will be focusing my research on ecological grief and the role landscape architects can play in helping people cope with and move forward after such losses. Oddly, this work really lights me up! This research pulls together things that I never expected were possible in landscape architecture. From emotional and cultural sensitivity to questions about our relationship to nonhuman life and what sustainability means, many pieces are needed.
Location and program reputation were influential in my decision to study at the University of Guelph. The City of Guelph offers a comfortable environment that balances the calmness I need to focus on my studies and the vibrancy of a city in terms of culture, relationships, and exploration
How to Apply
Application to the Master of Landscape Architecture program requires candidates to apply online through the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website.
All application material is submitted online to your WebAdvisor account except for the portfolio requirement which is to be sent separately via email in digital PDF format.
Admission is based on previous academic performance, references, evidence of creative work, statement of interest, and background information provided through a questionnaire. All applications must be accompanied by a digital portfolio, statement of research, cv/resume, references and the completed background questionnaire (the background questionnaire is uploaded as the "supplemental document").
Applicants should note that the online application system can take up to 3-5 working days to process your account. Once your account is processed, you will receive an email with your login information and instructions on how to upload your documents. Please plan the submission of your application in accordance with admission deadline.
MLA applicants are not required to find a faculty advisor prior to submitting an application (please ignore this question on the online application). An Advisor is assigned to each new student. As an MLA student's concentration within the program sharpens, they can seek out another Advisor, a faculty member whose interests or expertise is aligned to their own. This is normally done prior to the beginning of your final year of study.
After a careful review of all submitted materials, the strongest candidates are selected for admission from the pool of qualified applicants.
More details on the U of G graduate program application process here.
- An undergraduate landscape architecture degree is not required to apply for the MLA degree program.
- Eligibility requirements for application to the MLA program are that you hold any honours (four-year) undergraduate degree, or equivalent, from a recognized institution with a minimum of B- average (70%) over the last two years of full-time equivalent study. Students who meet alternate admission criteria standards may also be considered.
The following information will be required to be uploaded electronically to your online WebAdvisor account for your application:
All University-level Transcripts
- You are required to provide transcripts from any institution where you have earned (or will earn) a degree, studied for one semester or more, or took courses that relate to your graduate study interests. This includes transfer credits and University exchange/semester abroad transcripts. Please include a copy of the grading scale with the transcript. Your application checklist on WebAdvisor will identify which transcripts you are required to upload.
English Language Test Score
- If your first language is not English, you will be required to submit the results of a standardized language test. Please refer to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website for the required English Language Proficiency acceptable tests and required scores. Lower test scores will not be considered for admission.
- Two academic references are preferred if possible. You may submit up to three references online.
Statement of Research
- Prepare a one-page summary of your interests as they pertain to the study of landscape architecture. This statement might include a description of your background and why you feel it is a good fit with landscape architecture; summary of what interests you most with respect to the study of landscape architecture, including any specialized areas you would like to explore; and finally, a discussion of how you would like to use your education once you have completed your degree.
CV / Resume
- Provide a current cv or resume that gives a profile of your background and experience.
Supplemental Document – MLA Background Questionnaire
This document gives the Admissions Committee an understanding of whether your interests and abilities will fit with our faculty and program. Respond to the below questions and upload as a PDF document to your WebAdvisor account as the "Supplemental Document":
- Given your background, explain why you want to pursue a Master of Landscape Architecture degree at the University of Guelph.
- Describe a problem that you have resolved in a creative manner. Describe your approach and what you learned from the situation.
- Relate an example of a time when you have worked in a group. What role did you play? What skills or knowledge did you contribute? How did you share these?
- What do you plan to do after completing your MLA degree? What area(s) of expertise do you hope to develop?
- Describe a landscape project that you find fascinating or admirable and why.
The following is required to be emailed separately, but is a vital part of your application package:
- To aid the Admissions Committee in evaluating your potential as a design student, you are asked to submit a portfolio that represents evidence of your creativity. Submission of an electronic PDF portfolio is also due on or before January 31. The MLA portfolio submission aids the Admissions Committee in evaluating your potential as a design student. You are asked to submit a portfolio that represents evidence of your creative ability. The term 'creative' should be interpreted in its broadest definition.
- The portfolio is to be sent in PDF format to: email@example.com using the PDF file naming convention (Last Name_First Name_MLA portfolio).
If you are an international applicant, please refer to the International Applicants page of the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website.
- Domestic students: January 31, 2024 (for Fall 2024 entry)
- International students: November 30, 2023 (for Fall 2024 entry)
Applicants are only accepted for entry into the fall semester annually. Course sequencing and space limitations make the winter semester entry point impossible for most MLA degree students. Late applications for domestic applicants only will be considered on a case-by-case basis, please contact us to inquire.
Like most people in my cohort, I 'stumbled' onto Landscape Architecture by looking into a possible career change. I think I was on the American Society of Landscape Architects' (ASLA) website when I first read the words 'Landscape Architecture' and the description of the career seemed to really fit my interests in improving the environment and doing so in a creative way.