To prepare students with comprehensive knowledge, advanced skills and rich practical experience to solve ecological, environmental and social issues of the 21st century through landscape design and planning, the MLA program is currently employing a curriculum that covers a wide variety of learning subjects pertinent to landscape architecture. The curriculum is a three-year sequence consisting of a 4-quarter preparatory year (required for students with non-design backgrounds) and two years of professional study of Landscape Architecture with an emphasis on human ecosystematic design and planning. A breakdown of the program curriculum by different subject categories is available in the following table. While some courses fall into only one subject category, e.g., LA 555 Seminar on Human Behavior in Landscape in the History, theory and criticism group, some other courses are categorized into different subject groups for their wider range of subject coverage, such as LA 604 Environmental Analysis in the Natural and cultural system group and Public Policy and Regulation group.
In the curriculum, the highest percentages of courses fall within two major categories, "natural and cultural systems including principles of sustainability" and "design, planning and management at various scales and application". Such arrangement in the curriculum echoes the program's strong focus on sustainable human ecosystematic design and planning at various scales. To provide necessary supplements to these cores categories, the curriculum has good coverage of courses on landscape history, theory, policy, design implementation, plant and ecosystem, computer application and advanced technologies, and research methods and activities. These courses provide important knowledge, skills and techniques for students to conduct advanced landscape design and planning. Additionally, the curriculum also offers limited but valuable courses on professional ethics, values, and practice to help students build solid connections between their graduate and future professional experience. There is one course for visual communication, i.e., LA 511/L Graphic Design.
In California State Polytechnic University, courses are taught on a quarter-based system. Quarters are ten weeks in length with a one week final period. Students receive one unit for each hour of lecture contact per week and one unit of credit for every three hours of studio contact per week. Credits that student obtained during the preparatory year are not counted as degree requirements. In order to graduate, MLA students need to complete 72 units of credits at minimum during their second and third year of study. The following is the typical program of study for each year of students in the program.
The department supports a number of minor programs within the university. Minors are generally not easily attained while completing required core course work but a number of minor courses can be utilized as directed electives and upper division synthesis courses. Students are currently pursuing minors in horticulture, landscape irrigation, languages and regenerative studies.
The department has a broad list of directed electives that support entry into the profession and diversified expertise in the graduating class.